Hitting burnout is unfortunately something that many people face, many more than we think. I guess it’s because of the society we live in, where everyone is always rushing to do 1000 different things and we feel like we “need” the hustle to really make it in life, and that hustling means being productive. But sadly, hitting burnout is not something healthy that should be accepted as the norm when pursuing our dream life. In this post, I’ll be talking about how to recover from burnout, with 5 simple steps.
How do you avoid burnout while growing your small business?
If you’re reading this and you’re an entrepreneur or a small business owner, you know that the struggle is real. Especially at the beginning of your journey (which, for the average entrepreneur, is 3 years) you’ll be doing A LOT of the work and wearing many different hats, as you’ll most likely be the only one working on your business.
If, on top of that, you also work a 9-5 whilst your business grows, or you have a family, or other commitments that take up your time, you’ll probably start running low on energy. It’s hard to stop whilst you’re in this cycle because you’re just focused on keeping things moving and not stopping, but the problem is that this way of living will most likely lead you to burnout.
Avoiding burnout while growing your small business is possible, but you need to be very strategic with how you run every area of your life, and very intentional about avoiding burnout at all costs. Keep reading to find out my 5 steps to recover from burnout (and avoid it in the future).
What does burnout feel like?
If you’ve never experienced it before, burnout feels like being exhausted physically and mentally, often being grumpy and snappy with those around us because we don’t have much energy left. Burnout feels like doing a lot of things but not doing them very well because we’re so tired, and then eventually, crushing.
Some people get physically sick because their body is trying to tell them to slow down and their immune system gets weaker if they don’t get enough sleep, eat healthily, and get some movement in (all things that a workaholic doesn’t have time to do). So a regular cold might put them to bed for a while.
Other people suffer mentally, some to the point of developing anxiety and suffering from high-stress levels because their minds are always spinning but they’re not doing any activities to rest and recover.
I personally used to break down mentally, and sometimes I had it mixed with physical sickness as well because only when I was in bed with the flu, I knew it was time for me to rest.
I always share this story of me during my final year at University. I was trying to pass my assignments and get a degree, whilst also working many hours as a nanny, volunteering at my church, teaching Italian on the weekends, trying to have a social life and be present for my friends, and dealing with the regular adult life.
There’s this particular friend of mine who must have a gift for understanding when I’m not doing too well, and one time she came to say hello to me on a Sunday morning, asked me how I was doing, I said fine, she looked at me like she knew I wasn’t, and then I burst into tears.
This was not the first time that it happened, as I had similar episodes before where I just couldn’t keep up with that pace of life and eventually my body would just let it all out.
After those final episodes though, I decided that I couldn’t let that be my story and something needed to change, which is also why I’m so passionate about talking about healthy productivity, work and life balance, and making sure that we put our wellbeing first. If you’d like to read more about my story, you can check it out here.
Why is it so difficult to maintain a good work/life balance?
Many people believe that work/life balance is a unicorn, that it doesn’t exist and it’s just not achievable. And to the risk of going against popular opinion, I don’t fully agree with that. I do believe that “balance” is very unique for each of us, so what might work for me, might not necessarily work for someone else.
I also believe that it seems hard to achieve work/life balance because we aren’t taught properly. From a young age we know that one day we’ll grow up and we should get a job, young people now tend to settle later on in life because they first need to get their career life together, and most of the time people have to make a decision between a personal and professional life.
Thankfully, more and more people are embracing the idea that we can’t live for our careers and that it’s okay to try and have a balance.
Now, before you think this is unreasonable, I’m completely aware that there are certain careers that require big sacrifices and that if you want to climb the ladder you may have to put your private life on hold for a bit. If this is you, there is absolutely NO judgment here, do what works for you.
But today I’m talking to those people who know that there is more to life, and even though we can’t have it all, we can surely try and create a balance. Especially if you’re someone like me, you’ll want to be productive with your time but working yourself out until burnout point is not the way to do it. So let’s see how productive people recover from burnout.
How do productive people recover from burnout?
