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Fidelity Business Blog: Post

How to Avoid Burning Out While Running A Business

  • Posted February 9, 2021

When it comes to running your small business, it's clear that it can be an all-encompassing effort where taking the time for self-care – whether it's for physical and emotional wellbeing – are in the backseat for entrepreneurs.

While small business owners are in "doing mode," placing priority on solving their work problems and getting things done, it's important to get into "being mode," Barbara Markway writes in Psychology Today.

Instead of waiting until a person is stressed to practice self-care, identifying helpful activities and instilling them into your schedule, according to the article.

"Self-care has to become a habit," Markway writes, "so that when we're dealing with stress, we remember that, 'Hey, I need to take care of myself in this situation.'"

A well-known myth

Working nonstop has been seen as a pathway to building resilence by many small business owners and entrepreneurs, a mindset that may not be all that it's touted to be.

"We believe that the longer we tough it out, the tougher we are, and therefore the more successful we will be," write Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, and Michelle Gielan, former CBS News anchor and author of Broadcasting Happiness, in the Harvard Business Review. "However, this entire conception is scientifically inaccurate."

To help avoid burning out while running your small business, consider these tips that are aimed at your well-being.

Get more sleep

It's one of the easiest things to shave off when there are deadlines to meet and many small business owners find themselves in the same situation when there's too much to get done and not enough time. It's important to avoid making this a habit, health experts say.

"Sleep often is the first thing that busy people squeeze out of their schedules," says the National Institutes of Health in a website article. However, research shows that a good night's sleep improves learning – and helps you pay attention and make better decisions.

"Sleep helps your brain work properly," the NIH article says. "While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It's forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information."

Schedule Breaks into Your Day

An effective way to prevent burnout is to build restoration breaks – such as having lunch away from your desk – into your day, suggests Amy Jen Su, author of The Leader You Want to Be: Five Essential Principles for Bringing Out Your Best Self—Every Day.

Other recommendations the author mentioned include:

  • Stay in touch with the most important people in your life as a way to incorporate self-care. Use the breaks to communicate with friends and loved ones, and plan for time outside of work to nurture these relationships.
  • If you're sitting at a desk, staring at your computer for a majority of your day, remember to instill the 20/20/20 rule as recommended by the American Optometric Association: a 20-second break every 20 minutes by looking at an object 20 feet away.

Balanced, Healthy Eating

Having a balanced, healthy diet is key to maintaining physical well-being and effectively sustaining and running a hectic work schedule.

"Feeding your body with good food is key for sustained energy levels, improved productivity and blood sugar regulation," writes Dr. Christina Tarantola, a licensed pharmacist and health coach, in Pharmacy Times. "Without good nutrition, our bodies fall prey to illness, fatigue and low energy."

Pack snacks and/or lunch to make it easier to eat healthy while you work. As recommended by nutritionists, pack food items low in fat and high in fiber, and lots of fruits and vegetables.

Protein gives a metabolism boost and high-fiber foods will decrease stress levels.

Self-care as a habit

Make self-care a priority to help your business succeed.

"Get grounded in the real world that is your stable, happy place," writes Darrin Friedman, strategic brand specialist for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, in Realtor magazine.

"This serves to remind you why you do all the crazy stuff without actually being swept up in all the crazy stuff. If you make it a habit, you will be surprised by how effective and healing it can be."

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