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We asked 30 CEOs How They Recognize & Prevent Job Burnout Syndrome

May 21st, 2021

Evgenia Kuzmenko KITRUM Brand ManagerEvgenia Kuzmenko

Being the CEO of the company is usually understood as constantly getting benefits from your work such as financial income, business acquaintances, and overall satisfaction with your life. However, recent studies have shown that 96% of leaders experience burnout at some point in their careers. Today, because of the COVID-19 impact, the responsibility of top-level management increased, because almost every industry suffered. Many CEOs feel overwhelmed by day-to-day activities and burden under more massive-scale business challenges. If you ever tried to manage even a small team, you know how emotionally hard it could become. 

Ask yourself these questions – Are you often under time pressure and have the feeling not to meet your work requirements?  Do you often feel dragged or irritated and suffering from mood swings? Is it difficult for you to get rid of your thoughts from work and relax? If there are still constant exhaustion states and accumulating your illness days, it becomes high time to do something against the persistent stress to avoid a final burnout syndrome.

The Definition of Burnout Syndrome

Burnout describes a state of deeply emotional, physical and mental exhaustion. Those affected have difficulty concentrating and make a lot of mistakes. Some also lose the energy for their private life. Burnout is mostly attributed to excessive demands and stress at work, although the causes may be diverse.  

Burnout Symptoms

  • Emotional exhaustion

A deep exhaustion feeling at an emotional level is one of the most important burnout symptoms. This can arise as a result of emotional but also physical effort. Because the necessary regeneration does not take place in the affected person may have a sense of weakness and powerlessness. Despite having a socially approved success, many C-level managers may feel worried about their accomplishments.

  • Depersonalization

In order to compensate for the permanent overload with high-performance expectations at the same time, many people end up with depersonalization. To help themselves go through stress, they mentally create distance between their personality and their work activities. For example, you may feel totally indifferent about quarterly earnings reports, which doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your company anymore. You may just set a boundary that affects your feelings about your work activities. 

  • Fear and Panic Attacks

Diffuse fear is one of the most common signs of burnout in the early stages. It arises from the permanently high tension of those affected, which no longer allows regeneration. If the anxiety increases to manifest panic attacks, this severely restricts the quality of life.

  • Decision Fatigue

Another common burnout symptom is tiredness that persists even after recovery phases. The feeling of being overwhelmed by those affected is constantly present and also makes it increasingly difficult to cope with everyday tasks. At the same time, the need for more and more breaks also increases, but during it, the expected recovery can no longer occur. 

  • Sleep Disorders

Those, who are affected, often do not make a clear line between work and private life. How many times did you check your work email while lying in bed? Do you have any particular time you should finish your work and leave the office or home study, no matter what? The tension, which is created by working after-hours is the one that keeps us awake although we are exhausted. 

  • Increased susceptibility to infection

It is well known that stress affects the immune system. This burnout symptom means a particularly high susceptibility to infections with frequently recurring diseases. Germs have an easy game with the stressed body. In addition, when we are stressed, it is common to keep an unhealthy lifestyle. A nutrient-poor diet and lack of sleep also reduce the activity of your immune system.

Burnout Syndrome Treatment and Therapy

Burnout syndrome can have different causes and can therefore not be treated in rush plus It is important to determine the personal reasons first of all.

For some executive managers, it is just being overburdened by workload, while for others it is enormous stress to make decisions that will influence hundreds of employees. Others do not cope with changed framework conditions or family problems.

Therefore, ideally, you could develop an individual and holistic therapy plan with the doctor, while discussing the personal environment. However, there are some general measures, for example:

  1. Personal: behavioral and communication training, vocational training, relaxation exercises, music therapy, psychological and social support (that does not have to be a psychotherapist!), Productivity techniques for stress management, etc.
  2. Organizational: workflow transformation, regular feedback rounds, setting up an ergonomic workplace, team events, etc.

Whatever your situation looks like, I would like to help you today with these effective tips to avoid burnout and reduce stress, so you can finally have fun and enjoy your job again.

Burnout Prevention: Easy Steps 

Take More Time for Self-Reflection

When did you last take the last time to think about your life? Our schedules are sometimes filled so plump that we hardly take more time for ourselves. This time is incredibly important to recognize where you are currently in life and whether one is satisfied with the life situation.

Despite the fact that today everybody is aware of the positive effects which meditating, daily journaling, yoga, breathing exercises, etc could provide, we still hesitate to implement these activities as a daily practice. We tend to underestimate the difference between regular short self-awareness exercise and give up even before the start. However, the recent University of Illinois study showed that 20-minutes a day yoga session significantly improves your memory and overall mental capacity.

Therefore, If you feel stressed more frequently, you should deliberately take a little time to self-reflect. I know that sometimes it can be difficult to confront your own mistakes or think about unpleasant issues. Here are several thoughts you can refer to while meditating or doing any other self-reflection technique:

Therefore, ask the following questions:

  1. What are my current life goals?
  2. What do I expect from me and I have certain expectations of my social environment?
  3. Am I currently satisfied with the job? If yes: why? If not: What leads to my dissatisfaction? Can I change something myself?
  4. Which everyday factors do not rob me of strength and energy?
  5. Do I perhaps take too much to heart?
  6. What are my needs? Do I still take enough time to satisfy them?
  7. What is my balance between leisure and work?

