How Do I Know If I’m Burned Out?
There are an overwhelming number of entrepreneurs that feel burned out. In fact, nearly 2 out of every 3 business owners report feeling burned out. The feeling of business owner burnout is troubling for many entrepreneurs and is often driven by many factors, but the most predominant include financial concerns, work-life balance, and day-to-day stress. So how can you tell if you’re feeling burned out?
For many entrepreneurs, this phenomenon manifests itself as exhaustion, lack of professional success, and mental distance or cynicism about one’s job. While signs of burnout may share many outward similarities to mental health conditions like anxiety or depression, burnout symptoms are a direct response to specific events happening within your career and often begin to dissipate when you begin to separate yourself from work. On the other hand, depression and anxiety often don’t have a specific trigger, which makes these conditions more difficult to treat.
Why Do I Burnout So Easily?
Burnout can happen in any profession, but many entrepreneurs face this challenge. Even within the population of business owners, burnout can affect everyone differently. If you find yourself constantly thinking, “I’m so burnt out, I can’t work,” you might be more prone to experience burnout.
In an article published by the Harvard Business Review, some research indicates that dealing with burnout may be tied to emotional intelligence. If you feel like business owner burnout is running your life, it may be useful to develop emotional intelligence skills.
As the article points out, emotional intelligence has key components that help to reduce burnout such as emotional self-awareness, self-management, conflict management, empathy, compassion, and the ability to attune to other people’s emotions are often important skills to prevent stress from spiraling into burnout.
So, if you find yourself often struggling with burnout, you might just need to work on sharpening your emotional intelligence skills.
What Are Three Triggers For Burnout?
As an entrepreneur, burnout is frustrating. Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand why you’re feeling the way you do. Job burnout is often caused by three primary factors–social isolation, constant overworking, and uncertainty.
Many entrepreneurs feel isolated at work and in their personal lives–you may feel like the people in your life don’t quite understand the pressures placed on you and how it impacts your daily life. While a family member or close friend may have a desire to help, it’s often impossible for them to provide a support system that can effectively help you overcome burnout.
As you work to build your business, you’re likely putting in long hours and not spending enough time on self-care. It can be easy to overwork yourself as an entrepreneur, faced with the weight of employees and customers relying on you. However, to be an effective leader and drive your business forward, you’ll need to be the best version of yourself.
Lastly, being an entrepreneur often involves a level of uncertainty. After all, nearly half of all businesses fail within the first five years. If your business was to fail because of factors that are beyond your control, the idea of not having a plan in place for this worst-case scenario can weigh heavily on a business owner’s mind.
These factors make burnout in business a very prevalent, but difficult challenge for entrepreneurs.
How Do You Stop Burnout Fast?
If you’re looking to stop burnout quickly, the easiest thing you can do is to take some time away from work if possible. Since the primary factors contributing to burnout are work-related, taking some time away will give you an opportunity to unwind and recharge, putting you in a better headspace to tackle other factors that could be contributing to burnout.
If you’re not in the position to take time away from your business, focus on things like self-care, spending time with friends or family, or even getting a little more sleep at night. If you’re burned out, your tank is running on empty, so do things that help you feel more like yourself. Go to bed an hour earlier or cook your favorite meal instead of ordering takeout. These are just a few small examples of ways you can focus on yourself and take the focus off what’s stressing you out in the office.
These methods can help you to reduce burnout in the short-term, but you’ll need to develop additional strategies to effectively manage stress and prevent burnout in the future.
What Are 7 Ways to Manage Stress?
Left untreated, stress can easily spiral out of control, leaving you feeling burned out at work. Pushing through burnout is an option, but not advisable, as the feelings are unlikely to disappear on their own if your work habits remain the same. Instead, here are seven ways you can healthily manage stress so you can avoid burnout in the future.
- Prioritize healthy habits: When you’re stressed it’s easy to fall behind on sleep or eat foods that are better avoided. Long-term stress can cause your body to trigger fight-or-flight responses, which can increase cravings for fatty and sugary foods. Avoid these temptations and focus on maintaining a healthy diet, which can also boost your mood. At the same time, it can be hard to get enough sleep if you’re up all night worrying. Getting enough sleep is often challenging, but aiming for seven to nine hours is ideal.
- Stay active: Another great way to manage stress is to incorporate exercise into your routine. Keeping your body active is extremely effective at boosting your mood, but it can be easy to skip exercise when other priorities are getting in the way. According to the Cleveland Clinic, you should aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise every week.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol: Having a few drinks may seem like it alleviates your stress, but this is only temporary. Alcohol use can actually increase feelings of anxiety, and over time, frequent alcohol use can build dangerous habits. At the same time, alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle and causes you to be more fatigued. As a result, stress levels continue to rise.
