Burnout retreats, a new micro industry. Dr Neeru Jain, from Six Senses Fort Barwara, Asif Fazlani, Managing Director, Fazlani Nature's Nest and Jennifer Sanvictores from The Farm at San Benito, share industry insights. By Arushi Sakhuja
The fast-paced city life has its pros and cons. While some lean towards shifting to metropolitan cities that are always on the go, others prefer solace in secluded cities mingling with nature. But no matter which side you might prefer, the monotony of every hustle-bustle often gets the better of us. In a world that has begun to mimic a rat race for wealth and tangible things, one often forgets to rekindle with their inner self and finds calm in the chaos.
This led to the blooming of wellness resorts that were a space to unwind, cut off and recentre yourself. From yoga to nature walks, healthy eating that focuses on fresh produce, a healthy sleep pattern, a life with the right amount of physical activity and digital detox from our devices, this became a mecca for those who felt exhausted and drained.
Soon enough the exhaustion was taken to greater heights with depression, stress and anxiety taking over the lives of individuals – both young and old alike. Work became more about meeting targets, chasing numbers and money and less about enjoyment; life turned into a never-ending rush running from one task to another with no time for self, and relationships slowly faded. The smaller things in life that brought us happiness in simpler days ceased to exist. Chirping birds, a blue sky, lush green, expanse, a day out with friends, cooking a meal with family, community dining, calls on the landline and the joy of getting home just in time for your favourite TV show was history.
Gyms replaced outdoor workouts, running around the house to do your chores was replaced by automated machines, ordering in and sitting for long hours in front of gadgets, parents became protective about the safety of their children and being prim and properly groomed was preferred as compared to allowing children their freedom. The constant struggle to be better, live a life of comparison – a materialistic life so to say –, and replace doing for others with selfishness has led to a massive increase in cases of stress and anxiety even amongst the youth. Thus was coined the term "burnout."
* The World Health Organization defines burnout: “A syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Burnout “is characterized by three dimensions; feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job and reduced professional efficacy.” While burnout begins at work, it affects every area of one’s life physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially and financially.
And just like the law of physics states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so was the case to deal with burnout. Yes, therapy became more widely accepted but individuals needed a lot more intervention to truly break away from the robotic and monotonous lives they had subconsciously formed. Because when you pause and think for a minute your mind is either blank or you have so many tabs open that you don't know where to begin, hence pushing things under the carpet and procrastinating.
* Burnout rates since the pandemic have reached an all-time high, and The World Health Organization recognized it as a medical condition in 2019 Studies that show burnout produces physical signs in the body, including an enlarged amygdala, the brain’s stress and distress switch.
To balance this action of burnouts – from jobs, working from home (which is 24/7 work), relationships and a fast-paced life – wellness resorts and vacations weren't enough. Ever go on vacation just to come home and need a vacation from your vacation, stressed that the time away didn’t fix your burnout? To deal with this the world was introduced to Burnout Retreats. What are burnout retreats you may ask and how are they different from wellness retreats? Burnout retreats use cutting-edge medical treatments which are blended with hardcore rest and relaxation at elite, rehab-style clinics. Because the previously available facilities just didn't cut it. Burnout retreats help individuals lead healthier lives with a change in their behavioural sets.
What are burnout retreats?
Burnout rates have risen dramatically since the pandemic, with physical and mental exhaustion becoming less of an anomaly and more of the norm. This can be attributed to excessive working, post-pandemic trauma, and a rising cost of living, all combined with the constant stress of being glued to our devices and the fear of AI-powered devices taking over our jobs. "Burnout the new normal with WFH culture – one can sit comfortably in their homes, no more exposure to pollution and wasting time on roads due to traffic. However, we still see burnout, however, mildly reduced. The reason is that burnout is inward out; how we react to a situation determines its effect on our body, mind and emotions," shared Dr. Neeru Jain, Spa & Wellness Director, Six Senses Fort Barwara.
But to save us some sanity, there are Burnout Retreats which are specialised clinics and ultra-luxurious getaways that have sprung up worldwide, offering rehab-style programs to treat stress and rejuvenate weary souls. These retreats combine conventional medicine (nutrition counselling, electrocardiograms, cognitive tests, hormone supplementation) with complementary therapies (breathwork, bioenergy assessments, ozone therapy). In some Burnout Retreats, psychotherapy and medical teams utilize wellness elements like bespoke diets, massage and yoga to maximize efficacy as well as art therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, in which anxiety can be recode-ed in the brain. Put simply, "Burnout retreat recovery is a resort holiday for exhausted professionals which can help build their resiliency, productivity, creativity, vitality, and regain a sense of renewal and purpose," aptly stated Jennifer Sanvictores, Global Head of Sales, Marketing & Communications – The Farm at San Benito & CG Hospitality.
