UWR 003 – How stress affects the bottom line – with Karrie Brazaski

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Annette:           Hi, everyone. Welcome to Uncover Wealth Radio, episode 3. I am Annette Ferguson, the CEO of Annette and Co. I help online service entrepreneurs find the clarity in their numbers, increase their wealth, and have more money in their pockets. In today's episode, I'm speaking to Karrie Brazaski, and we are speaking about stress.

                        Karrie is the owner of Karrie Brazaski Coaching, and she's a registered nurse, stress reduction specialist, a certified transformational nutritional coach, and a certified yoga teacher. She is passionate about sharing the gifts of stress reduction and wellness with others. She insists self-care is imperative and not a luxury. Karrie helps busy professionals tame the chaos and stress in their lives so they can avoid burnout, find their energy, and love their life.

                        She is blessed to be a mom to her twelve-year-old son, and a wife of 21 years to the love of her life. When she's not helping clients, she loves hanging out with her guys and playing in the kitchen, creating new recipes. So let's dive into today's episode.

                        Today I have the massive pleasure of speaking to Karrie. Karrie helps organisations realise that stress and burnout can erode their bottom line, and it's so important to her CEOs to take care of ourselves and our team. It's not just a luxury. It's a massive, massive necessity in our businesses. Not only does it impact the individuals, it actually impacts the bottom line at the same time.

                        Karrie, thank you so much for joining me today.

Karrie:              Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.

Annette:           Awesome. So, why don't we start by speaking about what is causing this stress to the CEOs, and the stress to the team as well?

Karrie:              Well, there's lots of different things that are kind of going into stress. Overall, people are feeling more stressed out now than what they have in the past. There's a bunch of different polls and research out there that are showing that. What's happening is... what I'm finding, even with the individual business owners, it's the stress of being ultimately responsible for everything, the inability to delegate well, as well as not taking care of ourselves.

                        We have for so long, and I think, I'm from the U.S., the U.K., we have this similar philosophy that being busy is this badge of courage. I do all of these things, this is great. Look it, I'm doing this, I'm doing that, I'm running this business, I'm successful, I've got my kids in this, we're doing that. It's like this go, go, go mentality, and so we never take time to slow down and really take care of ourselves.

                        So, some of those things that we used to incorporate into our lives, because you had to walk to a bus stop, you had to walk to the market to get things... kind of automatically had de-stressing activities built into our days, and now we're attached to our phones, we've got laptops, we go on vacation, everything goes with us, and so, we don't know how to disconnect, and we don't know how to create ... I won't say we don't know how... We don't put it into a priority of making space in our day for quiet, or just stillness, and just taking care of ourselves.

                        We think that stress reduction, taking care of yourself, is this elaborate, “I have to go out and spend a day at the spa or take this amazing beach vacation where I fly off somewhere”, which those are great. The more you can do that, fabulous. I think they're extremely important, but it's really learning to incorporate those things into your daily life for you and your team. I hear it a lot with sleep; that's one of the big keys that people are starting to get stressed is that their sleep diminishes. The quality of sleep, the amount of sleep, or that they'll make comments of, “I'll sleep when I'm dead.” Well, it may be sooner than you think if you don't-

Annette:           Yes.

Karrie:              ... take care of stress. It's compounding and not being able to make yourself a priority.

Annette:           Absolutely. I can completely relate to that. The whole feeling of feeling like you have to do everything, feeling like you're almost on this hamster wheel that's just happening. You're running a business, you've got a family, you've got all these things, you've got to be all these people as well. You've got to be the CEO, you've got to be the manager, you've got to be the leader, you've got to be the mom, you've got to be the wife, and just feeling like you're constantly... not to mention the daughter, the sister, the friend, all these other roles.

Karrie:              Yeah.

Annette:           You just feel like it's this constant pressure, this constant situation. Like you said, being completely tied to your phone 24/7, even to the point where people with smart watches... their watch is ringing. It's not just their phone, it's something that's actually attached to their body is ringing at the same time, which just makes it, as you say, incredibly stressful.

