27.01.2023 - Mental Health


Blog Article YOUR GUIDE TO BURNOUT cover

Executive burnout is a growing problem in the world and corporate industries. Find comprehensive ways to prevent and treat it.

Burnout often happens in a work environment, rather, the condition is linked to overworking. When we struggle to find a work-life balance and factors like stress from work demands and personal influences start to increase, it can become overwhelming. Oftentimes people don’t realise they’re dealing with symptoms of burnout until it’s a bit too late, and it has already taken some form of toll.

Furthermore, there are many risk factors for burnout, which we will discuss later in this article. Learning ways to avoid burnout is of utmost importance for mental and physical well-being.

Understanding CEO burnout

As mentioned, burnout is often linked to work and work-related stress. It then spills over into the individual’s private life and affects their mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

CEO Burnout is the term used for work-related burnout on a large and demanding scale. CEOs are often faced with the entire workload of the company and have to solve problems and create solutions and opportunities on a daily and constant basis. Sometimes, work can become so complex that it invades the CEO’s home life and causes intense stress there too. There are also instances where CEOs may step down from their positions due to burnout and the risk factors affecting them.

Science behind burnout from a psychological stance

Burnout comes from how a fire burns, but once it’s extinguished it can no longer burn and the resources that kept the flame alight are finished.

Burnout results when the body can no longer produce enough energy to work through the problems mentally and physically. The individual thus experiences burnout.

During the 1970s, psychologist Herbert Freudenberger determined burnout to be a consequence of severe stress and high ideals from those in helping professions.



-Herbert Freudenberger-

Burnout sometimes happens as a one-sided event, occurring in higher positions and developing into a drained-out feeling. Emotions are often impacted by burnout, while current mental conditions may worsen.

For example, someone with an existing depression disorder who is now facing burnout will experience the variation of burnout even stronger. Often, people may confuse burnout for depression, only the difference is that depressed individuals will feel hopeless, resentful, worthless and even have suicidal thoughts or tendencies in all aspects of their lives. CEO burnout or burnout in general, may have similar elements to depression but the energy and negative feelings revolve around work.

Some countries may accept and recognise burnout as a medical health diagnosis, and other places might not do so.

Individual burnout

Individual burnout may also have work-related influences, but individual or personal burnout is often driven by stress at home or the workplace. Some parents may feel burnt out because they devote so much energy and time to their kids. Feeling stressed and continuously exhausted mentally and physically could be possible burnout signs.

Leadership burnout statistics

Leaders – including CEOs, managers, and caregivers give up a lot of their energy. They are devoted to the cause and might not rest enough or make time for themselves.

Statistically, burnout among managers increased by 35% in 2021 compared to the 27.5% in 2020.

There are also managers in various fields that experience the same occurrence since they bear a lot of weight regarding the day-to-day operations and problem-solving along with managing the rest of the team.

Statistics also showed a chain reaction in burnout definition throughout the levels of corporate management.

For instance:

Employee burnout results in hardcore micromanaging managers issuing unrealistic deadlines and battling tasks that take longer than they should as their energy depletes in the process.

Management or leader burnout – after employee burnout, leader’s burnout may follow too. With more employees calling in sick or taking time off, leadership steps in to fill certain lower roles and keep the business running. Eventually, tackling everything leads to burnout.

Some statistics also featured the following:

Employees working longer hours may experience effects like fatigue, possibly a decline in emotional stability resulting in stress and less sleep.

Managers in the USA and 61% of managers in the UK experienced burnout after the first lockdown during COVID.

68% of HR leaders agreed that hybrid modules have been harder to manage given the ever-changing and back-and-forth requirements. 72% of workers were hammered to meet deadlines and deliver in short, unrealistic turnaround times.

59% of workers feel overworked and constantly tired.

Juggling work-related stress, statistics as mentioned in this example, along with any home or personal stressors can lead to terrible emotional decline and a lack of motivation and enthusiasm.

In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) referred to burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” and an international classification of diseases since its effects on a worldwide scale. Furthermore, “burnout” syndrome, as described by WHO, is characterised by reduced professional efficacy, depletion of energy and exhaustion, mental distancing from work, and negative feelings revolving around work.

The phenomenon of burnout has been included in the ICD (International Classification of Diseases).

Burnout affects everyone in leadership and those in healthcare. For instance, WHO also noted that the burnout rate was prevalent among care workers during the Covid pandemic ranging from 41%-52%, and as many as 46% experienced things like anxiety and depression.

Burnout definition types and identifiers

There are at least three types of burnout, and if you've ever wondered what burnout is you’ll see it looks different for everyone. Even though burnout does differ for everyone, there are also some distinct characteristics a family supporting their loved one should know.

#1 Burnout by boredom (Boreout)

While burning out of boredom might not seem feasible, the truth is it does fall under several burnout stages on how to avoid burnout. Burnout by boredom or “boreout” is the mental and physical effects of the body taking a toll for being underwhelmed and under-stimulated.

As the complete opposite of burnout, boreout is burnout from boredom which is being bored with your job or not feeling any value in tasks. Even though boreout might seem underwhelming, it is equally as dangerous for one’s mental well-being.

