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Summer Vacation - Time Off May Reveal Executive Exhaustion

» Mental Health Library » Disorders & Conditions » Stress » Featured Article

By: Dr. Sara Denning, Ph.D.

Dr. Sara Denning, Ph.D.

Beginning with Memorial Day weekend, The Fourth of July, until Labor Day, Summer will provide officially sanctioned “down time” for those who are secretly suffering from burnout. Subconsciously they may dread every day but their behavior continues to look as though they are performing as usual. Why are they putting on such a show? – Because they feel completely trapped and haven’t a clue as to how to get out of their slump.

A common secret in many companies and firms is that a few executives and partners have worked themselves into exhaustion. They must continue to create new billing opportunities, expand the business, and manage aggressive clients. The results of this malady are not really well-hidden but covered up by staff and colleagues. No one questions their work. After all, these people are partners, presidents, and vice presidents; they comprise the core of the company.

Symptoms that could be diagnosed as Executive Exhaustion show up in three areas:

  • Emotional: Pretending that everything is fine, arguing more often than usual, constant dissatisfaction with staff.

  • Mental: Paralysis, indecisiveness, loss of interest, obsession with details.

  • Behavioral: Longer or shorter work hours, distractions. Over consumption of alcohol, prescription drugs or food.

Anecdotal evidence abounds in offices, in meetings, and at company events about those who are showing signs of stress. These are the men and women who at one time made the greatest strides and pushed the envelope and are often the public image of the company.

As the summer vacation starts, the symptoms of executive burnout can be seen and heard. This is the optimal time to address the reality of this problem because a return to old work habits and routines with no new coping skills can easily worsen anxiety. Finding Solutions Methods for recovery from exhaustion and burnout need to be carefully chosen. Stress Management Initiatives can be implemented during the First Quarter to facilitate the management of stress in strategic positions. The goal of an executive level stress initiative is to bring this problem out from the file drawer and onto the desktop. The first step is self-recognition and then cognitive and behavioral work to rebuild a strong foundation so executives can return to the high functioning state in which they thrive.

About the Author...

Sara Denning, Ph.D., Licensed Consulting Psychologist. Prevention and treatment of executive stress and burnout is detailed on the web site www.StressedOutExec.Com developed by Dr. Denning. Stress Strategies Workshops were developed through post - 9/11 consulting with New York City companies. Dr. Denning works with business owners, partners, and key executives. You are invited to visit the website and sample some of the methods used in the workshops. The worksheets are available at no charge and are accompanied by brief instructions.

Click here to contact or learn more about Dr. Sara Denning

Last Update: 6/2/2008

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