The World Health Organization is now including burnout as an official medical diagnosis.
Burnout is characterized by:
- energy depletion and exhaustion
- decreased mental engagement in your career
- feelings of negativity or cynicism towards your career
- reduced professional efficacy
Most of the professional people I work with find it difficult to relate to conversations and questions about burnout. This is often because their job by its nature, their level of responsibility, the depth of their engagement and the pressure on their brain and body are inherently high and often uncomfortable.
So what does burnout look for a dedicated professional? Let’s dive deeper.
Energy depletion and exhaustion can look like this.
- Skipping your workout because you are too tired.
- Avoiding social engagements or feeling resentful about having to go engagements that you previously looked forward to.
- Difficulty being present for friends and family, such as thinking about work when you should be engaged in a meaningful conversation.
- Needing that second or third coffee in a day to be able to drive through the workload.
Decreased mental engagement in your career can look like this
This can be difficult to spot for the committed executive. We know how ambitious and engaged you are. It often manifests first as being more reactive and less proactive with your leadership.
Look for things like:
- Using loaded or personal language in your emails when you should be leading with thoughtful information and strategy.
- Sending reactive messages to your team as a strategy for “keeping up” when in fact that strategy may be further stressing your team and slowing them down.
- Feeling like you always need to drop “one ball” to juggle all the balls you have in the air.
- Feeling like you do not have a choice in how you approach your work and feeling more like a machine that just needs to churn it out.
Feelings of negativity or cynicism towards your career can look like this
- Feeling resentful about how much you are being compensated for “your sacrifices” as opposed to leading a negotiation for your work product value.
- Constantly comparing your compensation with others that you are working with, and building negativity towards your team, colleagues or partners. As opposed to feeling gratitude for what you are building and looking for opportunities to grow your wealth and the collective wealth of your community.
- Responding to that email from the head hunter, not because it is time for a strategic growth opportunity, but because you are looking for more evidence that the grass is greener somewhere else.
- Blaming your supporters for bad decisions that were ultimately yours. Passing off your stress to those you should be motivated from a higher place of purpose.
Reduced professional efficacy can look like this
- Playing catch-up on your work most weekends when you should be building your resilience and creativity, or planning your strategy forward.
- Almost always feeling behind on your work so that it becomes difficult to look forward and develop a leadership strategy.
- Difficulty delegating tasks because the work pile is so high it feels more efficient just to do it yourself.
- Not enough time to invest in learning. Unable to read books, get more training or enjoy connecting with innovators.
Burnout can also be found in physical signs from the body.
Stress and burnout lead to weight gain and muscle loss.
We use body composition testing as a tracking tool to ensure that your body is managing the stress of your career without suffering losses in your health. For even more impact we can use it to help you build muscle, energy, endurance, and resilience. We recommend quarterly tracking at minimum to ensure you are meeting your annual goals.
Your performance depends on your ability to “recover”
Preventing stress and burnout are dependant on your recovery from the daily pressures of your demanding work environment. We use heart rate variability monitoring as a tool for helping you to recognize when your stress levels are creeping up and how to keep yourself in a place of high performance. Simple technology like the Oura Ring makes this possible.
Lab work can be used as an indirect marker of your stress.
Your executive physical often includes markers of stress that are not discussed until you are out of the prevention zone and diagnosed with a disease that requires drug therapy. Chronic stress is a contributing factor to the development of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. When we talk about health promotion we have ambitious goals about how well you are going to live a long and healthy life.
We need to change the standard medical conversation from “when will you need drugs” to “how do we achieve the zone of high performance with lifestyle”
Do you know how you measure up and what are you aiming for?
HBA1C – We aim to achieve levels less than 5.4 through lifestyle medicine. This is the low-risk zone of optimal metabolism.
Fasting Insulin – We aim for consistency around 4-5 for optimal metabolism and no signs of pressure on the body that can lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, and weight gain.
Cholesterol – We aim to get your good cholesterol up, bad cholesterol down and triglycerides low as a sign that your liver and metabolism are in a state of high performance. Let’s move you from a state of worry to a feeling that you have mastered your metabolism.
Total Cholesterol – Less than 5.2
Total Cholesterol to HDL (Good) Cholesterol ratio – Less than 2
Triglycerides – Less than 1.13
TSH – We aim for consistency less than 2.0. Your thyroid regulates your metabolism. When you are under stress your thyroid is under stress. We use this marker as a reflection of how well your body can adapt to stress and not necessarily to diagnose you with low or high thyroid function.
hs -CRP – We aim for consistent scores less than 1.0. Hs- CRP is a marker of inflammation. While it is normal for this level to fluctuate other factors such as infection. Our goal is to ensure you are living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
Knowledge is power. We all know stress is a major contributing factor to declining health and our risk of serious chronic disease. It’s time to apply a leadership strategy to your health the way you would lead your finances or your business.
If you are showing signs of burnout there is so much we can do to get you back on track and living to your potential.
Let’s get on a call and make it happen.
I believe your success story starts with great health.I understand that you are on a mission, leading an industry, defining a culture, and making our world a better place. You have a vision for your life that includes success, freedom, creativity, and adventure. You are giving “your all” to realize your goals and your health is your greatest resource for achieving that purpose. Health is not the price you need to pay for your success. You can “lean in” without letting go of your dreams.