10 Tips for Avoiding Burnout and Inviting Balance
BY Jamie Walters
Breathe deeply - Have you ever noticed your breathing when you' re feeling stressed or moving at warp speed? It' s probably shallow and tight. Borrow a tip from professional athletes, and take a few slow, deep breaths to relax and collect yourself.
Take a walk - "Take a hike" can be good advice. Not only does it help burn off nervous energy, but you can get some exercise and enjoy the scenery, which can help you think more clearly than you might if you' re always tethered to your desk or buzzing about mindlessly.
Eat well - Busy people can be chronic meal-skippers, or too frequently eat junk food on the run. Heavy foods, too many or too few calories, and inadequate nutrition can make you feel like you' re short on fuel. Go for the veggies, fruits, grains and lean proteins - - a nutritionist can provide advice and a list of nutritious, high-energy foods.
Drink water - Most people don' t drink enough water, and end up feeling dehydrated, tired, cranky and achy. Next time you feel dry or in need of a liquid "pick me up," go for the water bottle instead of coffee or soda. In fact, experts say that once you feel thirsty, you' re already dehydrated, so drink up. An added bonus? Water helps flush toxins away.
Slow down - "Type A" stands for anxious, not admirable. Don' t worry; you don' t have to plod along or come to a stand-still. By making sure your mind is actually where your body is, you' ll feel (and appear) less scattered, think more clearly, and be more effective. Good time-management and delegation strategies can help avoid confused priorities and schedule-melt-downs.
Team up - If you' re a burned-out business owner, chances are good that there' s at least one thing you' re not very good at: letting other people help you get things done. Whether via delegating to employees, partnering with other firms or vendors, or simply networking for support and advice, sharing the load with other people can help avoid burnout.
Sleep well - A good night' s sleep isn' t a luxury; it' s a necessity for clear-thinking and mindful responsiveness (versus mindless reactivity). Aim to get a good night' s rest by watching what you eat before you go to bed, turning off the television and computer, taking a few minutes to slow down and transition from "busy day" to "restful night," sipping some herbal tea and listening to soothing music.
Loosen up - Tight muscles and narrow, critical thinking exacerbate stress and propel you toward burnout. One solution? Find ways to stretch both body and mind. Yoga or other gentle stretching loosens tight muscles, while similar "mind exercises" help lessen chronic perfectionism, judgmentalism and criticism.
Have fun - Laughter is great medicine, so provide yourself with a basket of toys at the office, watch your favorite funny movies, play with your kids or animals, choose to be around people who make you laugh, or just laugh at yourself when you get overly serious or cranky. It' s nearly impossible to wallow in your stress when you' re enjoying a good belly laugh.
Get away - Whether for an hour, a day, two weeks or a month, unleash yourself from your business and concentrate 100 percent on someone or something else. Don' t eat lunch at your desk, don' t call in or do work while on vacation or out for a "vision day," and don' t spend your allotted rejuvenation time busying yourself with chores. Remember the old saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy." Clean kennels at the pound, get a facial at the spa, see a movie in the middle of a workday afternoon, read a book, listen to music, take a hike in nature, or take a nap. Just recharge your battery.
This information provides food for thought rather than counsel specifically designed to meet the needs of your organization. Please use it mindfully.
The most effective interpersonal or organizational communication plan should be tailored to your unique needs, so don't hesitate to get assistance from a qualified adviser.
Jamie Walters is the founder and Chief Vision & Strategy Officer at Ivy Sea, Inc. in San Francisco, CA.
This article-series is an adaptation created for inc.com, based on content featured in the book Big Vision, Small Business: The Four Keys to Success and Satisfaction as a Lifestyle Entrepreneur (Ivy Sea Publishing, August 2001), by Jamie Walters.