                        So what impact is this having on both ourselves as individuals, our team as individuals, and also, our businesses and our lives as a whole?

Karrie:              Well, people don't realise the impact that stress is actually having.

Annette:           Yeah.

Karrie:              Accumulated stress, a little bit of stress is very beneficial. We can hit a deadline. We get kind of in the zone, get going. You can get a lot of activity done, but our body can't tell the difference between that chronic stress that we feel every day, and that “Oh my gosh, there's a fire. I've got to get out of the building.” That chronic stress, over time, just like any other disease, takes its toll. If you have an unhealthy diet over time, and you don't do things eventually, you'll have some cardiac conditions. This is the same thing, and it's the accumulative effect, and never being able to give your body a break so that it can rest and rejuvenate.

                        In the U.S., which I'm sure the U.K. it's not much different, the top six causes of death are all... stress is an attributer.

Annette:           Wow.

Karrie:              Stress makes those conditions worse. Chances are, if you look at everything that people are dying from, stress impacts it. Stress causes our blood pressure to go up. We are... cantankerous. We snipe and bite at people when we get very reactive, we don't sleep well, we have weight gain, there's an increased rate of depression with stress, and the really sad one that most people don't even want to talk about, and there's actually a study that just came out, actually in Scotland, where 17% of people who are stressed are actually having suicidal thoughts because they're so stressed.

                        You want to get on it in the front end so that you don't ever get to that point, because if you are having suicidal thoughts or anything, please reach out to your healthcare provider because there's help, and you don't have to feel like you're alone.

Annette:           That's something [crosstalk 00:07:58]

Karrie:              Oh, I'm sorry.

Annette:           I'm just saying that's incredibly high statistic as well.

Karrie:              Yeah.

Annette:           This is huge.

Karrie:              Yeah. It was a decent size, I think it was 500 business owners... no, that was a different state. I don't remember how many were in that actually study. But it was a fairly decent amount of people that they were actually looking at. It's a recent statistic. It's within the last year.

Annette:           Gosh.

Karrie:              We've got to do a better job. When we don't, depending on the size or your organisation, and that... almost 50% of people calling in sick, they don't show up for work, is because of stress. If you just look at that, and there is another study from Scotland that actually said that business owners are spending 17 days a year worrying about the business when they're not working.

Annette:           Wow.

Karrie:              That's a lot of weekends where you are not fully present with your family because you're worried about what has to go on in your business, and you're having a very difficult time disconnecting from it. So you don't ever get a break. Very productive people in businesses are having that. If you've got your right-hand man, your left-hand girl, whatever it is... and you're constantly calling them, are you creating the culture to be able to have downtime from your business? If you're doing that, and then you're connecting with your team, you're doing the same thing to them. So, you're perpetuating the problem.

                        Chances are, if you can learn how to disconnect and get away, it's still going to be there in the morning. It's still going to be there Monday morning. There are things that you can do to set yourself up to be more successful so it doesn't feel like it all hits you in the head, but you've got to be able to break away. So, you've got the absenteeism rate.

                        The other is healthcare cost. Some people may think, “Well, I'm not specifically paying for my healthcare.” I'm here to tell you, you are. In the U.S., it might be part of your insurance plan, or it might be part of... there's someone who funds that, and typically it's tax payers, or the people who are paying into that specific insurance plan. So you've got higher rates of that. But even if you're not paying out, let's say because you're going to the doctor, it's time away from work. It's time away from your business. It's time away your family. People who are really stressed, they get sick more, and so it's this whole chicken and the egg. Which is it? It's the circular problem that really does impact our bottom line when we start looking at missed time, missed productivity. There's days where you're like, “I can't even do anything,” where you try to focus on something that should take you a half an hour and two hours later, you're like, “I still haven't gotten that accomplished.” That's money. Your time is probably your most valuable asset, and your business most valuable asset is you.

Annette:           Yeah, 100%.

Karrie:              You've got to start taking care of you.

