Home > Newsletter > Ten signs you’re approaching burnout
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It’s August, the height of the holiday season. You’re trying to get a couple of projects finished before the September rush, but no one is answering the phone or replying to your emails. Both you and your laptop are suffering from the heat and your kids appear to have forgotten how to entertain themselves.

Perhaps you should down tools and take some time out?

As a self-employed person you are the number one asset in your business, and you need to make sure you are always in the best shape possible. This month at Maidstone, Founder Member Deborah Mulvany showed us how to recognise you’re in need of some rest and relaxation.

1. Little things get blown out of all proportion. You used to be calm in a crisis and able to think laterally, now the smallest molehill becomes an Everest-style challenge.

2. Friends and colleagues keep asking: ‘Are you OK?’ Subtle changes in your demeanour can make you appear disinterested or distracted. People will notice you’re not your usual sparkly self.

3. You keep making mishtakes, or fail to spot errors that would normally jump right out at you. As a result everything takes longer.

4. You can no longer see the positive side – in fact you’ve forgotten there is a positive side.

5. You are counterproductive. Whether it’s procrastination, picking fights with colleagues or stressing about unimportant details rather than the bigger picture. Step back from the maelstrom and put your oxygen mask on first.

6. Aches and pains. You constantly feel physically drained. Pre-existing conditions such as migraines, arthritis or asthma worsen.

7. Digestive symptoms. Stress can upset the balance of your gut bacteria and cause or exacerbate conditions such as IBS or Crohn’s disease.

8. Sleep problems. Can be problems getting to sleep/staying asleep or constant tiredness and not being able to function through ‘brain fog’.

9. Wine becomes a necessity rather than a pleasure. You need that glass of wine at the end of the day to relax, or to get to sleep at night. This doesn’t mean you’re an alcoholic, but it could mean you need to reduce your stress levels.

10. You lose your sense of direction. You’ve lost your mojo and/or your self belief. In fact you’re not sure why you thought being self-employed was a good idea in the first place.

We know all of this in theory, but the cruel irony of being in a stressful situation means we often fail to see beyond our immediate plight and focus on the bigger picture. Scheduling regular breaks will actually increase your productiveness and creativity and you will often find new inspiration after taking a short break.

A break doesn’t have to be a full-on holiday. Even a lunch with friends, an afternoon sight-seeing or shopping, or – dare we say it – a Metis Women meeting can be enough to boost your creativity and get you thinking outside the box again. Here are some of the things you can do as a self employed person to ensure you get the 28 days a year holiday you would be entitled to as an employee.

• Block out holiday time at the beginning of the year and STICK TO IT – no exceptions.
• Schedule in contingency time each week to deal with the unexpected.
• Realise your clients will respect your need for time off. You are not expected to be on call 24/7.

If you have any other ideas or experiences you’d like to share, please get in touch with us by email or on social media.