Career Woman

Essential tips for women to avoid startup burnout


These days, the consensus may be that the workplace equality teeters much closer to a fair balance than it did 5 years ago, but women still face pervasive impediments to their success in the form of workplace stress and burnout. The American Institute of Stress reports that an average 72% of an individual’s stress is work related (20% juggling work with personal lives, 6% lack of job security, and 46% workload.)

Unfortunately, this is an area where gender equality remains fixed to the horizon. The exhaustive research employed by Montreal University in 2018, where 2,026 working adults were tracked throughout their professional lives over a period of 4 years, explains the unfortunate conclusion: women are more likely to suffer work burnout than men

In their paper, “Understanding the Burnout Experience,” Dr. Maslach and Dr. Leiter define burnout succinctly. Burnout is a true psychological syndrome that emerges as a prolonged response to chronic interpersonal stressors on the job. They point to three key components of the ‘burnout response:’ ( i.) Overwhelming exhaustion,

( ii.) feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job, and ( iii.) a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

The research is clear in another area as well. There is an ominous link of comorbidity between mental illness and workplace burnout. While it is difficult, and indeed inconclusive, to draw causal links between such statistics of correlation, experts agree that the factors contributing to burnout are often elevated or exacerbated by the occupational conditions within the startup environment.

“Our results show there are differences between men and women because, from the outset, employees are subject to different working conditions depending on their gender,” said Montreal University study author and professor of population health, Dr Nancy Beauregard.

“Indeed, female employees often burn out at a faster rate simply because of the nature of their work. Often due to the fact that many women have positions that offer little latitude in decision-making, meaning that their work only provides them with a low level of authority and decision-making power and makes little use of their skills.”

While these studies certainly illuminate an alarming perspective, they also shed light on the paths to preventing and intervening in the burnout epidemic.

Health first, always

With studies pointing to the potential of bleak outcomes for female entrepreneurs and startup employees, the first and most crucial tip for avoiding burnout is to make a simple choice and commit to the value-proposition: value your health above any potentially toxic work environments where you might find yourself. With the looming threat of heart disease and stress-induced mental illness, forcing yourself to bear the brunt of burnout in order to reach performance goals is simply not sustainable.

Not every business endeavor is black and white, however, and it may be difficult at times to ascertain the line between burnout and simply working hard. That is why taking control of your health is a crucial element in combating burnout. Maintaining a healthy body and mind will not only help you combat the effects of burnout, but it can help prevent them entirely in the first place.

In the above-mentioned studies, a perceived lack of agency is a commonly reported catalyst for burnout. So if you are unable to find your footing of control at your place of work, then make sure to double-down on being the boss of your own body–by doing so you will be removing a major precursor of burn out from your lifestyle.

Control what you can, let go what you can’t

This may sound like a bumper sticker, but the simplest truths are often the most universally applicable. So it should be no surprise this notion is the cornerstone of the Serenity Prayer, a mantra of self-improvement and mindfulness that’s seen use across countless belief traditions, both secular and otherwise. With that in mind, now it’s time to look at why it’s so important for women to find their own personal areas of authority within their role or position.

Workplace burnout in women is often attributed to feeling a lack of meaning in their work, which is similarly associated with feeling a loss of control in the work environment, but ironically this same feeling of meaningless can present in your startup’s resident control-freaks.

What this means is, that when combating burnout it’s not necessarily what you control in your work environment, but how you relate to it. And while a feeling of being out of control may often lend itself to a condition of burnout, being in control isn’t necessarily the answer either. More specifically, in order to combat burnout, it may be necessary to find creative ways to deepen bonds with your work routine, finding ways to relate to various aspects of your work, whether they be within your realm of control or without.

For instance, if you find yourself involved in the website development of your startup, while having no prior web development experience, you may find yourself eager to pass on the task of choosing a domain name, researching hosting services, or making design choices. It is 2019, however, and the barrier-to-entry to the more basic sides of web-development have all but been removed. Many of the newer hosting tools allow even the most novice of designers to take full-authority in making the website for their startup. Don’t just take my word for it, you can find numerous examples here .

In this case, an area that would otherwise have been simultaneously outside your realm of control and outside your sphere of personal investment, instead became a facet of your creativity and an object of your passion. While not everyone will find the appeal of web development, the moral of the story holds true. To combat the ever looming threat of burnout, its essential to plant roots of passion and personal fulfillment throughout your startup experience–be that as the CEO or the accountant.

The big-takeaway: Mindfulness

After covering the bases for avoiding startup-burnout, there is an overarching theme that can be seen as the subtext to each of the above tips. So much of what constitutes burnout, and how an individual gets there, is combated by the tenets of mindfulness. Maintaining a simple awareness of what burnout actually is, and how it may put women at an elevated risk in startups, may be all it takes to keep you, a friend, or a loved one on the right track of health and success.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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