Photo Courtesy: The Farm at San Benito
Wellness vs Burnout Retreats
Wellness retreats across the globe have had their reign, and till now continue to see a lot of demand. The educated audience understands a need for self-care and while they can't find it amidst their daily routine, these double up as a great way to take a break. From Ananda in the Himalayas to Jindal in Bengaluru and Fazlani Nature's Nest near Mumbai each one gets better than the other. But burnout retreats take the concept of self-care and reconnecting to a new height by incorporating medically approved methods of wellness and rehab.
Highlighting the difference between Wellness and Burnout Retreats, Asif Fazlani, Managing Director, Fazlani Nature's Nest feel Burnout retreats and wellness retreats provide distinct approaches to addressing individuals' well-being. "Burnout retreats focus specifically on helping individuals recover from burnout, a state of extreme exhaustion and decreased motivation. These retreats offer evidence-based practices, personalized support, and a serene environment conducive to healing and personal growth. In contrast, wellness retreats encompass a holistic approach to overall well-being, addressing the body, mind, and soul. They provide opportunities for rejuvenation and vitality through expert consultations and tailored therapies like Ayurveda, yoga, and spa treatments. Wellness retreats aim to improve individuals' overall health and address any challenges they may be facing, including those related to burnout. While burnout retreats specifically target burnout recovery, wellness retreats offer a broader scope of well-being enhancement. Both types of retreats recognize the importance of self-care and provide supportive environments, but their focus and methodologies differ, catering to individuals' specific needs and goals," said Fazlani.
How to reduce the impact of a burnout
Burnout, characterized by chronic workplace stress, exhaustion, and reduced effectiveness, can affect individuals across professions and age groups. While white-collar jobs and a fast-paced lifestyle can contribute to burnout, it is important to note that burnout can also occur in other types of work environments. According to Jennifer, one possible contributing factor is the increasing emphasis on productivity and achievement in modern workplaces, which can lead to longer working hours, high job demands, and a blurring of boundaries between work and personal life. "The advancement of technology has also made it easier to be constantly connected to work, making it challenging for individuals to detach and relax." Moreover, she believes... "younger generations tend to prioritize meaningful work, work-life balance, and personal fulfilment. They may have higher expectations for their careers and seek job satisfaction beyond just financial stability. When faced with a disconnect between their expectations and the realities of the workplace, it can contribute to feelings of disillusionment, stress, and burnout." Hence, Falzani says, "a fast-paced lifestyle, intense ambition, lack of adequate sleep, and cutthroat competition and the demanding nature of modern life has led to increased recognition of the importance of addressing burnout and its impact on well-being."
So how can you reduce the impacts of burnout? As an individual who is a part of wellness hospitality, Dr Jain is of the opinion that one needs to first understand the impact – which could be of different kinds, of varied degrees across individuals – to reduce the impact. She rightly points our attention to the fact that the impact of burnout could be on any aspect of our well-being as physical exhaustion and fatigue, or a racing mind which ceases to be tamed resulting in sleep deprivation, a strange sense of incompleteness arising out of a Self-Critical attitude causing unfulfilled relationships. Hence, "it's crucial to prioritize self-care and take proactive steps to reduce the impacts of burnout regularly and this requires self-awareness, self-compassion, and a commitment to taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being," added Jennifer. For Fazlani, some of the key ways to reduce the impacts of burnout on a regular basis are the conventional practices such as yoga and meditation which can help calm the mind and reduce stress. "Taking regular breaks, going on holidays, and engaging in hobbies like music or sports can also contribute to rejuvenation and prevent burnout. Slowing down and creating a balance in life is essential to avoid burnout and maintain well-being," he further adds.
Photo Courtesy: Fazlani Nature's Nest
To start the process Dr Neeru Jain, Spa & Wellness Director, Six Senses Fort Barwara shares some easy steps to add to your routine.
Start the day with positive affirmation with nature and physical exercise
Setting expectations for the day (not too tight) helps begin the day on the right note – Divide the tasks for the day: 3 Must Dos, 2 Can Do and 1 if it happens, bonus!
Breakfast should be a good mix of protein and low glycaemic index carbs
Be your own Watchman – watch yourself losing patience and note down – analyze later if that was really necessary
Slot a 5-minute break after every 1.5 hours of work (sounds cliché but works like magic on your nervous system which is usually uncontrollable). During the first minute, count your number of breaths, for the second minute slow down your breath by 2, for the third minute, slow it down further by 2. For the last two minutes, just breathe normally focusing all your attention on your breath
A relaxing evening walk and/or some laughter with loved ones
Before sleep, analyze yourself in general with a forgiving heart and your day based on the tasks you had set for the day
Surrender to the universal healing energies while falling asleep with the affirmation ‘I trust the Universal Plan for me’
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