Startup stress: How an unexpected source can help prevent burnout

A burnout happens to others, not to me. Or that’s what I used to think.

I run a startup and while stress is abundant, I love my work. Outside of work, I also keep up my social life active. And things went fine.

Until five weeks ago.

Focusing suddenly became a problem. My brain started feeling like a blender that turns and turns and doesn’t stop. Simple tasks like going to the supermarket were a burden.

Another two days and my hand started shaking.

That’s when I googled burnout.

Time to slow down

It didn’t take long to see that I showed typical warning signs: always thinking about work, not being able to stand still, trouble falling asleep, caring less about what I eat, and, of course, the shaking hands.

It was a shock. But, there was good news too.

I read that we can keep a burnout at bay if we manage to slow down and not think of work in short pauses of 30 minutes a day.

Slowing down is good advice. But how do you actually do that? Finding out was the hardest part.

Here’s what I wrote on the board next to my apartment door:
kitchen board

I played guitar. I went for walks. I read a bit. It helped but it didn’t solve the problem. And I couldn’t keep it up. Looking back, I don’t find that surprising. A spiral is hard to get out of. That’s why we get caught in it in the first place.

So, what to do?

Keep on looking. Keep trying things. And not just the obvious ones: because help can come from unexpected sources.

Here’s my unexpected source:
filter jug

It’s my new filter jug.

I bought it last week because the fixed filter on my kitchen tap made the water flow too slow. Washing the dishes, making coffee, pouring water for cooking – it had all become a pain. I stopped cooking all together. The dishes piled up and I no longer looked forward to coming back home.

I never thought of the jug as a real solution. But the water flowed and it made such a difference. I found myself spending time in the kitchen again: I cooked for myself and I did the dishes. And because of it I enjoy being home again. And it didn’t stop there. The good effect spiraled into my working life. I find the time again to plan, to focus and to finish tasks.

This little jug, it’s an unexpected blessing.

Should you read this because you have early signs of burnout too: your blessing will of course be a different one. But there is one. And if you haven’t found it yet, keep on looking.

You will find it. Try things. Experiment a little. Keep on looking.

Have you experienced burnout? How do you deal with it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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CEO & Co-founder of Addapp. I love tracking, coffee, anything cooked
by my mom, startups, and quantified self.

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3 Comments

  1. I do trust all of the concepts you’ve introduced in your post.
    They are really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief for novices.
    May you please prolong them a bit from next time?
    Thank you for the post.

    1. Kouris Kalligas

      Thanks Launa for your comment and suggestion! Appreciate it!

  2. You really make it appear so easy along with your presentation however
    I in finding this topic to be actually something which I believe I’d by no means understand.
    It seems too complicated and extremely vast for me. I am taking a look forward to your subsequent
    put up, I will try to get the grasp of it!

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