Curing Chronic Burnout
Ever feeling overly tired, like you haven’t had a good night of sleep in months? Having difficulty concentrating on work or making everyday decisions? It may be an early onset of burnout, aka workaholic syndrome.
Anne Lazo, owner of Motorhead Advantage and Eagle Soars Consulting, experienced this firsthand. When her dad got sick a couple years ago, her and her mom became his full-time caregivers on top of resuming their regular lives. Soon, her own health started to suffer as her sole focus was on taking care of her dad and not herself.
And now with COVID-19, it’s something any owner can have trouble managing. Lazo says with so much going on in the news, quick lube owners not only have to worry about regular business operations, but making sure their employees aren’t sick and that the shop is a safe place to be for customers, among other things.
If you start seeing the symptoms of burnout, here’s the prescription to cure it for good.
Some customers are working virtually for the first time because of the pandemic. And because of it, Lazo says she has some clients try to get in touch with her at all hours of the night. Instead of replying at midnight, she shuts it off completely. The only time she checks her emails and works on business-related tasks is between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the weekdays.
“Setting boundaries for yourself can even go as far as dealing with certain things at certain times,” Lazo says. “You have to force yourself to put work down after hours, otherwise you won’t be helping yourself.”
Instead of overwhelming yourself, pick a certain time to deal with it. For example, when it comes to handling the marketing side of the business, choose to devote to it on a certain day of the week, like Thursday. That way, your full attention will be on that part of the business and not on thinking about everything else you have to get done, too.
Get up and move!
Have you ever heard that working out can get you into a better mood when you’re down? Well, the same thing goes when you’ve overworked yourself. While working out sounds like it’s the opposite of relaxing, it actually supports your body’s stress response, Mochel says.
Anything you can do to move your body—working out regularly, going on walks, even getting up out of your chair—can help curb symptoms of burnout. Mochel says this is super easy to integrate into our daily lives. A fitness tracker, like the Apple Watch or Fitbit, can help remind you to stay active and get up out of your chair every hour. With this simple reminder on your wrist, Mochel says you’d be surprised how much less stress you’d have in your life.
Live a healthy lifestyle.
You’re more likely to burn out when you’re not taking care of yourself. Lazo says when you sacrifice your health, everything else will suffer, including your business. Getting enough sleep, eating more whole food and less processed foods, and having positive social interactions are just some of the ways to take better care of you and your body.
Nowadays, this includes taking a news diet, consuming news in smaller doses.
“Only access the news when you absolutely need it, like checking the weather, for example,” Mochel says.
The way that we hold our body can have a huge effect on our mood and stress response, Mochel says. Rule of thumb: The more open your posture is, the better.
Why? Let’s look at the fight or flight response. Let’s say someone jumps out at you from around a corner. What’s your first response? Most people’s reaction is to put their hands in front of them, closing off your body to any perceived threat. And when it comes to posture, the same fight or flight response signals are sent to your brain. Instead of crossing your arms and hunching over, Mochel says when your shoulders are back and your chest is pushed out, this type of posture sends a message of confidence and safety to the brain. Don’t hunch over with crossed arms.
Take time for yourself.
It’s important to have a little “me time” more often than not. Lazo says “me time” is simply devoting time to whatever you find enjoyable, or something you would do in your downtime that you usually don’t have time for. Working on a side project at home, for example, can take your mind off of all of the worries and stresses in your life. Even just taking a little time to sit, read a book, and relax can go a long way.
Focus on priorities.
Often, when we go through burnout, it’s because we aren’t managing our time and prioritizing the most important things to us. And the more we fall into bad habits, the more they stick.
“Whatever we do during our day-to-day lives, we get better at,” Mochel says. “Your brain catalogs everything you do and will wire yourself to be even better at those things.”
In your mind, you can know it’s a bad habit, but your brain doesn’t care, Mochel says. Your brain will train you to become better at what you’ve been doing every day. He says this is why most people become really good at procrastinating.
To get out of these bad habits not spending your time wisely, Mochel says having a journal will help. Every night, write down five or six things that are most important to you. Once you’ve created your list, look back over your day to see just how much your day reflects on those important things. This will force yourself to really think about how you are spending your time and if it reflects your priorities.
“The less we focus on our circumstances and the more time we focus on our priorities, the better we will be,” Mochel says.