Annette:           Completely. Actually, you sort of said there as well, it's not just affecting you as a person. It's not just affecting your team as a person. It's not just affecting your bottom line, it's affecting your family; your kids and your friends and everyone you're hanging out with, because you're being distracted and all that stuff as well. It's not great family life in the long run, and may very well end up escalating to a position there that you don't want to have either. So, it's just so incredibly, incredibly important to be very, very mindful of our own stress, and our team stress as well, and not be the people who are actually impacting our team in a negative when it comes to stress at the same time.

                        So tell me, what can we do? What can we do to change this, because I suspect a lot of entrepreneurs listening are thinking, “Well, that's all very well, but I can't turn my phone off. Things might happen. That would be more stressful if I turned my phone off, I would be worrying about what was happening behind the blank screen on phone. What can I do to alleviate some of this stress, some of this pressure I feel?” They might be thinking, “I'm the breadwinner of my family. I need to be pushing, I need to be working all the time, I need to be doing this, because otherwise things will fall apart... balls will get dropped...” What do we say to people who are feeling that right now, and who just don't know how on earth they can get out of this stress cycle?

Karrie:              I think there's two big things, and they're actually small. It is taking 20 minutes. That's what I start my clients with. 20 minutes a day where you create quite, white space. You stop moving, because I'm shocked at the amount of people that you start working with them, and it's like, well, let's just kind of calm you down. “Oh, okay. Well, I can listen to that while I'm washing the dishes.” Or, “I can do this while I'm...”

                        No, I want you to just be still. One of the things that I'll tell people, “Let's see how stressed you are. Can you just sit quietly for five minutes?” And they want to gnaw off their right arm. It's like, “I've got to do this. I've got to do that,” and it's just, if you can really just set out 20 minutes a day where you can be still... I use a practise called Yoga Nidra for a lot of people. It's kind of a guided meditation where they can actually just be still.

                        The other thing is deep breathing. It's one of the big things that we do throughout the Yoga Nidra practise, because when you deep breathe, you take some big breaths in, and then you blow it out really slow. What happens is, in your nervous system, we are typically over here in this fight or flight keyed up state, where we're in our sympathetic nervous system. When you can elongate that exhalation, you flip over into your parasympathetic nervous system.

                        It seems so easy. Everybody can breathe. Everybody's got a breath. You have to breathe to stay alive, but that big-bellied breath, where you can come in and get it really deep, and just blow it out really long, you can do that throughout the day. It really will make a difference in how you feel. You have to just kind of stop and actually feel.

                        That's a great tip. The other would be, like I said, just creating that 20 minutes where you can disconnect. What I like about it is... your kids can do it with you too. Maybe you don't have time to do it in the morning, but I have a lot of clients. They'll come home from work, or disconnect from their office and shut the office down, and it's kind of that chaotic time; everybody's coming home, and everybody's just, “We're hungry, we're this, we're that.” Just taking 20 minutes, they all together can just sit down, lie down, and have a little bit of quiet.

                        I think about this, and I think if we think back to our great grandmothers, I had fabulous grandmas, I love the practises that they did a lot for us. We've lost it along the way. It was kind of that afternoon quite time. It was, “We're going to sit down and have a cup of tea, and then we're going to go lie down for 20, 30 minutes.”

Annette:           Yeah.

Karrie:              And you think about what that really did in our days... and we've lost it. So, we've got to incorporate that back in. One is teaching our children, and then relaxing with them, and then taking care of ourselves. Creating that 20 minutes a day can really make a difference in your day.

Annette:           I love that.

Karrie:              I have a physician that I work with. We worked on this... she started this, and her office manager called me and said, “I don't know what you are doing, but keep it up, because we have had the absolute worst week, and this is the calmest she's ever been. Our whole office is finally running well."

Annette:           Wow.

Karrie:              That's somebody who didn't even know what we were doing can see the benefit. As the leader, the CEO, the head of your business, you set the tone and culture for your entire organisation, and everyone takes point from you. You have to realise that you've built this culture with your team. Don't let stress erode it because it really can, and you can do things to take care of you that will make it better.

