Emotional Stress: How to Avoid Founder Burn Out

Startup founders manage emotional stress

It’s exciting at first: you’ve got your own startup! But the long hours and emotional stress can take a heavy toll. Here’s how to avoid founder burnout.

When people think of creating a startup, they think about the time they need to invest.

That’s a no-brainer — after all, it takes a ton of time to invent, launch, and maintain a business. There are sales to think about, plus staff, payment, products, social media…it can all become a whirlwind of stress.

One thing that people don’t think about, though, is emotional stress.

However, if you’re a startup founder, you know about emotional stress. You know how intense it can be to tie yourself to a business, and you know how invested founders can get when the business does well or not so well. The business, in a way, becomes a representation of your emotional state, rocking back and forth with the tide like a boat in a storm.

That’s why it’s important to reckon with and treat your emotional state with care — otherwise, you risk burning out and losing much more than your business.  (If you’re new to all of this, be sure to signup to get access to the business startup checklist!!).

Let’s talk about emotional stress and how you can avoid founder burnout.

How Founders Feel Emotional Stress

Many people might not think creating a startup is an emotional job, but they couldn’t be more wrong.

We like to think of it like raising a child. When you have a baby, your entire life is now invested in raising that baby. From its first steps to its first words (and onwards into puberty and college and jobs), you’re there every step of the way. In this process, it’s impossible not to feel connected to that child.

A startup is the same way — you create the business, you figure out its mission and vision, you staff it, and you launch it. That seems like the end of the job, the “launch,” but this is far from the end. In fact, this is only the beginning.

Our guide exists to help you figure out how to combat the emotional stress that comes along with founding a startup. Try some of these in your everyday life to keep your emotions healthy and in check.

Untie Yourself

We know it’s tough, but hear us out: you need to untie yourself from your startup.

The startup is your baby, and you want to be there for every event. Unfortunately, doing this creates a huge strain on your life and emotions. You feel the fluctuations in your business and a bad day can create a bad mood for you that lasts hours, even days.

What you need to do is take yourself away. Don’t invest your entire life in your startup. The entirety of your existence is not your business.

If you’re able to take some time away from your business and instead direct that time into things that matter to you like hobbies, family, and exercise, you’re able to moderate the emotions that come along with a startup. This is an essential part of avoiding burnout.

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Exercising isn’t just great for your physical fitness but for your mental fitness also.

Whether it’s running on a treadmill, lifting some weights, or simply taking a walk in a park, exercising can help maintain your mental fortitude and keep your emotions in check. This is a time to redirect your energy from emotional stress into something productive like creating a healthier body and mind.  I find myself “in the thick of it”, wired in, and focused on the task at hand; however, I do try to break the constant sitting.  Many times, I will walk around while on phone calls to keep the body moving along with the mind.

Make sure you’re getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, 5 days a week — you’ll be amazed at the results.

Meditate in Silence

One thing that we, as human beings, don’t get enough of is silence.

We’re constantly moving, talking on cell phones or to business partners or walking through crowded intersections. There’s rarely a moment to sit in the quiet of midday and just think.

However, moments of meditation like this can be immensely helpful for maintaining a healthy level of emotional stress. The practice restores your “inner calm,” and can provide you a peaceful feeling that spills over into the rest of your day. Taking a moment can calm you down not just for a second but for hours upon end.

Don’t Be Afraid To Enjoy

“Enjoy what?” you might ask. 

Anything. Don’t be afraid to enjoy anything that you enjoy.

The reason that many people burn out on things like healthy diets and exercise is because they don’t give themselves the option to cheat. They think that cheating on a diet means they’ve failed, but experts actually say having some “forbidden” enjoyment is a good thing

Sometimes, you need to take a break and do something you enjoy with no regrets or bad feelings. Whether that’s taking in a delicious meal, watching some guilty pleasure movies, or even just sleeping in, you need time to yourself to do the things you enjoy. Doing so can both prevent and treat burnout.

Rethink Your Support System

Not everyone is great at supporting people who display emotional stress.

It can be tough to support people, but this just means that you need to reevaluate who you go to for support. Do the people you turn to tell you to suck it up or “be a man?” These kinds of perspectives can be toxic for people under emotional stress, and often they do more harm than good.

Instead, take a look at your support system and figure out who you can go to. If this means dropping certain relationships and reinvigorating others, so be it.  If you have a co-founder, lean on that person and be open about your struggle.

Your emotional state is important both to your business and to yourself and your sanity, so don’t be afraid to foster it.

Communicate Your Emotions

We know this one is really hard, but bear with us.

Society has taught us that talking about your feelings is a sign of weakness. However, talking through your feelings can be a great way of coming to terms with emotional stress and conquering the bad things in your mind. Don’t be afraid to be emotionally intelligent.

Bottom Line

Whether it’s exercise, support, or simple silence, there are a lot of ways to work through emotional stress in your life and your business. Don’t let founder burnout affect your startup.