The benefits of our modern lifestyle are incredible, however its degenerative effects are painfully obvious as well. We all know the mental drain of spending long hours seated in front of a monitor, in an office, classroom or cubical. Fatigue, reduced work performance, stress, depression, insomnia, malaise, irritability, foggy-headedness, as well as digestive complaints, headaches, neck and back pain, are all very common. When these symptoms become severe and chronic, they are sometimes classified as part of a degenerative syndrome, known as “burnout”, characterized by exhaustion and reduced performance. In traditional Tibetan Medicine, burnout relates to imbalance of the five elements. +++

What If I Am Already Burned Out?

If you are currently suffering from significant symptoms associated with job burnout, this must be taken seriously. You should take meaningful, effective steps to correct negative patterns of work, sleep, diet and activity to balance the physical, mental and emotional health. In our practice we’ve been using complex individualized approach of various Traditional Tibetan Medicine and Tibetan Yantra Yoga techniques. If you already feel burned out and wish to receive personalized care from out team, we offer online and offline health consultations. For those who feels stressed at work and wants to learn how to avoid burnout we offer these simple yet time-tested tips.+++

How To Avoid Burnout Before It Starts.

In Tibetan Medicine, we always speak in terms of balancing the five elements, which include earth, water, fire, air, and space. In our human bodies, the five elements combine to form three elemental humors, called the three nyepa. The three nyepa include loong (wind), tripa (fire), and pekan (earth/water). The three nyepa relate with all of our bodily systems and functions. When our elemental nyepa are coordinated in balance, we feel great. Our mood is bright, our mind is clear and sharp, and our bodies feel light and strong. We sleep well, and we digest well. To maintain a healthy balance of our elemental nyepa, we must attend to our daily lifestyle habits and our diet. In this article, let us explore a few basic ideas and useful tips on how to avoid burnout and feel fresh and energized throughout our busy day at work. +++

Daily Lifestyle Habits

1. Take frequent breaks from sitting

Prolonged sitting in modern chairs is not healthy. It is detrimental to our muscles, joints, our digestion, and our mental clarity. Sitting all day can imbalance all three elemental nyepa. We should stand up and move around for at least five minutes every hour. Setting an alert on your device, or using some other reminder is a good idea.

2. Go outside for some fresh air and sunshine!

The world outside our tiny room is a beautiful, wonderful place. If we want to be healthy and happy, we simply must have some time out of our stuffy boxes, out from under the fluorescent lights, and a few steps away from the electric devices. A few hours on the weekends are not sufficient. We should take short breaks throughout the day, five minutes at a time is very good. Step outside, or up to an open window, feel sunlight on your skin, breath fresh air, gaze at the open sky, the clouds, or at green plants for just a few moments. This advice on how to avoid burnout seems simple and obvious, however it is so typical for us to neglect such restorative moments for days and days on end. Planet Earth offers an immense wealth of healthy resources, all around, all day long, and it all belongs to you! The time is now and the price is right, so please step outside and spend a few minutes soaking it all in. You will appreciate the benefits.

3. Practice deep, intentional breathing

One of the many detrimental effects of ongoing stress and physical inactivity is the pattern of shallow, ineffective breathing. Mental and emotional stress tends to constrict our chest, weaken our breathing, and inhibit the healthy flow of the air element loong nyepa. When the loong does not flow correctly the results are poor mental clarity, poor circulation and increased systemic inflammation. This is how to avoid burnout practicing deep, intentional breathing.

Proper breathing may be practiced in a few easy steps:

  • Sit with good posture, keeping the spine straight
  • A proper deep breath begins in the abdomen. Begin to inhale and feel your belly expand
  • Continue your deep breath and feel your rib cage and chest expand
  • Finish your deep and full inhalation by feeling your shoulders lift and spread like wings
  • Now you may relax and slowly exhale, feeling your shoulders, chest, and abdomen relax and settle

It is great to practice this kind of deep, intentional breathing as often as possible. You will notice an immediate increase in mental clarity, energy, and stress relief. Diligent practice of deep breathing results in many fantastic health benefits for the body, energy, and mind. For deeper experience we offer Tibetan Yantra Yoga which is a great way to discover harmony through the breathing and bring your energy back to balance.+++

Engage in Vigorous Movement

Have you heard that exercise is super healthy? I’m sure you have. And it is also one of the most effective health tips on how to avoid burnout. Hopefully you are already dedicating some time to a quality exercise routine such as visiting the gym, taking walks or jogs, yoga classes or other program. That is fantastic. However, even an hour a day of exercise is insufficient to compensate for the detrimental effects of spending 8 hours glued to a chair. It is very important to stand up and move your body regularly throughout the day. We want to keep the blood and oxygen flowing smoothly to every cell in our body all day long, not just for an hour a day! A simple walk to the water fountain is better than nothing. However I recommend practicing some type of short movement routine, several times at least throughout the day. Below are a few good examples.

