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Study Examines the Impact of Mindfulness on Higher Education Burnout

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A recent study by Becker and colleagues (2020) published in the Journal of Integrated Social Sciences demonstrated that mindfulness may be a viable way to combat employee burnout in a higher education workplace.

As usual, we’re going to dig in and take a look at the study design and what the results could mean for employee populations at a larger scale.

 

We are well aware of the reality of occupational burnout. There are a variety of factors that contribute to burnout, but the primary culprit is often considered to be prolonged stress. Prolonged stress in the workplace can lead to serious negative outcomes including emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and diminished personal achievement. While awareness of factors that contribute to burnout is important, it is equally as important to understand how to use this knowledge to combat burnout in the workplace.

Becker and Colleagues (2020) recently published a study examining the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) in reducing symptoms of burnout in the workplace. In their study, faculty and staff at a large research university completed questionnaires assessing general stress, burnout, and perceived stress before and after completing an 8-week MBSR program.

While this was a pilot study, the results indicated that after the completion of the MBSR program, participants’ levels of perceived stress had decreased and levels of mindfulness had increased. Even though researchers were unable to identify any significant decreases in burnout scores following the MBSR program specifically, the decrease in psychological distress and increase in mindfulness pre- to post-intervention suggests that MBSR does have a positive impact by targeting stress sensitivity and increasing stress management.   

 

We highly encourage you to go check out this paper to learn more MBSR and the study methodology. The implications of these research findings could prove to be substantial. Given the transdiagnostic and scalable nature of MBSR, it may have the potential to similarly impact problems with burnout across a variety of professions. In reality, the solution to reducing burnout is complex, and MBSR may just be a component within a more comprehensive intervention approach, but it is research like the study reviewed today that will ultimately guide us to how we can most effectively protect the mental wellbeing of our employed population.

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