Archive for September, 2019

Recognizing, Dealing With Burnout; or Preventing It

September 15, 2019

Burnout is a more frequently used word mouthed by small business leaders according to a recent Information Strategies, Inc. (ISI) poll.  Yet, small business leaders are mostly overlooked as typical candidates for burnout syndrome.

Fatigue brought about by the work demands creeps up on them almost unnoticed.  Then too, it is often ignored because entrepreneurs are self-sustaining, tend to depend on their own resources, and fearful of displaying weakness.  Equally as important, most usually do not have the same physical, emotional and financial support as someone would have in a corporate environment. 

Vacations are a rare happening for most small business leaders.  They are rarer for new business owners, who on average does not take a vacation for the first five years, according to another ISI study.  So burnout is highly likely early on as well as after many years.

This being said, what are some of the more obvious symptoms of burnout?

You are exhausted all the time.
You feel more anxious about your business than before.
You feel overwhelmed and indecisive.
You struggle to focus.
You are eating poorly and getting little/no exercise.
You sleep is restless, disrupted, or perhaps you suffer insomnia.
You anger quickly and lash out at people.
Further, unrealistic expectations, misguided passion, guilt, boredom and control issues are some of the main culprits that drive small business owners into burnout.

And, these often used ‘stress-relievers’ are actually making your burnout worse:

Avoiding confrontation often leads blowing up at an inopportune time, and creating a more stressful environment for both yourself and others.
Desktop dining or skipping lunch (and/or dinner deprives you of one especially critical stress quelling nutrient– social interaction.
Complaining exasperates stress and rewires your brain for negativity.
Avoiding confrontation often leads to blowing up at inopportune times and creates a more stressful environment for both yourself and others.

There is a hidden cause of burnout, which is physical and emotional:  it is feeling a lack of control or powerlessness, even though you are the boss/owner. 

Here are three ways feeling a lack of control may be contributing to your burnout or the burnout of your employees — and what to do about it:

Recognize you are suffering from entrepreneur burnout and acknowledge that you need help and support to deal with it.
Focus on what you can control and call for help and support for things that are out of your control.
Re-ignite your passion for your business. Remember why you started your own business and re-visit the goals you set yourself; readjust if necessary.

In summary, to deal with burnout: make your goals and expectations more realistic; set a sustainable daily workload; and take time each day to reflect on what was achieved, rather than focus on what was not.  Plus remember how grateful you are for what you have and for the wonderful people in your life.

Or better yet, here are a few ways to prevent burnout.

Allow yourself to take breaks; even a short walk can provide meaningful mental relaxation and clarity.
Find meaning in your work; it will help you keep going even in difficult times.
Learn continually to spur creativity; as you continue to learn your brain will be better equipped to deal with problems that arise at work.
Maintain important relationships; they can offer much-needed relief from work-related stress.


Delegate; learn to assign work to others.
Rest, exercise, and learn to say ‘no’.
Begin your day proactively; eat energizing foods, work out (even if it is just a walk outside), and grab 10 minutes just to breathe and be intentional about your work.
Free yourself from interruptions and distractions; turn off email and social media notifications, also create a schedule and try to follow it.
Be clear and focused on your vision, purpose, and life goals.
Stop working and take a break whenever you are too hungry, tired, angry, or even lonely.
Change your mindset and expectations to positive and achievable.

Improve your physical and emotional well-being by recognizing and dealing with burnout, or preventing it.  And remember, recognizing burnout is the first step to avoiding its effects.