Business, Burnout and Depression

Are you a small business owner suffering from depression? You’re not alone.
 
Depression comes in many forms; simple to complex, situational to chronic. For business owners, work-to-life ratio, brain productivity breaks, and nutrition are key. Most business owners I work with are highly stressed, take little or no time away from work, and eat poor quality food regularly (even if at restaurants). Depression is simply a natural byproduct of burning out the body physically and mentally.
​What to do? Here are a few simple steps I recommend to my busy clients:
 

Step 1: ​​Step Away From Work Every Hour

 
Optimal brain health demands regular rest for short periods. It’s literally like hitting the reset button. Some studies suggest that highest productivity is achieved by walking away from your computer and work for 17 minutes after every 52 minutes of work.
One simple way to increase happiness is to take up space…..as much space as possible….as if you also matter.  Taking up space sends a number of messages to your inner psyche that you are big, powerful, worthy,  and ready.  This simple technique relieves stress in as little as two minutes.  Sit in a chair and stretch out in all directions, or whatever works in your work environment.
 

​Step 2: Engage in Resilience Building Activities Daily

 
​Exercise, go to museums, knit, meditate, and learn practical tools that help decrease stress in the moment. Best yet, learn how to act instead of react in response to every day stress.
 

​Step 3: Clean up your daily nutrition

You are what you eat. There’s plenty of evidence showing that the food you eat every day can contribute or take away from your ability to think and feel your way through life.  
If you’re eating a Standard American Diet, take immediate action to reverse course.  The SAD diet is loaded with sugar and processed foods, all of which diminish productivity, slow metabolism, and directly impact your ability to think (or not).  Sugar mounts a direct assault on the endocrine system starting in the gut.  90% of the hormone Serotonin that regulate sleep and positive mood is created in your stomach; sugar and chemicals in processed foods literally destroy the environment needed to guard against depression.  On the flip side, eating clean greens promote a healthy stomach microbiome necessary for Serotonin development, endocrine function, sleep, mood, staying alert and aware, and focusing to your highest capacity.
​Best to address sooner than later, before chronic burnout becomes a serious mental health condition or worse.
More about how Sugar + Stress = Sick
Work with a Coach to Maximize Productivity: Coaching
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Amp Productivity and Relieve Stress: A Positive Action Plan

a goal without a plan is just a wish on blackboard
a goal without a plan is just a wish on blackboard

Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.
Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog

 

A Plan is a form of positive action.  Though it can feel overwhelming in the beginning if you’re unfamiliar with what you’re planning, push through. You can do it.  And when you do, you’ll see your productivity rise and stress reduce.

 

Get Started: Let Stream of Consciousness Lead

Start by writing about everything that is causing you stress.  Put everything that comes to mind down on paper; stream of consciousness style. Don’t stop writing until you feel you’ve gotten everything out, and have given a full description of the situation of concern.  This is your process.  What you write need not be seen by anyone, so have at it.  The less you hold back, the more creative solutions will present themselves.

 

Walk away for a while

Stay away and clear your mind for a minimum of 10-15 minutes.  When you return, you’ll organize and prioritize your thoughts, making steps to achieve each.

 

Return to your list

Identify what you can do yourself, what you can delegate, what you don’t have enough information about, and what you might need professional help with.  Prioritize what you think needs doing sooner than later, what is more important and less so.  Don’t concern yourself with how achievable the plan is in the short run.  Just make your plan.

 

Get organized

Now take each priority and break it down. Write out as many steps as necessary to achieve each priority of your plan. Don’t feel like it all needs to get done in one sitting now.  Gather all the information you need, for as-long-as it takes.

Check to see if your resulting list conforms to a SMART goal formula; Specific, can be Measured tangibly, are Attainable (don’t involve time travel for instance), are Realistic (without limiting imagination), and have a Timeframe for completion (so you can be accountable to your self).  Then take the extra step of identifying someone you can share your goals with who is non-judgmental, yet strong about helping you stay on track.

Caution: If whatever is triggering stress is urgent, safely address those immediate concerns. You can start by contacting me for help.  If you have a mental health emergency, seek professional help immediately.

 

Act and Let it Go

Just the process of organizing your thoughts and putting them down on paper gives your plan a higher chance of succeeding. People who check in with friends or a coach regularly increase their chances significantly (see below).  Make a written plan and you can feel comforted by the fact that you’re significantly increasing your chance of success.  Then, simply allow the plan to be.  Soon you find that people come into your life that will assist you down the path you wish to follow.

 

Celebrate Your Success

Celebrating success is an important step that many miss.  When you celebrate, your sending a positive message to your self that reinforces confidence for the road ahead.  If you leave that part out, living as if your hard work counts for nothing, you are reinforcing feelings of worthlessness or futility.  So make certain that you include celebration as part of your plan. Decide in advance what you will do for your self once you reach your destination.

 

Still Have Doubts About the Value of Written Plans?

In 2007, Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University in California did a study of students who tracked goal achievement comparing groups who wrote down their goals to those who didn’t.  There was a 42% increase in goal achievement when a written plan is in place.  That rises to an amazing 78% increase when regular accountability is part of the effort.

 

When and Where to Get Help with Plans

Not everyone is great at making plans.  There are many pitfalls and personal challenges that can seem to stand in the way.  For instance, some do better achieving goals only when there’s some accountability in the mix.  Whether you’re looking for assisting pulling the pieces of your plan together, or could use an accountability partner for a plan you have in place, contact me.  As a 5th Degree Black Belt, I’m qualified to do both.

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