“Spending quality time with people I love”, Dr. Amanda Chay and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Focus on growing one thing at a time and put all of your energy and passion into that one project. Coming from someone that owns multiple businesses I know this sounds crazy but I started with growing my clinic and being the best doctor I could. After I had that nailed I launched my online […]

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Focus on growing one thing at a time and put all of your energy and passion into that one project. Coming from someone that owns multiple businesses I know this sounds crazy but I started with growing my clinic and being the best doctor I could. After I had that nailed I launched my online education platform and supplement company, however anytime I tried to put energy into more than one project at a given time it was harder to grow. Now I plan out my entire year so that I know exactly what I am focusing on growing at certain times of the year so I can put all of my energy and passion into it.


As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Amanda Chay.

Dr. Amanda Chay is a Naturopathic Physician and business consultant for wellness professionals. Running a thriving online hormone education platform and a busy clinic she realized the most common cause of hormone imbalance and chronic disease was chronic stress.

Her background as both a doctor and owner and co-founder of two businesses has made her an expert in optimizing wellness and peak performance in body, mind, and business.

After seeing her patient’s anxiety, insomnia, hormone imbalances, and chronic diseases resolve using natural techniques and routines to balance cortisol and stress, she realized this was the answer to most people’s health issues.

Dr. Chay is on a mission to help patients and entrepreneurs alike create more work-life balance while optimizing health and performance. The more you can fine-tune your habits for optimal wellness, the easier it is to excel in all areas of life.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Thanks for having me! I grew up in the middle of Canada where -40C weather, giant mosquitoes, and a diet void of veggies were the norm. My mom was a dental assistant and my dad a caretaker at my highschool. We did not have a ton of money growing up and my dad wasn’t keen on saving for secondary education. I was the first person in my family to get a university degree, so I started working in fine dining restaurants when I was 14 to save for university. Because of this, I grew up quickly and it was also the first time I had face-to-face experience with successful entrepreneurs and people who were on a mission to make massive changes in the world.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

My mom. She had ulcerative colitis my entire life and I remember attending hot dog fundraising events with her and having to rush to the washroom in a frenzy whenever we were out in public, often having to explain to angry people why she needed the washroom ASAP. I watched how stress affected her symptoms, especially pain, and could not deny the impact this had on her disease.

I was actually thinking of pursuing a career in dentistry because, well, dentists were wealthy and my parents weren’t and this is what they encouraged me to do. After shadowing many dentists I ended up in an office where I fainted during a tooth extraction, immediately ending my desire to pursue this vocation.

With this forced reflection I started asking around about other career paths and learned about Naturopathic Medicine. I had never heard of such a thing and spent hours interviewing NDs to learn more about the field. I learned it was a combination of both science (physiology & pathology) and psychology (how our emotions affect our wellbeing).

My mom’s disease had almost always been bad but when she let go of a significant stressor in her life, her symptoms resolved and she was even able to discontinue her expensive medication. This reinforced the connection between mind and body and the importance of addressing the entire person when treating chronic conditions. Her life inspired me to choose a career that teaches people how to balance their stress, diet, and lifestyle so they too could live happy, healthy lives.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

This would be my mom again. My mom taught me independence but was also there whenever I needed her. She drove with me to write the dental aptitude test, paid for the hotel, and bought me a pumpkin pie blizzard to eat while I studied the night before. She woke up early to drive me to the exam and waited for me when it was finished. She sacrificed so much to help me be a dentist, but when I told her that I didn’t want to be a dentist anymore instead of being disappointed she was unbelievably supportive, and told me following my heart and finding something that would bring me joy was more important than a job that made lots of money but that I might hate. If I did not have her support I would likely be a depressed dentist in -40C instead of living my dream life, having my dream job, in my dream town with my dream partner.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

There are so many mistakes when you are running multiple businesses that it is hard to think of just one in particular! I think the most interesting mistake was starting a business with one of my friends. We had all of these visions and ideas and got the ball rolling on our supplement company. I was the doctor and formulator and she was the business and marketing person. We agreed that those were our roles and the more I learned about business the more I learned I should have stepped in (I was already running my own multiple six-figure clinic at the time) but, I continued to keep things status quo because I was worried it might affect our friendship. Eventually, we ended up parting ways and I was both devastated and completely relieved, but what makes this interesting is that I had no idea how the heck I was going to run this business while also running my clinic and online education platforms.

