Burnout is a word we all dread. Scarily enough, more and more professionals are suffering from it every year. Stress and responsibility, combined with a lack of downtime, are the main culprits -in short, all the things that make up the life of an executive. However, not all managers are victims of burnout. Psychologists believe certain personality types are more susceptible. Ambition, desire to control, low self-worth or an exaggerated sense of self importance are all contributing factors.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you might be at risk:
1) Are you shying away from taking on more responsibility?
We all need time to relax. No one on earth can function 24 hours per day without rest. However if you are feeling frustrated, have next to no motivation, and consider your responsibilities as manager a burden – beware. All these signs are warning signals pointing to a truth you might not want to hear – you are suffering from burnout. It is important to take mitigating steps immediately. Cancel all of your meetings and appointments and take a few days off. This simple move can do wonders. In the future, make sure you are getting enough down time away from your work. Feeling satisfied with your private life will help alleviate work related stress.
2) Is your sleep suffering because of your career?
Trouble sleeping is clear sign of overload. Are you unable to fall asleep because you can not stop obsessing about work? Do you wake up in the morning exhausted? Good habits are the best way to combat sleep disorders. It is important to set the tone for relaxation in the evening. Create a ritual for how you spend the last few hours before bed. Going for a walk, reading, or doing some relaxation exercises will set you up for some quality shut eye. Stay away from alcohol and avoid rigorous exercise too close to bedtime. A 70 hour work week is often the norm for senior managers. Do not fall into the trap of working late into the night. Get enough sleep through the week. Without it you will not be able to function.
3) Are you frustrated by your employees? Do you find yourself holding back from delegating?
Does it seem like your employees never do anything right? Think you will be better off by simply doing things yourself? Unfortunately this is a trap – one that leads directly to burnout. As the boss, you need to trust your employees. Not only will it prevent you from taking on too much, it is also good for office morale. If you notice you are withdrawing socially, both privately and in the office, this should set alarm bells ringing. Once you recognize it, it should be clear that you are not just on your way towards a burnout – you’re already there.
4) Are the lines between private and professional so blurry you can no longer see them?
For managers at risk of burnout, the lines between work and free time are no longer clear. The pressure as manager to maintain a permanent presence in the workplace can be too much for some. Do you react in a hurried or stressed manner and can no longer switch off? When you notice that you are overwhelmed by work, it takes bravery to say you need time out. Take steps to regain your private life. Turn your cell phone off in the evenings and put away your laptop. Get involved in things that have nothing to do with work, for example take up a sport, spend more time with friends and family and find a new hobby.
5) Are you feeling edgy, nervous and irritated?
The signs of burnout are similar to those of depression. Nervousness, irritability and edginess are all indications that something is not quite right. Does a small incident trigger feelings of sadness, self doubt, lethargy or anger. Some managers can even suffer from circulation and heart problems. Those of you who are at this point have to accept that burnout is no longer a threat on the horizon, it has already arrived. When you notice that you are no longer able to withstand the pressures of your daily life, it is time to seek professional help. Find a respected practice that specializes in treating top managers. In the meantime, taking a few days holiday can help. If you do not notice a significant change, it is time to see a doctor.
Don’t Panic Yet: Those who act early can prevent catastrophe
A burnout is not something that happens suddenly; the signs will have been there for a while. The worst-case scenario is a complete breakdown. Make sure you’re aware of the signs, so that you can take steps to avoid a burnout. Consider how you can change unhealthy habits. Experts recommend that managers protect their private spheres. Furthermore, it is essential that you prioritize your friends and family. Relaxation exercises, playing sports and spending time on your hobbies will also help.