Remember the Present

Remember the Present

Burnout can sneak up on you any time of year, but especially around the holidays. Practicing mindfulness techniques is a great first line of defense against burnout which you can do just about anywhere. Here, we identify techniques for decreasing burnout not only for genetic counselors but for anyone who is interested in being more mindful in their daily lives.

Research shows that mindfulness among genetic counselors is associated with increased empathy and work engagement as well as decreased burnout and compassion fatigue.1 By practicing mindfulness techniques, a genetic counselor can sustain or improve their ability to engage in empathic understanding and compassion for improved patient care and, in turn, a greater sense of the counselor’s professional well-being.

While traditional mindfulness training, called mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) created by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, follows a defined protocol over 8-weeks, different forms of mindfulness activities can also be practiced on one’s own or with the support of audio recordings.2 Following Zen Buddhist tradition, Kabat-Zinn defined mindfulness as “The awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Formal meditation practices include: 3,4

  • Raisin Exercise
  • Mindfulness of the Breath
  • Body Scan
  • Sounds
  • Thoughts
  • Mindful Seeing
  • Mountain Meditation5

Trying different techniques can help you identify which ones work better for you, and which ones may require additional practice. Mindfulness can be measured using the Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised (CAMS-R).6 To assess your level of mindfulness qualities before and after practicing the techniques go here:

Incorporating mindfulness into your daily schedule can be done by merely taking mindfulness breaks throughout your day to practice the techniques or by downloading mindfulness applications to your phone for thoughtful reminders.

Don’t do any task in order to get it over with. Resolve to do each job in a relaxed way, with all your attention.
Enjoy and be one with your work.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

Jamie Armour, MS, LCGC

Jamie received a Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Wayne State University. She is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors. She is passionate about counseling individuals and families through the genetic testing process to promote informed healthcare choices and help with the adaption to a specific risk or genetic condition