Growing your creative business will likely be one of the most rewarding ventures you will ever take on, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come with its own challenges.
If you have noticed a creeping sense of imposter syndrome, creative block, or uncharacteristic tiredness, you may be experiencing the busy entrepreneur’s worst nightmare — burnout.
Those who are growing their own business or working from home are naturally at an increased risk of burnout; without the opportunity to ‘go home’ at the end of the day, it can be difficult to ever fully switch off.
Let’s take a look at the tell-tale signs of burnout, as well as a few ways you can prevent yourself from falling victim to the entrepreneur’s curse!
5 Common Symptoms of Burnout
Every task feels overwhelming or boring.
One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is, hands-down, being able to do something every day that you truly love and feel passionate about.
Unfortunately, if you’re burned out, even the most exciting aspects of your work may start to seem like an insurmountable challenge or even worse, a chore. This might be especially true if you’re taking on more work than you can handle without allowing yourself time to unwind.
You’re getting overly frustrated about silly things.
Stress can bring out the worst in us, and if your head is full to brimming with to-do lists, you may feel like there isn’t much room in there for anything else.
Unluckily for your friends and family, they could bear the brunt of this. When anything and everything is driving you up the wall, take this as a clear sign that it’s time to switch off and indulge in some ‘me time’.
You’re suffering from a creative block.
On a similar note to the previous point, having a head full of ‘stuff’ isn’t really conducive to heightened creativity.
When growing a creative business, it’s important to designate a time and mental space to get into your most inspired headspace. If you have been burning the candle at both ends, you may start finding it difficult to innovate and create as naturally as usual.
You feel constantly tired and are struggling to get out of bed in the morning.
Of course, physical exhaustion is a key symptom of burnout.
The mind and body are closely connected, and an overload of stress and caffeine-fuelled late nights are bound to take a toll at some point.
You’re doubting your abilities.
Feeling stressed and uninspired is a sure recipe to fuel the fire of negative thinking. You may find yourself worrying that you’re losing your skills, especially if you’re also struggling with creative block.
Perhaps you’ve found yourself checking your work over a thousand times and still feeling like it’s not good enough?
The good news is that none of this is true!
You’re the same talented person you have always been and are simply in need of some quality time to rest and recharge.
8 Effective Ways to Prevent (or Alleviate) Burnout!
Luckily, burnout is not inevitable, and there are a number of methods you can use to alleviate the symptoms or even better, prevent them from developing in the first place.
Here are 8 useful tips to help get you back into a feel-good workflow if you’re feeling a little on the stressed side!
Think of the bigger picture.
When you can’t see the forest for the trees, it might be useful to take a step back and think about your “why”.
Dedicating some time to remembering your ultimate goals, what you love about being an entrepreneur, and what drove you to launch your creative business in the first place is often a great way to get that inspiration and spark back.
If you can, why not take a day (or even half a day) away from the menial tasks and spend some time visualizing your goals and plans for the future?
Make time for activities you enjoy.
If your life seems to revolve around work, and even the tasks you usually enjoy are beginning to feel like a chore, now might be the time to add some variety to your daily schedule.
What do you love doing that is totally unconnected to your business?
Perhaps you enjoy taking your dog for long walks in the countryside, or treating yourself to a relaxing candlelit bath?
Whatever it is that can give you a welcome break from the monotony of those daily work tasks, pencil it into your diary!
Limit your screen time.
Many entrepreneurs and creative business owners spend a large chunk of each day looking at a laptop screen.
Excessive screen time can be a nasty recipe for constant headaches, eye strain, and in turn, poor sleep quality.
Make sure to take regular breaks, even if it’s just to look at something in the distance every 20 minutes to minimize eye strain!
Equally, at the end of each day, commit to staying away from screens altogether one or two hours before sleep.
This is a great way to allow your eyes to rest and your brain to switch off and wind down. A good night’s sleep is absolutely essential to avoid burnout.
Prioritize basic self-care.
Sure, we all want spa days, face masks, and afternoon tea, but sometimes all you have time for is the basics, and that is ok.
Make sure you are getting sufficient sleep (a minimum of 7 hours is generally recommended for adults, although this figure varies from person to person!).
Equally, be sure to drink plenty of water each day to keep you mentally sharp, and don’t be tempted to skip your lunch break to fit in extra work.
Taking the time each day to stay hydrated, well-fed, and sufficiently rested may be all you need to start feeling a little more like yourself again.
Designate time to truly relax and switch off each day.
This is so important, especially for creative business owners who work from home!
When working remotely, it can be difficult to leave work behind at the end of the day, but it is so important to set those boundaries for yourself.
Decide on your daily office hours and stick to them unapologetically.
When it’s time to finish work, log out of your emails, switch off your laptop, and do not even think about looking at them again until the morning!
It’s incredibly important to set a clear distinction between “work” and “home”.
Take at least one full day off each week.
Life can be extremely busy as an entrepreneur, and even though you may have a lot of plates to juggle, try to designate at least one day each week to take off work completely.
This can be vital in allowing yourself sufficient time to fully relax and recharge ready for the next working week, avoiding burnout from cumulative week to week stress.
Or take a vacation.
Sometimes just one day off isn’t enough!
If you’re in the depths of burnout, it may actually be more productive to take a longer vacation and allow yourself sufficient time to get back on form.
Think about it — surely it’s more productive to take some much-needed time off and come back happy, rejuvenated, and 10x more productive than to muddle on through for weeks at 50% capacity?
Plus, you will feel much better for it!
Realize that it’s ok to say ‘no’.
‘No’ is not a bad word and, contrary to popular belief, you are allowed to say it.
Saying no does not make you a bad friend or colleague, it makes you someone who cares about their mental wellbeing.
Though it can be tempting to accept every job opportunity or social occasion that comes your way, sometimes it is truly more beneficial to be pickier with what you choose to involve yourself in.
Do not be afraid to turn down partnerships that won’t be beneficial and delegate those smaller, day-to-day tasks that just never seem to let up.
Burnout is incredibly common for creative business owners, and it certainly does not mean you’re failing. As a new entrepreneur, it’s useful to figure out your personal key burnout symptoms and figure out how to effectively counteract these.
Setting clear boundaries and investing in proper self-care and downtime is one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself and, in turn, your business.
When you’re burned out, you are a lot less productive and creative.
No matter how counter-productive it may seem, stepping away from the laptop or meeting room may be just what your business needs as it grows.
Being healthy and on top form is truly the greatest gift you can give your growing empire.
Try out a few of our ideas and formulate a plan that works for you — everyone is different, but burnout is not something you should have to ‘just put up with’ as an entrepreneur.
What signs and symptoms do you notice most when you’re heading towards burnout, and how do you counteract these best?