How To Deal With Work Issues and Burnout in NYC

What is Burnout?

Most people have experienced work-related stress at some point in their lives and, when managed, this stress can be healthy and even helpful. However, when this level of stress becomes unmanageable, it can lead to burnout. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as a syndrome resulting from “chronic workplace stress that has not been well managed” and is characterized by lack of energy, negative feelings towards or detachment from one’s job and decreased professional success (World Health Organization, 2019).

In addition to potential negative consequences at work, burnout can also have a negative impact on our health. Studies have found that those who experience burnout are more likely to experience cardiovascular disease and serious mental illness (Maslach and Leiter, 2016). Some common physical signs of burnout are irritability, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and muscle tension (Barello, 2020)

How can NYBH help with work issues and burnout?

Coping Skills

Burnout comes as a result of the inability to manage workplace stressors. Our therapists at New York Behavioral Health (NYBH) can help you develop the skills and tools necessary to effectively navigate and tolerate these difficulties. Therapists at NYBH are trained in a variety of psychotherapeutic techniques that can be used to help you build effective coping strategies.

One way in which your therapist may be able to offer you support is by teaching you various relaxation techniques. One common technique used is diaphragmatic breathing, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is the part of the body responsible for rest and relaxation (Chen et al., 2016). Another commonly used relaxation technique is progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), which helps reduce muscle tension in order to promote feelings of relaxation (Lanier, 1930).

In addition to relaxation skills, your NYBH therapist can teach you distress tolerance skills that can help you manage the difficult emotions you may experience as a result of work stress. Distress tolerance skills come from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) which is a type of behavioral therapy that focuses heavily on providing individuals with concrete skills to help them manage difficult experiences and feelings (Linehan, 1993).

There are a variety of distress tolerance skills, including crisis survival skills, distraction techniques, and self-soothing practices (Linehan, 2015). These are just a few of the tools that your NYBH can teach you so you are better able to manage professional stress.

Mindfulness Practice

Research has shown that mindfulness can be a protective factor against mindfulness (Abenavoli et al., 2013). Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 2014). While many equate mindfulness with meditation, the two are not synonymous.

Mindfulness is a practice that can be utilized in many contexts, one of which is meditation. However, mindfulness can also be practiced in smaller moments throughout the day, such as when eating or cleaning (Hanley et al., 2015; Fung et al., 2016; Shankland et al., 2020). Clinicians at NYBH utilize various mindfulness techniques in their practice and can help you develop a mindfulness practice that works for your life and unique needs. 

Assertiveness Skills

Research has suggested that too strong of a workload, without adequate time for rest and recovery, is a major predictor of burnout (Maslach and Leiter, 2008). Assertiveness training, which is an aspect of behavioral therapy, can help you gain the skills needed to advocate for a fair workload. There has also been research demonstrating that assertiveness skills can serve as a protective factor against burnout (Suzuki et al., 2009).

Studies have found that assertiveness training can help improve interpersonal relationships self-esteem, resilience and relationship satisfaction. Therapists at New York Behavioral Health have experience facilitating assertiveness training and will not only teach you ways to improve your assertiveness skills, but also will role-play scenarios with you in session to allow you to practice these skills in a low-stakes environment. 

Have questions or want to schedule an appointment?

Is it burnout or depression?

Data has suggested a significant overlap between burnout and depression. While burnout is not an official psychological disorder or diagnosis, the symptoms of burnout are similar to those of depressive disorders. Some of the key signs and symptoms of depression are depressed mood, lack of pleasure in things you once enjoyed, insomnia or hypersomnia, significant changes in weight or appetite, and feelings of fatigue and exhaustion (APA, 2013).

If you notice these symptoms in yourself and find that they are causing you significant distress or impairment, you should seek evaluation and treatment from a mental health professional. New York Behavioral Health therapists are well equipped to assess for, diagnose, and treat depressive disorders such as Major Depressive Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia).

Your NYBH therapist will work with you to develop a treatment plan designed to meet your needs and use therapeutic techniques from evidence-based therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). 

References

Abenavoli, R. M., Jennings, P. A., Greenberg, M. T., Harris, A. R., & Katz, D. A. (2013). The protective effects of mindfulness against burnout among educators. Psychology of Education Review, 37(2), 57-69.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.) https://doi-org.ezproxy.cul.columbia.edu/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.dsm01

Barello, S., Palamenghi, L., & Graffigna, G. (2020). Burnout and somatic symptoms among frontline healthcare professionals at the peak of the Italian COVID-19 pandemic. Psychiatry research, 290, 113129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113129

Chen, Y.-F., Huang, X.-Y., Chien, C.-H., & Cheng, J.-F. (2016). The effectiveness of diaphragmatic breathing relaxation training for reducing anxiety. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 53(4), 329–336. https://doi.org/10.1111/ppc.12184 

Fung, T. T., Long, M. W., Hung, P., & Cheung, L. W. Y. (2016). An expanded model for mindful eating for health promotion and sustainability: Issues and challenges for Dietetics Practice. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116(7), 1081–1086. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2016.03.013 

Hanley, A. W., Warner, A. R., Dehili, V. M., Canto, A. I., & Garland, E. L. (2015). Washing dishes to wash the dishes: Brief instruction in an informal mindfulness practice. Mindfulness, 6(5), 1095–1103. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0360-9

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2014). Wherever you go, there you are mindfulness meditation in everyday life. Hachette Books. 

Lanier, L. H. (1930). [Review of Progressive Relaxation, by E. Jacobson]. The American Journal of Psychology, 42(3), 473–475. https://doi.org/10.2307/1415459

Linehan, M. M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. Guilford Press.

Linehan, M. M. (2015). Dbt skills training manual, second edition. Guilford Publications.

Maslach, C., & Leiter, M. P. (2016). Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry. World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), 15(2), 103–111. https://doi.org/10.1002/wps.20311

Shankland, R., Tessier, D., Strub, L., Gauchet, A., & Baeyens, C. (2020). Improving mental health and well‐being through informal mindfulness practices: An intervention study. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 13(1), 63–83. https://doi.org/10.1111/aphw.12216 

Suzuki, E., Saito, M., Tagaya, A., Mihara, R., Maruyama, A., Azuma, T., & Sato, C. (2009). Relationship between assertiveness and burnout among nurse managers. Japan Journal of Nursing Science, 6(2), 71–81. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1742-7924.2009.00124.x 

World Health Organization. (2019). International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems (11th ed.). https://icd.who.int/

Zendehdel, M., Elyasi, F., Jahanfar, S., & Emami-Sahebi, A. (2022). Effectiveness of progressive muscle relaxation technique on anxiety caused by Covid-19 in pregnant women: A randomized clinical trial. Neuropsychopharmacology reports, 42(2), 158–165. https://doi.org/10.1002/npr2.12241

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