In this On Purpose episode, Jay Shetty explores the link between well-being and the workplace, particularly concerning burnout.

Many people start the year with good intentions, setting goals, and developing positive habits. Yet with time, they may find it challenging to maintain them. For many individuals, work can be a significant source of stress, pain, and burnout, negatively impacting productivity and work quality.

Burnout Epidemic

Research studies indicate that 57% of people who experience burnout report being less productive in the past 12 months, and 47% report producing lower-quality work.1 These statistics demonstrate the adverse effects of burnout on employees and their work outcomes.

Moreover, research indicates that burnout rates are increasing each year.2 In 2020, about 29.6% of employees reported experiencing burnout, which increased to 34.7% in 2021. These numbers indicate that the issue of burnout needs to be addressed urgently, as it can negatively impact individuals' mental and physical well-being, work outcomes, and quality of life.

Jay Shetty aims to provide listeners with insights into navigating stress and burnout in the workplace. He delivers game-changing insights to help individuals overcome burnout. Such activities can be taking care of yourselves, setting boundaries, and engaging in activities promoting well-being.

Stress At Work

Workplace stress is a significant problem in the United States, with an estimated 40% of workers identifying their jobs as very or extremely stressful and a quarter of Americans stating their jobs as the number one source of stress.3 It can have severe consequences, with workplace stress being the fifth most significant cause of death in the US. This is especially problematic as individuals spend over half of their waking hours at work.

Jay Shetty argues that stress may not be limited to the workplace, with many individuals experiencing stress at home, too. Some factors are relationship issues, household tasks, or health challenges. Thus, stress may occur at work and home, leading to difficulties achieving a work-life balance.

Jay focused on how workplace learning and growth contribute to our well-being. He introduces the concept of eudaimonic happiness derived from optimal functioning and reaching our potential.

"It's almost like the joy that you feel or the fulfillment that you feel when you finish something, when you get over the finish line, when you complete something," he explains.

The idea is that we can find happiness in achieving our goals and realizing our potential rather than just seeing work as a source of stress. Jay Shetty points out that disengagement from work often stems from viewing it as a source of stress and hoping that home life is better.

"So much of our well-being comes from accomplishing things at work, feeling validated at work, feeling heard at work, feeling like we have an impact at work, these are all important parts of our well-being," he says.

Learn New Skills

Ongoing learning and development at work are essential. However, Jay Shetty notes that work becomes more challenging and stressful when we're not growing or learning. So instead, he encourages us to see work as an opportunity for growth and development and to prioritize learning to improve our well-being.

Jay Shetty offers suggestions on looking at our current work situation. First, we need to ask ourselves what skills we lack that would make our work more manageable rather than just focusing on dealing with stress. For example, he shared his experience of realizing that his weakness in building and leading teams was causing stress as his company grew. This, in turn, led him to invest in having a leadership coach, reading leadership books, and interviewing successful leaders to build that skill. By investing in developing talent, stress decreases. This is because you believe you can handle it and trust you can navigate whatever is thrown at you.

Jay Shetty encouraged the audience to think about eudaimonic happiness, realizing your potential at work, and creating a growth plan. He suggested identifying the additional skills needed to develop to feel more fulfilled at work.

Setting Goals

Jay Shetty highlighted that work can be a source of strength and fulfillment, and achieving goals helps release chemicals that make us feel happier. He also stressed that people who think they have a good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don't.4

Moreover, Jay encouraged the audience to set goals and challenges at work that are meaningful and fulfilling rather than just seeing work as tasks that need to be completed. When we are able to change our viewpoint this way, we can avoid being miserable and stressed for ten hours a day.

Workplace Autonomy

Jay Shetty touched on the importance of flexibility and autonomy in the workplace, particularly during and post-pandemic. According to a study, 59% of people reported that flexibility is more important than salary or other benefits, and 77% said they would prefer to work for a company that provides flexibility to work from anywhere.5 However, further studies found that 61% of employees prefer if management allows team members to come into the office when needed and work from home when needed. This led to the realization that autonomy is the actual word that communicates what employees genuinely desire, not flexibility.

