Burnout Workout

Flint native Jason Kohn draws on personal experience to help eliminate workplace stress.

Business leaders who operate Fortune 500 companies, and even those who run small mom-and-pop shops, continually strive to drive greater productivity from fewer employees. Not surprisingly, the stress of advancing a business or staying ahead of the competition is giving rise to more workplace burnout.

Half of the respondents in a 2015 Deloitte survey of 1,000 full-time workers reported they had experienced at least two incidents of workplace burnout. Three years later, a Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time workers found some two-thirds of the respondents felt burnout very often, always, or sometimes.

To help alleviate all that stress, companies like Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, a German company with facilities in Plymouth Township and around the world, is offering its workers a Personal Energy Protection (PEP) course that addresses workplace burnout and its sometimes-debilitating effects.

Jason Kohn, a native of Flint and a graduate of Northern Michigan University in Houghton, teaches the course and draws from his firsthand experiences with the problem.

Kohn joined the Freudenberg engineering and design department in 1997, and by 2014 his burnout symptoms made him unable to get out of bed. After consulting with German life coach Renate Pasch-Danohoe, he began the long process of putting his life back together.

Part of the process, which Kohn says he saw as his next vocation, was getting certified in burnout consulting.

From there, Freudenberg assigned him to train new engineers on the company’s products, processes, and materials. That evolved into the PEP course, in which approximately 1,000 Freudenberg employees across Europe, North America, and Brazil have participated over the past four years. Another 1,000 workers have viewed a 15-minute film Kohn produced on the subject.

The film and the course, according to Kohn, focus on identifying the symptoms of  burnout, including tiredness, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, a lack of concentration, headaches, muscle tension, backaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, panic attacks, and depression. “The most important thing is to pay attention to the signals your body is giving you and understand what’s going on around you,” he says. “And make sure you get help from doctors.”

To help avoid or alleviate stress and burnout, Kohn recommends following the “PEP Commandments.” They include:

  1. Be aware of where your thoughts are leading you’
  2. Sleep to relaxation
  3. Reduce stimulants like caffeine, tobacco, alcohol, and electronic device screen time
  4. Stay hydrated with water
  5. Practice proper nutrition, with balanced meals
  6. Regenerate via meditation or quiet self-reflection
  7. Exercise with a heart rate below 120 beats per minute
  8. Optimize gut health
  9. Reduce inflammation
  10. Detox the liver and kidneys

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