How to Avoid Burn Out

Aug 6, 2012

As the owner of a small business, you’re responsible for a million different things, all important and all demanding your time and attention.

Taking these duties on is stressful and can lead to burn out if you aren’t able to strike the proper work/life balance, according to Dr. Frances Pitsilis, a personal and corporate physician who was interviewed by the New Zealand Herald.

In the interview, she shared the causes of burn out for small business owners and the various physical and emotional results, as well as offered several remedies.

“Small business owners work in the business themselves alongside a small number of staff,” the doctor, who’s both treated burned-out business owners and suffered burn out herself, told the Herald. This is often necessary because their income often ends up being little more than a wage. They work long hours, take work home and take few breaks. If they get sick, they soldier on. If a staff member gets sick, the owner works even more to cover this.”

Below are a few of the questions Dr. Pitsilis answered for the Herald on avoiding burn out.

What sorts of symptoms will these people have when they come to you?

“The first symptom is problems with sleep-not being able to get off to sleep, not being able to stay asleep, or waking very early,” Dr. Pitsilis told the paper. “The second symptom is fatigue that tends to start in the morning with difficulty getting up. After that, anxiety, depression, not being able to think properly, irritability, short fuse and other symptoms. Ultimately, overworked, overstressed people can get really sick and completely ‘burn out’ and be unable to work. Taken further, serious diseases like heart attack, stroke, rashes, pain and fatigue conditions can occur.”

What sorts of lifestyle changes do you recommend to people who are overdoing it at work?

“Adequate work/life balance so there is time for rest and recreation to recharge batteries,” she told the paper. “Taking regular breaks rather than one big one once a year. Stress management also includes understanding why they overwork and taking steps to prevent this. Regular exercise, healthy diet, relaxation techniques and going to bed before 10:30 p.m. to allow the brain and body to recover.”

What sorts of changes can they make in their business which can help?

“Try and make it so the business can run without them,” Dr. Pitsilis told the paper. “Encourage team members to take responsibility and be creative. Trust your staff to do the job-you may be surprised.”

To be successful, you have to have a certain amount of drive and tenacity. How can you avoid burnout altogether?

“Understand what makes you successful but what your vulnerabilities are,” she told the paper. “Burning out means several months off work that you don’t want. Keep reminding yourself about these vulnerabilities and schedule rest, recreation and holidays.”

To read the complete New Zealand Herald interview with Dr. Pitsilis, click here.