What is it and what can you do to prevent it?
Entrepreneurs are passionate and driven people, often more so than people that work for an employer. That passion and drive can also make it difficult to maintain a healthy work/life balance. When the passion turns into overdrive and the self is so very much entangled with the business, entrepreneurs are in danger of burning out.
Burn-out is a slow process that creeps up on you. The difference between being very stressed and burned out is just the crossing of a thin line. But it’s very important to be aware of the danger, as the consequences for entrepreneurs can be detrimental.
But what is burn-out? And how can you recognize it?
The difference between burn-out and work related stress is the point at which the stress becomes a serious health issue. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s work, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s work
- reduced professional efficacy
In my work as a personal coach and as an entrepreneur myself, I have seen that some entrepreneurs tend to identify completely with their work, which leads to their mood and sense of self worth becoming tangled up with the highs and lows of their work. Other entrepreneurs get used to the high adrenaline of the setup phase or the phases when their business is going through a growth spurt. When things slow down, even though the business is still doing great, they lose their sense of meaning. It might also be hard to handle for some that there is pressure of having too many people whose livelihoods are depending on them, especially when the business is successful. There is worry about social status, acceptance and money on one hand and concern about loved ones and friends feeling neglected.
What can you do to prevent it? First of all it is essential to keep your priorities for the business in balance with priorities for families, friends and personal time like hobbies. The social network is key to keeping loneliness at bay, feel connected and have a support team when things do get tough.
Next to your social health, your physical health needs to be nurtured. Eating, sports, getting outdoors and sleeping all go a long way in keeping stresslevels reduced. And finally, do not wipe signs of burn-out under the rug, but deal with them, manage your time by taking breaks during the day, reflect on why you became an entrepreneur and do more of what make you genuinely happy and energized.
If you do feel overly stressed and are afraid a burn-out might be around the corner, or if you are already burned out, help is available. Burn-out coaching is not a therapy, but an intensive and systematic approach for getting back to and/or staying healthy at work. It will provide insight in your stressors, will improve your coping skills and will recover your motivation and energy.
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