If you’ve been in business for more than a few months, you know the feelings that can come up. Overwhelm, frustration, exhaustion, and sometimes even anger. These are actually signs of burnout, but most of us (especially women) just associate this with our busy lives and trying to grow a business.
While there is actual medical research on how to reverse burnout, I want to talk about how to prevent it in our businesses. Especially as female fitness and wellness professionals who’ve weathered a huge hit to our industries and livelihood (thanks, pandemic!), we need to get real about it. Our businesses are meant to support our lives, not the other way around. So let’s dig into what a business can look like without burnout.
The first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have it, right? The same goes for figuring out how to avoid burnout in your business. If you’re constantly overfilling your schedule with in-home physical therapy sessions to the point where you have no time to eat, or you’re growing your gym/studio but don’t have instructors to help serve your customers at the times they want sessions, you are in the fast lane to The Burnout Highway.
So ask yourself: What systems and habits do I have in my business right now that could be leading me to burnout? Seriously — take a few minutes and jot down your thoughts. While burnout is something that we’re often “trained into” as women, I also think part of the problem is we just don’t know how we’re adding more challenges to our plates.
Another important thing about burnout? It can feel like it sneaks up on you. The truth is, though, burnout doesn’t just happen after a day or two of stress. It’s usually weeks of non-stop do this, do that, and don’t forget that… It’s death by a thousand cuts. So, like most therapists and other mental health professionals will tell you, it’s important to prevent those “little things” from building up each day.
We have to find ways to prevent burnout from taking root. Whether that means hitting the gym for ourselves at the end of the day to burn off that negative energy, hiring a new instructor or front desk helper to spread out the workload, or even hiring a housekeeper or babysitter to help out at home… what’s one thing you can do to block burnout’s chance to take root? Go on and journal out your thoughts.
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, right? The same goes for burnout. When you have a particularly embarrassing explosion at your spouse for not doing the dishes, you start to resent every new client that comes in the door, or you feel exhausted and dread the thought of coming into work each day… those are all smoke signals. They’re telling you there’s a fire.
And what did we all learn in kindergarten? Stop, drop, and roll. How do you STOP and DROP when you’re a business owner, a mom, a wife, or whatever other title you rock? It’s not easy, but I want you to ask yourself: What can I do right now, in this moment, to take care of myself? Maybe it’s taking a quiet lunch break in your car (toddler moms, I see you). Maybe it’s going to grab lunch with your best friend or fellow business owner. Or maybe you need to book an emergency night in a hotel for much-needed sleep. I know that these may not be available to you right now, but they’re meant to just get you started on ideas. You’ll need to find what works for you.
Now, for the last part: ROLL. My best advice for burnout is to roll with punches. Listen to your body, listen to the changes your gut is telling you need to make in your business. And roll with what comes next. To create a burnout-free business, the one you’ve built may need some tiny tweaks or even a major overhaul. Working with a business coach who understands your services and industry can help, but I recommend only doing that when you’re in a place where you feel more rested and have a bit more capacity in your daily life.
Our businesses aren’t just built in a day, and many of us don’t have a business degree or formal training. We’re learning as we go, and that’s awesome! But it also means that we may not know what we don’t know… and it’s time to find resources that can help you do things differently.
On a recent episode of Female emPOWERED, I break down what it means to create a burnout-proof business in the health and wellness industry. I know that, as female professionals, we want to help people feel their best and brightest. But here’s some tough love for you: You can’t do that if you’re not feeling your best and brightest. Let’s build sustainable and successful businesses, shall we? Tune into this episode of Female emPOWERED to hear my tips on how to do that.