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, if you want to recover from burnout, you’ll need to be very intentional about it and strategic about your habits, so let’s go in order.
To recover from burnout, you need to start by resting
It seems silly but this is exactly what you haven’t been doing if you’re wondering how you can heal from burnout. So the first thing that you absolutely must do, is schedule some rest. That may look like cancelling your commitments, taking some time off work or slowing down in running your business, sleeping in, and generally hitting the pause button for a bit.
I know it will be very hard and you’ll wonder how the rest of the world will keep going if you take a break, but trust me, the world will keep going absolutely fine. It’s important that you take this initial time of rest to let go of the stress and the hectic lifestyle, and just slow down for a bit.
2. Prioritizing self-care will help you heal from burnout
Another point where you might be thinking, “Really?”. My answer is yes, really. It’s likely that if you’ve reached burnout point, you probably weren’t practicing enough self-care in the first place, so it’s time to start that now.
I learned that it’s much better to practice self-care regularly instead of making it a one-off thing; even a simple 5 minutes a day doing your favourite thing, can make a big difference. When I’m talking about self-care I don’t just mean hot baths and facials, those are definitely great things but sometimes you might also want to try journaling, meditating, and really checking in with yourself and how you’re doing.
If you’re short on ideas and wondering what on earth you could do to practice self-care, check out this post where I share more about it, I’m sure you’ll find it helpful.
3. To heal from burnout, you must set some boundaries
Many of us reach burnout because we’re constantly trying to please everyone and help everyone. As admirable as that sounds, sometimes it actually works against us, because if we’re always saying yes to everyone, eventually we won’t have any energy left for anyone, let alone ourselves.
So if you’re really intentional about recovering from burnout, you’ll need to start saying no more often and take on fewer things than you’re used to. Maybe you won’t be able to volunteer at every event, or organise somebody’s birthday party, or cover all the client work, and that’s okay. You need to learn to know your limits and not go beyond them, or you might find yourself stuck in the burnout cycle again.
4. Automate as much as you can to recover from burnout and avoid falling into it again
Another reason that many people burnout is because they’re not organised enough. Sometimes even the smallest thing takes up a lot of time in the long run, and that won’t benefit you or your health.
So it’s all about creating systems where you’ll be able to automate as much as possible of your life (and business too) so that you won’t need to be present every step of the way or be as invested. Simple things like meal planning save you a lot of time so that you can enjoy that time by resting and slowing down a bit.
Or you might want to set up automatic invoices in your business and automatic email sequences for new potential leads so that you’re not actually typing everything every single time, but you’re freeing up more time in your day to rest. It’s as simple as that, but it makes a whole difference.
5. Prioritize, in order to heal from burnout
Another very important aspect of your recovery journey is that you learn to prioritize. Many people actually struggle with this area because they think it’s more complicated than what it really is, but it’s essential that you learn to prioritize tasks in your life so that you can enjoy a more peaceful mind and avoid running towards burnout again.
If you want to start prioritizing, I recommend that you focus on your top 3 for the day, both for work and your personal life. Having more priorities than that will just make you overwhelmed and will almost “force” you to push yourself harder to try and get it all done, but then you know what happens.. you’ll be back at the starting point!
Instead, by focusing on those 3 elements for each area (if you could make it 3 combined that would be even better, but let’s start with baby steps), then you’re less likely to stress, overwork yourself, and ultimately hitting burnout again.
How long does it take for people to recover from burnout?
I honestly wish there was a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but each person is different so everyone will have different times to recover from burnout.
However, I really do believe that the “speed” at which this happens is closely related to how intentional you are about recovering, even if it means switching off completely for some time. I know it’s hard to do when you’re in constant work more, but if you really want to have a more healthy work/life balance and still be productive AND keep your sanity, then you should dive fully into it.
Conclusion on how to recover from burnout
I really hope that this post has helped you and inspired you to take control of your life and that it gave you tips on how to recover from burnout. Go back to this as many times as you need to, and if you think that someone could benefit from it, I’d love it if you could share it with them.
Put these 5 tips in practice and I know that you’ll be well on your way to recovering from burnout!