In this episode, Ann Greco shares the signs of chronic anxiety and burnout, how to recognize the signs before they overwhelm you, and how to deal with them when it happens.
3 Key Points
Pay attention to how you’re feeling; If you’re going, going, going, and there starts to be a lag or a drain. And suddenly, your productivity is starting to wane and/or income dips, an you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s time to pay attention or you could be in trouble.
Be sure to take breaks and recharge.
Every problem solved creates a new problem so there will always be stress, so learn to embrace it.
Hi, and welcome to Episode 76. Today my guest is Anne Greco. Ann helps busy professionals who want freedom from stress that leads to chronic anxiety and burnout. Her background is in mental health counseling, and she now coaches people, giving them practical strategies on how to manage their concerns so they can thrive at work and live the life they love. So, I want to welcome you to the call, Anne.
Ann: Ellen. Thank you so kindly for having me. This is an amazing opportunity.
Ellen: Well, I really have enjoyed talking to you, not on camera. So, I thought it was time that we talk on camera. So, you want to start by telling people how you got into this?
Ann: Yes, I was a technical writer for eleven years and anyone who’s ever worked in IT knows what that schedule is like and what that business is like in general. And I had an analyst, a banker analyst who I worked with, and his name was Guy, and we worked so many hours, and I remember looking at him, he was probably almost ready to retire. And I remember thinking, “You know, guy, when I am at your age, I don’t want to be there. I don’t want to be you at that point.”
And so, basically what happened was I went back to school and I thought I’d have something to write about. And so, when I went to explore different fields, I went into the mental-health counseling field, and it was such a great fit as I started to study psychology and mental health, mental resilience what I realized is that by my own background, I had been preparing for this field for many years.
Let me put it this way. I never had difficulty writing a paper when I was doing my studies, and what I chose was to continue on and help people and support them. And during my practice, I was working with a lot of people in a psychiatric practice who had a dual diagnosis. One of them had, bipolar disorder, and there was the COO of food and beverage for a global resort who completed a course of psychotherapy with me and then, he asked me if I could coach him while he was traveling. And so, that’s how I got started doing coaching and really doing a lot of implementation and accountability type of work with people. And I’ve been doing this for about eighteen years now.
[03:20] Ellen: Oh, interesting. I love that-how sometimes you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing or you’ve done a lot of different things, and then, all of a sudden, everything is working together and that’s kind of what happened for me too.
Ellen: Yeah, yeah. I was a copy editor for magazines many, many years ago. And then, I was in publicity for this famous comedy club in Pasadena, and I always wanted to write books, and then my life went from music to where that wasn’t happening anymore, and I thought, “Well, this is the perfect time to start with books.” So, all of a sudden it was like, everything I’d ever learned was working. And sometimes, I get a little irate when I see these people, especially I see this a lot on Twitter, where they talk about how a college education is worthless. Well, I don’t know where I’d be without my college education, because I learned how to write. I learned how to think, and it was invaluable to me. So yeah. So, I don’t feel like anything I ever did was wasted, for sure.
[04:23] Ann: Well, there’s so many things that we do and can do to create relevance in our lives. I think the creation of relevance is one area where it can be really amazing when people are looking to manage stress and to reduce anxiety. We have a lot of people who are attempting to take their business online, and at the same time, they’re wanting to take care of themselves, and they’re wanting to have their children get their education, and so many different things going on.
And it’s amazing how we’re seeing people and it’s actually a very dynamic time right now. And people are searching for that relevance in place of what they’re referring to as the uncertainty of what we’re looking at in the future.
So, some of the things that I do… when I work with people is that I really have them gain a depth of understanding as they see it into what is happening with them at this point. And then, really look at the actionable steps they can take to help them to meet their goals. And then, of course, having them have a support system that offers them the accountability, and the ability to implement, and also retool and regroup as it goes. I think now more than ever, we need people, people need people. And I think it’s so great when we can connect the way that we are right now. So, that’s something,
[05:49] Ellen: I want to talk about chronic anxiety and burnout, because I’ve had some of those issues over the years. So, let’s talk about that. So, when you talk about busy professionals and chronic anxiety, what does that look like and how does that work? How do you help people? Yeah,
[06:06] Ann: How that looks on the outside is that people are active. They are busy, they have long days. And what they start to experience when it becomes chronic, is that they’re still going, going, going, and there starts to be a lag or a drain. And suddenly, their productivity is starting to wane. And then, even sometimes, income can start to reduce. And then, they notice that they’re not taking care of themselves at the same time. They may on the surface be smiling a whole lot and not even realize that it’s an issue.
