To most people on the outside looking in, it seems like there are very few downsides, if any, to being an entrepreneur. However, there is more to entrepreneurship than meets the eye. While there is certainly more freedom, there is also a lot more responsibility, seeing as you will be required to make important decisions daily. Things are especially brutal on solopreneurs in that aspect, as there is no management in place to help shoulder some of the burden.
In addition to stress and pressure, there is also today’s hustle culture, which glorifies working 80-hour weeks. All of that inevitably leads to entrepreneurial burnout. According to a study done by Dr. Michael Freeman, who is a clinical professor at UCSF and an entrepreneur himself, 49% of surveyed entrepreneurs suffered from some sort of mental condition, with depression being present in 30% of them. So how can you tell if you’re suffering from entrepreneurial burnout, and more importantly, how can you treat it? Let’s take a look.
Signs of Entrepreneurial Burnout
The first step is acknowledging that you might have a problem and looking for one of these signs:
- You feel exhausted regardless of how much you rest.
- You feel work-related anxiety.
- You are experiencing mental fog and having trouble focusing.
- You can’t sleep or your sleep quality is poor.
- You get irritated easily and overreact about minor issues.
- You get sick often.
- You feel stuck, disengaged, and unmotivated at work.
- You have gained weight.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, then you are probably suffering from entrepreneurial burnout. The second part is tackling it, and better yet, preventing it from happening again.
How to Overcome and/or Prevent Entrepreneurial Burnout
Although different things might work for different people, here are a few effective tips you can apply to fix or avoid burnout:
Take a Hike
No, we’re not telling you to get lost, but to take an actual hike. Going on a solo hike is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. Instead of being stuck inside a stuffy gym, you are spending time in nature, enjoying the fresh air, getting a good workout, and disconnecting from the everyday stress that caused you to burn out in the first place. That’s why hiking is even more beneficial to your overall mental state. According to research, spending more time in nature, away from technology, can help you boost your creativity by 50% when it comes to problem-solving.
Being in nature also improves your mood by boosting your serotonin levels, thus changing your outlook on things. Not to mention that you will be able to eliminate some of the symptoms from our earlier list, such as excess weight, lack of speed, mood swings, and poor immune system.
Realize It’s Necessary to Take a Break
Going all-in on your business and making it your priority is an admirable goal, but keep in mind that you don’t need to neglect other areas of your life. It’s easy to forget this when you’re reading about Elon Musk and his crazy 120-hour workweek. But, remember that Tesla received a boost from US government subsidies. You do not have that luxury. Your biggest asset is you, which means you need to take care of yourself if you plan to keep on going. If you break down, your business will, too.
So, if you are feeling sick, don’t rush to the office. Stay home until you’re well again. Do you feel like you need one or more days off in order to recharge your batteries? Then take those days off and stop feeling guilty about it. Not only do you deserve those things, but you need them to help sustain you in the long run.
Don’t Neglect Your Passion
This can mean several different things, such as your hobbies, or reasons why you have decided to become an entrepreneur in the first place. These are probably the first things to go when you are short on time or burning the midnight oil on a regular basis. Before you know it, you stop having an outlet altogether, instead of rewarding yourself for all your hard work.
And that might be the core of your problem. You were using your hobbies and your passions to reward yourself, when it should have been the other way around. All those things you enjoy should have been your fuel all along.
Talk to Other Entrepreneurs about It
You’re in the same boat as every other entrepreneur, after all. They are going through the same stuff. Unfortunately – and this is especially true in the startup world – people love to talk about how much they work and how much their revenue has grown. Nobody talks about how stressful and difficult it is, which makes it even harder for other entrepreneurs, as they start thinking they aren’t tough enough, or they don’t work hard enough. Try to create your own network of entrepreneurs where you can exchange experiences on how to reach goals without completely burning out in the process.
At the end of the day, the reason why you became an entrepreneur is to make a better life for yourself – and you can’t do that if you have no life to speak of. Sure, there will be a period where you will have to work very hard, but even then, put in a conscious effort to maintain a healthy work-life balance.