Job stress is a slippery slope. In a short amount of time, you can go from working just a few minutes late to a few hours late. While there is certainly nothing wrong with dedication, long hours, pressing deadlines, and looming contracts can quickly turn from stress to burnout before you know it.

The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as “a special type of job stress—a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” Entrepreneurs are particularly susceptible to burnout, especially in today’s 24/7/365 world. The burden of creating a company from scratch and leading a team builds up over time and can manifest itself in unfortunate ways.

I’ve dealt with burnout at several different points in the past and know how hard it can be to overcome once it sets in. Fortunately, necessity is the mother of invention. In my desperation to stave off burnout before it causes real problems, I’ve managed to find a few ways to identify its symptoms and avoid its impact.

Change the scenery

I’m a big believer that place has a tremendous impact on both the quality of work you produce and your overall morale. Working from the same place, with the same view, during the same hours reinforces a sense of monotony and can lead to burnout.

Our offices at BodeTree are fun, open, and pretty creative, all things considered. Still, I find myself falling into similar routines and thought patterns when I work from my desk day in and day out. This mental rut of sorts is always a key indicator that feelings of burnout are right around the corner.

When I feel that beginning to take hold, I make an effort to get a change of scenery. Sometimes this means simply getting up and working from a different place in the office. Other times, I’ll leave altogether and work from a coffee shop or café. The change of scenery almost always encourages new thoughts and ideas, preventing you from falling into the mental rut that leads to burnout.

Find a creative outlet

Running a business can be stressful, terrifying, and lonely. Even for individuals with great support networks and co-founders, it can still be difficult to find an outlet to vent. After all, spouses can get concerned about the how your challenges will affect their lives, and fellow entrepreneurs are often too wrapped up in their difficulties to listen to yours.

When you bottle these emotions up, they can easily result in feelings of burnout. Writing, however, is the perfect outlet for explaining, exploring, and digesting everything that you face as an entrepreneur in a healthy way.

Writing is my preferred outlet for creative expression, but any creative outlet will work. The important thing is to find a way to identify and address the feelings that lead to burnout. When you manage the causes of burnout in a healthy, creative way, you rob them of their power over you.

Practice mindfulness

When things start to pile up and feelings of burnout set in, don’t panic.  Remember to stop and be mindful of the present moment. More often than not, the feelings you’re experiencing are related to what you think might happen in the future, not what you’re dealing with in the present. Practicing mindfulness and focusing on the current moment can give you a reprieve from the thoughts and concerns that lead to burnout.

The benefits of mindfulness have been well documented, and a recent Harvard Business Review article points out that it takes as little as six seconds of mindful meditation for these benefits to manifest themselves. Quieting your mind and moving away from the endless “what-if” scenarios helps to center you in the present and prepares you to deal with the tasks that lie ahead more effectively.

The key to managing burnout and avoiding its worst effects is to spot its early symptoms and take decisive action before they take hold. Simple things like changing the location of where you choose to work, writing, or being mindful of the present can make all the difference in the world.

by: Chris Myers Cofounder and CEO of BodeTree and the author of Enlightened Entrepreneurship.

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