You have to work hard to get ahead. And if that means basically living at the office -- well, that’s just what successful people do, right?
Not necessarily. Longer hours at work doesn’t equate to being a successful entrepreneur. In fact, the more we understand about the way the mind and body work, the more clear it becomes that recharging, finding balance and working on projects that we find meaningful are crucial to avoiding burnout and increasing creativity and productivity.
Currently, more than 50 percent of founders report experiencing burnout. Burnout is typified by insomnia, lack of interest in work, emotional and physical fatigue, lack of focus and negative feelings such as anger or cynicism. People who are burned out can even start to experience depression, panic attacks or trips to the emergency room as their bodies rebel against the state of constant stress.
Performing at your best and addressing burnout means more than pushing through these emotions and experiences; it takes planning and potentially reexamining both your work and your reasons for doing what you do. What follows are some steps to consider when you feel like you’ve had enough or start to recognize some of the symptoms of burnout in yourself.
- Relax and unwind. Unplug, take a vacation or time off to recharge and reassess your current situation. Sometimes simply changing your environment can change your outlook and help you see things in a new way.
- Find your passion. Try to understand what makes you feel fulfilled and work with purpose and joy. This may mean changing either your role within your company or a complete career switch.
- Develop creative outlets or hobbies beyond work. This could be writing fiction, doing yoga or seriously pursuing something you’ve never given yourself time to do before
- Take care of yourself. This is easier said than done, of course, but self care is essential to prevent pushing yourself too far. Know your limits and pull back when you reach them. Saying no is an important skill to develop.
- Get support if and when you need it. This can mean reaching out to the people closest to you, being social with your coworkers or finding a community group meaningful to you.
- Consider therapy. If you feel that your burnout has reached beyond what you can handle yourself, a mental health professional can help you start the process of healing.
- Think positively. Focus on positive thoughts and surround yourself with positive people. Always focusing on the negative can create self-fulfilling outcomes.
- Reevaluate your priorities. Yes, work is important -- you need an income and you want to feel productive -- but make sure you keep things in perspective.
- Exercise and eat healthy. Exercise can help mitigate stress, increase your energy and productivity and help you get a good night’s sleep. Eating properly, and at the right times, can impact your ability to work effectively and feel well.
- Take a deep breath. Manage the stress you do have through meditation or other relaxation techniques that bring you peace of mind. Practicing mindfulness can mean the difference between allowing stress to overwhelm you and being able to manage whatever happens in your day.
Burnout negatively affects all aspects of your life, from your relationships with your friends and family to your team at work, so recognizing the signs and working to make adjustments before things get out of control is in everyone’s best interest. You may just rediscover your purpose, your creativity and your desire to make a difference in your work and your community as a result.