Executive Stress

executive suit and tie

How can I protect my job and privacy while in rehab?

While there exist many barriers for anyone thinking about treatment for addiction (from accepting there’s a problem, to not knowing where to find help, and beyond), for professionals in the workplace, the fear and stigma associated with rehabilitation can make seeking help even harder.

Pressure that is related to a person’s career and privacy can often inhibit someone’s willingness to seek help when they need it. Unfortunately, this can prolong substance use issues.

To help you feel more secure about enrolling in a treatment program, and to start your recovery journey, we’ve answered some common questions and concerns you may find yourself struggling with.

Here goes.

Should I speak with my employer about rehab? If so, how?

Admitting to yourself that you have a problem can be hard enough on its own. But, admitting it to an employer can feel even more daunting.

If you’ve been trying to hide your addiction from your boss and coworkers, there’s a strong chance that the stress and action of doing so has already aroused suspicion.

The use of illegal drugs can result in your termination, and your employer has the right to administer drug tests to detect the use of such substances.

While this seems scary, opening up to your employer about your addiction and showing your willingness to seek help can be a sign of strength and proactivity.

Before you approach your boss, however, it’s important to research options for treatment and your rights as an employee. That way, you can present them with a plan for how you will begin your recovery.

What protections am I provided at work?

While individual company policies and assistance programs will differ, there are several laws in place in the United States that protect you as an employee suffering from addiction.

Specifically, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for employees seeking help for substance abuse. Additionally, both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act prevent employers from firing or discriminating against employees with a disability, including those in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction.

Make sure you understand these laws and are familiar with the protections they offer, as well as any company policies that offer resources or securities for employees with disabilities.

What if I lose my job while in treatment?

Many professionals worry that entering into rehab for their addiction will mean risking their career, but in reality, the opposite is often true.

With various laws in place to help protect your job security and prevent discrimination, seeking treatment can help you get control over your life and improve your abilities and relationships at work.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it is illegal to fire someone based on a disability pertaining to substance abuse under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

When considering treatment, make sure to find a facility that caters to executives and professionals. Their programs will specialize in private and effective means to help you recover without having your work suffer as a result.

How can I maintain my recovery when I return to work?

Returning to work means returning to stressors like deadlines, high expectations, office politics, and more. A good treatment center, however, can help ease you back into your career and manage problematic triggers.

Many executive recovery programs allow patients to remain connected to their jobs by engaging in work online or over the phone when necessary. While recovery is always the most important goal of rehabilitation, allowing some flexibility to work during treatment means you won’t be completely disconnected from your job. This can help make the transition back to work easier.

Another major way to help maintain your recovery is to make sure your treatment offers strong outpatient programs and aftercare. These programs can help you avoid burnout or relapse through counselling, planning, self-care routines, and putting you into positive interactions with sober people.

How can I prepare for treatment?

Although it may be difficult to accept one’s problems or face the fear of losing a job, taking the first step in your recovery and seeking help will start you on a path to a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Before you begin treatment, it’s important to find a program that will accommodate your professional needs, as well as a facility that provides an environment where you can recover and feel like you’re making positive progress.

Make sure you understand your rights as an employee at a company, state, and federal level, and be sure to approach conversations with your employer surrounding a leave of absence with a clear and straightforward plan.

If you’re looking for more information on treatment, or if you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery, contact the team at Tikvah Lake to find out about how we can help you.

burnout and stress

How to prevent executive burnout

For many of today’s executives, the pressure to perform is always on.

But taking on heavy workloads and trying to keep up with unrealistic expectations over prolonged periods can often lead to a breakdown. 

After years of commitment and doing whatever it takes to excel, even the best of us can face burnout.

What is burnout?

Officially recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO), executive burnout is a medical syndrome specifically tied to chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. 

Stress in the workplace is not uncommon but when left untreated it can lead to burnout, this, in turn, can lead to more serious health issues.

Individuals suffering from burnout can experience a total loss of motivation and energy, they can become negative, cynical and less effective at work. 

In the process of climbing to the top, the constant demands and long working hours find many executives fighting a losing battle with fatigue, stress and anxiety.

Not wanting to admit defeat, the drive to achieve perfection and the fear of not being in control can trigger a downward spiral in job performance.  

Working around the clock is bad for health. The number of hours we are required to work has an influence on our mental and physical well-being.

Excessive working hours can also have a detrimental effect on the quality of sleep – a contributing factor to fatigue, exhaustion, anxiety, and reduced performance.  

Avoid burnout before you’re burned out 

work burnout and stress

Burnout in the workplace can be identified by three components: feelings of depletion or exhaustion; feeling negative or disengaged from one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.

Burnout syndrome is a gradual process, which can creep up on you, so it’s important to recognise the signs and symptoms as early on as possible. By being mindful and actively reducing your stress, you can prevent eventual burnout.

The first step to preventing burnout is knowledge. It’s important to recognise some of the warning signs and know what to do about them.