#2 Burnout by volume

Burnout by volume is one of the most common forms of burnout. Many people experiencing signs of burnout or stages of burnout may be familiar with this second type. Burnout by volume is caused by overworking with no rest, the body later exudes the effects psychologically and physically.

Often, when experiencing volume burnout, the person cannot have time for themselves and has depleted all their energy on other factors. Constant exhaustion and mental fatigue are key signs of this type.

#3 Burnout by socialisation

Burnout by socialisation might not be as common as volume burnout but has the same effects. This type of burnout is especially prevalent in “people pleasers” when you simply cannot say no. Taking on so much in your work and private time leads to not having any energy for yourself, resulting in burnout.

Risk factors of burnout

There are many risks associated with burnout and some include but are not limited to the following:

Unsupported and uncommunicated

The leadership may fall into a situation where they feel too worn out to communicate. Sometimes this pressure causes a domino effect where the workers struggle without the needed guidance on the project.

Unrealistic deadlines

For productive and creative thinking, time plays a factor. Not allowing the person sufficient time to compile a plan of action and execute their plan will ultimately lead to rushing, mistakes, more problems with the project and more stress.

Burnout is prevalent even when employees are passionate about their jobs. According to a survey, 87% of passionate employees still experienced burnout, with 62% admitting to feeling high-stress. Burnout affects personal lives, and 83% of respondents to the survey said burnout was detrimental to their personal relationships.

Workplace injustice

Unfair treatment may also contribute to burnout in employees and higher leadership roles. For instance, unfair work compensation for massive workloads or favouritism may cause some individuals to be forced to work harder and suffer burnout than those who don’t experience the same.

When burnout goes untreated

CEO burnout and other forms of burnout that go untreated can result in major problems. Some issues include:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Declined work progression and productivity
  • No interest in work-related activities

When CEOs face burnout the domino effect can be devastating for the business because, ultimately, the decisions made will be influenced by how the burnout affects them.

There is also the fact that workers and other staff members on the lower levels will feel the effects trickling down from the top. Essentially, when the CEO is affected by burnout it can go on to affect the other members of the business and can cause adverse reactions and outcomes.

What are the signs of burnout?

There are several distinct signs of burnout, whether it is CEO or manager-related burnout, spotting the signs early can help resort to faster recovery and prevention.

Physical signs
  • Constant feelings of tiredness or exhaustion
  • Compromised immune system and constantly feeling sick
  • Appetite changes (eating more or eating less)
  • Muscle pain
  • Tension pain and headaches
  • Nausea or a sick feeling in the stomach
  • Behavioural signs and symptoms of burnout
  • Not able to finish tasks and to put tasks off for later
  • Distancing from friends, family, and work colleagues.
  • The person constantly feels frustrated and sometimes takes these negative feelings out on others.
  • Distancing from work responsibilities
Mental and emotional signs of burnout
  • Feeling anxious all the time
  • Experiencing depression symptoms (low self-worth, feeling down or like a failure)
  • Developing a negative outlook on work
  • Feeling a lack of accomplishment at work

Symptoms for burnout

Symptoms of burnout in individuals can also manifest like health issues. Furthermore, burnout in the workplace may also lead to substance abuse to cope with stress levels. People may also suffer from medical and chronic-related conditions:

  • Diabetes – because of a sedentary lifestyle in some work conditions.
  • Heart disease – heart disease or heart concerns can occur due to poor health choices elevated by burnout factors.
  • Sleep problems – things like insomnia or wanting to sleep more are common in burnout patients.
  • Emotional struggles – You may feel like you’re not only just having one bad day, but burnout can often feel like every day is a bad day.
  • Hypertension - high blood pressure can occur due to high-stress levels.

Why do people experience burnout?

Burnout can happen to anyone, but the condition is more common in CEO and leadership roles. But that’s not to say the other workers are safe from the phenomenon.

Some of the causes of burnout may be due to:

  • Lack of control over work (micromanaging can aggravate this condition).
  • Toxic behaviours in the workplace amongst workers and leadership.
  • High expectancy and unreasonable demands for results.
  • Work-life imbalance and work and home issues overlap as a result.
  • Job expectations are not clear.

Who is at risk for burnout?

Everyone can experience burnout, but it is more common in people who are overworking. High demands can quickly transform into an unhealthy burned-out worker in work situations with insufficient time. CEOs take on a lot and thus they experience CEO burnout.

Family support for burnout

Family support is pivotal in healing. Whether minor or major problems and struggles exist, for an individual to know that they are not alone and that a network and a community are willing to help, that is already enough motivation to get better.

Treatment for burnout

There are many things people can do as a resort to recover from burnout. Sometimes the process of burnout recovery isn’t possible to accomplish by yourself, given the degree or severity of the problem.

Some people resort to mindful practices such as taking time to breathe and dedicating that time to breathing exercise. Mindful practice may include meditation, exercise and avoiding social media or worldly distractions, even if just for a dedicated time limit during the day.

The Kusnacht Practice is one of the world’s leading rehabilitation and recovery centres dedicated to patient well-being. Whether you are battling the negative effects of CEO burnout, or you are suffering and need support, you can find tailored treatment for your needs.

With a leading group of professionals at your service and a magnificent healing environment, you can be at ease knowing that you’re going to heal from the inside out.


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