And also, if anything does come up and they can report having chronic anxiety or having anxiety or burnout, they believe that that just sort of happened at that point. And really the compensation, Ellen, is gradual over the course of time. And for people to understand that any of us could be subject to having chronic anxiety or developing anxiety.
[07:06]: And we know that if it’s there and it’s not operating in a healthy way, because obviously the anxiety is something that we have, and learning how to use it in a way where it’s productive, and it fuels your business, and it fuels your life and your momentum. If that isn’t there, what happens is, over time, people start to see a slow progression. And then, of course, when something major happens, and it could be a life circumstance, or it could be some change at work or even some change within themselves where they actually become, like shell shocked by the thought of anxiety, and then realize that they are burnt out. One of the examples I’m thinking of people like stories and examples is a teacher that I had, who was in her fifties. And she had worked a lot in and published a lot, and done a lot of things in a university system-had a lot of hats been on a lot of committees.
[08:01]: And when she stopped to take a look, she knew who she was as a mother; she knew who she was as a wife, a professional, even a grandma at the same time; she had lost herself in the process. And of course, what I do at that point is I really offer a lot of support, a lot of reassurance, and have people start to reconnect, especially if they’ve checked out in any way. And I think that checking out is a common thing that we’re seeing now related to all the social circumstances that we have; people are just checking out. And so, we want to have people be mindful, and then notice, and then take really tangible steps, come up with the tangible stuff.
Ellen: Like what?
Ann: Well, everyone is a little bit different. And a lot of times where we start is by taking a look at what’s happening with self-care, and then for people to notice what the area of self-care really entails.
[08:55]: And a lot of times, what they find is that there is a boundary and a separation that they want to create between their finances, their health and well-being, and the things that really concern them, and their importance, their thoughts, their emotions, versus all of the things that are going on in business and relationships, and even family, and extended family. And so, we have them really kind of look at all the different areas of life. I also like to talk about something that is, that they believe the anxiety stems from. And many times, we will go back and kind of explore that issue, and then look for common themes.
And then, inside of those themes, notice what the thoughts are, notice what the feelings are. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, we talk about how thoughts lead to feelings lead to behaviors. And then, we also just have people create new thought patterns. We have people work with whatever the existing thoughts are, and then really create thoughts that are supportive in helping them meet their goals.
[10:02] Ellen: What are some of the thoughts that lead people to chronic anxiety in business? I know for me, it’s when I feel like I don’t have enough time.
Ellen: That’s a biggie. What else?
[10:13] Ann: And then, well, some of it has to do with having enough money. Some of it has to do with overwhelm and exhaustion as a result of “How do I solve whatever the problem is?” especially as the business begins to grow. When people are establishing the business, they can also report that type of overwhelm, where they are just wanting to figure out how to get leads, how to get customers and clients. And then, the other part is that there is a lot going on right now online because people can get online.
And then, they’re looking at how do I turn that into a relationship or a relationship that benefits the people that I serve, and then benefits our business. So, there is this balance between relationship, and then being in business that people are looking to establish, and they’re doing it virtually because there’s not a way to do it the way we’ve traditionally been doing it.
[11:13] Ellen: Well, I find that throughout my career, which is now sixteen years in this business, there’s always something that’s making me anxious. And then, it’s different at different times. You know? It’s like when I first started, I was just learning, and I was all excited. And I was one of those people where they told me what to do, I was listening to Alex Mandossian. And I would just do what he said to do and it worked, but then the recession hit, so that was one big anxiety. And then like I said, just things that come up-problems with VA’s, “Why isn’t my outsourcing working the way it’s supposed to?” was another one. And then as a creative, getting to the point where suddenly not feeling creative, “Oh, I’m sort of in a rut, what am I going to do about this now?” It’s like, there’s always something that’s changing or that you have to deal with because as you know every solution creates a new problem, right?