Annette:           I love that. I love the taking the 20 minutes when you come home, when it's that craziness, when the kids have arrived home and your partner's arrived home, and everyone's like, “You need to start cooking dinner,” and there's all that, “who's got homework to do?” All that stuff. Actually doing it then sounds amazing. I know at the end of the day, I almost need to, kind of, go into a decompression chamber, because all this feels like a normal human as I step into family life. It feels like that's a great way to do it.

                        I also love the deep breath thing. If we notice during the day that we're starting to feel overwhelmed, we're starting to feel that kind of stress really impacting us, taking just a few minutes to do that deep breathing, to kind of centre everything again, and ideally make the day kind of work for us again, and make the day more productive again, as opposed to feeling like we're just putting out all the fires and feeling overwhelmed with it all.

Karrie:              Yeah. This is kind of that instilling it into your organisational culture is that I have some clients that will actually... so they bring their team together and they start a meeting, and the very first thing that they do, “Okay, we're going to just take some big, deep breathes.” It's instilling that this is important. This minute and a half of deep breathing, blow it out really slow, makes a difference.

                        The other thing I will tell you, so this is kind of a funny one, is little kids bubbles. Your kids will love it too. This is a fabulous de-stressing tool that... I mean, obviously I keep it here on my desk. Cheap bubbles. You just pick them up and you blow them. You realise when you blow out the bubble, it's a longer exhalation than an inhalation, and they're fun. Who doesn't love bubbles?

Karrie:              Now, typically, you can go to the market and you'll find little tubes they sell for weddings and stuff-

Annette:           Yes.

Karrie:              The little ones? I stick those in my purse. When people get really stressed, I can whip out some bubbles and blow out, which seems silly, but it gets us laughing, which gets us bigger breaths, and you have to blow out longer to be able to blow the bubble out. Like I said, who doesn't love bubbles? They're fun.

Annette:           That is totally awesome. I have a two and a four year old, and they love bubbles. If I started doing that every day, I would be the best mom in the world, I'm sure. Of course, I'm... I kind of am anyway, but we'll set that aside.

                        That is totally awesome. I'm absolutely loving these tips. Tell everyone on the podcast how they can find out more about you, where they can find you online, and how they can connect with you more?

Karrie:              Online, I'm at karriebrazaski.com. Then on Facebook, same thing. Karrie Brazaski Coaching is my business page there, and we actually have a weekly training on how to de-stress. Different tips and tools in a private Facebook group called Stop Stressing and Get Healthy, so people are welcome to come on over and join us there. On LinkedIn, it's Karrie Brazaski.

Annette:           Awesome, Karrie. We will put all the links in the show notes as well, so that everyone can connect with you there. I highly, highly recommend that you do, because just these two or three short tips that Karrie has shared, I think, can have a massive, massive impact on ourselves personally, our team, our business, our financials, our bottom line, and our families as well.

                        Let's face it, the vast majority of us are in business to support ourselves and our families. We want to be doing the best, doing that the best way we can. The best way we can is not being stressed because, as Karrie shared, it not only impacts the financials of the business, it impacts our health as well. It's a key contributor to a number of... a number of things that are high up on the causes of death list, which is not a nice thing to say, but it is, and we need to be aware of that.

                        Again, Karrie, thank you so, so much for joining me today. I highly, highly appreciate it.

                        Thank you so much for listening. Until next time, let's find the clarity in your numbers, increase your wealth, and get more money in your pockets.

And you can connect with Karrie here:

Website https://karriebrazaski.com/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/karriebrazaski/

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/karriebrazaski/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/karriebrazaskicoaching/

Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopStressingGetHealthy


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About the Author

Annette Ferguson 

Owner of Annette & Co. - Chartered Accountants & Certified Profit First Professionals. Helping online service-based entrepreneurs find clarity in their numbers, increase wealth and have more money in their pockets.