Running a business comes with huge rewards. Financially, quite possibly, and emotionally as well. There’s joy in creating something successful out of hard work and determination. There’s satisfaction in controlling your own path.
But building a business can also be an exhausting endeavor. And when you put your business first, you often end up putting yourself last. Not only can that have consequences for your health and wellbeing, it can also sap your motivation. Push yourself too hard, and you might just forget why you wanted to set out on your own in the first place.
Here are 5 things any tour operator or business owner can do to stop burnout before it starts.
Let’s just get this out of the way: getting enough sleep is one of the best ways to improve your health, productivity and general outlook on life. It’s hard to prioritize sleep when every hour counts — so hard that sleepless nights are taken for granted by many entrepreneurs. But if you don’t, you’re sacrificing focus, brainpower, communication skills, and just about everything a business owner really needs.
Losing sleep also means more illness. If you want a long, healthy, productive life, aim for at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
When you work for yourself, you can set your own hours, and all too often, those hours are all of them. During normal work hours, you’re busy with your business’s day to day. At night, you’re answering emails and reviews, prepping marketing plans, looking at your numbers and planning for tomorrow.
Constant work takes a toll on us, especially emotionally. Burnout is real, and it’s common for business owners. If you never take time for yourself, eventually you exhaust yourself beyond easy recovery. There’s often no rebuilding love for a business that drove you to collapse and when there is, it takes time.
That’s why it’s important to take the time to disconnect from work, whatever that means to you. Put your phone in airplane mode. Lock your laptop in a drawer. Leave the house without your electronics. Make long nights spent on work tasks the exception rather than the rule.
Like sleep, exercise affects your health and wellbeing in myriad ways. Not only does it keep your body strong and healthy, it’s also great for your mind. Regular exercise can treat mild mood disorders, and improve even severe mental health issues. It’s good for cognitive function.
Exercise also makes us more creative, something that really benefits business owners. So when you take 20 minutes three times a week to get your heart rate up, don’t do it in front of a screen. Give yourself the chance to get creative.
Find a Mentor or a Community
For some people, running a business means treating everyone else in the industry as competition. Keep them at arm’s length, and never get too close.
But when you live and breath work, it can help to talk to other people who do the same — particularly people who understand the unique challenges of your industry. Not only does this create community, which can be very healthy, it also gives you a fresh perspective on any problems you run into. Find a mentor, join a professional association, attend conferences — or simply sign up for a Facebook group or make friends on Twitter.
Put Yourself First
If you travel by plane, the flight attendant will tell you that in the case of emergency, you should put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. You can’t help anyone if you suffocate, after all.
That holds true for life in general. If you don’t take care of yourself, your business will suffer. So will your relationships, and the people around you. There are dozens of ways to treat yourself better. Meditate. Take up yoga. Keep a gratitude journal. See a therapist or a life coach — both can be valuable even if you’re not dealing with any serious issues.
Learning how to feel centered and whole is a life skill that pays dividends. Nothing will benefit your business as much as a mentally and physically healthy owner.