Ellen: So, how should people deal with this when there are ongoing things that could cause chronic anxiety?
[12:25] Ellen: Well, that’s really great that you mentioned that because one of the things that I think people think about how to avoid stress, how to reduce it, how to get away with it. And I really believe that people have to embrace it. They really have to take it on and begin to take a look at it. And to some degree, even normalize it to some degree. Realize that it is part of a process and following it and working with it and kind of doing a dance with it, if you will, will actually help people meet their goals. And it will actually help them power through circumstances. And of course, I think having a healthy support system makes a difference while you’re doing all of that.
And so, that’s one of the things that we kind of talk about and emphasize that there is a way in terms of your thinking to realize that yes, your business is some of the things you were talking about, Ellen, those changes and those things that were coming up, they’re really awesome. They were really a signal and a sign that things were happening in your business and you are doing a great job.
[13:27] Ellen: Hmmm. Never thought of it that way.
Ann: Yeah. It’s really powerful. And I think that there is… when it comes to stress and it comes to anxiety, there is a power there to be harnessed. People really can see that, then it doesn’t wash over you, knock you down, overwhelm you, or somehow drain you, it actually becomes part of what you are sharing with people, what you are offering with people in terms of the energy. You’re putting out a level of energy that really begins to attract people and attract the things that you want in life. So…
[14:05] Ellen: Wow. That was mind-boggling to me when you said embrace stress.
Ann: Yeah. Yeah. Like really realize that there is something. And if you stop to think about it, there’s something very powerful about it. There’s something very good about it. And of course, we don’t want to have it be the kind of thing where sometimes that energy can kind of get internalized. And then, of course, it drains people, and they find that they run out of fuel or they find that they want to stay on the couch, you know? And now, it’s really easy to stay on the couch, more so than probably…
[14:37] Ellen: Yeah. It’s interesting. I’ve had a couple of friends say to me, like they’ve lost track of what’s day and what’s night, and they’re gotten into weird sleep patterns. And I know for my husband too, like he’s a lot of times, when I’m working and I’ll go to talk to him and he’s sleeping and I’m like, “Were you up all night?” And he’s like, “No,” but sometimes yes, it’s very weird. But anyway, so let’s talk about burnout now.
Ellen: So, how has burnout different? That’s a different kind of a deal.
Ann: Well, burnout is when that Ever-Ready battery bunny that I just described really starts to show signs of fatigue, no matter how much they do. It’s almost like the gears grinding. And you start to notice mistakes in performance, in job performance; you start to notice difficulty performing; ou start to notice more absenteeism.
And I think that what happens is everyone can see that the person is working, they are applying themselves, but they’re to the point really where they just have to have that break. They have to stop doing what they’re doing for a while to recharge batteries. And of course, if people have to work and people have a lot of irons in the fire, whether it be in business or whether they be in a corporate setting, taking time off people, can’t take a month of sabbatical to cope with a burnout. So, one of the things that we do a lot of work with is prevention, obviously.
[16:08]:…so, that doesn’t happen. And talking about the different tips and if I can give some tips to help people
Ellen: Yeah, that’d be great.
Ann: …with workplace burnout. And a lot of it is I think, staying in tune with yourself and creating a morning routine, rather than leaving whatever you wake up with. That’s right there, whatever thoughts are floating around or feelings are floating around, really find a way to direct them. And some people use meditation. Some people use scripting, in the cases of anxiety that is chronic I, as a mental health therapist, will teach some of the cognitive-behavioral techniques, such as thought, stopping and cognitive restructuring.
And if anybody who’s listening would like to have more help or more information about that, please follow up with me after the broadcast. But basically, we do a lot of talking about how that is – how we’re thinking, how we’re thinking. And then, of course, being able to regulate our feelings and creating activities that generate energy and the positive kind of energy.
[17:14] Ellen: Yeah. And I think that, yeah, like as a Type A personality, which I am, you know, and you tend to get a lot done, and then you feel like you have to power through all the time. I really had to start learning how to not do that, how to really like take a break. And it’s really interesting because I’ve been in the Six-figure Lab with Suzanne Evans, and the very last module, they talk about that exact thing and how, sometimes, you need to break for an hour and sometimes, you need to break for a weekend, and sometimes, you need a vacation.
