Conquer this modern menace and prepare emotionally and mentally for self-employment
Burnout has long been talked about as a leading cause of working days lost in the UK, and in certain cases for franchisees, it can be debilitating enough to put your business and investments at risk.
While there are plenty of professional guides to franchising available, there is less of a focus on how to prepare emotionally and mentally for self-employment and setting up a business of your own.
With burnout now recognised by the World Health Organization as a legitimate medical diagnosis, I’m delighted to see mental health in entrepreneurs being taken more seriously. It’s why I set up my training organisation, Calmer, a number of years ago with the aim of supporting business owners, entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises to nurture good mental health and mental resilience.
What is burnout?
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, burnout means the loss of meaning in one’s work, coupled with mental, emotional or physical exhaustion as the result of long-term, unresolved stress.
I believe burnout can affect anyone. However, there is a growing number of entrepreneurs, business owners and freelancers who are reporting symptoms of burnout - studies reveal over 60 per cent in the UK. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of people struggling with burnout in the past few years, which seems to coincide with the rise of people starting their own businesses.
Despite the social acceptance of workplace stress, it can become a problem if you or your team struggle with it. Stress is a leading cause of working days lost and is also a cause of physical illnesses too.
How to conquer burnout
While there are more than 40 ways to experience stress, there are a number of easy ways you can reduce its effect.
Across The Reignite Project, the free course we set up at my company to support professionals with reducing stress and burnout, I provide a number of strategies to put out the fire of burnout in your work and life and reignite your passions. Here are six to get you started:
1. Start prioritising your mental health
To start nurturing your mental health, the first step is to recognise how you feel. Mental health problems affect one in four people and for UK entrepreneurs, over 60 per cent report experiencing stress and burnout.
If you feel stressed or anxious, try to accept that feeling without any self-judgement. Allocate some time to reflect on your mental health, as well as your professional journey, and pinpoint where your stressors lie.
You may find it easier to tackle these once they have been broken down.
2. View downtime as an investment in productivity
Many business owners prioritise their work over all else. This is especially true during the start up stages of setting up a business, where you may work extra hours, taking on more and more tasks until they catch up with you.
Wherever you are on your professional journey, valuing your downtime is just as important as monitoring the financial returns on your investment. Giving yourself ample downtime will enable you to work more efficiently and produce better results.
Small changes, such as ensuring you get enough sleep, will set you up for better cognitive function.
You may also want to practice the affirmation that you deserve downtime, that you have truly earned it. Recognising your efforts and hard work will enable you to ‘treat’ yourself to time off.
3. Be the best boss you’ve ever had
New business owners tend to push themselves far harder than they would if they were managing someone else. As a result, not appreciating your efforts, spending too much time working and subsequently experiencing burnout is common.
Would you instruct another person to work the hours you do? Wouldn’t you want them to enjoy themselves alongside their work? Most crucially, wouldn’t you appreciate a more enthusiastic, productive team member for set business hours than a less productive, worn-out team member doing twice the hours?
Try viewing your work as if you are your own manager and treat yourself reasonably. Set fair working hours, give yourself realistic goals and celebrate your successes, no matter how small.
4. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Nurturing good mental health is similar to nurturing good physical health. In fact, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can play a key part in achieving good mental health and, as an extension, clarity at work. Three questions you may want to ask yourself when you’re feeling fuzzy-headed or tired at work are:
• How much water have you drunk today?
• What have you eaten today?
• When was the last time you did exercise?
Take some time out to resolve each of these and stay in touch with your body’s needs to achieve better productivity and experience less stress at work. Leisure and fitness are important - it can boost your productivity, enhance your creativity and keep you feeling centred.
5. Start talking about mental health at work
If you’re looking to create a mentally healthy culture in your workplace, one of the easiest steps to take is to start talking about mental health.
The first step is to recognise how you feel and communicate with others. It can be something as simple as saying you feel frustrated with a held-up project or sad about a missed opportunity.
With every conversation, you will break down the stigma around mental health a bit more.
6. Join the Reignite Project for free
If you’re looking to embed long-lasting burnout prevention strategies that work, join in with our Reignite Project. The 10-week course is sent straight to your inbox, with quick and easy challenges to complete each week.
If you’re a franchisee, you can follow the entrepreneur course and if you have a team, invite your employees to take the business teams course.
Tania Diggory is the founder of Calmer, which empowers entrepreneurs to nurture good mental health and well-being.