It's official: Burnout is a real syndrome.
The World Health Organization recently updated the definition of burnout under ICD-11 for Mortality and Morbidity Statistics. Burnout is now defined as a "syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed."
The characteristics surrounding burnout are not unfamiliar-sounding ones. Signs include feelings of exhaustion, feelings of negativity toward one’s job, increased mental distance from the position, and a lack of productivity and efficacy.
The World Health Organization notes that the phenomena of burnout applies specifically to the occupational context. Previously, burnout was defined as not being able to do work while not being sick in a traditional sense. The updated definition recognizes it as a legitimate syndrome.
Countless individuals, from full-time employees to entrepreneurs, suffer from workplace-related stress – wait, hold on. What was that about entrepreneurs? These are the same individuals who exit jobs to pursue their passions and become their own bosses. While small business owners are reported to have a strong outlook for 2019, they have to be careful to avoid suffering from burnout syndrome.
If an entrepreneur finds they are suffering from burnout, what are the best things they can do to remedy the situation?
1. Slow down.
Entrepreneurs tend to maintain a go-go-go pace with their startups. This is particularly true of the early days in business. Every day has a make-or-break moment as the entrepreneur focuses on increasing revenue, building brand awareness and growing their customer base. They are pulling out every stop to sustain the business. Self-care gets shelved for later. The small business needs to be the top priority.
Being "on" for the foreseeable future isn't a long-term strategy. If anything, it paves a faster road to burnout – which is all the more unfortunate because it means burning out on your dreams. Dial your small business down from 11. Wait to send a thoughtfully written email instead of responding within seconds. Loosely schedule your workday so you have room for last-minute meetings or extra time to complete a project. Slowing down doesn't mean you have stopped moving completely. It simply means you're taking the workload at your own pace.
2. Reevaluate where you are in all aspects of life.
We're midway through 2019, which is the perfect time to evaluate your current situation. Where is your company right now? Did your business hit any goals you set for it this year? Odds are that your business is on the right track but needs to restrategize a few priorities. Evaluate what has and hasn't been working for the startup. This will help you plan to do more of what works and provide stronger ROI for the startup than sticking with tired tactics.
Don't forget the owner of the business either. Are you where you want to be physically, mentally and financially? Chances are you feel a bit unfulfilled in at least one area. This doesn't constitute burnout, however, if you are working toward a goal. If you're making significant progress, you are still growing and on the right path forward. Don't lose sight of your goals, professional and personal alike.
3. Consult a professional for help.
Burnout remedies vary for everyone. What works for me, like taking Pilates, may not work for someone else. There's also the issue of trying out everything, from meditation to switching your diet, and hitting a wall. This leads to (reasonable) frustration. You tried everything advised to defeat stress and it still caught up with you. What can you do now?
The next best move you can make is seeking professional help. Burnout is now classified as a syndrome, and it's critical to consult a therapist or another licensed professional. You may do this if you are currently experiencing burnout or feel like you're on the edge of it.
Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness. See what you're doing as a proactive decision. Make an appointment and talk about how you're feeling. Opening up will allow you to uncover what's truly troubling you and find solutions that work for you, helping you keep growing and moving toward your dreams.