8 Simple Ways to Avoid Burnout

04/16/2015 05:25 pm ET | Updated Jun 16, 2015


Do you wake up exhausted and dreading what was once the highlight of your day? Are you overwhelmed with tasks and feel like your passion is taking a backseat to tedious, unappealing work? Every entrepreneur has been there -- burnout. It's your body's reaction to being overworked and deprived of mental stimulation. Lucky for you, I've compiled the top eight ways to avoid burnout and keep your productivity levels high...

1. Take care of yourself.

Around 80 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are stress-related. That's an incredible amount of hospital visits that could easily be prevented.

One of the best ways to avoid burning out is through learning to decompress when you are stressed. Unsure how? Think about simple activities that clear your mind and restore your stress levels to zero. Below are some of my favorites:

  • Go for a walk around the neighborhood.
  • Eat lunch while watching some funny videos (laughter is a shown stress reliever).
  • Call up a friend and talk about what's on your mind.

A simple activity that puts you in a good mood could help ease your stress in less than an hour.

2. Learn to meditate.

Celebrities, professional athletes, and CEOs around the world have a little secret that allows them to work overtime while not burning out. It's called Transcendental Meditation.

A 2012 study showed African-Americans with heart disease who practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or die compared with those who attended a health education class for more than five years.

"TM," as many of its practicers like to call it, works by allowing your body to "recharge" the same way it does while you sleep but in a matter of minutes rather than hours. Don't believe me? Take it from the world's biggest daytime talk show host, Ellen Degeneres...

3. Exercise regularly.

Here's one that we all know we should do but don't: exercise. However, you might not know that regular exercise of just 30 minutes per day can drastically reduce your chances of burning out. This is because exercise increases your dopamine levels, making you feel less stressed.

Most people don't exercise because it seems like a chore. So the trick is to make it fun. If running isn't your thing, try to mix it up...

  • Many gyms offer "bootcamp"-style classes that workout your entire body in a half an hour.
  • If you want to enjoy nature and get a good workout in, try going on hikes or walking your local nature trail.
  • You know that old bike you have that's collecting dust in your garage? Clean it up and take it for a spin around your neighborhood.

All you need is a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day to give yourself a nice mood-booster.

4. Take regular breaks.

It may seem counter-productive to take regular breaks when you are overwhelmed at work, but it may be exactly what your body needs.

Staring at a computer screen and sitting down for prolonged periods of time can be very stressful on your eyes and back. Set little reminders to get up and walk around every 30-60 minutes. I like to coincide my breaks with grabbing a new glass of water, which also keeps me hydrated through the day.

5. Play the stress away.

Something you might not know about the world's most accomplished individuals is that they love playing just as much as they love working.

One of the ways that successful entrepreneurs and businessmen and women like to avoid burnout is through games. In fact, Uber CEO Tavis Kalanick, is ranked number two in the world in Wii Tennis. Could the mega-success of Uber somehow be attributed to the CEO's ability to decompress playing games during the day?

6. Get some rest.

Many popular tech companies (e.g., Facebook, Google, HubSpot) all have one thing in common: a nap room. This isn't just a perk for their employees to lounge in, it provides them a place to recharge when working long hours so that they don't burnout.

Taking only an hour nap has been shown to enhance information processing, learning, and reverse negative effects associated with burnout.

7. Celebrate small wins.

There's no doubting it, we live in a fast-paced society. While this is great for letting us get more done in a day, it doesn't allow us to properly reflect on our accomplishments.

In order to see yourself making progress, you must spend time celebrating the small victories in your life. This can be anything from landing a new client to looking outside and noticing that it's a sunny day. Being optimistic may help you see that you're not just "spinning your wheels" and burning out but actually making progress.

8. Automate menial tasks.

There might not be one big reason you feel burned out but rather 100 little reasons. Responding to emails, listening to voicemails, organizing your office -- these are all small things that eventually add up and take over our lives. Fortunately for you, technology has made it simple to automate life's biggest time-wasters. Below are a few ways you can start automating your life today...

  • Groceries: There's no need to drive to the grocery store, spend an hour picking out food, and wait in line. Companies like PeaPod by ShopRite allow you to easily shop for groceries online and have them delivered at a time that is convenient for you.
  • Amazon: For home necessities that you know you will need on a weekly or monthly basis, such as paper towels and soap, try using Amazon's subscription service. It allows you to set which items you would like delivered on a set schedule. This way you never run out of the things you use every day.
  • Auto-Pay: Most, if not all, companies that bill you on a recurring basis offer auto-payment. While sending one check or logging into their site to make a payment once per month might not sound like a lot, multiple that by all of the bills you have to pay -- cable, phone, Internet, TV, gas, electric, health care, etc. Saving 10 minutes paying each one can add up.

What ways do you avoid burnout? I'd love to know! Tweet me @DanScalco.

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