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Executives have often devoted immense amounts of time and energy developing their careers, investing in long-term planning.

Navigating major transitions like retiring, choosing a new career path, or making adjustments to a current job or career can be complex, even though these kinds of changes can be truly meaningful and exciting to take on. Since executives are no strangers to creativity and perseverance, they tend to thrive in transitions of all kinds.


Sometimes executives forget to cultivate balance in their lives, or allow it to slip away because they are overly busy and focussing intensely on certain aspects of life. Developing and maintaining balance within oneself leads to the greatest possible health, and long-term fulfilment. This kind of balance is a practice enhanced by attention over time and has the benefit of enriching all aspects of our lives, including career.


Burnout manifests itself when a person no longer sees how to cope with professional stress.


Jobs where the work is focused on caregiving – as it is for teachers, nurses, social workers, and physicians –have a high burnout rate, so do workers in call centres, professional athletes, or CEOs. What these professions all have in common is intense care for the smooth running of things. Over time, professions that demand too much from their workers can cultivate negativity and hopelessness, for example when impossible deadlines are set/have to be met, when one has to deal with rude customers, and other energy draining situations. All of this takes its toll on professional care taking.

Burnout can best be defined as a major breakdown in the energy producing systems of the body. It differs from simple fatigue in that one can recover from fatigue with a good night's sleep or a vacation, whereas burnout cannot be corrected simply with rest. Adrenal exhaustion can result when we try to do too much in too little time and don't allow sufficient space in our schedules for essential relaxation, restful sleep and the time to eat
healthy foods.

Common symptoms include tiredness, weakness, listlessness, caffeine, sugar and salt cravings, and low blood pressure and light-headedness when standing up. Irritability, nervousness and low mood as well as feeling unusually cold, stomach cramps and nausea can also be signs of adrenal burnout.

It is critical to realize that all the above symptoms are related to a severe energy deficit. One may be attracted to various stimulants to provide relief and a semblance of feeling alive and well.


Executives, CEO's, and professionals like teachers, nurses and doctors, often believe they should be immune to these very common human conditions. They view themselves and have a reputation as problem solvers, gifted performers, highly resilient, more stress-tested, and better equipped to deal with their problems than the average person.

While this may be true, this character strength can actually become a weakness when it comes to admitting the need for help and seeking professional treatment.

Colleagues and family members may also unintentionally create barriers to treatment by believing that their friend or loved one can handle anything on their own. They may ignore or even think they are helping by covering up problems, viewing depression or heavy drinking as just the result of heightened stress, or hoping difficulties only reflect a temporary situation which will pass.

The so-called luxury rehab programmes usually emphasize the inspiring beauty of their treatment setting or their menu of amenities rather than psychotherapies that research has found effective for mental health and addiction problems.



86% of expatriates take their spouse or family along moving abroad. Are you one of them? You may have noticed yourself that the working expats have a career to distract them from culture shock, but partners often struggle with the situation. InterNations offers tips you on coping with this change.


Expat spouses usually have very few options to deal with their partner’s assignment abroad. They can either stay behind to continue life as they know it or they can “trail” along. Both scenarios have their pros and cons.


In each case, expat assignments can make or break a relationship or marriage. In many cases, traveling spouses cannot pursue their own career while abroad and experience some restrictions on their personal freedom. Thus, spouses often face an identity crisis when they realize that they are losing their independence and status.


As most spouses of assignees statistically still tend to be women, local and cultural traditions may have a strong effect on their personal lives as well. All this pressure on expats and their spouses is like a magnifying glass on a marriage. Underlying issues and disagreements will come to the forefront, and one will soon find out if the relationship can pass this crucial test.


The impact of going abroad


When their partner receives a lucrative job offer abroad, spouses often agree to “trail along”. Moving abroad together can offer many opportunities for trailing spouses. However, for the partners, an expat assignment is also a time of severe emotional pressure.


Traveling spouses may experience a loss of freedom when their partner’s employer controls housing and schooling options. Additionally, many are unable to get a work permit and have to put their career on hold. The mere status of a resident, which many spousal visas grant, is not enough to get a job.


In contrast to their working husbands or wives, expat partners may lose their professional reputation when they arrive abroad. Instead, culture shock as well as the language barrier can make it hard for them to manage their lives the way they used to and even to accomplish simple tasks.



Making the best of it


This was the situation Maria (32) found herself in after leaving Milan and following her husband to Cape Town.

While my husband is working long hours, I am at home all day. I was completely lost and helpless for the first few weeks. I didn’t even know where to go grocery shopping. Instead, I had to ask my domestic help to take care of everything I used to do, I felt so uncomfortable having someone else do everything for me.


Maria missed her former way of life and her career in Milan. At the same time, though, she discovered that, paradoxically enough, being a traveling spouse also offered new opportunities for her.


I have more time to enjoy the things I have always been too busy to do. I’m trying to learn more about my host culture and catch up on Afrikaans and Xhosa. At the same time, I decided to continue my education. So I am now taking classes at the University of Cape Town to get my Master’s Degree in International Business Management.


Once the rejection phase of culture shock has passed, trailing spouses like Maria often learn to make the best of their time abroad. Despite the initial loss of their professional identity, they discover a life of their own outside of work.


Highly Sensitive People

The highly sensitive person (HSP) has a very sensitive nervous system, is aware of the subtleties of what surrounds [them], and is more easily overwhelmed in a highly stimulating environment.

Source: —E. Aron

An HSP is constantly finding "connections" or "links" between things. The "why?" is always present.  Therefore, highly sensitive people are profound, and quickly see what is needed or what someone needs, are sensitive to the environment, etc.

This is the power of a very sensitive person, both at home and at work. To see it as a strength, as an extra power, in these times, it isn't always easy for the HSP to be careful with the volume of data coming at them and make time and space to process the amount of information. We call this incentive management.

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