“What will your life have been, in the end, but the sum total of everything you spent it focusing on?” – Oliver Burkeman
Burnout is a very real problem, especially for solopreneurs. Even though partnerships can have their ups and downs, at least you have someone to handle some of the stress and responsibility. Solopreneurs are by themselves and feel the entire weight of their success on their lone shoulders. This large responsibility often leads these business owners to work 14+ hour days and lose track of what’s happening at home with their families. But is focusing so much attention on your business a wise decision? No, not if you want to achieve a work/life balance that makes you and your family happy. Even if you’re single, making time for self-care and relaxation will improve your overall health and mental wellbeing. Let’s talk about the signs to look for that indicate you might be headed toward a burnout.
If your brain can’t shut down because you’re consumed with work, your sleep pattern will get disrupted, leaving you overtired, lacking energy, and possibly lacking the mental energy to make wise business decisions. If you’re already at the point where you are having trouble sleeping most nights, it’s time to reign it in.
Do you cringe at the length of your daily to-do list? Did these tasks once excite you but now they make you want to crawl under a rock? Procrastination leads to missed deadlines and opportunities to promote your business. You need to decide how to say no to more, or streamline the items on your list. Do the things that continue to push your business forward or bring you joy, and then delegate or cut out the others.
The human body is only capable of handling so much stress on limited sleep. Certainly you’ve heard the phrase “burning the candle at both ends”? That’s what happens when you work yourself to the bone and don’t give your body and brain enough time to recover before starting another high-stress day. At some point your body will want to give up, causing severe fatigue and possibly other illnesses that will keep you out of the office. Fatigue is different than lack of sleep. This is when you start to feel lethargic and can’t quite focus. If you find yourself depending on things like caffeine to pick you up during the day, you’ve got to re-evaluate.
4. Changes in appetite
For some people, stress causes them to overeat; for others, stress reduces their appetites. Neither extreme is good for your body. For optimal health and mental clarity, take lunch breaks away from the desk and choose natural, healthy food choices instead of fast food items. Pay attention to how you’ve been eating lately, and if you can’t remember, jot it down in a food journal. Map it out for 1-2 weeks to see if you pick up on any changes or emerging bad habits.
High stress causes anxiety, which can cause crippling fear or other physical symptoms. Keep in mind: there’s a big difference between the anxiety you feel when stepping out of your comfort zone versus stress induced anxiety that doesn’t seem to go away. Think about this: as a solopreneur, if you are not physically able to run your business, what happens to it? Chances are, you’d have to close your doors and any streams of income you currently have will disappear. Let’s avoid this happening! Take care of your whole body, mind, and spirit. Take quiet time to relax. Get outdoors and breathe in some fresh air. Unplug for a whole weekend and live in the moment with your family. Reconnect with old friends. Start a hobby. The choices are limitless.
Grab this free resource guide with some ideas of how to streamline your business or do things to relax so you can get back on track.
Free Business Burnout Directory
20 tools and resources to help you beat business burnout.