Last Updated 1 month by Emily Standley-Allard
Burnout as an entrepreneur is a very real and common thing. Being your own boss has many upsides, such as pursuing your dreams, breaking free from the 9-to-5 grind and financially supporting yourself. However, running a business is not without challenges, including burnout.
If you’ve ever felt unmotivated and too exhausted to start your day at work, you’re not alone. Here’s what burnout feels like, how it can affect your health and tips to avoid it as an entrepreneur.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout refers to a type of long-term stress stemming from work. It manifests physically and emotionally, making you feel less accomplished, and can lead to a loss of personal identity. It’s about lacking the motivation, passion and energy to move forward, often accompanied by a nagging thought, “It will never get better.”
It can strike when you consistently work in a high-pressure environment or feel you’ve lost control over your job.
One of the significant causes of burnout is overworking, often at the expense of quality sleep.
Signs and Symptoms of Entrepreneurial Burnout
Identifying signs of burnout can be challenging — especially for entrepreneurs who work hard and invest time and money to achieve their vision.
Seeing your dreams actualize can make you lose sight of what truly matters: your health.
- Am I overly critical at work?
- Do I struggle to focus and concentrate on my tasks?
- Do I feel like dragging myself to work every day?
- Am I unsatisfied with my work achievements?
- Do I perceive myself as a failure?
- Do I get easily irritated?
- Do I believe things will never improve?
- Am I getting enough sleep?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be on the road to burnout.
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How Burnout Can Affect Your Health
If left unaddressed, burnout can lead to physical health and mental health issues, including:
- Increased likelihood of high blood pressure, heart disease and respiratory issues
- Mental illnesses that may require medication or hospitalization
Here are eight ways to avoid burnout as an entrepreneur and become passionate about your business again.
- Take Breaks
Do you feel like you don’t always have enough time to get all your tasks done? Are you trapped in a never-ending list of to-do’s?
If you’re working long hours, schedule some time off. Rest and recharge so you can return to work with renewed energy, get more done and produce better work.
Disconnect from work for a day or two, and don’t check your emails and open your laptop during this time.
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t quickly reply to a work-related text or email.
- Learn to Say No
Entrepreneurs are responsible for making crucial decisions, hiring people and tracking expenses.
However, you must learn to say no when you feel overwhelmed. Otherwise, you may take on too many tasks and burn out.
The first step is to identify how you’re currently spending your time and then group things into high-value and low-value tasks.
Learn to say no to low-value activities such as unnecessary meetings, scheduling tasks and invoicing. Instead, channel your focus and energy to high-value activities, such as major client meetings and strategic planning.
- Delegate Tasks
Now that you have a list of low-value tasks, delegate them to your trusted team. This demonstrates your faith in your employees, which helps strengthen relationships.
More importantly, you’re giving them a chance to step up, inspiring them to perform better.
- Stay Physically Healthy
When you’re an entrepreneur, it can be hard to take time off, even when you’re sick.
Studies show that absences from illness can result in a 39% decrease in sales and a 54% drop in productivity in offices.
Those numbers may be even more drastic if you’re running your own business.
Many entrepreneurs will choose to continue working while sick, which will only make them burnout quicker.
Rather than trying to decide whether to take time off or power through your illness, the best strategy is to avoid getting sick altogether.
Make sure you’re eating a healthy diet, maintaining a clean workspace, practicing good hygiene and getting enough sleep.
These healthy habits will keep you physically and mentally fit for success.
- Incorporate Natural Light
Take a look around your workplace. Is it well-lit with natural daylight? Or closed in with artificial fluorescent lighting?
Just like plants, humans need natural light to stay healthy. Compared to an office without windows, working in a space with natural light has many health benefits, including boosting vitamin D and sleeping better.
It’s believed to improve your well-being and productivity, making your workplace happier and healthier.
The next time you renovate your workspace, consider adding windows to let the natural daylight in.
- Engage in Self-Care
Entrepreneurs typically spend more than eight hours daily at work. It can be easy to get caught up in managing and building your business that you forget to clock in some “me time.”
However, it’s vital to take care of yourself. These little moments will help boost your mental state and improve your work life.
Include these self-care activities in your schedule to avoid burnout as an entrepreneur:
- Exercise: There are many reasons to work out, including boosting energy, mood and health and reducing stress and anxiety. A busy schedule can make exercise more challenging, but it doesn’t mean you can’t make time for it. You don’t need a full hour — short 10- to 15-minute bursts of activity daily are enough.
- Read a good book: Immersing yourself in a book gives you a break from work and the world. An escape from social media is a great thing to incorporate into your daily routine.
- Make time for your hobby: Think about your creative outlet. Whether it’s painting, writing, knitting or dancing, make time for activities that put your mind at ease.
- Cook a comforting meal: Cooking can be a way to slow down and get creative. It forces you to enjoy and be present in the moment, and the results are worth it.
- Spend Time With Loved Ones
Running a business can take up most of your days, making it challenging to make enough time for your family and friends.
However, being your own boss means you have control over your schedule. Plan weekend dinners, take your friends to brunch and schedule a weekend getaway with your kids.
Overworking can affect your health and relationships. You don’t have to choose between business and family. All it takes is a schedule that balances your work and personal life.
- Organize Your Life
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget tasks without a routine. You may find yourself skipping lunch because there’s too much work.
Manage your time wisely and stick to a schedule, which includes eating on time and taking regular breaks.
A clear framework for your day will reduce chaos and clarify your daily objectives.
Organize your professional and personal life so you can take appropriate steps to have more control over your time.
Put Yourself First
If you want to grow your business, invest in yourself first.
Entrepreneurship is a demanding journey, but always remember that you can better achieve your goals when you pursue them happily and healthily.
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Cora Gold is a freelance writer who covers productivity, work from home and entrepreneurship tips. Read more from Cora on Revivalist magazine, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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