- Find time to relax: Set aside dedicated time that you can use to unwind. Whether it’s going for a walk, spending time with your family, catching up on your favorite show, or practicing your hobbies, find what you enjoy doing and ensure you get time to do it. This can help you detach from stress and help you recharge.
- Rethink your mindset: It’s possible that some stress you’re experiencing may be caused by the way you perceive things. Maybe you’re focusing too much on the negative aspects of your role. Instead, try to identify the positives and focus on those. Remind yourself about why you took on the challenge of owning a business and what you like about it.
- Create a balance between home and work: As a business owner, the lines between your personal life and business can sometimes blur. If you’re feeling stressed, rebalance these two parts of your life. For example, if you’re spending too much time at work, seek to do more activities at home or spend time with family.
- Take a vacation: A great way to alleviate work-related stress is to take a break from it. Schedule some time off or plan a weekend getaway where you can have time to relax and get your mind off work. A vacation helps by increasing your mental and emotional outlook, which can give you the new perspective you need.
How to Beat Burnout Without Quitting Your Job
As a business owner, quitting your job is likely not a way to remedy symptoms of burnout. Here are some ways that you can overcome burnout without sacrificing your career.
- Seek professional help: Sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish burnout vs depression or anxiety. Finding a trusted mental health provider can help you understand the way you’re feeling and what’s causing it. After ruling out mental health conditions, a therapist can help you develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stressful situations at home and on the job.
- Ask for help: The people around you cannot help if they don’t know what you’re dealing with. If you’re feeling burned out, let a family member, close friend, or even colleague know that you’re struggling. Be direct about what would be most helpful so they know how to assist.
- Practice self-care: While you’re busy running a business, it can be difficult to focus on taking care of yourself. To overcome burnout, establish a routine that incorporates self-care and compassion. Self-care often means different things to different people, so think about what it means to you and how you can turn it into a regular habit.
- Set boundaries: When you’re off the clock, try to avoid getting caught up in extra work, whether it’s checking your email or answering phone calls. Develop strong boundaries between yourself, work, and your personal life so that you can help you enjoy your time out of the office and focus on other priorities.
- Maintain a social life: It can be difficult to keep up with your friends as you’re growing your business. However, social contact can be a great way to destress. If you don’t feel like you have enough time, create time that can be spent catching up with friends and getting away from work.
How to Help Someone with Burnout
Do you know someone who is struggling with burnout? Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to help them through a difficult time. The first thing you can do is listen to them without casting judgment. Burnout is generally very personal, as no two people experience it the same way. Don’t try to minimize their emotions with generalizations such as “everyone has stress.”
Once you have a better idea of how they’re feeling, try to take some weight off their shoulders. For example, if they’re a colleague, try to take on one of their responsibilities until they can get a better grasp on how they’re managing things. If it’s a family member experiencing burnout, see about cooking them dinner or taking on a greater share of household chores to help them unwind.
Keep in mind that the burnout they’re experiencing is likely hard to deal with. Be patient and understand with them–burnout symptoms often aren’t cured overnight. It can take weeks for them to feel like their old self, so in the meantime, make sure to check in with them to see how they’re feeling. At the same time, try and make sure they’re eating and sleeping well enough so that they can manage stress levels.
And, as you try to help them navigate burnout, be sure to take care of yourself as well. If you let yourself get rundown, you’ll be unable to effectively help them. Keep in mind that you might not be able to solve every challenge they face. In this case, don’t panic if you don’t know how to help. This doesn’t mean you’ve failed them, they might just need additional support.
What Are The Strategies to Prevent Burnout?
Ultimately, many strategies to prevent burnout align with stress management strategies. Once you’ve overcome burnout, preventative measures include maintaining a strong work-life balance, keeping stress levels low or under control, eating and sleeping well, and taking enough time for yourself so you can do what you enjoy.
If you’re looking for additional resources to help you navigate the complexities of being a business owner, try joining local business groups or finding a mentor that you’ll be able to turn to when you need help.
One such resource is 3to5 Club, a collaborative learning group for serious business owners and entrepreneurs. 3to5 Club seeks to connect like-minded entrepreneurs and provide guidance that empowers them to rediscover their passion for their business, the tools needed to make more money in less time, and the support needed for entrepreneur burnout recovery.
Take your first steps towards living your ideal life and visit a 3to5 Club for one obligation-free month.