When was the last time you just…stopped. I mean really switched off – not just to recharge, but also to appreciate how far you have come?
I’ll put my hands up – I’m really not good at doing this. In fact, I just took my family away over Christmas, for the first time in over two years. And it was only once I was away that I realised how burnt-out I was feeling. Surely I could have given myself a bit more space over the last couple of years?
I know I’m not alone. As business owners, especially if you’re a parent as well, we’re particularly prone to this feeling of burn out – a form of severe exhaustion caused by uncontrolled chronic stress, which leaves those affected feeling physically and mentally overwhelmed. And as we know, the pandemic with its unknowns and rolling lockdowns simply hasn’t helped.
When you’re a small business owner, it’s particularly hard to feel like you can clock-out, or turn off from ‘work mode.’ It can feel like it will all come to a standstill if you take your foot off the brake, right?
But here’s the truth – our role as business owners requires us to be able to make good decisions. And if you’re on the verge of burning out – if you’re constantly anxious, tired and stressed – you can’t be relied upon to lead well and make the best possible decisions. Your business needs you to be rested, calm and happy.
Here are the small actions I’m taking to create space in my day and my life – so that I can find a bit of balance and rest, without going on holiday every week!
Guarding my time
I now schedule everything. Yes, everything. Including commuting and traveling time, because it’s easy to overlook it. I’ve scheduled in when I’m exercising, when I’m eating, and even when I’m getting dressed or showering. It’s a bit extreme, but when it’s not written down, it’s easy to prioritise other things – and then, before you know it, you haven’t had any time for yourself. And that’s an express train to burn out!
A strong evening routine
I’ve started thinking of my day as starting the night before, and it’s really helped me make sure I’m creating enough time and space to relax – so I don’t fall into the trap of working through the night with no break. I’ve built out an evening routine for myself that includes a strict ‘no screen time’ and bedtime – I use the bedtime setting on my iPhone to mute all notifications from 9pm, and I’m asleep by 10pm. Forcing myself to go to bed early (like a child!) has made a world of difference.
A gratitude practice
The last thing I’ve implemented is a gratitude practice. Running a fast-growth startup as a mother can feel like a lonely place. I can’t often socialise as I’d like, and hobbies just aren’t what they used to be. But I now take time daily (see scheduling point above!) to write down what I’m grateful for. Taking time to feel grateful really does help me to immediately feel calm, happy and relaxed – almost like going on vacation. Almost.
The idea of a wellness routine can feel overwhelming. I know I’ve never really been able to stick to one. After all, the life of an entrepreneur is unpredictable – it’s like we’re in service to our businesses, and it can feel hard to take that time for yourself. But hopefully the above, which are really just small tweaks with huge payoffs, can help you find some space – because switching off is really the ultimate challenge!