It running a business is serious business. As an entrepreneur you often have dozens of balls in the air and work more hours than the average employee.

We therefore often see it; entrepreneurs with burnout complaints. Poor sleep, concentration problems and physical injuries are just a few examples of this.

In the longer term, of course, this cannot be sustained and one day that proverbial man will arrive with the hammer.

But how do you actually prevent this? And what do you do when you've already gone too far? We ask Chantalle Weemaes, expert in personal energy management and founder of TopState; the training institute in the Netherlands that focuses on the brain and biochemistry.

In this blog we are not going to tell you to just slow down. We explain how you can really come to a solution!

The cause of burnout complaints

To tackle a problem, you first need to know what caused it.

“To put it simply, burnout complaints arise because you as a person are not (sufficiently) able to complete your 'triangles'.” said Weemaes.

“By the term 'triangles' I mean the resilience to recover sufficiently as a person after an action. Two factors play an important role in a burnout or related symptoms. First of all our action-hormone balance and secondly the time factor. I would like to explain this on the basis of figure 1 below.”

“Every effort, thought or activity causes action hormones to be produced. Whether you put the shower on the coldest setting, have a normal conversation with someone or worry about something.

These action hormones ensure that you can do this action, you are physically prepared. Depending on the amount, your body experiences stress reactions.

Now the trick is to bring your body back to the baseline after each of these moments and to neatly finish your triangles. Many people are not aware of this, which is why the situation in figure 2 arises.”

“Complaints arise when the baseline is no longer reached for a while because triangles are not completed sufficiently. They start stacking these triangles, as it were, and a disruption occurs in the biochemical system. This starts small and (seemingly) innocent. You are a bit more irritable, often have headaches or get injuries. Over time, concentration problems, sleeping problems and often the first sick reports arise. Over time, your body (and mind) begins to falter further and frequent absenteeism arises, eventually leading to burnout and long-term absenteeism. If you recognize these symptoms, know that it is time for action!”

How do you prevent burnout complaints?

So resilience seems to be the magic word. It is all about the ability of someone to recover sufficiently from stress reactions.

As the Van Dale resilience is so beautifully expressed: 'the strength of body and mind to recover quickly'. Chantalle has some tips to prevent burnout complaints.

“To 'finish' triangles and recover from stress reactions, it is essential to get a grip on your brain and biochemistry. That's what I train people in. To achieve this, it is important that you feel/experience how your triangles manifest themselves and when you have or have not 'finished' them as in figure 1. Do not hide signals such as irritability, injuries or other complaints. Listen to it and take action to stay balanced.”

When asked what people can do, Chantalle has countless examples.

“Your energy is the success factor behind your work. To keep this in balance, it is first of all important to find out where your energy leaks are. For example, think about your sleep, is it sufficient and of a high quality? But also the way in which you can let go of things, find peace, perfectionism or dare to ask for help from others are good examples of factors that play a role in this.

It is not the case that you immediately have to work fewer hours; I know plenty of entrepreneurs who work a lot of hours, but are always able to recover. It can always happen that you 'stack' triangles over a certain period of time, but that's okay. As long as you are able to bring them back to the baseline in the foreseeable future.”   

(Re)programming your brain!

Now you can of course look for a hobby to switch off, follow a training to let go of things or hire a coach. It is also a tip to read the book 'The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck!' by Mark Manson. However, Chantalle has another idea: (re)programming your brain and balancing your biochemistry!

“In our TopState course I train entrepreneurs to get a grip on their brain and biochemical processes. What many people don't know is that these can be programmed, they are very plastic systems. Before the training starts, we take a psychophysiological measurement in which we look at reactions from the autonomic nervous system that map your resilience and energy. We do this on the basis of your skin conductance, hand temperature, temperature, heart rate, muscle tension and breathing. We trace your basic tension, your reaction to a mental effort and how your recovery capacity is. During the training you will then learn to control your biochemical processes yourself so that you always have the right amount of energy at your disposal. You learn to control the correct energy distribution in your body and to stimulate your autonomic nervous system in a favorable way. Once you have mastered this, it is important to switch off or adjust your energy-consuming brain programs yourself. At the end of the training you will be able to (re)program your brain and say goodbye to your complaints for good.”

Burned out? This is how you prevent the JoJo Burnout!

In some cases, however, it is too late and you may already have a burnout, a major disruption. There are also entrepreneurs or professionals who have experienced a burnout for a second time. Chantalle calls this a 'JoJo burnout'. “You didn't recover enough in your first burnout, you didn't go to the true baseline. Take the example in Figure 3.”

“The orange line indicates the recovery period and shows that someone is gradually returning to a recovered situation. I regularly see that professionals and certainly entrepreneurs are reintegrating too quickly. They then put the gas back on too quickly. In addition, someone has not been given the right tools to reintroduce resilience into their brain and biochemistry. Then you have to wait for it to go wrong again. Grip on these two systems ensures sustainable results”

Bee No Monkey Business As entrepreneurs, we have all experienced what it is like to deal with stress and pressure. If you would like to spar sometime, please let us know.

It is good to know that Chantalle regularly gives tips & tricks with catchy vlogs and blogs. Follow her via to never miss anything again. Don't wait until it's too late! Your role as an entrepreneur, and in many cases employer, is far too important for that.