- Recognising the signs of burnout
- Balancing business and self-care
- Developing healthy habits
- Feeling mentally and physically energised
Burnout is an all too familiar term for small and microbusiness owners. When you’re juggling every aspect of your business on your own, exhaustion and overwhelm can feel unavoidable.
Vesna Hrsto is a naturopath, executive wellbeing coach and peak performance specialist. Initially running her own naturopathy business with three clinics in Sydney, Vesna has dedicated her career to helping business owners kiss burnout goodbye.
Vesna recalls the challenges of starting her own business at such a young age, falling victim herself to the long-term impacts of burnout.
”A lot of that was overwhelming,” Vesna recounts. “And I didn’t really have the skills to handle the workload, the different parts of the business, and the amount of stress that I felt that I was under.”
Most people start a new business venture fuelled by passion and excitement, often unaware of the multitude of time-consuming and stressful responsibilities that follow. For Vesna, her stress and overwhelm as a fresh-faced founder quickly started to suck the passion and joy out of her work. Her burnout materialised as sudden weight gain, exhaustion and social isolation.
“I’d have to have naps during the day, I was that tired,” Vesna says. “I was living on caffeine and M&Ms chocolate, and I was just anxious all the time.”
Now, having shifted her focus to helping other business owners regain control of their wellbeing, Vesna says there’s more to avoiding burnout than simply taking a break.
“It’s not just a case of having too much on our to-do list,” says the wellbeing coach. “It’s how we are dealing with all of that, looking after the body, setting up good habits, but also reducing the mental and emotional stress.”
Why we can’t seem to avoid stress
Stress seems to be an accepted part of our lives these days, according to Vesna. For many professionals, working yourself to the bone is almost considered a badge of honour.
While working hard is an essential ingredient for success, if you aren’t balancing the output with self-care and recovery, burnout is inevitable. You only need to examine how athletes operate to see how effective recovery can be.
“If you look at athletes, they push themselves to extremes mentally, physically, and emotionally, and yet they’re champions,” says Vesna. “They really have self-care in place as part of their recovery to keep them as champions.”
Protecting your wellbeing flame
To protect your wellbeing flame from burnout, there are plenty of manageable habits you can start incorporating into your routine. While Vesna encourages everyone to invest time in activities that can help you unwind, like exercise, meditation or even watching TV, the most impactful changes you can make are related to diet and sleep.
“Our brain cleanses, detoxifies while we are sleeping,” Vesna says. “So we have this mind reset overnight and the eight hours is important.”
Without adequate sleep, our metabolic health and appetite hormones can quickly feel the impact, leading to unhealthy cravings and weight gain.
Knowing how unique each of her clients are, Vesna always recommends they pay a visit to their GP for a check up and pathology test, to flag any possible imbalances within their bodies prior to making any big habit changes.
Equally as important as our sleep habits, Vesna urges her clients to time their meals to coincide with natural hormone patterns.
“Cortisol, which is our main stress hormone, starts to rise naturally in the morning,” Vesna says. “And if we go too long without eating breakfast when we are heading towards burnout, our stress hormones really rise.”
Regardless of how much sleep you may have had the night before, this can set you up for a day of feeling overwhelmed and anxious, while impacting your metabolism as well.
According to Vesna, examining and improving your core habits is the most effective way to avoid the onset of burnout, setting you up to cope with any professional or personal situation in a more healthy way.
“If we can feel good in our body in terms of physical energy and mental energy, we are going to handle things very differently,” says Vesna.
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