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Burnout Is Widespread. Here’s What to Do

Whether you’re passionate about your work or are eagerly counting the minutes until 5 PM, burnout is a real threat to your productivity.

Burnout is caused by prolonged and excessive stress and takes a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional capacities. It drains you of ambition, forces to second-guess whether you’re doing enough, and makes you feel like a failure when you miss deadlines or can’t meet constant demands.

Part of your role in business leadership requires you to push your people to realize their potential, but how can you do this without pressuring them to overdo it?

And more importantly, how can you help them repair themselves from burnout when you’re burned out yourself?

Consider the following best practices to recover from burnout and prevent it from occurring in the future:

Recognize the Symptoms

Though excessive stress can cause burnout, the two are not the same. Stress is often described as experiencing too much, whereas burnout can be described as feeling like you’re not enough. People who feel burned out struggle to feel accomplished. They run out of steam and feel hopeless in their situation.

The best defense against burnout is prevention, and the only way to prevent symptoms from getting too powerful is to recognize them early and stop them in their tracks. Disengaging from people or tasks, exhibiting stronger emotions, procrastinating, skipping work, or taking frustrations out on others indicate that burnout is setting in.

Advocate for Self Care

Championing for others to take care of themselves is a business strategy that’s often overlooked. You’re powerless to help others achieve their potential if your own abilities are suffering.

Emotionally intelligent leaders encourage the nurturing of the relationship with yourself. Go on a trip, enjoy a day spa, work on a project that interests you, or simply go to bed early so you can feel recharged the next day.

Treat It from the Source

Often, burnout results from a disconnect between a person’s values and their work. They lose sight of why their work should be important to them. They need reminding of why what they’re doing is valuable and what tangible results or benefits they should expect.

If you can identify what specifically is causing burnout, tackle the problem at the source.

Tackle Burnout as a Community

Though burnout can make a person feel isolated, its effects can impact your entire team. Taking on burnout as a group adds a level of transparency and accountability so everyone can feel in control of the situation. Explore solutions together and remember that burnout is never a one-man burden.

Set the Example

A basic business strategy is to lead by example, but the effects of this tenet on burnout cannot be overstated. If you’re modeling behaviors that can ultimately lead to burnout, such as running from meeting to meeting without first catching your breath, your team is likely to follow your lead.

Making downtime a priority isn’t just beneficial for you — it also sends a message to your people. As a business leader, you’re an icon of your company culture, and whatever actions you take set expectations for others to follow.

Be a source of optimism for others, and they’ll likely return the favor.

For more business leadership insights, head to our Management section.