How To Recover From Entrepreneur Burnout

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Whether you are an entrepreneur or a business owner, facing business failures is common. But what is important is how to recover from entrepreneur burnout? How to put yourself back on track so that you execute your business idea and grow your business.

If you’ve been feeling drained while managing your business, it’s possible that you’re facing more than just a challenging phase. Burnout, officially recognized by the World Health Organization in its 2019 International Classification of Diseases, is a syndrome resulting from prolonged workplace stress and requires its own distinct attention and treatment.

Unlike other mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, burnout is specifically caused by job-related stressors.


Why entrepreneur burnout matters?

In a survey conducted by The Hustle involving over 300 entrepreneurs, 63% of business owners reported experiencing or currently dealing with burnout. For founders, who often juggle multiple roles and bear the responsibility for their company’s growth and success, burnout can be particularly troublesome.

The survey revealed various emotional factors that adversely affect entrepreneurs and contribute to accelerated burnout, including financial concerns (22%), work-life balance (15%), and day-to-day stress (15%).

Compounding the challenges, 84% of business owners acknowledge the existence of a stigma surrounding mental health in the community (although 61% of them believe it’s improving). Mental health stigma can hinder the search for help, leading many to suffer in silence.

If you’re a founder feeling exhausted from managing your business, don’t lose hope. The Hustle consulted with leading experts at the intersection of entrepreneurship and mental health and compiled a list of tools and advice to help you recover swiftly.

What is Entrepreneur Burnout?

Burnout is a condition characterized by three main elements: exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and/or detachment from your work, and a sense of ineffectiveness.

Dr. Adrienne Heinz, a psychologist and researcher dedicated to entrepreneur well-being, emphasizes that what sets burnout apart is its specific connection to work. Although it does impact other aspects of life, it primarily revolves around work, which can extend to caregiving and unpaid labor.

While some burnout symptoms may be observable by those around you, many are internal, and the feeling of inefficacy in your role can be particularly challenging, especially for driven entrepreneurs who take pride in their work.

“It’s a sense of lacking personal efficacy — a lack of belief in yourself to accomplish what you want,” explains Dr. Sherry Walling, a clinical psychologist specializing in counseling entrepreneurs. “It’s the feeling that you just don’t care anymore.”

If you find yourself questioning your own abilities or if a loved one or colleague has noticed changes in your behavior — or you’ve observed it in theirs — it’s crucial to step back and consider the signs and symptoms.

Signs of Entrepreneur Burnout

When it comes to the signs of entrepreneurship business, there could be many signs. However, here are some of the key entrepreneur burnouts you must pay attention to:

     A sense of defeat

     Avoidance of work



     Loss of motivation

     Loss of satisfaction in your work

     Feeling flat or numb

     Feeling trapped or like you don’t have agency in your own life

While these primary signs and symptoms indicate that someone is grappling with burnout, there are additional secondary manifestations that can surface as a result of attempting to cope with or suppress burnout.

“The clinically evident behaviors, the repercussions of burnout, may involve turning to drinking or smoking as coping mechanisms, strained relationships where you neglect nurturing connections with your spouse or partner, a diminished interest in activities that once brought joy, and difficulties in sleeping,” explains Heinz.

Many burnout symptoms share similarities with those of other common mental health conditions like depression. The key distinction lies in the fact that burnout has a specific and singular cause: your work.

“Burnout is akin to a job-induced depression,” states Walling. “It revolves around feeling overwhelmingly burdened by what’s happening in your professional context. Depression can have various causes, but burnout is directly linked to your job.”

For colleagues, friends, or family members, signs of burnout may present themselves slightly differently from an external perspective. Some observable external signs might include:

     Lack of patience with friends or colleagues

     Distancing from work

     Snappiness and short temper

“When someone is grappling with burnout, they are essentially walking around exposed, as if they have no protective shield,” explains Walling. “This often manifests as someone becoming unkind towards their co-workers, teammates, or family members.”

Walling also highlights that it’s not only entrepreneurs facing challenges who deal with burnout; it can affect even those who appear successful externally.

“Sometimes, when your business is going through tough times, you know what you’re up against. However, when your business is thriving, you might find it challenging to direct your energy,” she says. “And when a business succeeds, it can alter the founder’s role. If that evolution is meaningful and enjoyable, that’s fantastic. However, many people end up succeeding themselves out of what they truly love.”

If you observe someone in your work or personal life showing signs of burnout, take a moment to check in with them. If you are personally facing burnout, there are practical ways to alleviate or entirely eliminate those negative feelings.

