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How Do You Deal with BURNOUT!?!

Posted by Valencia on February 12th, 2009

Okay, so I’ve been dealing with a tension headache for about two weeks. During the first week I blamed this annoying dull ache on everything under the sun from eye strain to medication withdrawal. But then it hit me - the problem wasn’t my eyes, lack of sleep or everyday worries. The problem was me and my inability to STOP.

My husband and I started a new business. Meanwhile, I continue to juggle my freelance writing business, in which I’m focusing my energies on tapping into print markets and marketing my children books. I have big plans, and I’m optimistic and excited about the future. But at the same time, I’m burning the candle at both ends, and I am about to crash. With that said, I think it’s time to take a needed break….from everything.

Well, that’s my story. But apparently, I’m not alone. It seems that freelancers, telecommuters and home based business owners occasionally hit a brick wall. Burnout is common. But fortunately, there are ways to get around this hurdle and get back to work.

Ever wonder how other freelancers deal with burnout? Here’s how….

“I rejuvenate in simple ways. Doing ‘normal’ things like taking a long hot bath, having lunch with a friend, grocery shopping with my husband, playing with the dog, even doing a little baking. These are all little things that make a big difference in my day.  It’s not anything exciting but it’s enough of a break to get me through working through the evening. Once a month we do dinner and movie. Twice a year we do a vacation. It doesn’t have to be anything exotic but just a getaway so that you are out of the normal routine, away from the pressure. Last spring we rented a villa on the beach, this fall we traveled to NY to visit my 92 year old Grandmother. It doesn’t really matter where we go, or what we do. Just that we go.” - Teri Hurley, Blue Moon Travel

“I’m a workaholic by nature, which has worked both to my advantage and disadvantage as a home-based business owner. I finally had to set a solid 8 to 4:30 schedule (urgent work is done after they go to bed) so I could commit to spending my evenings with my young children. Because working from home can be isolating, I make sure to schedule a morning breakfast with friends at least twice a month and use videoconferencing over teleconferencing when possible so I’m getting some “face time” with other humans.I also try to schedule a monthly appointment with a therapist just to have a neutral source to talk to, and use that day as a “free” day - to get a massage, go to the bookstore, go shopping, etc.” - Wendy Burt-Thomas, full-time freelancer, editor and PR specialist

“How do I handle burnout? Poorly. I have yet to find a good way to relieve my stress. I have a hard time “leaving work behind”. Since I am the only one here I feel if I don’t take care of a customer I’ll lose them. My laptop is never far away…even on vacation.” - Remy, RJF Marketing

“For me it’s taking a walk with my dog listening to the Oldies on my MP3 player. Next thing I know I’m singing to familiar lyrics and on a mental vacation to yesteryear. By the time I get home, 20 minutes later, I’m not only refreshed mentally but the walk and exercise has stimulated me and I’m ready to approach the tasks at hand.” - Jean Newell, Newco Enterprises, LLC

“My primary burnout buster is volunteering. I have been a JA volunteer for the past 5 years. It is a minimal time commitment, just an hour a week for a few weeks several times during the school year so it is easy to fit into my busy schedule. I find getting out of the office/home and seeing all those happy young faces is quite a boost. I also volunteer for other non profit organizations, giving of the skills I rarely get to use in my business or indulging in other passions this way. I love teaching and only very rarely get to do so in my business. JA and other groups meet this need for me.” - Jennifer Bowers, Rose Bridge Creations

“Working at home I do occasionally burn out. Many times I will just walk away from my desk even if for just a few minutes and maybe get outside for a short walk. When I’m really on edge I will get out of the house altogether.  Just going to the grocery store or walking around the mall often times will help.” - Katie, STROH’S Getaways

“My own practice has been to make time for recreation whether it’s simply 2 hours for a bike ride or (less frequently) a couple of weeks out of town. There’s always something hanging over me when I do it, but there will always be something hanging over me. I’ve found that getting physically tired instead of psychically drained is great therapy. It will also help stave off the hypertension and cardiac issues you’re headed for if you don’t do something about the stress and generally poor dietary habits that will destroy you and consequently your business” - Christopher Wright, Skypoint

“I get away and do something that takes my full concentration. My daughters and I ride, train and show horses. The best get-away is going to the pasture and riding. Horses know when you aren’t focused on them and they will make you pay attention. The fresh air, good company and activity do wonders to fix my burnout. It can be as little as 30 minutes or as much as a full day the effect is the same.” Suzette Flemming, Flemming Business Services

“I’ve been freelance writing for three years and have never felt burnout, frustration many times, but never burnout. I take breaks, and I need to write to maintain my sanity. I doubt I will ever reach burnout. I read and do book reviews, which in itself is a break from writing, hence avoiding burnout.” - R.J Medak, freelance writer

“I find the best way to handle burnout is to take a step back from my life. I have to force myself to do it, but when I do, I always come back so energized and rejuvenated. It doesn’t have to be some elaborate event, but it does have to be away from the computer, phone, and home! I just plan something solely for me - non work related, non family/house related - like a massage or a long lunch with a friend.  Spending those couple of hours on me helps to not only relieve stress, but to put things in perspective so I can better handle work and home when I get back!” - Carrie Bell, Madcapz

…stay tuned for Burnout Part 2.

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