Physical and emotional symptoms can include:

  • chronic fatigue
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • loss of appetite
  • shortness of breath
  • lack of focus, dizziness
  • heart palpitations
  • low immune system
  • early stages of anxiety and/or depression

Behavioural symptoms can include:

  • low mood
  • detachment
  • procrastination
  • family or relationship problems

More serious side-effects can be seen in addictive behaviours, such as increased consumption of drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, and a change in appetite: binge eating or not eating enough.

Burnout is not to be ignored.

If you can self-identify with these symptoms its essential to create a self-care commitment.  

How Should You Self-Care?

Learn to sleep again. Poor sleep, or a lack of it, is extremely bad for your health. Most adults require six to nine hours of sleep every night so it’s important to have a regular bedtime routine. 

If you’re an over-thinker – clear your head by writing down all your to-do’s in a diary. 

Make your bedroom a relaxing environment. Don’t take your phone or tablet to bed with you. Electronics and TVs in the bedroom strongly impact your quality of sleep.

Ditch ready-made meals and fast food, and practice the art of home cooking to anchor you into the present. Focus on foods that nourish your body – especially during times of stress and burnout. Boost your mood, fight fatigue and improve your sleep by introducing more Omega-3´s, fibre and dark leafy greens into your diet.

Make more time to enjoy your friends and family. Pick up the phone and call a loved one, just to chat and catch up – texting or messaging doesn’t count!

Set clear boundaries between work and home. Setting boundaries between the two can increase efficiency at work as well as reduce stress and improve your personal life. The reward is more relaxation and less burnout. 

Learn to say no to taking on more responsibilities and things that will only add to your stress level.  Delegate! Make time each day to create a plan of action. Effective delegating can free up more time and prevent stress and burnout. 

Take regular breaks during your workday and don’t work straight through lunch. 

Listen to your body, spend time in silence, meditate, do yoga, stay hydrated and stay away from alcohol. 

Have some fun – find joy in life, take walks in natural surroundings, take time out, learn to breathe,  book a holiday, and LOVE YOURSELF. 

By practising self-care your physical, mental, and emotional health will benefit – in return, you will reach your optimal performance.  So stop those long hours, put yourself first, and make time for rest and renewal.

We offer a 10-day executive treatment program aimed especially aimed at busy executives. Contact us today for more information.

executive suit and tie

Leadership and codependency

If you are the sort of boss who has to check over everyone’s work, that might be because you are diligent. Or it could be a sign that you’re codependent.

It’s one of many signs of this emotional and behavioral condition. Originally used around alcoholism, it explained how it was not just the problem drinker who had an addiction.

It reasoned that often some of the alcoholic’s family and friends were addicted to the relationship they had with him or her.

Author Melody Beattie made codependency a familiar concept with her 1980s bestseller Codependent No More: How To Stop Controlling Others And Start Caring For Yourself. It popularized the idea that being addicted to a person or a type of relationship was something that clearly existed.

Beattie’s definition of a codependent person is someone who has let another person’s behavior affect them. So they are obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.

Codependency is such as where someone enables another to continue in an unhealthy way of living: with an addiction, a mental health issue, or simply not acting in a mature and responsible manner.

This happens because a codependent person is using that other person to give them validation, approval, recognition and an identity.

Also known as “relationship addiction”, codependency can be learned from the family you grew up in. You may recognize in one of your parents or significant adult carers during your childhood that while they insisted they were looking after somebody, including you, it was much more about control.

This is often because as a child, they were deprived of love and approval.

Codependency is then this way passed on from generation to generation.

How can I spot codependency?

  • It is difficult for a codependent person to keep healthy boundaries if they even know what they are. 
  • A codependent person frequently takes over another person’s responsibilities.
  • There are constant fears of abandonment, so a codependent person will do virtually anything to avoid this sort of rejection.
  • They are prone to over-helping.
  • They will see approval from others as more important than respecting themselves.
  • They are someone who is scared of ever being wrong.
  • They will fixate on mistakes.
  • They always feel the need to be in a relationship.

What does a codependent boss look like?

A codependent boss maybe someone who’s always over-friendly, and like they are trying to be a combination of a best friend, a counselor and a parent… They will frequently invade other people’s personal space.

They can have an unhealthy degree of enmeshment with all the staff. They are likely to be excessively keen – desperately so – to always be the rescuer and everyone’s best buddy.

In an attempt to become this confidant, a codependent boss will often share too much of their own personal life in order to set up intimacy.

It is frequently uncomfortable for the person on the receiving end of these details.

A codependent boss is usually controlling. That is in their overall manner and instructions, as well as how the office has to be kept.

Behind this action is a compulsive need to counteract the unpredictable world they likely grew up in. Being anything like out of control brings back unwelcome feelings.

Because they are seeking approval 24/7, they will work way too much. But they won’t work all these hours without everyone knowing what a great sacrifice they have made.

But because they cannot have any rejection again in their life, they will be suffering from the perpetual fear of making mistakes. The more they work the more likely they are to make a mistake. Even the slightest mistake can lead to an immense overreaction.

But a codependent boss will always find it difficult to own up. So, as well as trying to be a best buddy, they can also be the world’s worst critic.

