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Mental burnout, unfortunately, complements entrepreneurship. There is no denying this opinion, but I have found three proven methods that consistently help bypass most of this mental exhaustion.
Practices based on maintaining physical health, meditation practices and mandatory rest require a minimum of effort and time. These ideas will help you stay energized on your burnout-free entrepreneurial journey — something that I have experienced several times throughout my ongoing entrepreneurial journey and promised myself that burnout would never happen again.
Related: 3 insights from the first large-scale study of burnout and entrepreneurs
Identification and verification of mental burnout
According to non-profit organization HelpGuide.org, mental burnout a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged stress. I have acknowledged the following on several occasions while guiding my agency and performance consulting practice:
- Feeling overwhelmed or emotionally exhausted
- Lack of motivation
- Insomnia or excessive sleep
- Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
- Decreased productivity at work or school
- Increased anxiety or depression
These factors can quickly sneak in without you noticing. Author and lecturer Chris Bailey helps us understand this better. In its latest release How to calm your mindproductivity hacker says that understanding and knowing the six drivers of burnout in our work life can help us overcome it.
- Workload (how demanding is the workload)
- Lack of control (how much autonomy, resources and freedom over the workload)
- Insufficient reward (financial, social or internal)
- Community (quality of working relationships and interactions)
- Fairness (be respectful)
- Values (Does it make sense to work according to values?)
Bailey advises setting up recurring calendar events to check on yourself to increase awareness of the six factors. He says he checks every six months; I have bi-monthly calendar alerts to test these six factors. It’s amazing how often they pop up even though I know about them.
With that said, it’s important to recognize when you’re starting to feel frazzled so you can take steps to prevent the condition from worsening. Burnout can be difficult to identify, but recognizing the signs early is key to developing a strategy to deal with it.
For aspiring entrepreneurs, the following tactics can be eye-opening, no matter how simple each one sounds. And for seasoned entrepreneurs, it’s always good to go back to those basics. For example, I recently acquired an entrepreneurial valuation software company and quickly lost myself, forgetting many of these basics.
On the subject: The greatest asset of an entrepreneur is good health. Here are 5 ways to protect yourself.
1. Prioritize Energy
While many work hard and succeed, the effort takes longer and health suffers in the long run. This leads to mental burnout. Focus on building sustained energy through proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep, and you’ll be able to focus not only sharper, but longer.
After almost two decades of biohacking and testing different diets, I mostly stick to Dr. G*ndry’s diet outlined in Violating the keto code. However, I prefer more nutritional supplements and longer periods of fasting. Exercise includes only two weight training sessions per week, plus a lot of walking/hiking, stationary bike riding, off-road motorcycle riding, and daily mini-trampoline jumping at my office.
In terms of sleep, I have learned to regulate my sleep patterns and use Circadian Optics lighting every morning when I wake up to start the day with reading, writing or meditation. I crack my sleep in many ways, but my favorite includes the right cocktail of magnesium, zinc, potassium, GABA, ashwagandha, and kava, and not eating or drinking at least three hours before bedtime. So test, tweak and find what works for you.
2. Practice Meditation and Mindfulness Daily
Although the benefits are proven and well known throughout the business world, many still do not meditate. This is a mindset that needs to be discovered, and once discovered, the benefits of a relaxed and focused mindset will help you do better work in less time.
I treat meditation like brushing my teeth; now it’s just a part of life. This helps clear the mind and gives some insight into any issues that are causing stress. I am a big fan of Cherries Lakhiani. 6-Step Meditation Method, which works wonders in about 20 minutes a day and does not require traditional methods such as sitting in the lotus position or clearing the mind of any thoughts. Want to make it even more useful? Complement your meditation with the FAR Infrared Blanket. I usually do a 20 minute 6-phase program followed by another 20 minutes in the sauna listening to theta or delta waves.
Meditation and mindfulness techniques can clear your mind of negative thoughts and allow you to focus on the present instead of worrying about what’s ahead or what happened in the past. The result is less stress and a fresh perspective on everything. Others are trainers at the 5am club, but I have more energy and focus on meditation.
This will help reduce your stress levels significantly and allow you to approach work with greater clarity and focus.
RELATED: How mindfulness can take your entrepreneurship to the next level
3. Provide rest for mental relaxation and productivity
Scheduling regular breaks throughout the day allows you to take a break from work for a while, giving your brain a chance to relax before returning to full concentration. My threshold for deep, focused work is about 1.5 hours straight; then I feel my mind slow down. That’s when I take a break from analog activities, sometimes as little as 10 minutes of reading something radically different from what I’m working on, or challenging myself for 20 minutes with jazz guitar lessons.
Working non-stop without breaks will eventually lead to you being overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done within a given period of time. On my busiest workdays, such as writing or creating client strategies, I take an hour off, usually around noon, to take a bath. These are supercharges like no other.
My office is a rented house by the lake, which makes daytime baths easy. If you work in a traditional office building, try working from home on the days you need to focus the most and take some time off. All of my best client strategies and business/investment ideas surfaced during the soak.
It is vital not only to take short breaks every day, but also to plan mandatory rest outside of work. For example, I turn off completely every Wednesday after 5:00 pm and all day on weekends. That means no emails, no computers, no answering calls, and everything else. This helps to avoid burnout.
Mental burnout can be a difficult hurdle to overcome, but with optimal tactics like the simple one above, you can learn to deal with it. By making time to maintain energy through physical health, meditation, and mandatory rest, you can become a better person and have time to focus not only on day-to-day work responsibilities, but also on ideas that will change the world – a mission that should be the sharpest focus for every entrepreneur.