Overcoming Burnout: Entrepreneur Edition


Overcoming Burnout: Entrepreneur Edition

Burnout. It’s a buzzword that’s thrown around a lot nowadays. But what does it really mean? 

According to the World Health Organization, “burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”

The tricky thing about burnout is that it comes along with a trifecta of symptoms—hitting your physical, emotional, and behavioral wellbeing. That’s what makes it all the more challenging to pull yourself out of it and to the other side.

Are you experiencing burnout in your current job? Ask yourself these questions: 

  • Do you feel connected to your body? 
  • Do your actions support your highest good? 
  • Do you feel support from your friends, family, or community?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of the above, you may be more susceptible to burnout.

Here are some of the telltale signs of burnout, though a person may experience anywhere from one to all of the symptoms listed below:

Physical symptoms:

  • Exhaustion
  • Frequent illness, headaches, muscle pain
  • Poor appetite and sleep habits

Emotional symptoms:

  • Self-doubt and criticism
  • Negative outlook on life
  • Decreased sense of accomplishment
  • Sense of detachment 

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Isolating from others
  • Procrastinating or forgetting tasks
  • Unhealthy coping strategies
  • Short temper

That’s A LOT to handle, especially when you’re an entrepreneur—the head of your business, the leader of the pack. I can tell you from my own experience that burnout is awful. It sucks the life and passion out of your work. But, I promise you two things: 1) burnout is NOT inevitable (even for business owners), and 2) There’s a way to overcome burnout—and the only way “out” is through.

This exercise requires a notebook and pen, so grab both and let’s get started.

  1. Step one is to identify the problem. NAME IT. Getting your stress out of your head and onto paper will lessen its perceived power over you. When there’s a lot in your head, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, scattered, and like you can’t do anything right. Making a list of your worries turns down the volume. Whether it’s a task, a person, a deadline, or something else, get specific about what is the root of your stress. 
  2. Step two is to identify what is draining your energy. As an exercise, write out a list of all of your tasks. With arrows, delineate what gave you energy (up arrow), and what depleted your energy (down arrow). When you’re done, reflect on what you’ve written. Do you have more down arrows than up arrows? What do arrows of the same direction have in common? Try to make observations and connections without judgment.
  3. Step three is where the work really comes in. Use your data!
    • It’s finding ways to design more up arrows than down ones in your work. What can you control? 
    • It’s incorporating space to rest and rejuvenate. If extra rest isn’t an option this week, restructure your day based on when you have the energy, and what can be delegated/put off until next week to tackle.
    • It’s recognizing your natural tendencies. What are your personal signs that you are experiencing burnout? Are you quick to anger, to isolate, or to dissociate? How can you practice a more open and healthful coping strategy?
    • It’s acknowledging that outsourcing some of your more tedious tasks will free you up to focus on what’s more important. 
    • And, it’s accepting the things you can’t control (but fashioning enough support around those things so that you can take the best care of yourself—and your business.

If this all seems too overwhelming, again, I get it. When I was experiencing burnout, all I wanted to do was curl up on my couch and watch Netflix. But if there is one piece of advice I can leave you with, it is the 10 minute transformation. Today, make an effort to take 10 minutes away from something that drains your soul, and dedicate those 10 minutes to something that brings you joy. Keep this same action up for seven days. And next week, reallocate another 10 minutes of your day from something unpleasant, to something revitalizing. 10 minutes feels small, but just moving the steering wheel inch by inch will redirect your path in a powerful way. 

So today, just find 10 minutes to give back to YOU. I believe in you.

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