Executive burnout

Executive burnout is a process where the alarming signs of stress occur day in and day out over an extended period of time.  Stress symptoms tend to only manifest themselves for a short period of time and on an isolated basis, whereas executive burnout is the collection of stress which lasts for a prolonged period. Responses to stress include suppressing the immune system, tissue repair and the digestion process to drive blood through your arms and legs. The longer chronic stress lasts, the more damage it does to your body and the more vital resources it depletes. Stress responses also increase the level of bad cholesterol and greatly reduces the amount of positive production in the body.

One of the most effective ways to manage stress is through rehabilitation and stress management courses/ or techniques. Many people are often reluctant to visit a doctor over concerns about stress, and this is what usually leads to the buildup of stress and ultimately end with executive burnout.

One of the most notable signs that a person is struggling with burnout is that the thought of going or doing any form of work is overwhelming. It’s a physical condition that has to be dealt with and handled in the same manner as any other serious illness. This is done by finding the root cause of the burnout and rebuilding the body and mind.

Some of the major signs of executive burnout include:

Severe exhaustion: The symptoms of severe exhaustion include not being able to physically get up in the morning. This means you have no desire to do anything at all and even thinking about doing any form of work can make you feel physically ill.

Emotionally draining work: If your place of work is intense or involves emotional demands, the constant emotional stress can cause your adrenal glands to dry up and can lead to severe physical fatigue which is usually due to a lack of defensive chemicals to manage stressors.  

Excessive workload: Having too much work to physically handle drives up your stress levels and can prevent the body from physically recovering. It can also affect your brain and stop your mind from replenishing some of the essential resources it needs to function normally. The buildup of this leads to damaging behaviours such as getting little to no sleep, having a poor diet, not exercising at all and having very high levels at stress which chips away at the immune system.

The absence of positive emotions: This is considered to be the top major sign of executive burnout. The brain will alter it’s behavioural patterns and instead fixate on problematic thoughts such as emergencies, threats and resentment. It will mean your brain makes you think that activities and feelings you felt outside of work that used to be positive now feel meaningless and negative.

Lack of support and rewarding behaviour: During your working career, you will feel positivity coming from your actions and successes. Sometimes going the extra mile will lead to rewarding thoughts and the sense of success.  When you reach your burnout level, all that comes with success and the extra working effort is a loss of emotion and overall resentment.  There will be no payoff and you can end up detaching yourself from everyone and everything around you which you once considered positive. This will end up with you losing social supports and having little to no opportunity to feel effective which is a very important need.

When to seek help

Executive burnout can hit anyone from any industry. The key is to notice the telling signs and act upon them before it becomes an underlying issue which will be a lot more difficult to deal with and has the potential to become detrimental to your health.  The key is to take care of yourself and watch for those changes. But, if executive burnout does take hold, we are here to help. 

Learn more about our executive burnout treatment here.