And it goes back to what you were just saying, which is about really getting in touch with what you need and giving yourself what you need. And I find it sometimes really hard, especially during COVID because we can’t go and do certain things that we want to do. And so, after a while, it gets kind of just routine to just, yeah, we take our walks and I listen to music in the house, but it’s like, I would love a change of scenery right now.
[18:16] Ann: Yeah. One of the most interesting things that somebody said was another business coach, very, very wonderful business coach said, and even when you have your leisure, being able to schedule healthy leisure and what that looks like, people are getting very creative now at this time, which you were just referring to. But the other part is what about the transition from leisure to back into work? And what they always would recommend would be to schedule twenty-four hours, like a day where it would be a planning day, or it would be kind of a reintegration day traveled. I know people are not traveling now and at the same time..
[18:56] Ellen: I’ve seen a few people are yeah, well, fifty-million people went for Thanksgiving. So…
[19:03] Ann: Yeah. And for people who are traveling, the recommendation was to take that day in between. It can be just that transition day between the rest of the healthy and or the vacation, whatever that time represented, and then being back in the office, and then getting back to business. And I think that, like you said, I think it’s tailored to every single person, Ellen, and it’s just what you need, what you like, what helps your workflow.
There are some people who, if they took that type of day, that could turn into a week, like you said, and we always have to monitor that, And of course, having things on the schedule, plugging things in. I talk with people a lot about time-blocking and really looking at how they’re managing their time. I think it’s also powerful right now for people in terms of the overall question you asked about mental resilience, are you inventing your year?
[19:54]: Are you getting in the process in some way, shape or form of doing a completion process for 2020?
Ellen: Oh, what’s that? What’s a completion process?
Ann: Basically, that’s where you take a look at the year and you look at all the different areas of your life, health, work, personal family, whatever you define as all the different areas. And you look at the goals that you set out to meet, whether they be monetary goals, things in your business or things in your personal, and then you just notice where you are with that. And then, you create intentions and statements for just completing the year.
And then, after you have completed that process of completing, and what’s kind of cool now that you brought that up, there was another venue where they were using collaging to actually, you know, how they create vision boards? Well, they were collaging, which is kind of nice because it’s symbolic and it taps the subconscious when you create a beautiful display of what the year represented.
[20:56]: And then, of course, they would do the same thing by creating a collage to invent the next year. And, of course, right now, the planning and preparation for 2021, is in the works for a lot of people who, whether they’re in a regular career in business, like a business that they own, or somebody else owns, they’re really looking at inventing what that’s going to look like. And, of course, they’re doing it all with the uncertainty of what we can do, what is available and different things like that. So, it’s pretty exciting. And I think that having something, whether you write it out for yourself, or you do it in a visual display, depending upon what makes more sense than what you like doing, you feel led to do, I think that’s really powerful, and then being able to create those intentions and really doing it around gratitude and heart centeredness.
Ellen: Yes. Yes. Well, I just happened to have interviewed David George
Brooke last week. Yes. And he has his gratitude journal, and I bought, I bought the journal and I’ve been doing that. Yeah. It’s pretty cool.
Ellen: Yeah. And it’s interesting because I noticed that I don’t normally, without having a journal like that, I don’t really think about…I’m grateful that we have food and we have a roof over our head and I have a business where I don’t have to worry that they’re going to take it away from me because people can’t come to my business.
But aside from those things, there’s so many little things every day that people just don’t think about. And if you get yourself to do this, it’s pretty cool. And I really highly suggest people get it. It’s at http://ellenlikes.com/gratitude-journal. So yeah, I think it’s a really good thing to do. And this one actually it’s gratitude, but it also can be sort of used as a diary too. So yeah. Then, you can look back later and it helps you also see what your intentions were and what you did and didn’t do. But this is like every three months, like, what do you think about just taking an inventory more often than once a year?
Ellen: Ninety days. ninety day.
[23:17] Ann: Yeah. And I think that so many people are doing great works like that, Ellen, where they are making available for people and having them get present to these kinds of practices, which again, are just really powerful. And, another thing I think too is always whatever the challenging times are it’s just something that happens to be like right there in my own personal work, on my own journey is really being able to send love forward-some love forward to your family, to the people who are your clients, to the people who challenge you the most, you know, to the people….
