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March 21, 2023

What to do About Executive Burnout: Part 2

Categories:  Leadership | Coaching
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"When you have balance in your life, work becomes an entirely different experience. There is a passion that moves you to a whole new level of fulfillment and gratitude, and that's when you can do your best, for yourself and for others." ~ Cara Delevingne

In our previous blog, we defined burnout and talked about the unique ways it can show up for executives. Since it’s something that executives will sometimes be reluctant to admit about themselves, it’s essential to be able to recognize it before it gets to a breaking point.

Once you identify burnout, you will want to look into options for what to do about it. That’s what we share with you here.

Executive Burnout Solutions

First, you’ll want to acknowledge the complex internal and external demands with which executives deal. If you’re curious to learn more about that, check out our previous blog, where we talk about The Top Context.

Because of that increasing complexity, we’re in a world where executives are always on. Even when a company doesn’t necessarily have a policy requiring people to check in outside of office hours, it can feel like something that’s implicitly required, given the demands of the position.

Lead by example

We recently facilitated a team integration session where the senior executive shared with her team that they needed to take more time off. Openly sharing and leading by example meant that her team felt more comfortable embracing self-care. She even admitted to taking at least one week off per quarter to rejuvenate.

Prioritize mental health

In another meeting we were facilitating, we asked the board members the opening check-in question, which three apps would they keep on their phones if they had to eliminate all others? Apps like Calm, Audible, and Kindle were mentioned frequently. Instead of feeling like their email or Slack was the most important, it was telling that these board members were prioritizing apps that provided some sense of peace.

Identify your signs

We all deal with stress differently. It’s important that you take some time to reflect on how stress manifests for you. That way, you can notice the signs and make some adjustments before things get out of control. Perhaps you notice that you have stopped spending time on your hobbies or started ordering delivery more frequently. You can even ask the people around you to help identify when you’re short with them or if they feel you are more distant. Sometimes the people we love will see the signs before we will, so enlist their help.

Find your source of stress relief

While you can do a lot of things to help prevent burnout, you may also need to manage the active stress that comes into your life. You can do this in many ways, but a few we have seen work for our clients: taking time in nature, exercising, spending time with friends and family, going to therapy, meditating, or engaging in a hobby you love.

The important thing is to find what fills you up most. You don’t need to do what everyone else does; you just need to focus on what relieves stress for you. Just ensure you’re not turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the stress. This will only make it worse in the long run.

How do you relieve stress?

We know we have a lot of very smart people that read this, so we want to hear from you. What do you do for stress relief? If you have any unique tactics or things you like to incorporate, please send us an email or comment on our LinkedIn post.

You never know. Your favorite technique could help someone else finally move past their own executive burnout.


Lori and James

Lori Heffelfinger and James Jackman

Supporting Business Leaders to transform cultures, teams, and workplaces.

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