If you ever feel like you’re on the verge of burning out, it’s time to pay attention!
Burnout is a real problem, especially for small business owners and solopreneurs. While partnerships can have their ups and downs, at least you have someone to handle some of the stress and responsibility.
But if you’re flying solo, all responsibility for the success of your business rest on your shoulders alone. That’s why many solopreneurs end up working long days. Unintentionally, they lose track of what’s happening at home and slip into habits that put their health at risk.
But spending too much time in your business is not always good. Yes, it may be necessary for a short time, but when it becomes the norm, there’s reason to be alarmed.
Think back to why you started your business in the first place?
Wasn’t it to practice how you see fit, to have more control, to live life on your terms?
That’s hardly possible when you put in endless hours and give up a reasonable work/life balance that contributes to joy in your life.
If you want to avoid burnout and stay in business for the long haul, it’s crucial you bring back balance to your life. Make time to take care of yourself and make it a priority.
But how do you know if you’re heading toward burnout?
… be on the lookout for the following warning signs.
While they are easy to spot in your patients, they’re far more tricky to recognize in yourself! And just because you’re a healthcare provider… don’t think you’re immune to them!
Signs of Burnout
If your brain can’t shut down because you’re consumed with problems at the office, your sleep will suffer. You will feel tired, physically drained, and may lack the mental energy to make wise business and clinical decisions.
Strategy: Decide to get adequate sleep. Get to bed at a reasonable hour and adopt a bedtime routine. Experiment with remedies that may help improve the quality of your sleep, including “bedtime teas,” sleep music, a more cooling pillow or comforter, and the like. While it would be great to get one hour or more of extra sleep a night, thirty minutes, or even just fifteen minutes of extra sleep will be beneficial.
If you’re closing in on burnout, you may find yourself dragging your feet… procrastinating. The very thing that used to give you energy in your business now drains you. The problem with procrastination? It can lead to missed deadlines and all sorts of issues in your business.
Strategy: Make time to deal with issues that need to be dealt with. Resolve to deal with problems head-on; no more, “I’ll take care of that later!”
The human body is only capable of handling so much stress on limited sleep. We’re all familiar with the phrase “burning the candle at both ends,” which is what happens when you work too many hours and don’t give your body and brain enough time to recover. At some point, your body will “put down its foot,” refusing further cooperation. This could manifest as severe fatigue or other illnesses, guaranteed to keep you away from the office.
Strategy: Get more and better sleep (see #1). Work fewer hours. Allow yourself time and give yourself permission to play! And, do more of the things that make your heart sing.
# 4 Change in appetite.
For some, stress leads to overeating; for others, stress takes away their appetite. Neither extreme is good for your body.
Strategy: Don’t work during breaks and make it a habit to eat away from your desk. For optimal health and mental clarity, resist the urge to grab fast foods. Go for natural, healthy food choices instead of opting for junk food.
# 5 Anxiety.
High stress causes anxiety, which could lead to nagging, sweat producing fear, and a range of other physical symptoms. Keep in mind: there’s a big difference between the anxiety you feel when stepping out of your comfort zone versus stress-induced anxiety that doesn’t seem to go away.
Strategy: If anxiety has a grip on you, you may do one of two things or a combination of the two. One, seek help from a mental health professional. Or two, try exercise, meditation, schedule yourself for hypnosis, acupuncture, or get a regular massage. But regardless your choice, resolve to deal with anxiety before it gets the best of you!
To achieve longterm success in your business, taking care of yourself, practicing healthy self-care is critically important.
After all, how can you take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself? And how can you build and sustain a viable business if you’re running out of steam?
Sure, you can for some amount of time, but sooner or later, things will catch up with you.
As you begin to implement changes to take better care of yourself, be patient. Put one foot in front of the other. Don’t try to achieve everything all at once.
While life tends to be far more complicated than simplistic cliches, thinking along the lines of “Put your oxygen mask on first…” will serve you well.
Join the conversation by leaving a comment or question below. Let us know what you do to avoid burn out …
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.”