A moment of pause and recharge is necessary if you are to survive your entrepreneurial journey.
Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post + Thrive Global, knows this all too well.
Soon after dramatically scaling the Huffington Post, she experienced profound burnout.
In April 2007, Arianna collapsed from sleep deprivation and exhaustion, broke her cheekbone, and woke up in a pool of blood. Horrific!
It is how she came to found Thrive Global, a platform to promote well-being.
She recalled the events in 2017 via a Medium post titled, “10 Years Ago I Collapsed From Burnout and Exhaustion, And It’s The Best Thing That Could Have Happened To Me.”
I get it…you’re not an Arianna Huffington. You’re not running a successful publishing company to the scale of the Huffington Post. You don’t share your time between your family, kids, high-profile meetings, and interviews while making decisions in all of these areas of your life, all at once. And you’re not flying across the country to attend events and meetings with investors etc.
At least, not right now anyway.
No, you’re not at the level that Huffington was when she burned out, but make no mistake, it doesn’t take all of that to get you to experience burnout, and realize that you need to pause and recharge.
In fact, at this very moment, given the circumstances we’ve been in for the last three to four months, you might be experiencing a level of stress that equals the busyness that leads to burnout.
The only difference is that other factors besides productivity are contributing to it. Stress, anxiety, grief, lack of sleep…get my drift? A much-needed break is overdue!
You can easily get overwhelmed with everything going on. It weighs heavily and you can feel the physical separation and global divisiveness.
Neurologist Dr. Konstantinos Petsanis worries most about mental health in this time. He says, “Mental health repercussions regarding what is happening during this pandemic for people, today and beyond, will really be a problem in general…stress behavior for many, many people brings a lot of problems.”
My own true testimony culminated two weeks ago after the death of one of my cousins. It was totally unexpected and not COVID-19 related, but it made me realize how truly fragile I’d become in the space of a few weeks, although I was buried in my work.
From the beginning of this pandemic, I’ve been feeling amped and unable to sleep well. This drastic life change that we’re all experiencing at the same time was new and I chalked it up to anxiety from having to #stayhome.
I relaunched an old initiative during the pandemic and dived in at full speed, spending all of my time trying to ‘get ahead’.
Competing in the virtual space by going live on social media, and creating courses, and attending virtual events, thankfully was not something I thought I had to do once the pandemic started, and thank God!
You did? Yea, it’s ok to admit it!
Instead, I concentrated on doing what I love most – writing! This comes easy to me and I did not think I was doing enough. I wanted to do more.
Although I’m a person that believes in work-life balance and practiced it consistently all through my entrepreneurial journey, being at home permanently now presented a different set of rules that I fell victim to.
I ramped up my work, forcing myself to meet self-imposed deadlines, overbooking, and stretching myself thin, sometimes working until 10 pm nightly.
I would even wake at 4 am and go hard because I had an idea that I needed to get on right away, and who knew how long this pandemic would last. I got caught in a loop.
Less sleep ➡ wake up exhausted the next day ➡ stress ➡ caffeine/poor eating ➡ another late night ➡ REPEAT!
However, last week, when I received the news that my cousin passed away, I felt the whole world crashing in on me.
After ten years of dealing with grief and loss, nothing’s changed, and amid this pandemic when everyone has lost and is still losing so much, I felt overwhelmed for myself, and everyone else.
We’ve been dealing with a lot. Too much, really, in a short space of time.
I cried and I felt like giving up!
It was then that I reminded myself that even if I stopped serving as I do, the world would continue to turn. It wouldn’t stop just because I’ve stopped.
I was producing an event for a client at the end of that week and 6 hours before it went live, I asked them to postpone it.
Not just on account of my mental and emotional state, but technical issues would have hampered a good show.
Thankfully, they agreed, and I disconnected from everyone and everything. I took some time to meditate and watched comedies back to back. Then I headed out of town with a friend for a quick day trip and enjoyed the cooking of someone else for a change.
I returned refreshed and re-calibrated. Two days of rest is all it took. It was an awakening!
As an entrepreneur it is easy to fall into a cycle of ‘do more’ and ‘always on’, but if you are to survive this journey, you must take a pause and recharge to continue to operate at your peak. And also, just admit that you don’t have the extra bandwidth.
So, here are 5 ways to pause and recharge if you want to survive your entrepreneurial journey.
1.Define your working and non-working hours and working and non-working spaces
In this time with the new working arrangements of being forced to work from home, the lines are blurred when it comes to clearly defining your workspace and hours. The flexibility of being able to work at anytime is great, but you must have a start and cutoff point to your working hours.
Also, if you live in New York, you may live in a 450 sq ft apartment that does not provide much room to breathe, but you should still define a separate work area. This could easily mean not working from the couch or bed, and getting a desk. Easy peasy, right!
2.Stop Reading/Listening to News
Staying abreast of news is smart and necessary. However, in times like this news can be continuously devastating and takes a toll on your mental health without you even recognizing it. Besides, nothing really changes in the news from day-to-day. So stay away! No need to overload unless it’s good news!
3.Stop Thinking You Have to Keep Up with Others
It’s easy to fall victim to continuous scrolling on Instagram and Facebook that we classify as research or engagement. This can easily turn from observation and intrigue to an obsession with keeping up with those who seemingly have more success than you do. You are on your designed path, and everything meant for you will manifest. No need to think you have to keep up with others. It’s a thin line! So beware!
4.Practice Self-Care in Microsteps
Arianna Huffington suggests this:
Spend 60 seconds to 3 minutes each day on a “Microstep” — a brief self-care activity that will help you be healthier, happier, more relaxed, or more mindful. Then stick with it for 32 days, which will be easy because it’s such a small commitment.
5.Find a Hobby
Learning new software or setting up social media posts is not what I mean.
Find and do something brainless. This could be watching your fave TV show to building puzzles, something I enjoy to the max. Maybe you have kids. Engage in an entertaining game with them.
I’ve found that spending time on brainless activities actually makes me more creative. (just a tip)
And there you have it! 5 simple things you can begin adapting today to help you survive your entrepreneurial journey. If you intend to be in it for the long haul, you would need to, so just start anyway.
Mellany Paynter, Howard University Graduate with a degree in Civil Engineering, Author, Founder and CEO of All About The Sisters, a digital wellness platform for women of color. She is a Founding Partner/Director of Operations for the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival. Mellany is a Creative Entrepreneur who combines her passion for writing, project management and wellness to help individuals tell their stories through print and digital works. You can reach Mellany via her website www.mellanypaynter.com or connect on social media channels @mellmotivates