Boundaries are the key to avoiding burn out

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There is no denying the last few years have been extremely challenging for many people in business.

If you are feeling like your well has run dry, you are not alone. The Australian economy is dominated by a whopping 98 percent of small to medium businesses.

While many businesses across Australia have reported “doing well” financially over the last few years, many have suffered significant blows due to border closures, restrictions, lack of staff, mandates, and the list goes on.

Rebecca Hannan Selfie 2022
If you are feeling like your well has run dry, you are not alone, says Mindful Margaret River’s Rebecca Hannan. Picture: Supplied

Research conducted by Small Business Mental Health (SBMH, 2020) indicates small to medium business owners experience higher levels of mental ill-health, with one in three having a diagnosis in the last twelve months of either anxiety, depression, or stress. Locally, there appears to be a sentiment of exhaustion and business burnout.

The World Health Organisation declared burnout as a syndrome characterised by three dimensions:

Exhaustion – feeling exhausted and lacking energy
Cynicism – feeling negative or cynical about your work
Inefficacy – reduced productivity

In business, burnout may be experienced by a feeling of exhaustion, lack of interest in daily business and life activities. Business owners working in stressful situations for extended periods are vulnerable to experiencing business burnout.

The Red Flags of burnout
* Feeling tired, overwhelmed and or negative
* Feeling frustrated and cynical
* Feeling short-tempered
* Avoiding people/clients
* Difficulty making decisions, forgetfulness
* Social withdrawal
* Difficulty in sleeping
* Performance decline
* Always working, even when not at work
* Weakened immune system
* Unexplained stomach pain; digestive issues; headaches, chest pain

Being a woman in business who has experienced burnout more times than I care to admit, I know a thing or two about the red flags listed above.

Right now, I’m tired, I need to constantly check-in and ask myself “What do I need most right now?” and draw on my PRESS PAUSE boundaries in business model to keep burnout at bay.

Plan your day – work on the most important task of the day and avoid overscheduling.

Recharge your batteries – rest is vital for the integrity of your cognitive function. This includes decision making, learning, concentration, performance, and much more.

Energy – work with your natural energy rhythms, and cycles. Listen to your body and be willing to adjust your plan according to your energy levels.

Seek support – ask for help, from other people in business. You may like to join your local Chamber of Commerce, it’s a great way to network and connect with other business owners and Mindful Margaret River for Mental Health support locally.

Stay connected – running a small to medium business can be isolating. Connect with other business owners, see where you can collaborate, talk about challenges, and brainstorm ideas and solutions.

Practice mindfulness, meditation, movement – it is easy to feel like you are a hamster running mindlessly on the business wheel. A mindful walk-in nature is a great way to get your daily dose of all three modalities, calm your nervous system and get those feel-good endorphins moving through your body.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and drugs

Urgency review – check in regularly, how urgent are your urgencies? Look at what you can; Do, Delete, Delegate.

Say NO to yourself, things that don’t align with your business vision, and other people, and avoid pushing through. We are never at our best or do our best work when pushing through.

Eat and hydrate WELL – avoid quick-fix convenience foods, these foods are generally high in calories and fat, and low in nutrition. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables with a variety of colour. Drink plenty of water, hydration has a major impact on your energy levels, cognitive function, mental clarity, and moods. Depending on your size, environment, and physical demands, an average size adult requires approximately 2 – 3 litres per day.

Whilst the list is extensive, I recommend implementing one to three boundaries initially, as you become confident with the ones you have chosen, you may like to add more.

In a series of Mental Health in Business seminars in March, I will be diving deeper into business burnout, setting business boundaries, ways to identify when others are not ok, and how to have courageous conversations with confidence.

These seminars are hosted by the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce and Industries (MRCCI) in partnership with the Augusta Margaret River Shire.

With over 20 years of experience owning and operating small businesses in Margaret River, Rebecca Hannan helps organisations invest in workplace wellness initiatives to see people in business thrive.

She will be presenting at the MRCCI International Women’s Day event on March 8 sharing her personal story, When the WELL runs dry – How to replenish your WELL, initiate courageous conversations and cultivate a thriving workplace.

This will be followed by a series of The Wellpreneur – Mental Health in Business seminars. The seminars will be held at Council Chambers on 15 th March from 1 – 3 pm and 22 nd March from 4.30 pm – 8 pm. Contact [email protected] for more information.

Mindful Margaret River is an alliance of mental wellbeing professionals, government agencies and community members aimed at promoting health and wellbeing in the AMR Shire. Mindful Margaret River is funded by Lotterywest and supported by the Shire of Augusta Margaret River. Find out more on our website and follow us on Facebook.

First published in the Augusta Margaret River Mail 1 March 2022

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