Taking well-earned time out will refresh both you and your business.
Many entrepreneurs feel that they can’t take time off when their to-do list is endless and their business is flying. Just the thought of jetting off on holiday when there’s work to do can send you on a major guilt trip, and you might feel as though this simply isn’t an option for you. However, taking regular breaks is essential to avoid extreme stress and burnout. No matter which industry you operate in, the work will never stop – but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t either. Taking a well-earned break will improve your mindset and put you in a better place to pick up where you left off when you return.
As an entrepreneur and business leader, Inc & Co’s Group CEO Jack Mason has experienced the effects of overworking many times. Despite his integral role in Inc & Co’s fast-paced collective, he now takes extra measures – such as regular time out – to avoid burnout wherever possible. Jack also reminds his teams that when taking time off, it doesn’t matter where you go or what you do as long as you take time to rest, socialise with family and friends, or enjoy activities unrelated to work. Taking this time out will help to minimise stress, boost your resilience, and replenish your motivation.
Here, Jack explains why you should take time out to avoid burnout, both for your personal wellbeing and your business’ wellbeing.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, psychological, and physical fatigue that is usually the result of prolonged or intense stress. Jack explains that work-related stresses are often the root cause of burnout, though external relationships, parenting, and other care-giving roles can also have an impact. Different people manage different levels of stress in different ways and may experience different triggers when it comes to burnout. Some people are also more likely to experience burnout than others because of their genetic background. In short, burnout is not the same for everyone.
There isn’t a single medical definition of ‘burnout,’ but Forbes concludes that common symptoms include:
- Lack of motivation
- Frequent frustration
- Cognitive difficulty
- Performance issues
- Interpersonal problems
- Feeling generally unsatisfied
- Health problems
- Resorting to alcohol, smoking, and junk food
The Link Between Physical and Mental Health
It’s important to remember that there is a strong link between your physical and mental health. When you’re stressed or anxious, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones can cause physical reactions, such as increased heart rate and blood flow changes, which, in turn, can cause you to lose your appetite, disrupt your sleeping patterns, or even have panic attacks. Burnout can take a heavy toll on your wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
It’s no surprise that those under immense pressure are more likely to become physically unwell. In extreme situations, burnout can lead to Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME), also known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Myalgic Encephalopathy causes a person to feel exhausted to the extent that they feel physically unwell – they may experience sleep problems, muscle and joint pain, flu-like symptoms, and heart palpitations.
How To Avoid Burnout
To avoid burnout, try to stay aware of your stress levels – noting the causes of your stress and the activities that help to keep your anxieties at bay. The moment you recognise your stress levels rising, it’s time to take action. This doesn’t have to mean immediately booking a holiday. You might also be able to take smaller steps, such as attending meditation classes, taking time to read a book, committing time to socialise with family and friends, starting a gym membership, or simply going for walks on your lunch break. Jack highlights the importance of exercise – it’s one of the most effective ways to combat burnout. When you improve your physical fitness, you also build up your immune system. Plus, when you exercise, your brain releases endorphins that make you feel good and boost your resilience against stress.
Taking holidays is important too though – Jack recommends a week away but emphasises that you need to find the time period that works best for you. You’ll find that work will always expand to fill the time that you dedicate to it. Instead, cut your hours back. You might be surprised at how much you still manage to achieve.
Healthy Stress Levels
While burnout is unhealthy, stress can be helpful in moderation. The ‘right’ kind of stress can be motivating. For example, a tight deadline can keep you focused and primed to achieve. However, long periods of stress are never good for anyone. You won’t be able to work to your full capacity if you don’t take a break now and again. There’s no point in coming up with the best business ideas if you’re too stressed to implement them.
As a business leader, you need to be emotionally resilient and able to think clearly. Remember that you are in control, even if you don’t feel like you are. A person who is in control is a person with power. If taking time out doesn’t work, it’s time to speak to a counsellor or therapist. Your health and wellbeing should always be your priority.
It’s much easier to prevent burnout than it is to cure it. Though it may feel impossible to take time off when you’re navigating busy periods at work, remember that you deserve and need this time off to recharge.
About Jack Mason
Jack Mason is the Group CEO of Manchester’s digital collective Inc & Co. He directs the group’s vision and meticulously plots business strategies for each acquisition, helping numerous teams to hone their operations and collaborative practices. Jack embraces entrepreneurial approaches to accelerate business success, harnessing cutting-edge technologies and market approaches to achieve optimal results for Inc & Co’s acquisitions.
As a keen advocate of mental wellbeing in the workplace, Jack encourages his teams to avoid burnout by taking breaks to refuel. Jack is currently in the midst of a busy period at Inc & Co himself; the collective is welcoming a string of new acquisitions, launching three chains of incspaces serviced offices, onboarding new staff, and carefully plotting strategies for its second business year. Despite his central position at Inc & Co, Jack knows that without taking hard-earned time out, he wouldn’t be able to work at the incredibly fast pace that his leadership position demands. He reminds business professionals that they shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time out – all professionals should enjoy a hard-earned break.
You can read more about mental health in the workplace at Jack Mason’s blog, where he writes about remote working, the impact that COVID-19 is likely to have on the corporate world, and managing work-related stress.