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Posted: August 16, 2013

Eight great tips to prevent burnout

...and how to cope if you're already there

Teri Karjala

Dear Business,

I have neglected you. Though I am here 90-plus hours a week, my personal life is in shambles, my marriage is on the line, and I feel like I’m caught up in a rat race. I am overworked, utterly exhausted and my passion has dried up. Whatever happened to the energy that lived within me? The excitement as I worked into the night? The meetings that mattered to me? Or the recognition I used to receive for running such a successful business?

Where have I gone? I feel lost in a world that I used to know so well.

Now, I force myself to get ready for work. Once there, I allow things to slip through the cracks and let my heaping inbox take over my desk. My once charismatic personality has faded to cynicism and dissatisfaction. I’ve simply stopped caring. I find myself wallowing in negativity, and I’m at my wit’s end. More than anything, I feel that I have let down those around me. Our mission statement, once so focused on teamwork, has crumbled – and my self-motivation along with it.

Sincerely,

Business Owner

Could you have written this letter?

It’s a sign of work place burnout. And despite what you may think, people notice. Those around you see your sloppiness, hear the listlessness in your voice, feel your lack of motivation, and worse still, most likely judge you because they do not understand it.

As a business owner, I get it. For many of us, owning a business has been a dream come true; but for others it can seem like a nightmare. Dealing with burnout can feel like a daunting task. It’s your responsibility, however, to take charge and really examine what is happening in your life.

I’ve given talks to large and small corporations on this very subject and taught tools to help empower business owners to develop and maintain a sense of excitement and gratitude in their work life. I often get asked how to prevent or reverse the effects of workplace burnout. Here are some of my most effective tips and tricks for overcoming the drag.

Teri’s Top Tips:

  • First, recognize the signs:
    • Physical: Headaches, back pain, soreness, a change in appetite and/or sleep patterns, feeling tired and exhausted most of the time.
    • Behavioral: Procrastinating, withdrawing, missing deadlines, using food, drugs, or alcohol, calling in or showing up late to work, taking frustrations out on others.  
    • Emotional: Lack of motivation, cynicism, dissatisfaction, feeling lonely, hopeless, self-doubtful, and feeling like a failure in several areas of your life. 
  • Consider seeking professional help. Schedule an appointment with a certified and well-reviewed therapist or psychiatrist, if you must.
  • Maintain a healthy work/life balance: It is strictly up to you to establish and create this balance. Remember, if you do not honor your priorities, and recognize less important obligations as such, no one else will.
  • Take note of your attitude. What are the upsides to the position you find yourself in? Help shift the “stinky thinking.”
  • Reread this previously written ColoradoBiz Magazine article, Seven Ways to Dispense with Debbie Downer.

Teri’s Tips for Prevention:

  • Start with some powerful intentions. Ask yourself, “How do I desire my day to be?”
    • Example: Be thankful for small things; For instance, if you witness a gorgeous sunrise make an effort to acknowledge it to yourself: “What an amazing day today is turning out.”
  • Create a winning start to your day. Begin with deep breathing, mediation, yoga, and/or some inspirational reading.
  • Access your creativity. Do something you enjoy to take a break from your normal routine.
  • Maintain basic health needs. Eating healthy, getting sleep, and regular physical exercise. 
  • Set healthy boundaries. Ask yourself what aligns with your personal and profession mission statement. Give yourself permission to say “no” to tasks that are not within that scope.
  • Go on a media diet. The media is filled with negativity. Take time to disconnect completely to allow yourself to reset.
  • Support system. Surround yourself with positive people to feed off their energy too.
  • Coping skills. Stress can be managed by taking care of ourselves. As a therapist, I have a ton of tools. Email me at teri@creativecounselingcenter.com for some free resources.

These are only the first steps on the road to finding yourself again. Don’t forget to surround yourself with supportive folks, and, above all else, seek out the positive in everything you do. Getting back your mojo requires that you go back to the original motivations for why you began your business in the first place.

Once you rediscover that initial spark of joy, your enthusiasm will return. Slowly but surely, you’ll find yourself sending mental letters of appreciation to your business and, sooner than you’ll realize, your toxic self-loathing will be a thing of the past.

Teri Karjala is owner of the Creative Counseling Center, LLC, as well as Talking With Teri, LLC. Teri’s passion for the business aspects of owning and maintaining a business has made her a sought out coach by others in the helping fields. She is a regular columnist for ColoradoBiz Magazine and speaks to therapists across the nation in building their thriving practice. Recently she has released her “How to Live Deliciously” Creative Journal Series to help inspire and empower adults, teens, and children. These are available in print at www.talkingwithteri.com.

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