Burnout can sneak up on you; watch for these signs

Research shows that only 2 percent of women-owned companies break the million-dollar mark. My company, Interactive Ink Inc., was one of that 2 percent.

While I enjoyed many aspects of running a successful company like bringing on partners and employees, doing groundbreaking work and eventually selling the business, my professional success was coupled with the kind of severe personal stress that eventually led me to crash and nearly burn.

It took me years to truly find myself, love my life again and actually feel successful. I know many women can relate to the stress of running a company or climbing the corporate ladder while balancing their careers, health, family and everything else that goes into life.

Signs of burnout

Burnout happens slowly over time. In fact, you may realize that you are under pressure but true burnout can creep up on you without knowing it until it’s too late.

I knew my creativity was being stifled. I was slowly giving away my power as a coping mechanism. I opted to focus on the “work” of the business in lieu of taking care of myself.

I experienced slight feelings of dread thinking about all the meetings I had to participate in. I had trouble sleeping due to worry and overload of tasks that needed to be done. I sometimes was depressed on Sunday night knowing I had to return to the office the next day.

I wondered about the meaning of it all. What really was “success”?

Manage your energy

I unknowingly allowed myself to experience burnout. Looking back, here are a few things I wish I had done then, which would have helped me to manage my energy and feel successful along the way.

  • Breathe. It’s very common for people to dive into a project or answer emails for a long time and not really breathe well. Instead of just forging ahead, taking 60 seconds to breathe deeply actually helps productivity. There are even apps that remind us to stop what we are doing and breathe.
  • Be creative. We are all creative. Activating your divine creative spark enhances all areas of your life. Take a writing class. Learn to paint. Take a mandala doodles class. Go for a walk. Take pictures with your phone, knit, blog, bake, cook, garden — it doesn’t matter what it is, being creative for one day a month can and will change your life.
  • Be confident in who you are and speak up. I was in a male-dominated industry and found myself not speaking up as much over time. I took things too personally and it took a toll on my self-esteem, which I have now regained after hearing other women share similar stories.
  • Meditate. Turn everything off for a few minutes a day. Just be silent.
  • Find your spiritual self. Read inspirational books, go to church, find a community of people who celebrate the spiritual aspects of life — whatever that means for you.
  • Remain true to yourself.


Kathy Rausch is an entrepreneur and speaker, with more than 25 years experience in digital media. Kathy founded Interactive Ink Inc., a multimillion-dollar company that was sold in 2007. Today she helps entrepreneurs with online marketing through her company TekMiss.com.

She also wrote “Activate Divine Creativity: The Life-Changing Magic of the Mandala” to help women be mindful and find joy. She attributes being creative and finding her spiritual path to saving her life. She’s been painting, drawing, doodling and creating mandalas since 2000.