How to Curb Workplace Burnout with Self-Compassion


Deadlines, back-to-back meetings, overflowing inboxes – oh my! While they might not be lions, tigers, or bears, the anxiety you might feel from workplace demands can feel nearly as threatening.


If you’re not sleeping well, feeling stressed out, disengaging from your work, or finding yourself utterly exhausted, you might be suffering from workplace burnout.


If that sounds like you, don’t fret; you are certainly not alone. In fact, a recent Gallup survey of 7,500 workers indicates that two-thirds of full-time employees experience burnout.


I wish I could tell you that the easy solution to workplace burnout is to click the heels of some sparkly red shoes and say, “There’s no place like home.” Unfortunately, though, Dorothy’s magic tactic doesn’t work in today’s world.


Tackling a quest at work might feel as daunting as trying to find the Wizard of Oz, but self-compassion can help you bounce back when your yellow brick road takes some twisted turns. 


What is Self-Compassion?  

Kristin Neff, Ph.D., the main researcher of self-compassion, defines self-compassion as having three main pillars: mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness. 


What does that look like in practice? 


1 – Be Mindful

When in the midst of a stressful situation at work, you can first take a brief moment and notice what’s happening within. In other words, bring mindfulness to the moment. 


With curiosity, ask yourself, “What does my body feel like? What emotions am I experiencing? What thoughts am I having?” You then might say to yourself, “My heartbeat feels rapid…I’ve got a knot in my stomach…I’m feeling worried…and I can’t stop thinking about this problem.”


Try not to judge yourself harshly for your feelings. Instead, simply observe them in order offer yourself the comfort you need.


2 – Remember Common Humanity

Not unlike Dorothy, you might be feeling alone and even afraid. One way to comfort yourself is to usher in some common humanity; remember that, truly, you are not alone. Others in the world, and probably in your workplace, are feeling the way you feel. 


Your difficulties don’t separate you from others but instead make you a part of the human team. If you don’t believe me, remember the statistic I shared above, that two-thirds of full-time employees experience burnout. 


3 – Be a Friend to Yourself

Finally, try to engage with yourself the same way you would engage with a friend of yours or a colleague whom you respect. In other words, treat yourself with the same kindness that Scarecrow offered Dorothy.


The self-critical voice within might sound more like the Wicked Witch, but try to usher in some Aunty Em vibes. Instead of berating yourself for a mistake you make, try to offer yourself the encouragement and kindness you would offer someone you respect. 


What might happen if you bring self-compassion to the workplace? Well, even if you’re “not in Kansas anymore,” you can manage those challenging times with more resilience and grace. It’s as if you have your own personal Glinda the Good Witch in your back pocket.


Thumbnail photo by Mubariz Mehdizadeh on Unsplash

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