As a business owner, Dr. Serenity Aberdour, ND knows that starting a business can be stressful; as a naturopathic doctor she can also offer some expert advice. Here are her 6 tips to stay ahead of burnout:
As a naturopathic doctor working in a major city, I see my fair share of stressed out patients. As a small business owner, I also know what it is like to be under constant stress to keep a business afloat, especially in its early years. A little stress is fine; it keeps us on our toes and can help with focus and motivation. But too much stress, well that’s just bad news for the body. I often find myself dealing with the effects of chronic stress in my patients, and every year I see at least a few who are either in full blown “burn out” or teetering just on the edge of it. This has given me much needed insight into natural approaches to offset the effects of stress. Here are some of my top tips for staying ahead of a burnout:
6 Tips to Prevent Business Owner Burnout
1. Chill Out
It sounds obvious and simple, but it can be incredibly hard to carve out a little “chill time” when you are busy juggling work, family, friends etc. But it is crucial that we take time, each day, to unplug from the go go go of stress. Our stress response evolved as a way to keep us alive when we were in a fight or flight situation, it was never meant to last all day, every day. As a result, our bodies do not do well with ongoing and unrelenting exposure to the chemical soup that stress produces. Systems eventually start to break down. Give yourself a break, several breaks, throughout the day. Just take a few minutes, stop, and breathe in and out deeply. This helps to short circuit the stress response, giving the body time to reset, heal some damage and literally ‘take a breather” from stress.
I know, you don’t have time. There are deadlines to meet, meals to prepare, kids to drive to play dates, relationships with significant others to nurture, etc etc etc. Trust me on this, if you skimp on your sleep repeatedly, you are going to end up not being able to do any of those other things effectively. Research shows that sleep deprivation has a negative impact on immunity, blood sugar control, heart health, reaction times, decision making and a whole host of other things that you need in order to continue to be the do it all super person that you are.
3. Eat well
Leafy greens, lean proteins, healthy fats, lots of veggies are in. Sugar, food in a box, white bread and coffee by the bucket are out. When under stress, you need extra nutrients, particularly magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins; these are found in ample amounts in fresh, whole foods but in coffee and muffins? Not so much. You are a high end racing machine and if you put the wrong fuel into your tank, you are not going to keep running the way you need to.
4. Herbal support
I use a lot of herbal medicine in my practice. When it comes to stress, the “adaptogen” herbs are the ones that I reach for most. These plants help the body to adapt to change, and most of them also nourish the adrenal gland. The adrenal gland is a little triangle of tissue that sits on top of the kidney, one on each side. This little gland has the big job of keeping the stress hormones pumping. But over time, the adrenals can get tired too. Adaptogens help to support the adrenals and give you stamina and resilience. Which adaptogen herbs are right for you depends on your particular needs, but the ones I recommend most include Siberian ginseng, Rhodiola and Ashwaghanda. A naturopathic doctor can help you to pick the herbal combination that is best for you.
Getting stuck with needles may not sound very relaxing, but it is a therapy that I often use to help relax and recharge patients who are suffering the ill effects of too much stress. Some acupuncture points help to relieve tension and put the body get into a parasympathetic (resting and repairing) state. Most patients come out of these types of acupuncture sessions feeling calmer, clearer and more balanced. I should also mention that these session should not be painful and patients often find them so comfortable that they fall asleep for most of the session.
Stress hormones are designed to get us “revved up” and ready to run or to fight. We evolved with surges of these hormones being followed by a burst of activity (i.e. chasing prey or fighting for our lives). Nowadays a surge in stress hormone is more often followed by sitting at our desks, stewing, worrying or otherwise not moving in a way that allows for the physical release we need to deal with these hormones. Regular exercise is crucial for helping to rebalance, reset and deal properly with the effects of stress.
This is a guest post by Dr Serenity Aberdour, a naturopathic physician in Vancouver, BC. For more about her, please visit her clinic’s website at horizonnaturopathic.ca.