Struggling with Burnout

During the last couple of weeks I went from ‘hit the ground running’ to running a marathon with one goal in mind – to just get caught up. Sometimes when you are trying to get caught up, the everyday stuff just doesn’t get done. In fact it felt a bit like a mud run – rigorous and messy.

For three months I have been working 7 days a week, sometimes 10-14 hours a day. That is not good for either your mental or physical health and I found myself struggling with burnout. So I made a decision to let some stuff go.

All of you, at one time or another have experienced burnout, and you know what I mean. Many of you are balancing a couple of businesses, and you’re hoping at some point that one of the businesses you are running will actually support the lifestyle that you desire.

So how do you know when it is time to ‘let go’? To shift your focus from the multitude of goals that are just not working anymore, and redefine where you are going and what you are going to accomplish.

Let’s look at some clues that you are struggling with ‘burnout’;

1. You can’t escape the stress.

2. You are always feeling tired and weak, achy all over

3. You stop pay attention to the details

4. You become forgetful

5. Instead of striving to be the best, you strive for being good enough.

6. You are no longer excited about the work, you’ve lost the passion to be the best

7. No time for family or friends

8. Your voice mail or email inbox is full of unanswered mail

9. You haven’t seen sunlight in days

10. Life is just not FUN anymore.

These are all classic signs of burnout, and I was struggling with every one of them – so how do you recover from burnout?

Step 1. Examine any resentment that you are feeling towards your work.

Dig deep to find out what what are the root causes of your burnout. Now would be a good time to start a stress diary; document what is causing the stress and make note of the things you need to change to avoid that stress.

Step 2. Focus on your physical health.

I have been so stressed that I have not been eating right or exercising, and my sleep has been been affected. Now might be a good time to focus on foods that fight stress;

  • The complex carbs in whole grain cereals and breads increase the serotonin levels in the brain, boosting your mood and helping you relax.

  • Calcium (in cottage cheese) relaxes your muscles, ginger aids in pain relief,

  • Avocados have lots of potassium which will lower your blood pressure,

  • Broccoli and other vegetables with B vitamins and folic acids relieve stress, anxiety and depression

  • One cup of spinach provides enough magnesium to fight irritability, indigestion, fatigue and stress,

  • A small handfull of nuts provides enough selenium to fight depression, fatigue and anxiety, Strawberries, raspberries and blue berries provide vitamin C which helps curb the levels of the stress hormone cortosol

  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and tuna can help balance stress hormones, fight heart disease and tame mood swings.

  • Bedtime foods; a glass of milk provides the necessary calcium to sooth anxiety and calm mood swings, and a whole grain crackers of toast provide the serotonin to help you relax and fall asleep more quickly.

Exercise fights stress and I have all but given up on it due to time constraints. Oh sure, I’ve exercised here and there, but not enough to really fight the stress I’ve been dealing with. So, now that I have let some stuff go, I’m committing to at least a ½ hour a day, 6 days a week… stay tuned I will let you know if I have been able to do that.

Getting enough sleep has always been a problem for me since my early twenties. However, most of the time I make it a priority and even if I can’t sleep, I usually crawl into bed between 9- 10pm – except during the last couple of months when I was working late, sometimes til 1am.

Step 3. Reassess your goals.

Burnout occurs when your work is out of alignment with your long term goals and values. You are experiencing frustration because things have shifted and you no longer know what your goals are. It’s time to reassess and redefine your goals;

You all should have a mission statement, and if you don’t it is time to think about gives you meaning in your work and write one. A mission statement helps you define the elements (or goals) that you need to work efficiently, with integrity and focus.

My mission statement is: Committed to providing simple, smart SEO strategies that empower small business to compete with big business on a level playing field, regardless of budget.

If you find that your current role at your job or in your business does not line up with your mission statement, then it is time to reassess your goals and get them back in line with your mission.

Step 4. Learn how to say NO politely

It’s a good idea to not only shed some responsibility, but also to learn how to say NO to requests for your time and energy that are not in line with your goals and mission statement. Learn how to say Yes to the person, but No to the task.

This might mean that instead of spending time one-on-one with someone, an alternative might be to provide a step-by-step written guide on how to accomplish the task that the person needs help with. The added advantage of a written guide is that once it is created it can be shared over and over again, thus saving you a ton of time in the long run.

Step 5. Remember the power of positive thinking.

By nature, I am a positive thinker. In fact I believe that each morning when I get up, I make a decision to be happy… and most of the time that works. However, when you are struggling with burnout – sometimes it is hard to see the ‘positive’ in a situation.

Here are some ideas for readjusting your attitude to ‘happy’.

  • Make a list of all of the things you have to be thankful for. At the end of each day read that list… and count your blessings.

  • Make a list of things you want to accomplish, then celebrate each of those accomplishments; go out to dinner, buy yourself something you want but don’t need, host a party… and count your blessings.

  • At the end of each day, think about the one great thing you did that day at work, or at home… and count your blessings.

  • Understand that things will not always go as planned, but everything happens for a reason, look for that reason… and count your blessings.

  • Read positive and inspiring books. These books serve to encourage you, inspire you, and teach you. By focusing on something positive, it helps you keep a positive mindset… and count your blessings.

  • When you are feeling sorry for yourself, take a look around you – you will see someone in way worse shape than you are… and count your blessings.

NOTE: For those of you wondering what changes I decided to make to bring my goals back in line with my mission – I decided to spend more of my time building websites, setting up internet marketing strategies and personal coaching, and less time doing stuff that got in the way of those activities.