• Nancy Mendelson

Burned Out? Lean Out like Sheryl Sandberg

Two things crossed my mind when I heard that Sheryl Sandberg was leaving Meta: #1) That I had "unpacked" the topic of burnout on hertelier in September of 2021, and #2) It’s never one thing that makes you end a relationship or leave a situation… it’s the last thing!


My friend Gabby shared that insight with me years ago, and she was right. I know this to be true from personal experience, and I’ll bet if you asked Sheryl, she’d likely agree. But we will probably never know what that “last thing” was, especially after reading "Even Sheryl Sandberg was 'burned out'" by Alessandra Riemer, Editor at LinkedIn News who wrote, "news of Sheryl Sandberg's exit from Meta has rocked the tech world. Now many are wondering: What led to the chief operating officer's departure? Burnout, disconnect and "fresh irritation," The Wall Street Journal reports, citing anonymous sources. She saw herself as a "punching bag for the company's problems," was not closely involved in the company's pivot to the Metaverse, and faced an internal review over her "use of company resources" to plan her upcoming wedding. "None of this has anything to do with her personal decision to leave,” a Meta spokeswoman said."

Sheryl Sandberg

Like I said, we will probably never learn what Sheryl’s “last thing” was, but rather than speculate or analyze and since it’s unlikely she will turn to my column for advice, we at hertelier feel that burnout is such a timely topic we’re rerunning my original piece for you:


Like jam and jelly, climate and weather, hotel and motel, burnout and depression are similar, yet different.


According to a post on GoodRx by Amy Isler, RN, MSN, the symptoms of burnout and depression can overlap. But there are key differences, including how long your symptoms last and how you might need to manage your symptoms.


Rare is the person who hasn’t experienced both, at one time or another, and life during the time of COVID has only served to trigger and exacerbate these conditions, especially for the hospitality industry. In a recent WSJ article titled, Restaurants and Hotels Push Back Against the Uptick in Customer Tantrums, author Clare Ansberry points out that more than 60% of restaurant workers said they had suffered from emotional abuse and disrespect from customers, and 78% said their mental health had been negatively affected in the past 12 months.


That’s why it is so important to understand the differences between burnout and depression in order to get the help that is right for you.


Depression is marked by feelings of sadness, loss of interest in daily life, and hopelessness; some depressed people also feel angry and irritable. These feelings can be pervasive throughout all areas of life, including work and family, and if you experience these symptoms for more than a few days, you should consult your physician and initiate counseling or therapy with a licensed professional.


Burnout, on the other hand, tends to be directly related to your career and job. The symptoms may feel much the same as depression, but there is one key difference-burnout symptoms may diminish during weekends or vacations. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that results from over-whelming, prolonged stress, and rest and rejuvenation may provide relief.

Having experienced both in my lifetime, you don’t have to be in a public-facing job, or even in hospitality to be affected by burnout or depression. Hell, you don’t even have to be employed! Life, these days, is tough to navigate, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


Burnout and depression can happen to anyone at any age, so please talk to someone, get help if you need it… and take care of yourself the way you take care of others.