Moreover, Jay explains that flexibility means having the ability to work from various locations. In contrast, autonomy means having the choice to make that decision. A healthy workplace should have a balance of both. As organizations grow, senior employees and productive individuals receive more autonomy. Having an open conversation with bosses or managers is essential to discuss productivity and effectiveness in different work environments. A month's trial could prove that employees can be productive and effective in various work settings.

Jay Shetty emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and understanding where one can be most productive and effective. Autonomy is about having the choice to spend time in ways that improve both work and home life. Jay recommends explaining where time will be spent when communicating with employers about the desire for autonomy. It should come from doing more and giving more back rather than from lethargy and trying to do the least.

Breaks Are Necessary

Moreover, Jay Shetty shares a story about a woodcutter who started strong but became less effective as his blade became dull. Finally, the woodcutter's supervisor recognized the problem and pointed out that the woodcutter had failed to sharpen his blade, which had become increasingly blunt over time. The woodcutter could then sharpen his blade and increase his effectiveness once again. Jay uses this story as a metaphor for taking breaks and engaging in activities that can help refresh our minds and senses.

Jay Shetty argues that both extremes of the productivity spectrum can harm our overall well-being. Working too hard can lead to stress and burnout while being lazy and lethargic can result in a lack of productivity and a sense of unfulfillment. Instead, he encourages listeners to find a balance and take time to engage in stimulating and rejuvenating activities.

Some examples of these activities include getting enough sleep, spending time with friends, and engaging in sensory deprivation exercises like sitting in a quiet room or floating in a sensory deprivation tank. Jay Shetty also recommends natural meditation to reduce stress and enhance creativity.

Jay argues that taking time to unplug and give our minds a break is crucial in a world where we are constantly bombarded with stimuli and distractions. Doing so can sharpen our metaphorical blades and increase our effectiveness in all areas of our lives.

Nature Is Your Friend

Jay Shetty emphasizes the importance of taking short breaks in nature to improve performance. According to a recent study, people who take breaks in green spaces perform 20% better than those who take walks in busy urban areas.6 Shetty encourages people to surround themselves with nature, even if it means going to a small park or hiking.

Natural environments replenish the brain, while urban environments drain mental resources by requiring the brain to stay alert. Jay Shetty suggests taking five-minute breaks every hour to walk, drink water, and look out a window. He notes that sitting for longer than 20 minutes adversely affects the body. Instead, he suggests using standing desks to boost productivity and cognitive function, burn calories, and engage core muscles.

Time Boxing

Brain fog is a common problem many people experience due to the clutter and disorganization in their work environment. Jay Shetty explains that the brain can only handle up to seven things at once, and when stressed, this number drops to three. To combat this issue, he recommends using timeboxing, a technique where tasks are already scheduled in the calendar. This eliminates the need to think about what to do next or how long each task will take. Jay encourages people to switch from to-do lists to timeboxing as it saves time and reduces the overwhelming feeling caused by incomplete tasks.

Taking short breaks in nature, standing up every hour, and using timeboxing can help combat the adverse effects of sitting for long periods and cluttered work environments. By implementing these practices, individuals can increase their focus, productivity, and overall well-being.

Workplace Relationships

Jay Shetty emphasizes the importance of building relationships at work. A lack of trust and community can lead to stress and difficulty getting support from colleagues. It is crucial not to neglect people in favor of solely focusing on job responsibilities, as this can make work even harder.

Jay hopes this perspective shift will help the audience view work in a different light rather than just relying on well-being tips that they may already be practicing.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “6 Scientifically Proven Ways to Improve Work-Life Balance & Reduce Stress” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at

1Chan, J., Dr., Clarke, S., Freedman, A., & Cebrian, A. (n.d.). The State Of Workplace Burnout 2023. Infinite Potential.
2Abramson, A. (2022, January 1). Burnout and stress are everywhere. American Psychological Association.
3 Workplace Stress. The American Institute of Stress.,or%20extremely%20stressed%20at%20work
4Corporate Executive Board, March 2009. Work-Life Balance.
5Reisinger, H., & Fetterer, D. (2021, October 29). Forget Flexibility. Your Employees Want Autonomy. Harvard Business Review.
6Lee, K. E., Williams, K. J., Sargent, L. D., Williams, N. S. & Johnson, K. A. (2015). 40-second green roof views sustain attention: The role of micro-breaks in attention restoration. JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY, 42 pp. 182-189. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.04.003

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