Running a business can be hard and we can often feel exhausted, overwhelmed and ready to quit! But how can we tell if we have reached burnout? And how can we get back from it? In this guest blog, Tiffany Wise shares how you can identify & avoid burnout as a business owner.

“I openly admit that I’m a workaholic and when I set up my VA business 2 years ago this went into overdrive.  I worked like a dog toTiffany Wise -TWVA build my business, my reputation and, as the main breadwinner, enough money to keep all the bills paid.  I said ‘yes’ to pretty much everything, started my working day early, finished late and worked most weekends.  I wore my workaholism like a badge of honour and felt this was what you hadto do when starting up your own business.

Within six months however I had no energy, I had no quality time with my family and I had lost all motivation and drive for what I had started out so passionate about.  It was a classic case of burnout, something many of us business owners experience at some point in their entrepreneurial journey. 

So, what is burnout? 

Burnout is physical and/or emotional symptoms caused by a sustained period of stress.  It is often experienced amongst us business owners in particular due to trigger factors such as extreme passion for our work, increased social isolation (in particular those of us working from home) and limited security that comes with our career choice due to an ever changing economic environment.

Left unchecked, burnout can have a serious impact on our health, happiness, relationships and performance in our business. In order to catch burnout and combat it early, it’s important to know what to look out for so that you can avoid it raising its ugly head again during your business journey. 

What are the signs?

Exhaustion – Aclear sign of burnout is when you feel emotionally, mentally and/or physically tired all the time. 

Lack of Motivation – When you no longer feel enthusiastic or have that internal motivation for your work (or indeed anything else), there’s a good chance you’re experiencing burnout.

Decreased Satisfaction – You may feel like what you’re doing doesn’t matter that much anymore, or you may feel disillusioned with everything. You might notice that you generally feel more pessimistic than usual. While everybody experiences some negative emotions from time to time, it’s important to know when these are becoming unusual for you.

Slipping Job Performance – Burnout tends to happen over an extended period of time and a prolonged period of stress may interfere with your ability to pay attention or concentrate.

Problems at Home – Many people with burnout withdraw and interact with both team members and family less. You might find that even when you’re physically there, you’re tuned out.

Not Taking Care of Yourself – When suffering from burnout, some people engage in unhealthy coping strategies like drinking too much, being too sedentary, eating too much junk food, not eating enough or not getting enough sleep.

Tips on avoiding burnout!

Don’t Be a Hero! – Too many business owners develop a ‘superman complex’ – also known as trying to do it all (I am definitely guilty of this!). We take on multiple roles, put ourselves under great pressure and don’t ask for help.  Remember, asking for help and showing a little vulnerability is actually a sign of great strength rather than weakness.

Take Relaxation Seriously & Be Present! – Whether you decide to meditate, read a book, take a walk or spend time with friends or family, be present in the moment.  Mobile phones can pretty much double as a laptop these days and whilst this can be great in some respects, it can also allow work to seep into family time, holidays and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off your mobile during your relaxation time and delegating times to check emails.  I hold my hands up and find this tough but it’s so important!

Get Enough Sleep – Many mumpreneurs will know the struggle that comes as a result of sleep deprivation but research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout.  This is not an excuse to snooze the alarm however, just get to bed earlier!

Take Control & Get Organised – Have a brain dump and clear your head of everything you need to do across all aspects of your life and then prioritise. If the list is vast, take a leaf out of your own book and get another VA in to help you get through it all!  Take something small off the list and make a concerted effort to take control of that aspect of your life – for me it is usually to consciously make time to work out or eat healthier, both of which I know make me feel better.

Self Love –This may sound a bit ‘woo’ but too many of us don’t get give ourselves enough credit and praise for our achievements.  We will often only get praise from others on big achievements but start personally identifying the smallest of things you’ve successfully done each day (even getting out of bed counts!) and you will begin to feel much better in yourself.  When you train your thoughts to become more positive you will see a definite shift in your mood.  For me, when I’ve had a period of burnout I use it as a period of reflection and the biggest shifts in my business have followed so a positive can always come out of a negative situation, it’s all about those thoughts!”

If you are suffering from burnout, please do get in touch and we can talk about how we may be able to help.