When you’re the leader of a successful business, it’s easy to feel the weight of literally everything resting on your shoulders. The buck stops with you, right? So you feel compelled to handle as much as you can, never take a day off and consistently burn the midnight oil. But your hard work quickly can reach a point of diminishing returns. If you don’t intentionally prioritize your own self-care, your best efforts can send you skyrocketing toward burnout. Whether you carve out regular time to exercise, engage in online therapy, join a social club, or take care of your mental health another way, there’s a lot you can do to avoid burnout.
What Causes Burnout
Burnout can look like different things for different people, but it’s generally characterized by a feeling of mental and/or physical sluggishness, combined with decreased motivation and general negative feelings like irritability. Many people experience burnout by feeling completely exhausted, plus disconnected from their co-workers and/or family members. They also may be unable to sleep well, further exaggerating those feelings of exhaustion. Chances are, if you’ve experienced burnout, you know it when you feel it.
Burnout can be a direct result of simply doing too much – working too many hours and juggling too many competing priorities. It can also come when you feel you’ve lost control of a situation or don’t have the autonomy you need or when relationships at work or at home are strained.
Four Ways to Avoid Burnout
You don’t have to do everything all at once. Taking the time and effort to prioritize goals can be a literal lifesaver. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, give yourself permission to keep less urgent and/or less important goals on the back burner until you’ve addressed the issues that are the most important in the short term. Give yourself enough grace to let some projects wait their turn. After all, one of the great things about being a CEO is having the organizational power to delegate projects to your qualified team members.
Set Boundaries to Avoid Burnout
When top leaders are trying to avoid burnout, this one’s hard, but it’s key for your own mental health and it also sets the tone for how your team members take care of themselves. Just because you’re the CEO doesn’t mean you have to be accessible 24 hours a day. Protect some time that’s just for you – to reset, recharge and decompress from the stresses of your job. And then talk about it with your team. Let them know it’s OK for them to set these kinds of boundaries for themselves, too.
Exercise to Avoid Burnout
There’s a lot to be said about how exercise supports not only our physical but also our mental, health. And you can choose the exercise option that’s right for you – not everyone needs a 10-mile run or a challenging hike. You can build in regular walks, ride a bike, swim, do yoga or strength training, or any combination of these and more. Whatever gets you moving and taking care of your body can go a long way toward preventing physical and mental burnout.
The beauty of mindfulness is that it forces you to ground yourself in the moment, concentrating on your breath and what you’re taking in through your senses. Engaging in this practice can teach you to still your racing mind, because chances are, if you’re leading a business, your mind is steadily churning. You’re planning for the next step, the next venture, the next challenge, all while solving a million day-to-day issues that come up. Mindfulness stills you, and it’s fairly easy to practice. It doesn’t need a special location or special equipment, and you can start with simple deep breathing, focusing on nothing more than your inhales and exhales. You can also access countless mindfulness resources, including apps that can guide you through mindfulness practices.
When you’re your company’s ultimate leader, no one can insist you take care of yourself except for you. When you’re passionate about your vision and purpose, it can be hard to take a step back and let others take the reins sometimes. But if you’re playing a long game, building time for reflection, rest and self-care can ultimately make your business stronger. Take the challenge of trying at least one or two of the recommendations presented here – we think you’ll find they’re pretty powerful when it comes to keeping you grounded and preventing the stress, anxiety, and sense of overwhelm that comes with burnout.