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Wellbeing

Preventing burnout: I ignored my body when it was telling me to slow down

When you're passionate about your business, it's easy to ignore the warning signs that you're working way too hard.

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It wasn’t until I opened the fridge one day to find the furniture polish in there and the milk in the cupboard under the sink that I realised something had to change.

While I always thought that my “can do” attitude helped me find success, I also came to realise that  I was the one shouldering all the responsibilities, the decision making and the consequence of keeping the business afloat.

My mind was exhausted from being always ‘on the go’; I was close to serious burnout and I knew I had to do something about getting my work/life balance back.

"My  mind and body were giving me clear signals that I was in the stages of burnout "

Here are five changes I made to help me bring balance back to my life.

I started being honest with myself

While once upon a time I thrived on keeping a number of plates spinning, when I came close to burnout, if they’d smashed, I don’t think I would have noticed or even cared. I wasn’t sleeping well, and I was not being totally honest with myself. My mind and body were giving me clear signals that I was in the stages of burnout (which does not happen overnight). I’d lost quite a lot of weight, and while I did appreciate the weight loss, this was not a healthy way to shed the pounds as I lost my appetite, and made up for it by eating junk food on the go.

I prioritized relaxation time

Once I admitted that I was going through a burnout phase, I made plans to put out the flames. Most important was identifying some “me time” in my busy schedule. I started off by booking out 30 minutes every other day so that I could listen to some music as I walked around the local park.

I made sure this was a “no go” area as far as work was concerned and left my mobile phone behind. I wanted to really just enjoy the benefits of being outside and taking in some gentle exercise. I also booked in some family time in the evenings and weekends, so that taking work home on those days was a “no go” as well.

I started to delegate

What I also realised was that there were others in the team who could take on some of the burden that I had kept on my shoulders for far too long. I wouldn’t be around forever, and it was time to future proof everything I had built up.

To start, I reviewed my workload and started to share some key responsibilities. This worked to all our benefit because staff now felt they had some say in the business and became more motivated. It even sparked new ideas that I hadn’t thought of before!

I make looking after myself a priority

As well as bringing back some exercise into my life, I made other lifestyle changes and reviewed my diet. Regular mealtimes (actually sitting down to eat) with a good balanced diet really did make me feel a lot better. I cut back on the caffeine intake and just about managed to be sensible with the wine (still need to keep some treats going) but it meant that my sleep patterns got back into sync and I had much more stamina.

I took time out to network

I made time to meet up with other business owners, not always in my sector, because just being able to talk about how they went through the same problems or challenges made me feel as though I was not on my own. Networking brought in some additional business as well, giving the company and me the additional boost we both needed.

What steps have you taken to ensure you’re looking after yourself and preventing burnout in your business?

Julie Pettett Numanoglu

is the Managing Director of Brighton Panel Works in Melbourne, a company her father founded that specialises in the smash repair of prestige cars.

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