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With global research stating more than half of managers (53%) across industries feel burnt out, it is clear steps must be in place to reach a position of ‘prevention over cure’. 

The long-term effects of burnout can be devastating to health and affect all areas of life; relationships, finances, and work opportunities are examples. 

But how do you know burnout occurs when your role consistently focuses on external results?  

As a manager, you are expected to produce results that bolster the bottom line, thus your work environment and how you manage your team often reflect that specific requirement.  

However, what about the human factor? You and your team members are not robots. You are each a complex matrix of chemically created thoughts, feelings, and responses. Without consideration given to these elements, you can drive yourself into the ground. 

The early signs of burnout can be subtle. When you step into management the need and desire to prove yourself worthy of the role can be the very thing that triggers your stress hormones into hyper mode, where you are constantly in an elevated state of intent.  

From the outside, this may look brilliant! All of that energy, focus, and decisive action is viewed positively and encouraged. But what is going on internally? What is the dialogue your body is running on? 

4 Early Signs of Burnout Managers Need to Know

Managers, here are 4 Early Signs of potential burnout that you need to be aware of: 

1. Excessive Drive/Ambition 

The question here is how do you define excessive drive? In its simplest form, excessive means too much. So, if you are constantly thinking about what else you can do, you struggle to switch off from work, and you are constantly talking about work, which might be a sign of excessive for you. Your sleep pattern is likely to be affected by the perpetual internal mind chatter of what to do next and thus your body is not getting the downtime it needs to relax and repair. 

2. Pushing Yourself to Work Harder  

You are doing well! You have so many thoughts and ideas on how to reach targets, get your team activated, smash through expectations sitting on your shoulders, you press in. Who cares if you aren’t sleeping? There is work to be done and you are going to do it. Sleep can come after you have got everything in order. You push yourself; you push your team; you keep your foot fully connected to the pedal and believe this is the way forward. 

3. Neglecting Your Own Needs 

It’s not just that you don’t sleep well, those moments you used to have to do things you enjoyed doing are diminishing or stopped. The gym goes from three times per week to one… or none. The social night out with friends gets postponed frequently. The downtime with your loved ones slowly gets replaced with late nights at the laptop. The weekends become weekdays, filled with tasks you need to finish by Monday. You ignore how tired you feel or ‘pretend’ it’s not that bad to keep others from nagging you. Worst still, you moan constantly about how exhausted you feel but tell anyone who challenges your work commitments that ‘it’s part of the job, you have to do it.’ You are operating on empty. 

4. Blaming Others for the Stress You are Under 

The pressure is on, and you can feel it in your body. Anxious about deadlines, fearful of mistakes, bone tired from accumulated nights of no sleep. When others intervene, be it at work or home, you find a way to make it their fault or simply dismiss their observations. 

And if left unaddressed, you may go on to experience: 

  • No time for non-work-related needs 
  • Denial 
  • Withdrawal 
  • Behavioural Changes 
  • Feeling Detached 
  • Inner Emptiness or Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Physical and/or Mental Collapse
4 Early Signs of Burnout Managers Need to Know

How do you get to prevention over cure? 

Build a better relationship with your body.  

Listen to it because it is constantly sending signs and messages regarding your internal state. Begin to recognise how it reacts to different situations, environments, and workloads. Consider meditation, breathwork, grounding, and stillness practices that enhance your ability to notice what is going on inside your body. 

Be Compassionate (taking steps to relieve the pain of) 

When you notice stress levels in the body are high or you notice anger or frustration, do not take it as an opportunity to reprimand yourself, take it as a moment to show compassion to self, be that with a walk-in nature, a talk with a trusted friend, or simply acknowledging what you feel, and sit with it without reacting to it. 

4 Early Signs of Burnout Managers Need to Know

Seek Help – Do Not Suffer in Silence 

Be kind to yourself and seek help. More employers are putting services in place to assist staff with their wellbeing. There is no weakness in asking for help, rather, it is a sign of humanness. Talking helps, suppression does not.  

Create a Healthy Routine    

Get back to or begin to prioritise your self-care. Schedule time for health-related activities that you enjoy and take a look at your nutrition, avoiding or reducing sugar and alcohol intake. 

Set Boundaries 

If you fail to safeguard your wellbeing, don’t expect anyone else to. Be confident in your responses to requests, be clear on your boundaries and communicate them effectively because how you treat yourself shows others how to treat you. 

As a Minimum Do The Basics 

Take breaks and get outside. Ensure you use holiday time off, and make your workspace more calming (plants, photos, whatever works for you). Connect with co-workers; relationships are key to maintaining a satisfactory healthy work environment. 

Burnout is not necessary; your good health is so focused on building your self-awareness and resilience to futureproof it! 

This guest blog is written by Yvonne Bignall, Award Winning Women’s Health Advocate & Self-Care Coach, Catalyst For Change. She is the Founder of YB Limited and Permission to Thrive, an immersive community for women 50+ prioritising self-care needs for health, business, and life. You can also visit her website www.yvonnebselfcare.com to know more. 

*Stat reference: https://hbr.org/2023/05/more-than-50-of-managers-feel-burned-out  

*12 Phases of Burnout: https://www.yournaturalhealthcare.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/12-stages-burnout-1024×538.png