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5 Tips for Managing Executive Burnout in the Post-COVID World

The few years have been turbulent for organizations and their leaders. Between a worldwide pandemic and subsequent quarantine/shutdown, the social justice awakening after the murder of George Floyd, supply chain issues, economic downturn including rising inflation, and a more than 20% drop in the stock market, everyone is feeling stressed out.

More executives than ever are reporting high levels of stress. A recent survey by Deloitte found that nearly 7 in 10 executives are thinking about changing jobs partly due to their mental health. More than 2 in 3 executives report difficulties or barriers to engaging in healthy behaviors such as getting at least 7 hours of sleep, using all their vacation in a year, exercising daily, and starting/stopping work at a reasonable time.

What can executives do to reduce these feelings of stress and burnout?

Five proven tips that leaders can do to manage feelings of being overwhelmed include:

  • Deep breathing exercises - Focus on inhaling deeply through your nose, holding for a few seconds, then exhaling through your mouth. A leader can use this strategy at any time, such as before or during a stressful meeting, before the start of the day, or on the drive to and from work.

  • Exercise - Physical movement is important for your mental health as well as your physical health. Going for a 15-minute walk during your lunch break, holding a meeting while going for a walk or using a treadmill, or parking farther away from the building are easy ways to incorporate more movement into your life.

  • Practicing gratitude - Recognizing gratitude in your life is an excellent way to change what you focus on. Writing down 3 things you are grateful for each day sounds insignificant, but can play a big significant role in helping you feel better about yourself and the world around you. Doing this daily for three weeks in a row can make a meaningful difference.

  • Shutdown ritual - Remote work absolutely has blurred the line between home and work. So many executives have increased the amount of time they work compared to pre-pandemic. One way to reduce this stressor is to have a shutdown ritual, where at a prescribed time at the end of the day you wrap up, turn off your computer screens, clean/organize your desk, and then close the door to your office. This can simulate leaving the physical work office. The important part is to follow that up without doing work (or much work) after your shutdown ritual.

  • Mindfulness - taking a moment to be present in your thoughts and your world can help you slow down and feel more peaceful. You can practice mindfulness by listening to a guided meditation (find some on YouTube or podcasts), or you can do it at home by focusing on what you are doing in the moment. For example, mindful eating would be not using your phone/computer or reading a book, but just savoring each bite slowly.

While these tips sound simplistic, the truth is that when you are carried away by the volume and pace of work, these activities are the first ones that are cut. Going back to basics and focusing on core activities that can reduce stress and anxiety are incredibly helpful to stressed-out leaders.

If you find yourself routinely overwhelmed or feeling burnt out, start with one of these techniques and do them intentionally. Schedule 5 minutes to have a breathing break or 15 minutes to go outside for a walk in the sun. As you incorporate that first strategy, then add a second, and so on. These strategies can decrease the feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed.

If you are still feeling overwhelmed, perhaps it's time to seek the aid of a professional therapist. Contact us, and let's talk about it.

You got this! Right?

Have you ever felt like a fraud at work, that others overestimate your skills and that your peers will discover that you're not as good as they think you are?

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of giving a keynote talk to early career executives about this subject.

Feeling like an impostor is quite common, with up to 70% of people reporting such thoughts in their work setting. It can lead to significant levels of anxiety and feelings of perfectionism and even impact your relationships at work or at home. While this has been called impostor syndrome in the past and in the media, a better description is imposter experience, as syndrome is more often used for actual medical or health conditions.

In therapy, we can provide you with the tools to recognize imposter experience and understand both the positive and negative impacts impostor syndrome can have. Once identified, there are evidence-based strategies to overcome feeling like an impostor. Not only can these strategies work for you, but they will help you develop strategies that can reduce these feelings for others.

No one knows your successes like you do. So jot your victories down in your LinkedIn profile, your vitae, or keep a personal file. Note the specifics of your success. Rather than document "increased sales", a better way to list this could be "increased sales by 25% in a 3-month period".

If feeling like an impostor continues to be a challenge, contact me using the form on this site ( to start counseling and address these issues more directly.

Please feel free to contact me!