Well-Being//

An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Beating Burnout

Tips every business owner should read to combat frustration, stress, and exhaustion.

Westend61/Getty Images
Westend61/Getty Images

Up in the air. Racing to the next meeting. Late night phone calls. Early morning brainstorming sessions. The life of an entrepreneur can be exciting, enthralling, but also overwhelmingly exhausting. Due to this fast-paced lifestyle, many entrepreneurs and “soloprenuers” experience burnout at some point in their career journey—but that doesn’t have to be the case. Here’s how entrepreneurs can make self-care a priority and beat burnout.

Manage Stress

The bottom line: If you don’t manage your stress, burnout can manifest in your body in a number of ways. Stress can cause dehydration, headaches, or damage to your gut—causing intestinal hyper-permeability, or “Leaky Gut Syndrome.” This condition allows toxins, bacteria, undigested food particles, and other undesirable gut contents to enter the bloodstream and circulate to the rest of the body, including to your brain. Your gut not only affects your mental state in how you feel physically, but the reverse is also true: Your mental state affects your gut and gut health.

Fortunately, you can help reverse the effects of stress and manage your gut health with AHCC—a shiitake mushroom extract. AHCC contains glucans, which can help naturally boost the immune system, decrease certain innate immune signalers, and decrease inflammation. This is especially valuable for entrepreneurs who’ve experienced stress that has left their immune system depleted.

Take Self-Care to the Kitchen

One of the most important ways to take care of yourself as an entrepreneur is to eat right. Remember: what you feed your stomach, you also feed your brain. When it comes to eating a brain-healthy diet, there are a variety of foods to choose from, but your best choices are prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are food ingredients that support the growth of beneficial microorganisms in your gut. They are as important for your diet—and gut health—as probiotics, because they feed the flora that keep your digestive tract healthy. Without their nourishment, the probiotics you’re consuming won’t work up to their potential.

To incorporate prebiotics into your diet, choose plant-based foods that contain prebiotic fibers such as asparagus, cabbage, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, and onions. Unripe bananas, cashews, pistachios, lentils, and chickpeas are great prebiotic-packed foods as well. To maximize the power of prebiotics, be sure to pair them with probiotics; cottage cheese, kimchi, yogurt, kombucha, and fermented cheeses are all great choices.

In addition to the above foods, aim to include healthy fats in your diet as much as possible. These include fatty fruits (avocado, coconuts, and olives); fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and haddock; grass-fed proteins like chicken, bison, or beef; organic greens; raw nuts and seeds; and wild organic berries.

Get Proper Sleep Every Night

While a consistent lack of sleep not only leads to burnout, it’s also proven to harm you in the long term. Continued sleep deprivation raises the risk for a number of chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Researchers have found that people who sleep five or fewer hours per night have more calcium build-up in their heart artery walls and stiffer leg arteries than those who slept seven hours per night. Insufficient sleep can also leave you more vulnerable to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

If you’re having trouble sleeping, your first consideration should be your mattress. Most of us know that we should replace a mattress at least every 10 years, but how do you choose the right one? For starters, a mattress should provide firm but comfortable support to keep your spine in alignment while sleeping on your side or on your back. When you lie down, your mattress should give you a sense of floating, not sinking. Memory foam mattresses are a great choice because they conform to your body’s shape and eliminate pressure points. You should also choose a mattress that will help you sleep cool and provide the same feel no matter the ambient room temperature. Finally, be sure to pair your mattress with the correct pillow to keep your body aligned.

Turn Your Next Business Trip into a Bizcation

While millennials lead the charge with turning a business trip into a “bizcation,” you don’t have to be a member of the generation to invest in on-the-road self-care. Booking a few free days to relax after a business trip enables you to carve out some time for yourself, get to know your destination city, and catch up on your sleep. By exploring the city you’re in, you’re less likely to feel lonely, or like an outsider that’s just passing through. Getting a few quality nights’ sleep away from home (especially if you’re a new parent) will help you to recharge and feel more refreshed when you return home. Or, invite your partner or family to join you for the vacation part of your trip, and use the time to reconnect with your loved one(s) after spending so much time traveling for business.

The solution to beating burnout will be as individual as the entrepreneur. Use this guide as your test kitchen: perhaps you do prioritize sleep and eat well, but you’ve neglected spending quality time with your family since your business took off. Identify what recharges your battery, and utilize that strategy to fight back against burnout. After all, entrepreneurs are the kings and queens of innovation; keep iterating until you find what works for you.

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