Whether you are running your own business as an entrepreneur – or running someone else’s business as an executive – there is an enormous amount of demand on your resources. You are likely to be playing the role of project manager, human resources liaison, accountant, and marketing specialist. You are the one who gets called on to extinguish fires as well as create new opportunities. All this and more, while remaining positive and energetic.
As enthusiastic as you may be about keeping the business afloat, it’s a fact that humans have a limited amount of resources available. When the demands upon us begin to exceed the energy levels that we have, we experience stress. This feeling is akin to a form of panic – and has a way of creeping into our daily operations. It lies under the surface of our consciousness, and slowly eats away at our resolve. In small doses, it can help us to accomplish great things. In large doses, and if left unaddressed, it can result in our physical and mental decline.
Stress Leads To Burnout
This doesn’t happen overnight. Those who are aware of the possibility of burnout may be able to feel it developing. Burnout is the eventual result of unresolved stress, and it is a warning sign from the mind and body that enough is enough. It is the point at which we decide that we can no longer perform the job functions in which we once took pride. We may begin to avoid work, produce lower quality work, or suddenly quit the job altogether.
The signs of stress which contribute to burnout include fatigue, insomnia, irritability, changes in weight, problems with digestion, becoming forgetful, and inability to concentrate. If you notice that these symptoms are becoming part of your daily experience, take it as a sign that something needs to change. If you aren’t able to change your workload in the face of stress, look into ways of changing your behaviors during your valuable time off. Failure to do so can mean the end of your venture as a successful business manager.
Avoid Burnout Through Being Proactive
As the stress that leads to burnout tends to attack us on three fronts – physical, cognitive, and emotional – the following are three ways to mitigate its negative effects.
Combat Stress on the Physical Level
The adrenaline and cortisol that the body produces in response to stress are responsible for activating our flight-or-fight response. These hormones prepare our bodies for action. When we fail to use this energy in an active way, it can turn on us and wreak havoc with our physical health. To disseminate that energy in a way that is best for the body, try engaging in similar actions as experienced in emergency situations – like going for a run or boxing it out at the gym.
Master Stress on the Cognitive Level
Much of what we interpret as being stressful depends on our perspective. What we have defined as our values and aspirations can fuel our sense of purpose, and that purpose can become an obsession. If we have tied our sense of self-esteem into our occupational achievements, we can become overwhelmed with producing results. To reduce that stress, which we experience over job demands and deadlines, we need to create a mental space where we are able to separate from those types of thoughts. Consider finding mental relief through engaging in meditation or mindfulness techniques on a daily basis. Venting that stress through consulting with a good therapist each week is another possibility.
Diminish Stress on the Emotional Level
Human beings need to have fun. When we engage in pleasurable activities, our body responds through releasing endorphins such as oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. Unlike the urgent feelings which stress hormones produce, these types of natural chemicals result in our feeling happy, calm, and content. Keep in mind that it is unlikely that you will be able to remove all the stress associated with running a business by having fun. But you can counteract some of it by making sure to schedule time in your busy calendar for engagement in recreational activities.
About Dr. Jeff Nalin
Dr. Jeff Nalin, Psy.D is an award-winning licensed Clinical Psychologist and the Founder and Chief Clinical Director at Paradigm Malibu Treatment Center. The center has locations in both Malibu and San Francisco.