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In Season: Avoiding Burnout

The demands of an over-scheduled life, especially during the busy the holiday season, can leave you feeling overwhelmed and drained. The loss of energy and commitment, coupled with exhaustion and frustration, can be the first sign that burnout is settling in.

However, some research is starting to show that regular exercise can help prevent burnout. According to a recent study by researchers at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel, people who exercise at least 150 minutes per week were significantly less likely to experience job burnout than their underactive counterparts, and those who exercised closer to 240 minutes a week showed little to no signs of job burnout.

This should come as no surprise, considering we’ve known for years that exercise can help relieve symptoms of stress. Feel like 150 minutes is time you don’t have? Consider setting aside smaller daily goals. In addition to massage therapy, try squeezing in these mood-boosting activities.

Get Out and Recharge 

+Take a brisk walk: After a long meeting or period of sitting still, go stretch your legs. A quick walk or jog around the block can do wonders. Keeping a quick pace will raise your heart rate and help you clear your head. 

With busy work schedules, getting outside every day might not be possible for you. However, there are many things you can do at your desk. Consider integrating a few of these exercises into your routine and see how your endorphins sore.

Lower Body Exercises

+ Jump squats (10 reps): Only perform this exercise if you have a good amount of space. Bend your knees into a half-squat with your arms behind you, then jump up, swinging your arms overhead, and back to start.
+ Side lunge (10 per side): Step out to one side, point toes forward and bend one knee while keeping other leg straight. Push back up.
+ Knee lift (20 reps): Bend arms at the elbow. Raise one knee while simultaneously straightening your arms so that your arms are down when your foot is up.
+ Hamstring curl (20 reps): Similar to the knee lifts, start with your arms bent, then bend one leg behind you while letting your hands fall to your side.
+ Leg extension (16 per side): Sit straight up with your abs pulled in. Extend the right leg until it’s level with hip. Hold for 2 seconds, lower and repeat.
+ Inner thigh (16 reps): Place a rolled towel, water bottle or an empty cup between the knees as you sit straight up with the abs tucked in. Squeeze the bottle or cup, release halfway and squeeze again.

Chair Exercises

+ Chair squat (16 reps): While sitting, lift yourself up until your hips are just hovering over the chair, use your arms for balance. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, stand all the way up and repeat.
+ Dips (16 reps): Use a stable chair (without wheels) and place your hands next to your hips. Move your hips forward so that they are in front of the chair. Bend your elbows, lowering your body until they are at 90 degrees. Push back up to start and repeat.

Upper Body Exercises

+ Bicep curl (12 per side): Hold water bottle in right hand and, with abs pulled in and a straight back, curl bottle toward shoulder, repeat.
+ Desk push-up (15–20 reps): Place hands on edge of desk, shoulder width apart, legs out behind you. Keeping your body flat, lower your chest toward your desk and push back up to start.

Ab Exercises

+ Side bends (10 reps): Hold a water bottle in both hands and stretch it up overhead keeping your arms straight. Gently bend toward the left as far as you can, contracting the abs. Come back to center and repeat to the right (bending to the right and left is one rep).
+ Ab twists (10 reps): Hold a water bottle at chest level and, keeping the knees and hips pushed forward, gently twist to the left as far as you can, contracting the abs. Twist back to center and then to the right (twisting to the right and left is one rep).
+ Forearm plank: Lie on your stomach on the floor, and spread your legs hip-width apart. Flex your feet and tuck your toes under, pressing the balls of your feet into the floor as if you’re going into push-up position. Position yourself on your forearms with your hands balled into fists or clasped together. Pull in your abdominals and keep your black flat. Hold as long as you can.
Don't let shorter days and over-scheduled weekends keep you from being active this winter. Schedule exercise when and where you can, and be sure you are integrating massage therapy into your regular health routine. Stave off burnout before it has the chance to affect your motivation and commitment to a well-balanced life.

 This article was excerpted from mtj® (Massage Therapy Journal®) Winter 2012. Subscribe to read the entire article.
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