You know there is a problem but you can't quite put your finger on it. You know that you're not 'burnt-out'. That is pretty bad and usually fairly spectacular.

You come to work, you do pretty good too - but not great. You generally feel tired and lethargic. Overwhelmingly, you feel unhappy... Sound familiar? You're actually not alone in this. In fact, this reaction to work has started to become so common that it has been given a name - BROWNOUT. Brownout, is a term which is used to describe part of the life stage of an electrical power outage and is the stage before a black out.

Put simply, consider burnout like the flu, brownout is like the common cold - they both have similar symptoms but brownout is the less vicious. You still go to work, but your heart's just not in it. You still talk to friends and family but you start to retreat and would rather hideaway on the sofa with Netflix!

US coaching firm Corporate Balance Concepts recently surveyed 1,000 executives and found that whilst they estimated about 5 per cent of them suffered from burnout, a massive 40 per cent suffered from what they coined "Executive Brownout".

“Brownout is different from burnout because workers afflicted by it are not in obvious crisis,” says Michael E Kibler, CEO of Corporate Balance Concepts. “They seem to be performing fine: putting in massive hours in meetings and calls across time zones, grinding out work while leading or contributing to global teams, and saying all the right things in meetings (though not in side-bar conversations). However, these executives are often operating in a silent state of continual overwhelm, and the predictable consequence is disengagement.”

An example that he gave was the resignation of Mohamed El-Erian, the former CEO of PIMCO, who shocked the tech world by suddenly stepping down in 2014 after his 10-year old daughter wrote him a letter that listed all of the key milestones that he had missed in her life. This including everything from Halloween parades to her first soccer matches.

Now it is important to note that Mohamed has not said that he was diagnosed with brownout - and it isn't an official condition at this point. What it has done however is started a debate that is gaining momentum when it comes to the new working world where big roles and high salaries often have high prices. This more than likely isn't the first time that you have read about an executive becoming disillusioned and has turned to a passion that may not have a salubrious salary, however the fulfillment levels far outweigh any monetary value. 


1. You're tired. So, so tired. You feel it emotionally and physically. You feel exhausted, getting off the sofa feels like an achievement. Exercise? Pfft.  The first thing you find yourself saying when someone asks you how you are, tired. 

2. You've lost your purpose. You spend your work day watching the clock. You don't feel any urge to go above and beyond. You're not failing at work but your certainly not standing out. You're work mates have noticed that you have no time for them work long hours, you find that you don't give feedback or thoughts during meetings but you often tear down others. You find that you have no real interest in your job and it lacks intellectual challenge or stimulation. 

3. Work life balance. What the hell is that? You have neglected your own well-being. You don't exercise. You don't sleep well. You eat junk. Drink more than you should. You can actually feel your body scream out from the psychical neglect.

4. You find that you use any excuse you can not to turn up to things. Whether it be work or social events. A headache becomes a migraine. A sniffle and sneeze becomes the flu! One day, you realise that you are Googling symptoms to make the most believable excuses.  


1. Tap it out: Tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is when you tap with your fingertips on a series of pressure points on your body, face or hands and it works in a similar way to acupuncture (check YouTube for how-to’s). If tapping feels a little odd (especially as you are sat at your desk surrounded by colleagues - then give the app PAUSE a go.

2. Get more ZZZ's: It’s easier said than done when your mind is whirring, but sleep plays a critical role in thinking, learning and coping. Make sure that you are also shutting down your technology a good hour before bed. This will help to calm your mind.

 3. Detox your environment: Clear out all of the 'things' around you. Whether that be stuff, outstanding bills, car maintenance. Whatever you have been putting off and procrastinating, stop!

4Get walking: Get outside into fresh air and get your feet moving. Walk in nature, by water or around the block. Play your favourite music or listen to a podcast or audio-book. Moving those feet will not only clear the head but get those endorphin's going!

5. Get Grateful: Start your morning with a grateful intention. Write down 3 things that you are grateful for and what you will do to make that the best god-damn day you can. Feeling inspired? Why not finish the day with 3 things that made that day great and what could have been better. There are so many studies that list grateful practices as the best way to re-train your brain.

IMPORTANT: if you feel that you are suffering more than any of the above do seek the advice of a professional - mental health is one of the most important things in your life, so make sure you are not ignoring any warning signs.