How to avoid burnout and find balance
“Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long” – Michael Gungor
Isn’t that the truth. Owning a small business is not for the faint hearted. You start with an idea and your passion sets it on fire. At first working all hours and juggling jobs for other income while you build seemed like nothing. Studying and honing your craft in the pockets of time you had just worked out.
Drive and determination to launch kept you going.
After launch, the late nights just kept coming, then your focus shifted to finding and retaining customers to make the business profitable. Working weekends, missing social and family events as yet another “great idea” has to be explored RIGHT NOW.
Your relationships become strained from the lack of attention. Your body hits exhaustion from your adrenal glands pumping stress hormones day in and day out as you go-go-go at rapid pace.
One day you wake up and realise this business you’ve created is all consuming. Why does it feel like you’re “doing it all” and getting nowhere? And the truth is, maybe you don’t even like IT anymore?
Here it comes… hello BURNOUT.
You’ve been running at the same pace for days, weeks, months even years… and you’ve literally held no space for anything else.
“Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.” Melinda Smith, M.A. (HelpGuide.org)
From this place, I see it go two ways with my coaching clients.
DOWN… where you end up continuing this cycle and eventually get sick, lose all the passion and drive for your business, lose a relationship, lose yourself in the process. Or, all of these combined from the overwhelming stress and anxiety.
Or, you go UP. You shift your priorities and bring your life back into BALANCE. Focusing on cultivating a healthy relationship with your work, a healthy mindset and body, and spend time reconnecting with the people in your life.
How to get back in balance
The key to living a fulfilled life is balance. Work, rest and play. What is success, if at the end of the day you have no one to share it with? Isn’t one of the fundamental reasons why we start our own business to have the freedom to run your day and make your own decisions?
Getting back into balance means…
1. Tapping out for self-care
Taking care of yourself is not selfish, it’s necessary. How can you show up and grow your business – if you haven’t first filled your cup? You cannot keep taking from an empty well.
Self-care isn’t all day spas and attending expensive health-retreats. Take the time to find what self-care looks like for you. Start with this question:
What is one thing that you haven’t done in a VERY long time that gives you JOY? Go and do that.
2. Tapping out for Exercise
Moving your body is essential to mental wellbeing. Take a walk in the fresh air, go for a jog or bike ride. Book into a gym class or go for a swim. Make time for yoga or paddle boarding.
Your body deserves love and your energy stores will fire from the movement. It will also help you get better sleep and clear your mind.
Try something you’ve always wanted to do and haven’t made the time to do yet.
3. Tapping out for connection
At our core we ALL crave connection. Relationships start to break when people don’t feel like they’ve been heard or valued.
When you think of the people you want to share your success with – who are the first 3 people that come to mind? Organise a 1:1 catch up with those 3 people this month. A coffee date or dinner, a weekend trip away, or just a walk in the park.
If your connection has been strained under the weight of work and time apart then commit to not talking about work AT ALL when you meet. Turn your phone off, ask a lot of questions and actively listen to help rebuild the connection.
When you make the time to reconnect with yourself and spend time with people that you care about your energy well will be overflowing!
Remaining in balance
Doing it once this month is easy – the key to truly staying IN balance comes down to PRIORITISING and TIME BLOCKING your self-care, exercise and connection time on your calendar on a weekly or monthly basis.
“I’m too busy” – is a choice.
You would time block for a client, you would do it for a child’s school concert, you would do it for the dog’s vet appointment… so, what prevents you from doing it for yourself?
Carve out the time, you are 100% worth it!
1. The ideal is three times per week you find time for:
1 appt for self-care (or something that fills your wellness well)
1 appt for exercise
1 appt for connection
If you need to start with a baby step until you can get your calendar under control, then PICK ONE for each week of the month. Lock it in
2. You are going to need accountability. Share your intention with your partner, a friend, your VA or someone at work. Ask that person to keep you accountable for the first couple of weeks until you start to build momentum (and feel how great it is to be back in balance!)
3. Set an ALARM on your phone as a reminder. This may seem like over-kill… but you know that it’s hard to step away when your business has always taken number 1 priority.
Getting your life back in balance may take some time to create this shift in your life. Your body and your mind will thank you for it, and you may just find that your productivity skyrockets and areas of your life start to flourish – because you’ve taken the time to get back in alignment.
I’ll be honest, I am a classic workaholic and I’ve spent a lot of my working life out of balance. Finding ways to balance my day and week was a skill I had to learn.
One thing that helped me was buying a dog. I work from home and besides my daily client video calls I see no one else during the day. I would get so enthused about a project I would work through the entire day without a break. After starting to feel exhausted and suffering migraines (hitting burnout!) my husband suggested we buy a dog…. At first, I wasn’t enthused it felt like another chore on my list. Turns out she is the world’s best “take a break” alarm clock. If I have not walked her by lunchtime, she will sit at my feet nudging me and giving me the guilts FOR HOURS. We walk, I get fresh air and vitamin D, we connect to nature, sometimes I meet new people and mostly I get the time and space my brain needs to rest and recharge. She really has been the best thing I’ve ever done for my business, and healthy addition to our family.
Author: Janel Briggs, Mindset + Business Coach and founder of Janel Briggs Coaching.
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