Under Fire: How Managers and Business Owners Can Prevent Burnout During A Crisis

5 min. readbyBarbara BowesonApril 20, 2020
Management consultant and human resources specialist Barbara Bowes on how the current crisis can lead to burnout for managers and business owners, and what you can do to avoid it.

I’ve heard the term “hell month” from stressed-out university students, but I didn’t really think about applying it to the Coronavirus crisis, and the stress that managers are experiencing right now. But sure enough, it applies!

Management and pandemic teams have been working overtime in high stress mode. Many are becoming emotionally drained and are on the edge of exhaustion.

Everyone knows that all of this stress, jammed into a short period of time, can lead to burnout. And for those that don’t know, burnout has recently been recognized as a legitimate medical diagnosis by the World Health Organization. In other words, burnout is now considered a medically recognized syndrome created by chronic workplace stress.

As a business owner and/or manager, your job today is to manage your own stress so that you can help manage the stress of your employees, many of whom are working from home. Do you know when you are overly stressed, reaching your limit and heading toward burnout? Most people don’t, in fact, most will deny it.

Dealing with COVID-19 is extremely difficult, so it is important that leaders be much more aware of themselves with respect to stress, its impact and what to do about it. The following tips will guide you to self-awareness and help protect against stress.

Know your personality

Many people don’t think about the relationship between personality and communication style and the ability to effectively manage stress. For instance, Type A individuals are overachievers and more assertive in terms of getting things done quickly. Type B individuals, on the other hand, take a more relaxed approach to life and work are therefore more adaptable to stressful situations. What’s your style?

Know your body

Have you ever sat down and thought about your own stress symptoms? Everyone is different, but the signs usually include tiredness, lack of motivation, frustration, and general irritability. What is your body saying to you?

Recognize your self-talk

You might not realize it, but thoughts are going through your head at lightning speed all of the time. If your thoughts are negative, such as, “I can’t do this”, “This is making me crazy”, or “I feel terrible”, you are reinforcing negative thoughts and preventing yourself from dealing with stress in a positive manner. Test your thoughts. What are you saying to yourself? Is it negative or positive?

Assess your workplace

Take time to look realistically at your job and your workplace. Do you have the control you need, as well as the tools and resources to lead during this crisis?

Find and apply your stress releasers

Once you recognize your stress, it’s important to find healthy ways to relieve it. If you are feeling overwhelmed, speak to a mental health professional.

Spring has sprung, but brought with it this so-called “hell month”. This makes it critical that you pay special attention to your current stress factors and take steps to manage them. Don’t let it burn you out. Life is too short.

Barbara J. Bowes, FCPHR is a consultant with Legacy Bowes Group, a leading human resource and executive search firm in Manitoba.

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