Today’s entrepreneurs have a lot on their plates. Brain therapy apps combined with work/life balance may offer the solution.
A few years ago, a Wall Street Journal article citing a Harvard Medical School study said that 96% of senior leaders identified as being somewhat burned out, and a third of them felt it was extreme. That’s a lot of burnout, and there’s no reason to think the problem has shrunk since then. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid and treat burnout in entrepreneurs, including one that’s becoming more and more popular: brain therapy.
Before you can treat burnout, you need to identify it. Most people know when they’re burned out, but they may not realize just how much it’s affecting their work and life.
In college you might have said, “I’m a hard worker. I work until 4 am so that I never miss a deadline.” Only, the result was subpar work because you procrastinated until midnight or took on too much without asking for help. It’s easy to burn out when “last minute” is your go-to.
Working until 4 am may have gotten you a “wow” in college, but when you’re running a business where clients and employees are on the line, burning out isn’t admirable. It puts your business at risk.
As an entrepreneur, it’s hard not to reach the burnout stage, even if you’re not awake, working until 4 am every night (or maybe you are). Work can consume you and seem like your entire world. After all, you’re in charge of keeping this boat afloat.
Burnout manifests in many ways, but some common symptoms of burnout are things like feeling utterly exhausted no matter how much sleep you get, feeling regularly overwhelmed with work-related issues, lack of appetite, and anxiety attacks, among other things. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to take a step back from your work and try to incorporate self-care rituals into your daily habits.
Self-care looks like lots of different things. It can be as simple as stepping out of the office to get some fresh air, going away for a vacation (and turning your cell phone off), or spending a weekend with your family to recharge. But sometimes burnout can become so extreme that even a vacation isn’t enough to get you back up to speed. That’s where brain therapy comes in.
What is brain therapy?
Brain therapy refers to apps and programs designed to improve working memory function by boosting memory and information processing skills. To put it simply, it improves cognitive function through playing video games. Commonly used to treat ADHD in children, brain therapy may be equally as useful in treating entrepreneurial burnout.
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A recent study by Jesse Mark at Drexel University sums up the effectiveness of brain therapy for entrepreneurs. This study found that the more difficult a task is, the harder the brain works, which translates to a greater ability to perform difficult tasks in real life. In other words, by taking the time to engage with these apps, entrepreneurs can enhance their capacity to handle high functioning tasks, which can then help to reduce burnout.
Right brain therapy
There is another kind of brain therapy that focuses specifically on the right side of the brain because that’s where psychological and emotional distress is expressed. The idea is that expression through music, writing, or other art forms can help a person overcome whatever is causing the anxiety. Typically used for patients with severe issues like PTSD, activating the right brain for burned out entrepreneurs can help them process the root of the burnout as well as identify the ways in which they need to take care of themselves emotionally and physically as opposed to theoretically and practically (left brain function).
In addition to brain therapy, burned out entrepreneurs need to seek a healthy work/life balance. Take vacations when you can. Eat during the day and try to cut back on the caffeine. Spend social time with family and friends without turning to look at your mobile device every five minutes. (Better yet, don’t look at it at all.) Treat yourself occasionally. Even spending an afternoon outside can help to improve digestion, lower blood pressure, and make you feel happier, resulting in more energy and better cognitive function.
Whatever you choose for work/life balance, make sure that it’s a balance. If you’re working 80 hours a week, spending five minutes outside isn’t going to do that much for your health (though it’s better than nothing). Make 40-50 hours of work per week your goal and work towards it by adhering to a strict schedule, even if only temporarily to get you over the burnout. When the work day ends, leave the office. Surely you’ll have a million things still on your mind, but it’s crucial to leave them until morning if you’re going to get back on track and feel like yourself again.
And that’s really what brain therapy and work/life balance are all about for the burned-out entrepreneur: feeling like the person you were before you got caught up in your job. Your dedication and sacrifice for your business are admirable, but they don’t do you any good if they inhibit your ability to function. Spend some time with some stimulating brain therapy apps, spend some time smelling the proverbial roses, and see how it not only rescues you from complete exhaustion but how it improves the business you’ve worked so hard to build.