Whether you’re an entrepreneur, company employee, or freelance wizard, I suspect that you—like me—are often flirting with the dangers of burnout. We work hard, move fast, and probably say “sure, I can do that!” far too often. Our candles are not only burning at both ends, they’re burning in the middle, on top and below—running the risk of getting snuffed out.
Burnout isn’t just in our heads. The American Institute of Stress estimates that workplace stress costs more than $300 billion each year in health care, missed work, and stress-reduction programs. Extreme stress, or burnout, is real and has real consequences.
I’ve learned to read the signs when stress is starting to peak and I give myself a “time-out.” (I’m a huge believer in the restorative power of the 20-minute nap. I’m a new woman when I wake up…) I work out twice a week with my personal trainer, Mike Seilo and I hike as often as I can. I make sure I get leisure time with friends and family. Because my schedule and list of obligations are crazier than ever.
In addition to serving as interim operations leader for companies, I produce corporate events and conferences—a fast-paced, stress-ridden job that can take a toll on the body. Long days with chaotic schedules, eating less-than-healthy food on the run, and constantly juggling items on a never-ending “to do” list. (Oops, am I complaining? Excuse me while I get back on the hiking trail…)
If you’re like most of us, you put in long hours and are over-committed. You might find it will help to define a self-care plan to reduce stress. Prioritize and stick to that plan. Learn to delegate (and stick with that plan.) If you work from home, have a standing time to leave the “office” (even if it’s a desk in the kitchen) to focus on family. Learn to recognize what your mind and body are telling you when stress starts to climb to unmanageable levels.
I have one friend who swears the answer to stress is “Laughter Yoga,” a yoga practice that relies on prolonged voluntary laughter. She may be right. Studies have shown that laughter has healing properties (maybe it is the best medicine?) So to ward off stress and burnout, take a nap, take a hike, hug a friend, and have a laugh!