Burnout can seem like an extreme term - we imagine people literally collapsing from exhaustion or having a nervous breakdown. So it may not feel like it applies to you.
However, I have worked with lots of busy business women throughout my own business life, first as a personal trainer and then as a virtual assistant. And there's one thing I've noticed that many of them have in common...
They are functioning on the brink of burnout! Are you?
The Oxford Dictionary defines burnout as “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.” However, the word “collapse” suggests you have to literally grind to a halt, collapsing into a non-functioning heap and taking to your bed for days, weeks ,or even months in order for you to be "burnt out".
The term “burnout” was coined by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in 1974, who identified symptoms of severe stress and high ideals among staff in the helping professions, finding formerly enthusiastic and idealistic mental health workers becoming depleted, weary, and resentful towards their patients and clinic.
Freudenberger defined burnout as: "A state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward."
Nowadays, burnout has become a more mainstream term. Another useful definition is "A state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations." (Ayala Pines and Elliot Aronson.)
I feel these quotes combined make the idea of burnout much clearer, as they account for the physical, mental and emotional side of things. While I have seen and experienced myself the level of devotion and high expectations that female entrepreneurs have for their business, way of life, clients, and themselves. And I've felt the fatigue, frustration and exhaustion myself!
You may not have experienced complete burnout, but are you teetering on the edge?
I often talk about women in business functioning “on the brink of burnout” because this is where I see many women in business operating. You haven’t completely crashed and burnt, but you feel in a constant state of stress, often feeling fatigued sometimes to the point of exhaustion, and even finding yourself feeling a bit resentful towards your business and even your clients… despite the fact that you really want to help people, make a difference and are doing what you love.
This might show up as:
Long term, this isn't sustainable. But sometimes it can go on for a long time - you catch yourself (or get sick) feeling worse, maybe take a day off or a short holiday, feel a bit better and get straight back to working like you were before without fully having the change to replenish your energy.
Whether this leads to complete burnout depends on the strategies you apply, which is something I’ll be talking about on my Free online training on Thursday 22nd February at 7.00pm - From Burnout To Timeout: Make More Time For The Things That Really Matter! Click the button below to register.
Research has found that it an individual’s ability to cope with stress that makes the difference between them burning out or thriving.
We all know that there are things we can do that better help us to cope with the stresses that come with just being human, never mind the ups and downs of being a business owner. These include:
These are just some of the things that will help will help you to be more resilient and feel more able to cope with stress so that you can stay away from the brink of burnout. But sometimes just trying to fit these things in can feel like stressful.
But you need real and regular timeout if you want to come back from the brink of burnout!
The thing that I hear most female entreprenuers getting stressed out about is time, or more accurately, feeling like there’s not enough time for all the things that they want and need to do.
Operating on the brink of burnout is not a sustainable way of working and living. If you keep working that way for too long, you will crash and burn, which then massively impacts your physical, mental and emotional health. And if you can't function, what happens to your business?
I want to see as many female entrepreneurs as possible pulling back from the brink of burnout and reclaiming your time and energy so that you can keep going and really make your difference in the world.
If that sounds good to you. I’d love you to join me for my free online training - From Burnout To Timeout: Make More Time For What Really Matters on Thursday 22nd February at 7.00pm. Register by clicking the button below.
Here three starting points to help you come back from the brink of burnout, which I'll be covering in my webinar...
Are you constantly functioning on the brink of burnout? Does the idea of trying to find the time to do things that would help stress you out? I love to read your tips, tricks and insights, so please share in the comments box below.