When was the last time you played hooky? You know, taking a day off to goof off and do only what you wanted to do? As a responsible adult, that probably seems like a silly question, right? Between running your business, taking care of your clients’ needs and doing what needs to be done for your family, there’s no time for goofing off. Yeah . . . . that’s my point.
That’s how burnout happens. You keep your head down and your foot on the accelerator, plowing through the tasks in your day . . . every day. And when obstacles arise, you hunker down and press on the accelerator harder to make it through. Stress increases, your temper gets shorter, everything seems like an effort and you suddenly realize that nothing feels fun anymore. Things you used to enjoy just feel like one more task on the long list of things that have to be done.
Burnout is exhaustion on every level – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. And it’s a real problem for business owners who are used to being motivated action takers that get things done. Suddenly they find themselves wasting time with mundane tasks, avoiding the “to do” list of things that will move their business forward. Then they start beating themselves up, wondering what is wrong with them, and why they can’t find the passion and drive they once had for their business. Sound familiar?
Burnout can be crippling for small businesses. When the driving force in a business is stuck in the mud of apathy and negativity, things can quickly fall apart. That’s why it’s so important to prevent burnout from ever setting in.
Here are some tips for preventing burnout:
Make room for fun. Regularly schedule fun activities into your week. “Fun” means any activity that makes you happy, allows you to laugh, let go and enjoy yourself.
Quiet your mind. There is so much research on the mental, physical and emotional benefits of meditation that it’s just silly not to do it. Many people don’t do it because they are intimidated by the process or think it requires a huge time commitment. Meditation is about relaxing the mind and can be done for 5 to 10 minutes at a time and can be done anywhere. Mindfulness Meditation is an excellent way to begin a meditation practice.
Learn how to leave the office. If you are like many business owners, you physically leave the office, but mentally you are there 24/7, mulling over problems and mentally creating “to do” lists. Make the commitment to not talk about work once you leave the office. If you value the objective opinion of your spouse or trusted friend, limit the conversation to a certain time frame and when it is over, it’s over. Turn your attention to other aspects of your life. Learning how to quiet your mind and redirect your thoughts will make this much easier.
Listen to your body. If you are tired, rest. If you are hungry, eat. If you need to move, stretch or get out for a walk. If you are stressed, take a break. Your body is always sending you messages to help bring you back into balance and repair itself.
Play hooky every once in a while. Give yourself permission to take a day to do exactly what you want, when you want and how you want. Go off the grid and be completely unavailable. Having several hours where you aren’t responsible for anyone or anything can do wonders for recharging your energy and reigniting your creativity.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article and how you handle burnout.
Great post! Meditation is the closest thing to magic for mental health and I am determined to schedule some dates to play hooky in August. If everybody did meditation and exercise, we wouldn’t have a health care crisis and many of us would be richer.
Thanks, Cathy! Glad to hear your plan to add in meditation and schedule some hooky days :-).
Until thus summer I had no idea how good it felt to really go off of the grid. It was so relaxing and helped my business so much. Great article Melanie.
What a great example of taking time away to re-energize. Thanks for sharing, Linda!