30 May 2017

CEMS Alumni discussed burnout

Thank to the increasing speed of life, upgraded complexity of work nowadays and continuously leveling up requirements that each individual puts on himself / herself, burnout is no longer a syndrome occurring exceptionally. Instead it seems as a new “disease” of the modern era. 

As this is highly relevant for the business world, we chose to dedicate a special CEMS Alumni event to the topic of burnout.

Some of the participants at the exhibition before the event

Gorgeous location

The event took place in the beautiful settings of Czech Press Photo Centre in Prague 5. Before emerging to the discussion about burnout, we got a unique chance to get a private tour at the centre and explore also “the behind the curtains” areas of this place.
Having the opportunity to see all extraordinary photos from the charity photo auction Sance prodeti (Chance for children) was an icing on a cake.

Great discussion

It was a big pleasure to welcome among us Dominika Cechova, a counselor specializing on depth psychology and relationships as well as stress on a workplace. Before emerging into the world of therapies, Dominika worked at Big 4 and went through hew own burnout experience.We were happy to see that this topic attracted wide audience with fresh graduates, experienced business professional as well as alumni, who are already parents.

Most of the participants after the discussion

Key points discussed during the evening

  1. Stress is internal, i.e. external stress does not exist: Stress is not an external element influencing us, though it is our internal reaction. Therefore, we can influence, if we get overwhelmed by it, if we start fighting with it or if we learn how to cope with it.
  2. Dealing with stress? Open the doors of Your internal world and ask for help: Help in this case does not need to a be counselor or therapist, it can be also a friend, a spouse or a manager. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is just opposite, it is a great sign of strength.
  3. Theory of two bottles: why different people react differently to stress? This is Dominika’s own theory showing figuratively how we deal with stress. A first group of people tend to get overwhelmed and feel stressed after every slight signal of pressure as a plastic bottle does. Though when something considerable happens and they fall down, they promptly take off again. The second group of people can handle a day to day stress without any sign of being touched by it. They are firm and seem to be able to survive anything. But when they fall down, they break into pieces as a glass bottle does. 
  4. Follow your intuition is not a buzzword: This might seem as a phrase. Though, it is very true. Follow your inner feeling. Does this job feel right for me? Am I taking a direct life directions? Etc.
  5. Burnout: a shining star quickly moving up and quickly falling down. A typical sign of a burnout is a steep successful career moving upwards followed by a prompt fall down. Usually, company’s stars, who are highly capable, achieve enormous results and career steps in a short period of time are the ones, who can later suffer from burnout. Burnout as such can have various symptoms such as lethargy, anxiety, avoidance of meeting people, avoidance or doing things one loves, reoccurring diseases and pains, panic attacks, migraine etc.
  6. Don’t want to be burnout? Find time for relaxation, cherish your relationships. If you feel you are on the way towards burnout – the first great signal is that you get aware of it. If you have a tendency to overachieve and be constantly great, choose in your free time activities that calm you down – e.g.. yoga, meditation, walking in the nature. Going for yet highly active sports only increases the amount of “stress in the body”. At the same time focus on other aspects of life, your family, friends. Do things you love and enjoy. Last but not least ask yourself, what is that you are actually going after by your high-speed and overachievement oriented life style? This is a part when burnout meets psychology. As also Dominika mentioned, though burnout can seem as a work syndrome initially, it is deeply rooted in our upbringing, family, our relationships to our loved ones, to people around us, to ourselves.
  7. Be aware of burnout when raising your kids: show them that burnout is a dead end. Our kids do mirror us. Our generation is the first generation increasingly suffering from burnout yet a first generation able to talk about it openly. Let’s use all these findings and / or eventually our own experience with burnout and show the kids that overachieving and being constantly the best is not on its own the best path to shining future and happy life. 

We would like to say big thank to Dominika for joining us for this evening as well as to all participants for their openness and honesty. Big thank you goes also to Honza Kubik for arranging a private tour of Sance pro deti photo exhibition and the Czech Press Photo center as whole.


Pavlina, Vojta and Honza 
Your CEMS Alumni Board Team

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