Hey there mer-makers, Lauren here! I BURNED OUT! (so I burned it all down..not literally, but ya girl came close) I joke, but I really did come close to burning all the way out, so that made me FEEL like I wanted to burn everything down.
The highs and lows of being a small business owner (or side hustle queen/king) can feel overwhelming sometimes, and our mutual friend burnout is great at making us have all the "feels".
Burnout robs us of our joy. Makes us asks what the heck this is all for, question our gifts, shrug off our talent, belittle our accomplishments....and ultimately make us feel like we're failing. Burnout can get the best of us, and it got me good.
Nothing about my love of art, the Ocean, conservation, my studio, or teaching has changed even one little bit. I knew when taking a break from Mermaid Trash, that it was only to refill my cup so that I could come back even better than before!
One of the things I had time to do during my break, was think about how to come back from my break. lol. It may sound counterproductive, however, it's one of the best solutions I came up with for dealing with the dreaded burnout. I figured out a few more things too and I wanted to share them all with you in a new blog post! I got lots of plans, and part of that is sharing the journey and insight I gain on the Mermaid Trash blog. So let's get to it!
What is Burnout?
Sometimes the reality of our life or situation doesn't always align with what we want or have to get done, am I right? When things don't align, it can be stressful, and when that goes on for long enough burnout is bound to occur.
Any stress for a prolonged period of time is going to leave you feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. This leads to being less productive and over time you're likely to continue pushing off tasks/work even more. There could be any number of reasons why what you need to get done is not aligning with the reality of your life and what you're actually getting done. And let's face it, that sucks!
How to identify burnout?
In my experience, most people are generally creatures of habit, so identifying your patterns and issues that lead to stress and burnout is key. Once you can spot early predictors and signs of burnout, you can take action!
Below are some of the common reasons I've experienced that usually divert me from carefully planned creative time or work. It's often these life events, or large workloads that prevent me from getting things done in the way or time I want to, and is repeatedly the beginning of a "pile up" workload that leads to burnout.
Large Work Load
Lack of Motivation-Depression-Anxiety
Whether it's workload or life, the stress from having to juggle too many things is what often leads to burnout. It's not always a choice of ours what we are plated with on the daily. Or even the curve balls that life likes to throw at us. However, when it comes to our productivity, it's often the first thing that takes a hit.
Signs of burnout include feeling tired, distracted, and irritable. Achy bodies, headaches, and changes in appetite can occur as well. Stress builds and can lead to the opposite of what you want, by pushing off work even further.
Beating the burnout
All things in balance! I find that the "sweet spot" for protecting myself against burnout lies between when my workload and capacity (as a human, wife, mother, liver of life etc.) are in balance. When workload and capacity are in balance it is possible to get meaningful work done, find time for personal and professional growth, rest and recovery.
Here's some things to look at:
Planning & Scheduling your work. This is usually the first one to get away from me. I can't tell you how much money I've spent on planners, and stickers for planning in those planners. I'll say it one more time...planner. Sometimes I can plan all I want, and all it takes is one day of not accomplishing my set goal, or my kid getting a cold to throw me right off track. And that often makes me feel anxious and depressed. Planning is good and you should absolutely be doing it, but I've also learned not to beat myself up when things don't go my way. Pick a day each week when you can sit down with your planner and re-evaluate to keep yourself on track and keep work from piling up.
Boundaries and saying no. As a small business owner who worked out of my house for a long time, I often found myself checking emails at 12am, working on my website till all hours of the night, and generally just burning the candle at both ends. This led to a burnout for me in my 2nd year of business and I needed to step back and set some boundaries for myself before moving forward. I had to learn how to delegate my workload and just say no when things were too much.
Letting go of perfectionism. Sometimes producing a perfect piece of work (in my eyes) is not required. Sometimes, good enough is all that is needed.
If you're having problems with burnout, try to focus on each of the above actions. Proactive effort to reduce workload is the most effective way in my opinion to remove stressors and it's impact on burning out. We all sometimes feel like we can't stop. We check emails while in line for coffee and type up social media posts while reaching for our car keys. Though it can seem essential to always be pushing ahead, it is vital to take breaks. Use spare time to read a book, listen to music, talk to a friend, or disconnect completely. Taking time for yourself is critical to your wellbeing and preventing burnout.