This week’s GoWithThePro Twitter Chat guest was Gillian Clarke, Wellbeing Coach and Occupational Therapist and Founder of Living-Happy.    

Gillian works with people who have a big mission to change the world and people’s lives, but often feel overwhelmed with the to-do list, and surviving each day with little energy left for themselves.

She helps them prevent chronic stress and burnout, and create a different path to truly living their dream with balance, happiness and success, using transformational mind-health coaching and practical techniques that helped her reinvent her own self after burnout.

In her own words, here are her thoughts and advice on beating entrepreneurial overwhelm #LikeAPro.

Q1. What does good mental health give us?

Health is about how we think, act and feel. It enables us to learn, think creatively, feel and express and manage a full range of helpful and uncomfortable emotions.  

Mental health is also important in forming and nourishing good relationships, allowing us to cope with and manage everyday stresses and uncertainties and, most importantly, to thrive, not just survive!

Q2. What are the risks to mental health in today’s busy world?

Mental illness affects 1 in 4 adults in the UK every year. And that’s just counting those who seek help.

Our lives are chaotic and rushed. We’re 24/7 accessible, dependent on technology, ridiculously busy and less connected. Our brains are just not designed to have that many tabs open!  

Increasing numbers of us are feeling overwhelmed, discouraged and depleted.  Unhappiness and stress-related physical and mental illness have become epidemic and have a far reaching impact on our lives and the lives of those around us.

Q3. Why do people struggle with maintaining a healthy work-life balance?

Fear of failure is a big one. The fear of not being good enough, of saying no, of losing reputation, money or opportunities.

Lack of boundaries can be a problem too. A lack of self-respect and being clear on our own needs and priorities and how to meet them is detrimental to our mental health.

Technology is not helping either. Our default is to be accessible 24/7, unless we actively choose not to be.

Once a stress-related decline in physical and mental health begins, it has a negative impact on daily and lifestyle choices we make too and often leads to a lack of connection with others or the wider world.

Q4. How can we spot signs of overwhelm early?

The earlier you notice the signs, the easier it is to do something about them.  Don’t ignore them like I did because your mind/body WILL press pause for you at some point and you will have no choice in this.

Common signs are feeling tired or exhausted all of the time, difficulty in sleeping and feeling irritable or experiencing mood swings a lot of the time.

Spending more time getting less done is often a sign too. We can start making unhelpful choices and forming bad habits when we’re experiencing overwhelm too… one glass of wine or three with dinner?

Many people start withdrawing from social contact and worry constantly.

If you notice any of these signs, tell someone. Take a regular day or half day off to reflect and recharge – schedule a ‘meeting’ in your diary to check in with yourself.

Q5. What are your top tips for avoiding overwhelm?

It’s all about self-awareness and getting practical!

Living your life in ways that keep your energy flowing, your mind and body healthy, and your whole self happy and content should be your goal.

What daily routines can you create to help you? I plan meals and an exercise schedule ahead with my husband so there’s no last minute confusion or missing out!

Consciously give your attention to those things that enrich and fulfill you in areas of work, health & fitness, family & relationships, connection with the wider world and bigger purpose, giving to others, hobbies and passions, intellectual stimulation, rest and recreation.  

Write down your top 3 daily basic self-care needs, without which you will not function well. How will you meet them each day?

Stick the note somewhere visible to you and others (perhaps on the fridge door, there’s nothing like getting your family to hold you to account!)

Mine are planning my top 2 goals for the day, drinking 4 litres of water and a 15 minute walk.

Plan ahead for a weekly rest day when you will down tools (technology) and do something you enjoy, alone or with others.

Q6. Running a business is all-consuming, how can we achieve a better balance?

Make your health and happiness your number one priority. Without this, your work and home life will suffer.

Healthy meals, exercise and good sleep give you consistent energy, mental clarity, enable great decisions and productivity, all with less stress and a big impact on reaching your goals.  

Self-care and time for you is crucial. Your mind and body needs time to recharge and renew. Indulge in one small pleasure daily and one rest day weekly. This is not selfish, it is ESSENTIAL.

Establish boundaries and set realistic expectations at work and at home and clearly communicate to those around you. Say no when you mean no.

Determine your priorities and consider what is most important to you in your business and in your home life? What do you need to start doing, stop doing, continue doing, do more or less of, do differently?

Know when to ask for help and don’t suffer in silence. Don’t try to do it all yourself either. It’s OK not to be OK. Nurture your relationships and call on them when you need to.

It is totally possible to have a successful business AND a fulfilling and healthy personal life. Invest in your mental health and wellbeing. Be proactive with your time and focus on what matters most to you. Get clear on what a happy life looks like for you and create it, building your mind health to help you.

Q7. What can be our ‘five a day’ for looking after our mental health?

I often use the well evidenced 5 Ways to Wellbeing Model with my clients and help them to make it simple, achievable and very practical with big impact for their wellbeing and performance.

1) Connect with people around you, in person.

2) Be active – step outside for a walk, play a sport.

3) Take notice – be curious about your surroundings, how you are feeling.

4) Keep learning – do something new or aim to learn something every day.

5) Give – do something nice for a friend, a stranger.

Wow! I think we can all relate to those feelings of overwhelm when juggling running a business with the demands of life in general.

If you’d like to find out more about Gillian’s approach to beating entrepreneurial overwhelm she is running a masterclass for GoWithThePro on 6th November!

Gillian will be talking openly about the slippery slope to overwhelm and burnout and how it creeps up on us when we’re not looking. She will be sharing simple habits you can develop to give you the wellness, energy and focus you need to succeed in your mission.

You can connect with Gillian on her Facebook page.

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