Entrepreneurs seek success at the cost of getting sucked into working 12 to 16-hour days (with the majority of the hours connected to their phone and computers). They find themselves in a daily whirlwind of back-to-back meetings and projects while sacrificing self-care. This is the quickest way to find yourself on the path to burnout.
The term burnout was first used to describe “the consequences of severe stress and high ideals” in helping professions (i.e., doctors and nurses) during the 1970s. Herbert Freudenberger, an American psychologist, coined it. Today, we recognize burnout as a state of emotional, mental, or physical exhaustion caused by excessive stress from work.
Considering that most startup founders wear many hats—everything from sales and marketing, to product development and legal—it is no surprise that many would describe themselves as feeling stressed.
The cause of burnout stems from ignoring these early signs and continuing as if nothing needs to change.
In the digital era, technology, specifically mobile devices, have made it much easier for people to improve work productivity and create new networks. The internet has become a way to engage with people and access information in an instant. However, increasingly, the internet’s reach has become all-pervasive, and many people find it difficult to extricate themselves from the grasp of omnipresent technology.
The downside is that when employees physically leave the office, they do not feel as though they have left work. They remain connected electronically to work through emails and text, impeding on their downtime and self-care.
This has resulted in the rise of a relatively new term, digital burnout after psychologists noticed the link between burnout and excessive use of digital devices. The recommended solution is to simply turn off your digital devices.
Although this is sound advice, it is not always as simple or sustainable, and it is only part of the equation in the solution for burnout.
It is not enough to only disconnect from your devices and then wait for your mental health to recover, your energy to return, and the prospect of burnout to pass.
In order to actually feel better, you need to spend that time by actively connecting with yourself, others, and the world at large.
This is where mindfulness and connecting enters the equation. Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment without judgment. Contrary to most popular belief it is not about disconnecting from the world, but instead, it is about actively connecting. Mindfulness enables meaningful and fulfilling relationships and connections, including with your true self.
The first step starts from within—with yourself. When you can connect with yourself, take care of yourself, and love yourself, then you can also connect with others and the world. Over time you will be able to translate these practices into everyday activities. As you go about your life, you will have a greater ability to make mindful choices. You will recognize the unique qualities of each person you encounter. You will be curious about the personal desires and challenges of those around you—and this will make you a better person and leader.
Connect with yourself
Learn to relish time alone whether you are meditating, taking a walk, going for a run, or journaling. Choose whatever floats your boat. You will experience more confidence, clarity, and creativity.
Integrate these activities into your daily life. One method of doing this is to wear something distinctive (e.g., a bracelet), which is used to achieve a target number of days doing the activity of your choice. If you miss a day meditating, switch the bracelet to the other wrist and start again from day 0. This is simple, yet an effective metacognitive awareness training.
Connect with others
Plan quality time with friends and family. Make special efforts to show them you care and value your relationship. Be authentic and vulnerable in order to develop more meaningful and fulfilling relationships.
Help them plan their special occasions (such as birthdays and momentous milestones). Support them in times of need even if they do not ask for it. Be a good listener. Share your challenges. This will inevitably deepen and strengthen any relationship. With good friends and family, fun times are more enjoyable, and sorrows are shared.
Connect with the world
Escape your comfort zone and routine. Volunteer or help people less fortunate. You will be surprised by the experience and learn more than you expect.
Entrepreneurs are naturally curious people who want to be at the forefront of the latest trends, technologies, and industries – most of which can be accessed through electronic devices. However, we must also be curious about maintaining strong connections with our self, our loved ones, and all people.
Always remember that it is you who is in charge of your time and your well-being. Choose to develop your human connections rather than your electronic connections and take control of yourself. The benefits will ripple in all areas of your life. You will be able to fulfill your highest business, personal, and social potential.
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Published on Forbes on Sep 6, 2018