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How to treat workplace burnout so you can enjoy life again



Javier Fiz Pérez - published on 02/02/18

Discover what's really going on behind your symptoms and then you can take action.

The key to treating burnout syndrome effectively is to detect it in its early stages; the sooner you identify and deal with the problem, the sooner you will be able to keep it under control and resolve it.

The initiative to treat the syndrome may come from the worker himself or from the company or institution where he works. Consequently, it’s important that there be good communication between the two parties, and that the necessary mechanisms be established for detecting such cases at an early stage. We must not forget that the most effective way of treating this syndrome is to eliminate its causes, and not simply treating the negative symptoms that flow from those causes.

Most causes of burnout are related to poor internal organization on the part of the company — principally, improper ways of dealing with employees. This means problems both of substance (excessive work, disorganization, etc.) and of form (the way of communicating with people in the organization).Now that this is clear, we can look at some effective ways of treating the external symptoms of burnout.

Elements of treatment

First of all, relaxation techniques — such as guided meditations or listening to relaxing music — have been widely shown to be effective for reducing anxiety and improving the way that workers face burnout syndrome. In fact, these kinds of practices will make the worker face problems in a much more positive and productive way.

Secondly, we must not forget the physical side of the problem. Stress and burnout tend to create muscle tension in certain areas of the body, such as the shoulders or the neck, which in the long term can lead to muscle contractions, herniated disks, and other kinds of injuries, which aggravate the situation.

Consequently, it is important to perform proper stretches and anti-stress exercises as part of one’s daily routine (and even as part of the workplace routine, when possible).

Thirdly, the habitual practice of some sport (as long as it is adapted to the physical condition of the worker) has been shown to reduce significantly the effects of stress on a person’s organism. Sports keep us active, and improve the health of our heart, muscles, and bones, as well as helping us to unplug from our problems while we are engaged in exercise.

In fourth place, knowing and using assertive strategies can be an excellent way of fighting and preventing burnout. Assertiveness is an intermediate behavior between passivity and aggression (typical characteristics of people suffering from burnout), focused on proper management of emotions and on proper communication with others. A few examples of assertive strategies include:

  • Treating yourself and others with respect
  • Being polite, but firm
  • Being direct and honest with others
  • Knowing how to respectfully express to others what worries or displeases us
  • Knowing how to speak and listen without losing our temper
  • Being able to control our emotions
  • Seeing the criticisms of others as an opportunity to improve

Additionally, we cannot forget the enormous benefits that professional help can provide us. Psychotherapy, whether individual or in a group, can help workers to develop effective mechanisms for dealing with situations that cause stress and anxiety.

Lastly, living a healthy lifestyle can help combat stress and burnout syndrome; that includes, among other things, measures such as avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and getting enough sleep.


Read more:
What to do when you feel on the verge of major burnout

Health and WellnessPsychology
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