Burnout is a Slow Burn. Here’s How To Stop it From Creeping Up On You
Being passionate about your work is one of the things that makes small business owners great, and sets them above those who are just entering into a similar small business with the aim of making a quick buck. On the other hand, being so passionate about your work that it becomes obsessive can lead to you overworking, which in turn can lead to burnout.
Take it from a self-professed ex-workaholic that downtime is important for your mental and physical health, and by extension (no pun intended) is important for the growth of your business. Here are our top tips for staying healthy and avoiding burnout, each of which come from personal experience!
Take Your Time
By which we mean take time off. Factor downtime into your schedule and take it. Whether it’s spent with family, friends, with a good book, or just getting your own lashes done, taking time to yourself is super important.
Make a point to take full days off with no treatments, no answering messages, no posting on socials (scheduled posts are obviously fine) and no ordering or strategising. Your mind may wander to your business and you might get a flash of inspiration – jot these down and deal with them properly when you’re back at work. Believe me when I say that those flashes of inspiration will dwindle to nothing if you don’t allow yourself any time to breathe.
Don't answer work messages outside of work hours. You will undoubtedly receive messages from existing and potential clients at ungodly hours but you do not have to answer them then and there. You might think (you may even have heard) that you need to be present for clients at all times, and anything less is bad customer service, but we're here to tell you that nothing will make your customer service worse than burnout. Answer only during work hours, in time that you set aside for answering messages.
Book holidays and do things you enjoy – you deserve this and your brain will thank you for it, as will your friends and family when you’re not a human shaped ball of stress at all times.
While taking time out might seem detrimental to running a business, it’s actually safeguarding you, and your business’ success. A few days off here and there to quiet your mind is far more cost effective than having to close your books for a month or two because you got too stressed out to function.
Eat Your Veggies
As well as taking days off, you need to make sure that in that busy schedule you are making time to eat balanced meals and drink plenty of water. We’re just as guilty of joking about living off of coffee as the next person, but the fact of the matter is that while caffeine might give you a bit of an energy boost, it doesn’t have anything on drinking plenty of water and making sure your meals and snacks fuel you.
When you’re putting together your appointment schedule, make sure you put aside time to eat a decent lunch, rehydrate, and maybe read a chapter or two of a book you like – it’ll do wonders for your energy levels and for your brain!
Stretch it Out
Take a little time between clients to stretch your neck, back, wrists, shoulders etc. – it doesn’t have to be a full on yoga routine, just something to release tension and prevent you from becoming stiff.
Become One With Nature
Head to the park, the forest, the beach – whatever’s your jam – and just take time to enjoy nature! Getting some fresh air is often overlooked, but a nice wander through the woods or even sitting by the sea for half an hour can really do wonders for how calm you feel, even if you’re not typically outdoorsy as a person.
This one is particularly good if you’re struggling to think of a solution to a problem. By giving your mind the space to clear, you’ll find that more often than not, the answer to your problem will pop into your head, or will just seem like a smaller issue altogether.
Let’s Talk About It
Whether you opt for therapy or just venting to a mate over lunch, talking about how you’re feeling is important. Mental health is often swept under the rug to some degree, with some people even vilifying others for speaking up when they’re not feeling okay. The fact of the matter is though, that by opening up about not being okay will make you feel more okay, and can also help others who are afraid to speak about their problems feel more at ease in doing so in the future. The age old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is so relevant here, but it’s not only your problems that you may be halving, simply by letting someone know that you’re having a rough time of it.
Lastly, it’s perfectly fine to seek professional help if your mental health isn’t where it ideally should be. Whether that’s talking therapy, medication, or a combination of the two, there are options out there designed specifically to help you get back to being you. There’s no shame at all in asking for help, and you owe it to yourself to take your needs into account. Remember as well that you don’t have to be at rock bottom to ask for those things – as with many things, prevention is better than cure, so getting on top of things early on is going to be far better than letting everything build up.