It was something that I never thought would happen to me.
I had read about it, and I had heard from countless entrepreneurs about their burnout episodes. But the thing is – I never thought it would happen to me.
And it did.
It’s now been a year since I first started realizing that I had hit burnout in my business. Burnout is a funny thing. We talk and write about it like it’s a single episode, a chapter, and something that comes and goes.
But it’s not.
Burnout is a growing thing. It first started as fatigue for me. I couldn’t get out of bed until 9:30, and I was unmotivated. It was even harder in the winter. And I started dreading starting work in my agency. I would avoid it.
Then, I started to have chronic neck pain that wouldn’t go away for weeks. Then, it would get better, and then it’d come back. I got regular massages. I sat with heating wraps on my neck, and I eventually started taking Advil regularly.
(My neck is tightening up just thinking about this.)
But that is what burnout IS.
It’s not a single episode. It’s a compounding, soul-sucking, and body clenching feeling that never leaves you. Once you feel like you’re getting better, something triggers your anxiety and burnout, and then you’re back to the hot water bottle and the multiple advil tablets.
I wish I could say that I had a perfect equation on how to help others get through burnout. But the fact is – I’m still recovering.
You don’t recover from burnout within weeks. It takes years.
What is working for me
There are a few things that I’ve done over the last six months that have helped me work through my burnout episodes.
First, I started saying “no”. I’m privileged financially to be able to turn away clients, and that is what I did. I ‘let go’ the clients that were causing me high levels of anxiety and stress.
Second, I said “yes” to clients that just felt right. I only started saying yes to the projects that ‘lit me up’ and made me excited to come to work.
Thirdy, I took time for myself, and I listened inwards. If I wasn’t ‘feeling’ work, I would go for a walk, or the park, or to the aquarium. I would choose things that made me happy. Of course, only if it was possible to do so with work meetings.
Fourth, I put more trust in my team. I gave my agency content lead more authority, pay, and responsibility. That allowed me to feel confident when I stepped away to give myself space.
Everyone experiences burnout differently. I’m still working on my own. Sometimes when I think it’s gone forever, certain events will ‘trigger’ it, and it will come back in full force.
But these episodes are getting less and wider in-between. And I think that is because of the four points that I mentioned above.
Consider this a love letter to the entrepreneur reading this blog post. If you’re experiencing ‘burnout’, it happens to too many. (This is the moment as a content marketer I’d research the statistics, but I’m going to leave it to you.)
Take time for yourself. Learn to let certain things ‘go’, and practice the art of ‘saying no’.
Well, those things seem to be working for me.