A codependent boss loves having his staff side with them. It’s always solely about whatever helps them out the most in their search for validation.

Can a codependent person change?

Work success and the decent salaries that bosses earn help a codependent person for a while because it signifies some form of approval. But soon it will stop working because the real solution is an inside job.

With the help of a professional therapist who knows what they’re talking about, a codependent person needs to realize their tendencies for codependency.

A competent counselor will help a codependent person learn how to regain and build their own self-worth from within. 

There are also techniques for establishing healthy boundaries. A counselor can show how taking breaks from work and/or a partner are beneficial.

As well, there are methods in such as how not to take things personally, and to stop critical thinking. The message is that, yes – anyone can be codependent no more.

Contact us today for more details about how our team can help you or anyone you know with codependency issues.

anxiety and stress business

Is it possible to be an executive and not have anxiety?

Everybody has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. It is an emotion that’s needed for our survival.

For instance, it’s good to have some anxiety if walking near a dog you don’t know. Anxiety arises at times like this to protect us from potential dangers. That’s so we can react if need be as part of our fight-or-flight response.

Anxiety is a sense of worry or unease about something with an outcome that’s not certain. 

That accounts for many things in life.

Some people find their anxiety is so severe and so constant that it drastically affects their day-to-day living.

It can become a vicious circle where being anxious creates more anxiety as if fighting fire with fire.

When it becomes a major problem is when it’s defined in mental health terms as a nervous disorder marked by excessive apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior and/or panic attacks.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition diagnosed in people who feel very anxious about a wide range of issues and events. 

Someone with GAD will feel anxious virtually all the time. It becomes their normal state of being.

Executives are generally considered among the most confident and capable people in society, the very qualities that have taken them to the top – but they are certainly still vulnerable to suffering from anxiety.

In fact, they regularly need to make big choices that not only affect themselves but many other people, organizations and businesses.

What emotional and physical symptoms can anxiety cause?

  • Feeling restless, discontent and easily irritable.
  • Difficulty in sleeping.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Dizziness.
  • Problems with concentration.
  • Panic attacks, finding it difficult to breathe.

The word “anxious” derives from a Latin word meaning “to choke”. Anyone who has ever had a panic attack will directly relate to this.

One reason for executives experiencing anxiety is that many people in these leading positions have to constantly be thinking and looking ahead.

This is such as in order to make preparations and put things in place – for instance, to meet future market predictions. It means much of their focus is on things that might just happen, including worst-case scenarios. It is ripe for creating anxiety.

Is anxiety a choice?

stress and anxiety

Anxiety is not something anyone is choosing, but it is something they are creating. It’s a form of fear, created by the way someone is thinking, and the thoughts they are focusing on.

Experts have concluded that the average adult has 60-80,000 thoughts every day.

Our thoughts are a series of choices, but most people do not realize this and will often focus on just a few and then as with anything you focus on, they grow and get bigger.

This can even reach the point where a set of thoughts seem so big it is as if you are starting to shrink under their looming largeness and dark shadow.

Yet we always have a choice with our thoughts.

As Henry Ford put it:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

Is it really possible to be an executive and not have anxiety? Or does being a leader always mean there will be a degree of anxiety?

There are definite positive aspects that anyone can bring in to their life in order to alleviate anxiety. 

Learning how to choose the thoughts you focus on is one way.

Then, anxiety is similar to excitement in many ways. They both stimulate a similar biological reaction. So if, for instance, you are an executive about to make a key presentation and find that your heart is racing, you can say to yourself that it’s merely because you’re so excited – that the outcome of your presentation is going to move the business forward in such an excellent way.

Choosing to reduce anxiety levels will usually mean better performance. Consider that making decisions while relaxed and at ease will most often make for more effective choices.

What are some positive things you can do to reduce anxiety?

  • Quit smoking.
  • Meditation, especially after waking and before bedtime.
  • Yoga.
  • Walks in nature, including parks.
  • Cut down on alcohol and caffeine, including coffee, tea and energy drinks.
  • Regular exercise, such as jogging, aerobics, swimming, cycling and tennis. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week.
  • Watch some comedy.
  • Read a book.
  • Write a daily gratitude list: gratitude and anxiety cannot easily coexist, so writing things you’re grateful for – or at least thinking of them – can help immensely.
  • Try to focus on just one day at a time.

Anyone can make great gains from doing such as the above in their lives. Make these the habits rather than the anxiety.


However, it’s not something that can just be instantly snapped out of because anxiety is often as a result of your own experiences and what you’ve learned – especially in your family as you grew up.
So it’s what someone has always known. 

Being an executive, with all its pressures and decision-making, can make it worse. That all takes time to resolve, but it most definitely can be achieved.

Many people ask: can I completely deal with my anxiety on my own? The answer is that dealing with anxiety is most nearly always something someone needs help with from a professional trained in and experienced in dealing with it.

Most people will need someone who can help guide them to realize the general source of their anxiety. Then they can show how best to alleviate it. 

For more details about how we can assist you or anyone you know learn how to deal with anxiety, contact us today.

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