Ellen: That’s the hard one for me.
Ann: Yeah, yeah. The people who are in struggle where there’s a balance counterbalance kind of going on between you and…
[24:02] Ellen: I don’t even mean that. I just mean more in the world. Not, personally. Just what’s going on in the world. Yeah.
[24:09] Ann: Yeah. Well, you know, and if there’s any time where the world needs, that kind of energy, the energy …
Ellen: It’s NOW!
Ann: I mean, we always do. And at the same time, this is really a time when it’s important and it’s relevant. And again, being in a space of love, creating a heart-centered existence is one that really allows you to create resilience. You know, having that supportive system where you reach out to them, they reach out to you. And, there’s just a bond there when things were going on with the income, a lot of people immediately kind of freak out. There are a small business owner here in my area, I’m on the East coast, in Orlando, who were really worried about that, you know? And when you get a mindset where everybody’s determined to stimulate everybody else’s income, it really pandemic proofs. It really recession proofs things and exchange value with each other.
[25:01] Ellen: Yeah. And yeah, that was really neat. Like after cyber Monday before cyber Monday, it was a small business Saturday. Yeah. Yeah. But even when it’s not Small Business Saturday, just in general. yeah. It was supporting other small businesses because unfortunately for us, Jeff Bezos has had a great idea, and he’s done it very well, and it’s made him very rich, but it’s also taking away from so many businesses because it’s just so convenient and easy and free shipping and all this stuff. So, it’s hard not to buy there. Like for us, we save a lot of money by being Prime members and not paying for all that shipping.
I go to a small business, and I want to buy something and the shipping and handling is ten or twenty bucks. It adds up. So yeah. So, something else I wanted to ask you and we got away from, it was when we were talking about chronic anxiety and we talked about it building, are there things that people can do? Signs or things to look for? Cause we didn’t really talk about that.
[26:01] Ann: Yes. And actually, that is when it’s, what we’re talking about is most effective, being able to create mental resilience, being able to create the plan and do some of the things that we’ve mentioned. You have not been talking about different techniques. And it’s easier to do them sooner rather than later. And what there is to look for is just to notice when things are out of balance. Notice how many times you have a commitment to get a workout in and you’re missing your workout. Notice when you are not eating properly. When that happens, if that happens, notice when you are making an investment of people, invest in a program, and then they don’t really monetize or get the value out of it because they’re not doing the program. All those little things as they progress, as they add on will increase anxiety, people end up living with a lot of unfinished things that they haven’t done.
[26:59] Ann: I think even sometimes for some people, Ellen, it can be looking at 2000 emails-that you have 2000 emails in your inbox and you have not really done a good job of organizing it and figuring out what’s in there. So, for each person, I think it can vary a little bit. And then, I think also too, with each stage and growth in business, somebody’s doing a great job with her business and just had a launch, and it was wildly successful and realized that there was some sort of drain that happened with doing that first webinar. It takes a lot of energy to do a webinar and really came in to work on that, to understand what that is. so that the next one would just not have any tendency to cause a drain or to cause the seedlings of anxiety that can sprout up and worsen or progress.
[27:50] Ellen: Right. Well, you know, when you talk about courses, I’m in a course and I’m just finishing paying for it; it was on a payment plan that went all year. And then, I thought, “Uh-oh, how long am I going to get access to this?” And so, I wrote to them and they said, I have ‘til January 14th, I think it is. I went, “Oh my God.” cause it’s getting near the end. So, I thought, “Okay, well at this point I really only had one module left. So, I said, “Okay.” Well, you know, every time I get a few spare minutes, I’m just going to listen and get through this. But then, it said there were thirteen modules, but then it said thirteen of nineteen. So, I contacted them and I go, “Well, where are the other six?” And she said, “Oh, those are bonus calls.” I’m like, “Oh my God, I have six more to go through on top of everything else.” Yeah, so….
[28:42] Ann: When you were processing, that, was that really awesome that you would get that much more value and have that much more time to spend? Or, or were you really feeling stressed because, “Oh no, I got to add these to my calendar.” Yeah,
[28:55] Ellen: Yeah, no, I was stressed because I’m trying to focus on something else, and I wanted to put all my focus on that, and now it’s like, now I got to do this too. Yeah.
