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Entrepreneur Burnout – Causes and Recovery

In today’s fast-paced business world, where innovation and competition go hand in hand, the term “entrepreneur burnout” has gained significant attention. The unique blend of passion, pressure and risk-taking that can drive entrepreneurs also puts them at greater risk of experiencing the debilitating exhaustion that characterises burnout. For more on what entrepreneur burnout is, how can it be avoided, and how it can be treated, continue reading.

What Is Entrepreneur Burnout?

Burnout describes a state of severe physical and emotional exhaustion that greatly impacts a person’s life as a result of chronic exposure to stress. This normally occurs due to workplace stress, and usually to those in high power or high pressure positions.

While typically in the literature those in healthcare roles were considered most at risk for ‘burnout’, more and more evidence is emerging to suggest that entrepreneurs are highly susceptible to burnout as well. The business and financial risks that entrepreneurs often take on, as well as the ongoing management and operation of various business ventures, make this role one of very high stakes.

If you are concerned that you may be experiencing burnout, Clinic Les Alpes have many articles discussing how to identify burnout in yourself, and in loved ones. If you would like more personalised advice, please reach out to a medical or therapeutic professional for assessment.

How to Avoid Burnout as an Entrepreneur

Taking preventative steps to avoid burnout as an entrepreneur is key to protecting your physical, emotional, and psychological health and wellbeing. Here’s a list of strategies and options to help you avoid and prevent burnout:

  • Manage Your Workload: Avoid overloading yourself with tasks. This can be through delegation, prioritisation and breaking down larger projects into manageable steps. Focusing on the more critical aspects of your work, and being realistic with your expected outcomes is key in this.
  • Separate Personal and Professional: Make sure you set clear boundaries between your work and personal life. This includes taking regular breaks, holidays, and protecting your ‘out of office’ hours. Allowing yourself this time where you don’t have to be ‘productive’ gives your brain and body a rest which ultimately enables you to perform better in the long-term.
  • Prioritise Self-Care: Self-care doesn’t just refer to candles, retreats, and meditation. It’s important to ensure you are protecting your health by exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and practising stress reduction techniques.
  • Be Realistic: Noone can deliver at 100%, 100% of the time. It’s important to be realistic when setting goals for yourself and your business. This avoids stress on yourself and your employees in trying to meet goals that are too ambitious, or even unachievable.
  • Have Fun: Ensure you make time to see people you enjoy spending time with. Picking up a non-work related hobby is a great way to give your mind a break and enjoy yourself without pressure. This can be something physical like golf, more creative like art, or something that allows you to ‘zone out’ like gaming.
  • Celebrate Your Achievements: When we shoot for the moon, it can be hard to feel satisfied if we’re still amongst the stars. Celebrating achievements reminds you of how far you, and your business, have come. Recognising progress, no matter how big or small, boosts motivation and overall positivity.
  • Seek Support: Everyone needs someone backing them, and when you work in a high pressure environment this is especially true. Make sure you take time to connect with people who know you and care about you. It’s important to also have options for professional support, like a therapist or coach who can support you no matter what.

What Causes Entrepreneurs to Burn Out?

Burnout is a complex phenomenon, and there are many factors that contribute to its development. Typically high workplace demands, constant pressure for performance, lack of social support, and lack of recognition are some of the more high risk factors.

There are also several traits that are often seen amongst those who experience burnout, including ambition, perfectionism, high expectations, and tenacity. This drive to perform, deliver, and ‘win’ may push people to overachieve, but no one person can withstand this level of pressure forever.

There can be several factors that contribute to an increased risk of burnout amongst entrepreneurs. Typically the qualities they find contributing to their success – passion, dedication, and commitment – can become sources of stress if not maintained in a healthy balance.

Furthermore, entrepreneurs often are under pressure to constantly innovate, manage resources and handle high levels of uncertainty. The fear of this uncertainty, risk of failure, and financial instability greatly amplifies the ‘normal’ stress of running a business venture, making entrepreneurs exceptionally vulnerable to experiencing burnout.

Overcoming Entrepreneur Burnout

If you’ve already recognised that you may be experiencing burnout, it is important to be proactive in addressing the potential causes and consequences. Burnout is not a condition that resolves naturally if nothing changes, and its potential for negative impacts in all aspects of life merits serious attention.

The first step a person can take to overcome burnout is to take as much weight off of their shoulders as possible. This will involve managing your workload, as described above, in a way that is sustainable long term and will avoid a relapse in pressure and stress once you have recovered. Re-evaluate your priorities and ensure that you delegate and outsource where possible.

Part of taking weight and pressure off of your shoulders should include taking some ‘time out’. This may look like reducing working hours or days, increasing the number and length of breaks taken throughout the day, or taking a break completely. Holidays and time off are important to protect your wellbeing, as well as your long-term productivity.

The most important thing someone can do to overcome entrepreneur burnout is to seek professional help and treatment. This is particularly true if you have already noticed some of the more severe symptoms of burnout such as impaired work performance, low motivation, social isolation, physical health symptoms, and difficulty getting to or staying asleep.

Options for Entrepreneur Burnout Treatment

Seeking treatment is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you recover as quickly as possible, and protect yourself from experiencing entrepreneur burnout again. There are different ways to treat burnout, depending on the severity of the case and on the resources available.

There are some options for self-treatment such as mindfulness-based interventions. These help individuals to stay present, manage stress, and regulate emotions and fearful thoughts. Practices like meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction have demonstrated positive effects in treating and preventing burnout.

Out-patient treatment, such as weekly therapy and counselling sessions, can help those with mild to moderate cases of burnout. It can also be effective for those at high risk of burnout looking to protect themselves in preventing it. There are many therapeutic approaches a therapist may take, for example cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), that help to manage stress, develop coping strategies, and build resilience.

In more severe cases of burnout, or in cases where quicker recovery is essential, it can be helpful to seek out in-patient treatment. This typically occurs in treatment centres, like Clinic Les Alpes, where you have access to 24/7 high quality medical care, as well as professionals to improve your psychological and physical health. Having the opportunity to take time “away from it all” and put your wellbeing in the hands of the experts can give your mind some much needed time off.

Summary

In the dynamic world of entrepreneurship, the concept of entrepreneur burnout has gained more relevance recently as we understand more about the pressures of this line of work. Prioritising yourself, even above your business, is important in protecting your health, wellbeing, and the performance of your business in the long-run.

If you or someone you know is struggling with burnout, it’s important to seek professional assistance and take proactive steps toward recovery. Remember that prioritising your well-being, and treating entrepreneur burnout, is not only beneficial for you but also for the sustainability and growth of your business.

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