Can Gratitude Help Prevent Burnout?


Read Time: 2 mins

Gratitude has been shown to promote well-being in numerous studies. With respect to burnout, gratitude might also be helpful. Psychology professor David W. Chan writes, “the burnout components (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and a reduced sense of personal accomplishment) are diametrically opposite views of the good life (pleasant, engaged, and meaningful life), suggesting promoting the good life or well-being could be an effective positive approach to combating burnout.” In writing about burnout among teachers, professor Chan argues that gratitude-based interventions might be an effective approach to address teacher burnout.  

Previously, I’ve highlighted how gratitude lets you savor positive emotions. By savoring positive emotions, Chan subsequently argues specifically how a gratitude-based intervention can address teacher burnout. Chan further argues that “gratitude could help teachers to savor the benefits that are received from others, thereby enhancing the emotional benefits from their positive interactions with others.”

Among male firefighters in Korea, trait gratitude was found to be a “significant protective factor” against burnout.

Among college athletes, trait gratitude was found to be negatively correlated with burnout and positively correlated with sport satisfaction.

What constitutes burnout?

Some of the signs of burnout, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Becoming cynical or critical at work
  • Irritable or impatient with clients or customers
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Not finding satisfaction in your achievements

While burnout is not a medical diagnosis, it is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion. Getting sleep, proper exercise, eating healthy, and having support are all helpful ways to combat burnout. The benefits of gratitude, which include life satisfaction and improved well-being, may also be helpful to address burnout.

What types of gratitude exercises can you do?

  1. Use a positive, uplifting platform to share your appreciation with others (e.g., social media). Describe what you’re grateful for two to three times each week. Tag those you are grateful for.
  2. Observe your surroundings. You might easily find several things to be grateful for.
  3. Keep a gratitude frame-of-mind. When you feel stressed out, consider thinking: “I’m grateful for this good stress,” or “I’m going to enjoy this day.”

If gratitude becomes a routine way of thinking, some benefits include:

  1. feeling like you have more social support,
  2. the ability to minimize stressors and stressful circumstances,
  3. less repetitive negative thinking (RNT), and
  4. less negative self-talk.

Those are some of the benefits of incorporating a gratitude practice. A gratitude practice may not, however, solve all your problems or completely remove stress. Use a balance of techniques (some described in this article) that work for you to help address and prevent burnout.

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