Meditation

Nowadays, the amount of people who bring meditation into their everyday lives is estimated to be 200 to 500 million. Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, has been meditating regularly for more than 15 years, combining it with yoga practice. He is so thrived by the result of this type of reflection, that he established a twice-a-week yoga class for his employees.

You do not need to study the original meditation technique in Tibet or even think about the way you meditate too much – it will just bring more stress. Instead, find a comfortable seated position in your office or at home, go to Headspace or Calm app, and spend 10-15 minutes on guided meditation. 

This type of self-reflection will help you to become aware of abuses and gradually get rid of negative habits that have been subconsciously integrated into your everyday life. In addition, you can consciously work to steer your life in a more positive direction, making you effectively avoid burnout.

Avoid Both Procrastination and Multitasking

Procrastination

The reasons for avoiding procrastination seem quite obvious. Living by the motto “ Tasks that could be done today should be postponed till tomorrow” won’t bring you much benefit. You will continue to push tasks further from being completed for days, even weeks.

But honestly: Does that feel good? Can you really ban the thoughts about uncompleted tasks? Can you deliberately relax despite outstanding tasks?

Your answer is probably “no”. Procrastination is a harmful behavioral pattern, it does not help to increase our self-esteem and reduce stress, unlike regular meditation or yoga.

So do important tasks, as far as possible. However, you should not hesitate to ask for help if your duties gradually grow over your head. By delegating tasks to your employees, you will feel less burden under stress and increase your staff productivity by challenging them.

Multitasking

Multitasking, on the other hand, is usually considered a perfect way to mess up several activities simultaneously. Stanford research showed that multitasking makes your performance even worse than going through your to-do list one task after another.

According to brain researchers, multitasking harms productivity, as you constantly have other tasks in mind and can’t focus on a single activity. In addition, your brain needs about 12 minutes to get involved in a task, so multitasking often results in low-quality work and unnecessary stress. 

The key is balance, as always. You should not allow yourself to procrastinate while you have defined your business goals and established a set of actions to undertake. On the opposite, you won’t complete any of your tasks if you are going to do them at the same time. 

What could help you is prioritizing? John Paasonel, CEO of Maxwell Financial Labs, one time described how his third baby was born during the week of annual company planning, board meetings, and raising funds. He believes that he managed to go through this tough period only because of correct priorities. On his top were work-related tasks that needed immediate actions and family, non surprisingly. 

Therefore, you could use this tactic to avoid overloading with work tasks that you couldn’t complete and time-wasting attempts to stop procrastination. By prioritizing your activities and getting rest, you will have enough energy to reach your goals one after another and have more quality time with your loved ones.

Physical Health Matters 

Unfortunately, a lot of CEOs believe today that looking after their employees and their team is a priority, while the executive’s needs could be partly neglected. If you agree with it, you are wrong. If you do not take breaks, exercise, get enough sleep and spend time on things that are truly meaningful to you, you are simply damaging your own brain. 

The amygdala is the emotional part of your brain and it is responsible for stress response. If you don’t rest enough, you will respond to stress factors inadequately. You become more sensitive to small details in other people’s behavior, which makes you more irritated. At the same time, the prefrontal cortex, the decision-making part responsible for regulating emotions and thinking rationally, works less effectively and, over time, can start to reduce in size. This means that you will not only be unable to think clearly, but you are also more likely to snap at those around you, your focus will diminish and your capacity to solve problems and think creatively will be inhibited.

Now, think about the value you can bring to your company while being in this emotional state. You can’t serve your team if you are unstable. Moreover, as CEO, you will compromise your company’s culture and reputation. Therefore, if you want to be an inspiration for your employees, do them a favor – take care of your physical and emotional health first. 

Here are some factors of physical self-care which may be obvious, but still very important:

  1. Sleep schedule 

Getting enough sleep is essential for health. Sure, there are times when it comes up short, but that shouldn’t become a habit. Above all, make sure that you train yourself to a realistic sleep rhythm. Don’t be on the phone or in front of the TV until late at night and give your body time to relax.

  1. Sport

The inner weaker self just wants to go to the couch after a stressful day – tempting, but often not the best alternative. To feel better after an exhausting workday, take a lap in the woods or go to the gym. Set yourself fixed days and don’t see it as another task to be done, but try to be mindful. Focus on doing something good for yourself & your body and this time is your break.

  1. Hormones

Burnout syndrome may lead to depression because it affects the hormonal balance in our brain. Therefore, if you feel emotionally tired without any particular reason for a while, you’d better contact your endocrinologist and get a hormone check-up.

  1. Nutrition. 

66% of unhealthy eaters are more likely to experience productivity loss. That is the reason why you should pay attention to the number of fibers, fats such as omega 3, and proteins that your meals contain. Also, try to get rid of sugar in any form – cutting it to 5% of overall energy intake will provide even more health benefits such as concentration improving. 

Conclusion

If you are under time pressure again and have the feeling that you are not meeting your own requirements, learn to delegate and prioritize your mental and physical health, even if you are the supervisor. If you often feel listless or irritable, take enough time for self-reflection and think about your current situation in life. If you overthinking your work tasks, project, and product you’re in charge of – just delegate the tech part to our developers.

This will not only affect the quality of your life and improve emotional health, but definitely influence the productivity of your team. If your employees will have a leader, who promotes self-awareness and a healthy lifestyle through corporate culture, they are more likely to see yourself as a role model. As result, they may implement these practices in their life, which will bring even more benefit to the company. Emotionally stable and fit employees are more likely to be innovative and creative at the workplace.

Want to free up some time to think of business not a code?