Being an entrepreneur pretty much guarantees that you will be stressed. Social worker Rebecca Kronman gives us her top tips on how to prevent burnout, boost your self-confidence, and increase your productivity. But first, we spoke to her about how she got started.
How did you become a licensed clinical social worker?
I started in social services working with people in poverty and incarceration. I then went back to school and got my degree in social work. At the time, I was doing a lot of work around meditation and yoga; I taught short yoga classes to men at Rikers Island. Through that, I deepened my knowledge around meditation and mindfulness-based stress reduction. Right now I’m training in somatic interventions, which is essentially how we recognize the physical symptoms of anxiety, stress, trauma and how we approach that in therapy. I’ve been in private practice for 3 years.
How to overcome self-doubt
Understand where self-doubt shows up in your body.
Is it a collapsing in your chest, are your shoulders rounding? Do you have lack of eye contact? Does it feel like anxiety, with sweaty palms?
Push into it.
If you’re trying to counteract your shoulders rounding, press the center of your chest diagonally towards the ceiling.
Ask yourself what information is there.
Typically what’s happening is that you’re making yourself smaller. Maybe [you’re thinking], “I’m not good enough" or “I don’t have enough experience”. Recognize it in your body and then ask yourself what the associated thought is behind it.
Detach from it.
Recognize that you’re having this thought [such as], “I don’t deserve to be in this room”, and that it’s only thought and not serving you. So let it go. It’s fine that you’ll need to repeat that a thought is not a fact.
How to be productive
Understand your workflow
Going hard will be effective for a limited amount of time and then your brain will come to more of a standstill if you don’t take a break. It doesn’t have to be 20 minutes, it’s just coming into your moment somehow.
Move your body
Physical activity will get the blood flowing back to your brain.
Limit your access to distractions
For example, adjust the notifications on your phone. It’s impossible for your brain to ignore them, especially the ones that light up.
Work in the right environment
Open floor plans aren’t great for entrepreneurs who may find themselves in co-working space so ask yourself what other settings you may need to work in.
Can you have one or two bites of your lunch without talking to anyone, or interacting with your technology? It’s settling into just eating. Having these time periods when you’re just doing one thing can be really helpful.
How to prevent burnout
Begin by understanding what your body is telling you
Can you tune into what physically is happening to you when you’re stressed? Your body is going to tell you before your brain understands what’s going on.
Say out loud what symptoms you’re feeling
When we’re inside our minds and just churning thoughts, it’s scary in there and self- propelling. When we vocalize these things to hopefully empathetic listeners, we can deflate the magnitude of it [or at least] have a reflection of what’s going on.
Notice when you’re getting too involved with your phone
Here’s an exercise that helps get you out of the content inside the phone and into the present moment.
- Hold the phone in your hand away from your body.
- Feel the weight of the phone and use your fingertips to touch the surface and feel its temperature.
- Move your fingers across and tap it closer to your ear to hear the sound that it makes.
- Feel the texture of different surfaces: how do the buttons feel thats different than the case?
- Smell it: can you detect any smell?
How to handle the emotional rollercoaster
Immerse yourself in the process
Having specific goals is important, though immersing yourself in the process, rather than just focusing on the outcome, can be helpful. Part of that is identifying what’s still rewarding and gratifying for you during those moments of when you want to give up. Despite the struggle, is there a piece of this that i can find enjoyable?
Don’t make decisions out of reactivity
It’s an unrealistic expectation that you will stay stay even-keeled so the more important thing is that you’re aware of you. When you are frustrated, upset, or exasperated, understand that’s probably not the best time to make a decision.
Watch for progress
Define what progress look like to you. Sometimes it’s high moments but also you [should] recognize as well that progress may not be so dramatic. So you really need to watch for it.
Learn to deal with failure
If you have an experience that didn’t go the way you wanted it to go, here are three things you can do:
Acknowledge that you didn’t like the way this went
Debrief: what happened? Why did it not go the way you wanted?
What can you implement to create change? Think about this as gathering more information, rather than being a failure.
How to become more mindful in less than 3 minutes
The sound exercise
Hear the sounds going on around you. Each time your mind wanders and gets engrossed in thought, you gently draw yourself back to the sounds. Choose an amount of time to do that for. I think 30 seconds is perfectly fine to start out with. Entrepreneurs tend to say you don’t have time but you have 30 seconds.
The walking exercise
Feel what’s happening in your body, what’s happening in your feet, sway from side to side and feel the position of your head, the air as it hits your skin, your clothes moving on your body and the pressure of your feet on the ground. All these things are happening while we’re walking.
Set an intention for how long you’re going to do this or how far you’re going to do this, whether it’s walking from your desk to the bathroom, or committing to just three minutes.
Once you’ve reached that intentional stopping point, then drop the technique. When you’re done you’re done. Give yourself credit for where you are now and stop to recognize where progress has happened.