[29:07] Ann: How can you have a ball and have it all? How can you get your work done? And then, actually, get those modules listened to? And those actually something in one of those bonus calls may actually really be a brainchild for something that you’re currently working on.
[29:21] Ellen: Oh, absolutely. when they say, what is it that, the things that are important to you you’ll make time for. And it’s like, I want to get angry when people say that. It’s kind of true. And then, it’s kind of not; it’s like, you can get too much on your plate, and then it’s just too much on your plate. So, something had come up where there was, what was it? Oh, I know what it was, it was Black Friday or Cyber Monday, one of them. And there were two courses that came up that were like really inexpensive. They were things I was interested in, and I thought I’d really like to do both of those, and I could have done it, but I thought, “What about the time?” “What about that’s going to put more stuff on my plate right now?” And I was like, “No, it’s just not the right time. I don’t care what the price is.” The price to me is that it’s going to cause too much anxiety. And that is too high of a price. So…
[30:14] Ann: You are making decisions based on that. Yeah.
[30:17] Ellen: Yeah. So, the decision was based on, it would just cause too much stress. I just said, “No, you can’t, can’t go there right now.” Cause, because I did two courses this year and that was too much. They were two big courses. And even that was too much. It’s like, “No, I want to focus on one at a time.”
[30:42] Ann: Yeah, and there are those people who really are using that rationale and I love that rationale if that’s the one that works for you and it makes sense, rather than overlapping too much or too many programs or spending money on things that you don’t get a chance to get the full value. It makes complete sense.
And at the same time, I do have people who really want to figure out how to add more, create more, and get their training in while they’re running their business. And they have a lot of drive and a lot of intention, and they’re wanting to take that to the next level without getting burned out without…
[31:20] Ellen: Well, yeah, I want to take it to the next level. But like one focus at a time because if you create too much stress, that’s not helpful.
Ann: And that’s something that they want to figure out. Somebody who to me would want would have that question. “How do I figure out how,”
Ellen: Oh, I see.
Ann: …how to take, yeah, get this, work it out and have all this stuff happen around me. And, sometimes though you get to a point though Ellen, where it is just too much and there has to be an understanding of the threshold. And then, there has to be a reasonable limit. Well that also,
[31:58] Ellen: Well, that also goes back to there’s this one post that I did and it says, “What do you mean I’m not Wonder Woman?” And we were laughing because that’s what my husband says about me. You know? You think you think you’re superhuman, you think you can do everything. And, sometimes, he’ll laugh at me, but so I really have learned-it’s still a process-I don’t always get it right. But I just try to be more reasonable I guess, because I want to learn everything that interests me. I want to do everything that interests me, you know?
[32:31] Ann: Yeah, and sometimes it’s fun to be a little bit unreasonable ,and then see where it takes you and then you find, you can get to another level, you can get it like your own personal level or threshold and you kind of bust through it, and you get more done than you ever thought you were going to get done. But at the same time, there has to be some sort of a cadence and a rhythm that accompanies that that really makes it healthy and makes it operate within a reasonable and rational range.
Ellen: Well, I think that’s where you can really help people. Cause I’m sure there are people who are like how I used to be, who just can’t see that difference.
Ellen: You know?
Ann: Yeah. So, it is a practice in and of itself. Yeah.
Ellen: So, do you have any final tips before we go? You’re good?
Ann: I just wish everybody well, take care and really find ways to work powerfully with your stress.
Ellen: And how can people reach you?
Ann: My website is www.anngreco.com.
Before we go, there’s just one more week in the year and my guest next week will be Tammy Fink and we’ll be talking about creating and using planners and I think you’ll be surprised at what she has to say so be sure to join us.
Also, at the beginning of the year
Ellen: Okay. Well, that’s it for today to get the transcript, go to https://booksopendoors.com/podcast. You’re also welcome to join our Facebook group and that link is on the page. Also, be sure to grab a copy of Book Planning Secrets, A Simple 4-Step Guide to Writing a Bestseller. If you want to write your own book or if you’ve already written one and you just want to write them faster and easier. So,’til next time, Bye-bye,
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