Can You Recover From Entrepreneur Burnout?

Fortunately, entrepreneur burnout is a condition that can be fully overcome when it’s appropriately addressed and treated. Making lifestyle changes and having additional support systems can expedite the recovery process for entrepreneurs. Walling emphasizes that to truly recover from burnout, you need to reprogram your brain.

“With burnout, there are physiological changes occurring in the brain,” she explains. “The connections between the amygdala — which acts like the fear reaction center of the brain — and the prefrontal cortex start to diminish.”

This disconnection means that entrepreneurs are less capable of talking themselves down from stressful situations — a crucial skill for maintaining calm in the workplace.

Given that burnout can lead to physical changes due to workplace stress, the most effective treatment involves taking time away from the distressing work environment.

“You have to reset the way your brain functions, and that’s difficult without altering some of the patterns in your life,” Walling says. “For the brain to truly reset, ideally, you’d take four to six weeks of sabbatical to reprogram the brain.”

If it’s financially and logistically possible, the best course of action is to take a complete break from your job. Whether spending time at home with family or going on an actual vacation, being unplugged and away from work is the most efficient way to recover faster.

How to Recover From Entrepreneur Burnout?

When it’s not feasible to step away from the job causing stress, which is the case for most people, there are still tools that entrepreneurs can employ to combat their burnout:

     Getting enough sleep

     Hiring people to help you with tasks that don’t bring joy

     Reconnecting with your passions

     Spending more time with friends and family

     Spending time in nature

     Starting a group with other entrepreneurs

     Strengthening social relationships

Heinz refers to healthy habits and coping strategies like these as “guardrails” and emphasizes, “they’re non-negotiable because if you don’t stay in your guardrails, you can crash and fall into the ravine.”

Prioritizing these guardrails in your day-to-day routine can help combat the stress that accompanies a high-pressure job. Heinz also underscores that a crucial part of this foundation is to align your career with your personal values and eliminate any values that don’t serve you.

“It’s about unlearning toxic or unhelpful messages about how we should work or lead,” says Heinz. “It’s a willingness to reset and build your company and conduct your work based on your personal values. Productivity addiction is not serving us.”

Walling adds, “If someone can’t take time away but can still make some of these targeted changes—exercise, hobbies, social support—they really need to rehab their life and make some significant changes.”

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Entrepreneur Burnout?

Although an exact timeline for recovery cannot be specified, experts are confident that full recovery is achievable with the right changes.

“We observe changes in the brain through functional MRI when we alter the context, and we can witness those adverse effects from burnout changing, usually within 6 to 12 weeks,” says Walling.

The duration of recovery also depends on the severity of the burnout, according to Heinz.

“[Recovery time] varies and depends on how far they’ve gone down the rabbit hole—how much they’ve neglected self-care or strained their relationships,” she says. “People don’t live in a bubble; they live in systems with their families and co-workers, and burnout not only damages the individual but also harms relationships, making it challenging to bounce back. You need a comprehensive repair of your life.”

Heinz emphasizes the importance of mental health resources and support groups to prevent entrepreneurs from reaching a crisis before seeking help.

“Usually, when people come to me, they’re in crisis. They’re drinking too much, facing threats of divorce, their kids are having behavioral problems, their co-founder finds them impossible to work with,” she says. “Recognizing the warning signs through psycho-education and realizing when you’re not doing well, then calling in more resources can act as prevention. Once you burn out, it’s really hard to come back, and it’s a soul-crushing experience.”

Experts unanimously agree that forming a peer group with other entrepreneurs can be one of the most effective tools for combating burnout and maintaining mental health. Entrepreneurship can be isolating, and connecting with other founders can alleviate that sense of loneliness.

Final Thoughts

Given how debilitating entrepreneur burnout can be, it’s crucial for entrepreneurs to be aware of their emotions and energy levels to identify, address, and prevent burnout sooner.

Incorporating recovery tips into your daily life can serve as a long-term strategy to keep burnout at bay – these actions shouldn’t be reserved solely as a last resort.

“Some key preventive strategies include staying connected with people in your life, effective time management, regular exercise, prioritizing quality sleep, recognizing that you’re in a marathon and need to pace yourself, and engaging in a hobby – not just for the enjoyment, but because it diversifies neurologically, which is incredibly healthy for your brain,” suggests Walling. “Anything that promotes the health of your brain as an organ will help safeguard you against burnout.”

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