1. Stretching

Many people already know a few basic stretches they enjoy. Great! Stand up and stretch as often as you can. If you need some basic instruction on which stretches are good for you, you can consult with an experienced yoga teacher, a physical therapist, a personal trainer or other movement health professional. In our practice we try to help people introducing them to Tibetan Yantra Yoga, one of the oldest yoga systems in the world. Yantra Yoga is fantastic for balancing the elemental nyepa.

2. Shaking the limbs

Vigorously (and carefully) shaking the arms and legs is a great way to promote circulation and coordinate the energy. We can find this technique in many ancient systems of yoga, dance and movement.

For this exercise there are a few simple steps:

  • Stand with the feet shoulder width apart, the spine straight and knees gently flexed
  • Raise both arms above your head, as if you are praising the glorious heavens
  • While breathing deep and smooth, shake the arms for a moment, then lower them to your sides as you begin to feel tired
  • Repeat three times
  • Now shift your weight and balance on one foot, raising the other leg slightly in front of you with the knee slightly flexed.
  • Breathing deep and smooth, shake the leg for a moment, then lower it down as you begin to feel tired
  • Repeat on the other side

This technique is simple and easy. It is very beneficial for circulation, breathing, and helping to balance the nyepa.

3. Tap the crown of the head

Ever feel dull and tired while working? This is how to avoid burnout and quickly and easily perk up your energy – gently tap the crown of your head. Reach up and begin to palpate the very top of your head with your fingers. You will find an area at the vertex of the skull that is slightly depressed, and may feel sore or tingly when you press it. This point, the crown of the head, is very important in many ancient systems of medicine, as well as yoga and meditation.

Tapping the crown is an easy and quick technique:

  • Sit up with the spine straight
  • Take a few deep, smooth breaths
  • Begin to gently tap your crown with your fingers
  • After a moment of tapping, relax and take a few more intentional deep breat.

This simple technique guides the clear energy back up to the head, helping to coordinate and refresh the wind loong nyepa. The result is a bright and pleasant sensation of mental clarity and vigor.

4. Warm and massage the eyes and temples

Ever feel sore and pressured around the eyes and sides of the head? This is very common in a busy work environment. This is how to avoid burnout and alleviate these symptoms with gentle warming and self-massage:

  • Sit up with the spine straight
  • Begin with a few deep, smooth breaths
  • Now clap the hand together in from of you, and vigorously rub them together, generating heat
  • Place the warm palms against your eyes, allowing them to absorb the soothing heat
  • Repeat three times
  • Now lightly massage the orbital bones around the eyes, and move out to massage the temples for a few moments
  • Finish with a few more deep, intentional breaths

Warming the eyes and massaging the bones of the head are highly effective relaxation techniques. We use them in Tibetan Kunye Massage while dealing with different health conditions. +++

In Summary

The modern work environment tends to present some serious challenges to our health and happiness. The good news is that there are many simple, natural steps on how to avoid burnout and overcome these challenges, improving our energy and mood in daily life. Remember to take frequent breaks, and spend time enjoying outdoors. Frequently engage in vigorous movement and intentional breathing. By being attentive to our needs, and investing in our healthy lifestyle habits, we can excel at our work while avoiding burnout, maintaining our health, feeling fresh and energized.

If you have any questions or other suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments below. For more personalized care you are welcome to contact me and schedule an appointment.

Photo Courtesy of Office Now CC BY 4.0 

Adam Okerblom, LAc
Licensed Acupuncturist and Tibetan Medicine Practitioner | Sowa
Adam offers holistic healthcare consultations and treatments in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is fascinated by ancient healing sciences and spiritual traditions. He is greatly inspired by the opportunity to learn and benefit from millennia of knowledge from around the world.

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