9 Most Common Signs Of A Burnt Out Business Owner

Written by Donna Patterson

9 signs that you are burnt out

As a business owner, the last thing or person you think about is you. You always have things to do and fires to put out and that is including family and other social obligations.

Work/life balance is only for dreamers right?

It seems that you get stuck playing superhero but even superheroes need to recharge their power source if they want to save the world again.

9 Most Common Signs Of A Burnt Out Business Owner 1

 In the last blog, I shared 17  self care tips for business owners and the importance of taking time out for yourself to be truly productive and operate at peak performance.

In this blog, you will learn some signs to look out for to warn you when you are approaching the burn out zone.

Poor Concentration

9 Most Common Signs Of A Burnt Out Business Owner 2

   Your mind wanders.

Now there are times when you can get frustrated and overwhelmed. Even in those times, it can be hard to focus and get clarity around what you need to do in various aspects of your life and business.

However, these moments are temporary. When poor focus, poor clarity and poor concentration appear to occur over a lengthy time and getting progressively worse, then you are becoming stressed and burned out.

 You may find that it takes you 3 to 5 attempts just to read a paragraph,  then you are unable to absorb the contents.

It can take you 2 or more times as long to complete common tasks. It can cause you to make costly mistakes.

  Thus making you feel a lack of accomplishment and productivity. It can also lead to a feeling of incompetence, loss of enthusiasm and even depression.

“Can’t I do anything right?’’ might be a constant chorus in your head joining with the other verses of negative self talk.

It can really go downhill from there especially when compounded with the next sign of burnt out entrepreneurs.


Upset hispanic businessman thinking of problems Free Photo
Courtesy Kate Mangostar
Do you know what day it is?

 Now it is not to say that you have a photographic memory and will never forget something. However, as you become stressed to the limit, your memory starts failing especially your short term memory.

You start forgetting where you parked your car or where you put your keys. It can become worse with time so that you forget how to perform simple tasks.

Some studies suggest that stress can change the brain structure and even shrink your brain. Being burned out and chronic stress can kill brain cells and directly affect your memory.

Even minor stress can affect your short term memory. That can definitely affect your performance and the next sign does not help much either.

Tiredness/Lack of Energy

Are you energized and ready to work?

burned out , overworked  black woman sleep at the job

 You are exhausted, both physically, mentally and emotionally.

Whether it is a manifestation of stress or caused by poor sleep or a compromised immune system, you seem to lack energy or even enthusiasm to work on your business or anything in general.

Do you have to drag yourself out of bed every morning? Does that 24 hour day feel like there is no end?

 That lacklustre attitude and low energy level make working your business an uphill battle-more than it already is. It takes a long time for you to get into the working mode.

The worse thing is that you threaten your health even more by using high sugar snacks or dangerous energy drinks to give you the short bursts of energy just to get through the day.

 This is definitely a sign to pause for cause-REST.

Restless Sleep

Unhealthy asian female business owner suffers from insomnia and headache. Burned out
Tira Chardz

When last did you have a good night’s sleep without tossing?

   Some health professionals describe sleep trouble as any of the following:

  • Suffering from insomnia
  • Taking a long time to fall asleep
  • Waking up multiple times in the night
  • Waking up early and can’t fall back to sleep
  • Waking up tired
  • Feeling very sleepy during the day

The truth is your body needs quality sleep to facilitate healing and restoration of the entire body.

Studies show that sometimes the body just needs a good night’s sleep to alleviate minor health issues. The mind and body can simply be too wound up to allow peaceful sleep.

As business owners, we always have a  lot on our minds from tasks, to new ideas to problems to goals. Our minds are ticking like clocks but at times it keeps us from the much needed benefits of sleep.

Poor sleep creates health issues of its own such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease including the next sign.


 Stress creates areas of tension in the body which may be different for each person.       I think we all can remember the headache that lasts for days.

Wake up with a headache and go to bed with a headache. Pounding either at the back of the neck or at the temples. This is not referring to persons that suffer from migraines.

Herbert Freudenberger, the psychologist who coined the concept of burnout in 1974, cited frequent headaches as a physical characteristic of the disorder. (Source)

In such cases, I recommend drinking lots of water at room temperature and fruit juices. Get some rest.

In between, you can use a wet rag with cool water and if the pounding is really bad, I use ice wrapped in a towel.

Frequent Colds

 sick burned out male business owner

 Stress triggers the immune system negatively and along with other pathways increase inflammation which has been proven to be the base component of most lifestyle diseases.

It is easy to start with the sniffles and when ignored become something more serious. The greatest danger is that stress makes a normal illness more potent or rather more dangerous.

Stress is  not called the silent killer for nothing. It has earned its title as it can manifest as a number of diseases or a combination of illnesses. Even the next sign.

Joint Stiffness and Joint pain and Backpain

  An English Study found that because of financial stress, many business owners suffered from back and joint pain. Although the exact path is not understood, stress can cause joint stiffness and joint pain.

One thought is that stress causes inflammation which can  on reaching the bone structure felt as stiffness, soreness and pain. However, it should be noted that the prevalent form of arthritis observed in business owners is osteoarthritis which more associated with wear and tear.

relieve joint pain


Temper Flares

Everything gets under your skin and irritates you.

 As that pressure keeps mounting, your tolerance level lowers considerably. You never seem to be in a good mood, making the even Grouch look pleasant.

That short temper can strain or even ruin relationships. In addition to that, a lot burnt out business owners become negative nellies and quite cynical.

I am sure you don’t want everybody walking on eggshells around you.

Instead, catch yourself before the next temper tantrum and recharge, revive and restore your mind body and soul so that you can keep crushing it in your business without sacrificing your health and relationships.

Stomach Problems

 burnt out female business owner lying down with stomach pains
Courtesy Freepik

  There are several studies that show a direct link between the brain and the gut. Remember the last time you were nervous and you literally felt like your stomach had butterflies?

Similarly, all your emotions along with other health issues affect one of the most important organs in your body- your stomach. In many situations, it is the starting point for many illnesses in the body.

This can range from constipation, heartburn, indigestion, irritable bowel disease, stomach pains. Nausea to diarrhoea. There is no specific symptom that one can point to since it is based on the individual and several factors.

When you are burned out, you are usually not eating properly. Even if you ate well, when stressed, you won’t be able to fully digest your food and absorb the nutrients.

Just as a side note, there are foods that can calm your nerves, fuel you, feed your brain, reduce inflammation and ease your tummy problems. More about that next time.

Time to check yourself.

  I am sure you can add to this list and feel free to do so in the comments section. The items listed here are from my own experiences and those of my clients. Most of which work a full time job while building their businesses. So time is crucial.

Even so, you still need to take the time to learn yourself so you can know what is normal and not normal for you.

Then slowly add selfcare strategies to your routine so you can keep moving forward in your life and business.

Remember you are your greatest asset and are worth it.

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