Asian man breathing calmly outdoors.

Do you sometimes feel like your life is a meme, and you can’t help but say, “Gusto kong sumabog at magsabi ng masasamang words!”? If you’re having Kit Thompson moments and feeling overwhelmed more frequently, it’s time to take a step back and practice some deep breathing techniques. You may not realize it yet, but you might be on the verge of burning out.

Understanding Burnout and Its Impact on Your Life

Burnout is real; it’s not just another millennial buzzword thrown around as an excuse for sudden emotional outbursts. A study by research analytics firm Milieu Insight and mental health technology firm Intellect confirms that 52% of employees in the Philippines suffer from the condition. This alarming number may even be a low estimate considering how many people remain unaware of what burnout is.

The term “burnout” was first used in Graham Greene’s 1960 novel, A Burnt-Out Case, where the protagonist struggles to find meaning in his profession and keep his zest for life. By the 1970s, American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger adopted the term, using it to describe a state of severe stress, fatigue, and frustration, observed in “helping” professions like doctors and nurses.

Since then, burnout has evolved into a general term for a state of , often debilitating, characterized by symptoms of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy. Besides work (hello, !), it can stem from various issues, including financial instability, lack of community support, and . The condition can lead to numerous physical and mental consequences, including coronary artery disease, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. It can even encourage drug or alcohol dependency.

And burnout doesn’t discriminate; it can happen to anyone, whether you’re , , or a simple 9-to-5 guy trying to make it through life. If you sometimes feel like your fuel tank runs low and it never gets replenished, you might find yourself on that list, too.

Learn how to spot burnout.

Here are some signs indicating you may be experiencing burnout or are at risk of burning out:

  • Feeling drained, tired, or emotionally exhausted
  • Struggling to cope with challenging situations
  • Experiencing low energy and difficulty focusing
  • Perceiving most tasks as stressful and frustrating
  • Withdrawing from work and colleagues
  • Feeling a sense of hopelessness
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Lacking creativity
  • Noticing a decline in performance at work or home
  • Neglecting responsibilities towards self or family

How Deep Breathing Can Combat Burnout

Inom na lang natin ‘yan, bro. Mawawalarin ‘yan. Tempting, yes. Effective? Not so. Downing bottles of alcohol will only deepen your misery. What you need is to learn how to relax your mind and body from anxiety without resorting to intoxication (and unnecessary spending!). Consider: deep (or diaphragmatic or abdominal)breathing.

This type of deep breathing involves the intentional inhalation and exhalation of breath, often accompanied by the expansion of the diaphragm and belly. It’s a quick and simple practice requiring no special equipment. You can do it anywhere, whether at your work desk, in the shower, or while stuck in EDSA traffic.

Countless studies have revealed intentional breathing’s benefits for improving your quality of life. It can:

  • Slow the heartbeat.
  • Lower or stabilize blood pressure.
  • Increase energy.
  • Improve endurance performance.
  • Reduce the intensity of visceral pain.
  • Improve immunity.
  • Help correct bad posture.

More importantly, belly breathing is a science-backed solution to clear the mind, reduce feelings of anxiety or depression, and manage panic attacks effectively. If you’ve ever felt short of breath and anxious simultaneously, it’s likely due to practicing shallow chest breathing, which tends to increase bodily tension.

Research published in Frontiers in Psychology highlights that diaphragmatic breathing can trigger the body’s relaxation response, reducing cortisol levels – the infamous stress hormone.

A study featured in Harvard Business Review further supports how this breathing can prevent burnout. It emphasizes that slowing the rhythm of your breath can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for promoting “rest and digest” activities. This contrasts with the sympathetic nervous system that controls the “fight or flight” responses during stressful situations.

Additionally, the study shows how intentional breathing can enhance clarity of thought, rationality, and task performance. Plus, it can even help you foster social connectedness, positive emotions, and an overall improved mood.

Deep Breathing Techniques to Calm the Mind 

Now, sit straight (or lie down) with both hands on your belly. Close your mouth and inhale slowly through your nose. Observe your stomach rise as you breathe in, then exhale slowly through pursed lips. Repeat this process for five to 10 minutes and consider doing it two or three times throughout the day. Simple enough? The more you practice this technique, the easier it will be to calm down.

Alternatively, you can try these breathing exercises:

  1. Box breathing: Exhale to a count of four, then hold for another four counts. Inhale to a count of four and hold in the air for another four counts. Exhale and repeat.
  2. 4-2-6 breathing: Inhale slowly for four counts, then hold your breath for a count of two. Slowly exhale for six counts, then repeat.
  3. Pursed-lip breathing: Sit straight and relax your neck and shoulders. Inhale through your nose for two counts. Exhale through puckered lips for four counts. Repeat.
  4. 4-7-8 breathing: Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale through the mouth to a count of eight. Repeat.
  5. The humming breath: Sit or stand straight. Inhale through the nose for five counts. With your mouth closed, exhale while humming until you’re out of breath.

Other Ways to Beat Burnout

Complement these breathing exercises with other efforts to fight burnout from various angles. Consider these strategies to help you achieve the holistic wellness you’re yearning for:

  • Prioritize : Engage in activities that spark joy. Eat good food and go on a long ride! Spend extra minutes in the shower to lather your hair with CLEAR Cool Sport Menthol Anti-Dandruff Shampoo for Men. Give yourself a head massage and practice breathing exercises while you’re at it (that minty, cooling sensation will help a lot!).
  • Get moving: Exercise, dance, and learn a new sport. Or simply get up from your desk and .
  • Set boundaries: Learn when to say “no” for yourself.
  • Look good, feel good: Take steps to boost your confidence and love yourself more in front of the mirror. Get a deep cleanse using POND'S Men Facial Wash Energy Charge, exfoliate, and moisturize. Do your hair, clean your nails, and smile more often.
  • Learn how to improve sleep quality: Optimize your bedroom for better sleep; keep it dark, quiet, and with a comfortable temperature. Switch off gadgets at least an hour before slumber and avoid heavy meals for dinner.

When the situation gets too tough to handle, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. There’s no shame in asking for assistance, whether it’s to improve your deep breathing technique or to . Walang mawawala. You’ve got this!