People always say everything happens for a reason, but when you are in the middle of chaos is it hard to believe that. However, a few weeks later two amazing female entrepreneurs reached out to me who wanted to partner in the business. Now that we have three brains working on the business side it is growing quicker than ever. The lesson that I took away is that things really do happen for a reason, and if my friend and I had separated any sooner the timing wouldn’t have been perfect for the three of us to come together to grow this business and help more people.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Focus on growing one thing at a time and put all of your energy and passion into that one project. Coming from someone that owns multiple businesses I know this sounds crazy but I started with growing my clinic and being the best doctor I could. After I had that nailed I launched my online education platform and supplement company, however anytime I tried to put energy into more than one project at a given time it was harder to grow. Now I plan out my entire year so that I know exactly what I am focusing on growing at certain times of the year so I can put all of my energy and passion into it.

Also remember that no one is judging you more than you’re judging yourself. The only way you can grow is to put yourself out there, and the person usually holding you back the most is you. Invest time and energy daily to work on yourself and your mindset because this is absolutely the key to growth and success.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

There are so many books I have read that have impacted me, but the one that came to mind was a book I read in highschool called ‘How to Talk to Anyone’ by Leil Lowndes. It had a great impact because it made me a better communicator, a skill I have used my entire life and career.

In fact, the reason I read it in highschool was so I could communicate with people more effectively at the restaurant and by default make more tips! What resonated with me was the focus on mindfulness with each new interaction. It focused on being in the moment and helping people feel special, seen, and heard so they would enjoy interacting with you and then, by default, as the communicator you also end up seeing, hearing, and feeling how special they were as an individual and therefore enjoy interacting with them more.

There are tips I learned that I continue to use in social interactions all of the time, for example: when you meet someone for the first time don’t just smile blindly (I love smiling so tended to do this!), smile with intention and think of them as someone you love and haven’t seen in a while — slowly build the smile and so they feel extremely important to you.

Another example is when you are in social situations and are introducing two people, don’t just give their names and occupation — also add one or two sentences that would connect them. For example “This is Joe, he is a doctor, but he also loves skiing like you, Lisa, and skied in Japan last year. I remember you saying you skied there in the past?”. These are just two examples but there are many other lessons that stuck with me and have impacted all of my interactions.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

My favorite life lesson quote is by Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”. I grew up being told this by my mom and have seen over and over people who believe what they are working towards is possible will realize it in their future. Mindset is the biggest barrier to creating a life you love which I believe is key to optimal wellness and performance.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

I have two exciting projects I am working on right now.

The first is growing my supplement company Enliven Naturals. My business partner and I founded this business to address the ineffective, low quality, un-tested supplements that patients kept bringing to me in the clinic. There is a chronic stress and burnout epidemic happening and I know educating people about lifestyle with the support of supplements can transform their lives, but not if they are using poor quality supplements. A study that tested a variety of over the counter adrenal support products found that every single one contained thyroid, steroid, or sex hormones.

Typically professional quality supplements can only be prescribed by a doctor so my goal is to bring high quality supplements to everyone without having to see a doctor. People should obviously talk to their doctor’s before starting anything new, but the reality is people are going to take supplements anyway, and I would rather them be taking something that is going to be helpful instead of potentially harmful or a waste of money. This is all part of my larger goal of creating more work life balance in North America to help increase joy and decrease chronic illness.

The second is teaching wellness providers to be better entrepreneurs. As helping professionals we are terrified to charge for our services, promote our services, or even put ourselves out there and provide free education. Patients are frustrated with the conventional model (at no fault of the doctors, the whole model is putting too much pressure on them) and are looking to other places for support and education. More and more people are looking to prevent chronic disease instead of dealing with it when they receive a diagnosis, and I believe well educated, evidence based wellness practitioners can fill this gap and educate people.

The more wellness providers gain confidence in their business skills, the more they will put themselves out there and help more people and the more people we can educate and empower collectively. This is also part of the burnout epidemic. We (as a society) are so obsessed with working all of the time and using hours worked as a measure of success, but this doesn’t need to be the case. The more individuals who believe we can work less and create more joy in our lives, the more normalized it will become and the better off we all will be.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Creating good habits is paramount in creating health, happiness, and success. Successful, high performing people spend time developing daily habits to optimize mindset and focus. What we focus our attention on is what we bring into our lives. More than this, many of our natural hormones are released based on our environment and daily activities such as when and what we eat, when we wake up and go to bed, and how much stress we are experiencing. If you create good habits, you are literally setting your body up to work better physically and mentally.

I see the importance of creating good habits every single day in the clinic and with entrepreneurs I work with. I have a million examples I could share, but here are a personal and a patient experience that stands out.

The first is my own experience. I spent a year traveling with my husband over a decade ago and during this time we worked in a beautiful village in the French Alps. We both fell in love with the small mountain lifestyle, having crepes and an espresso every afternoon, and being close to the ski hill. We dreamed of living in a ski town where we could make our own schedules and experience work life balance. I had a lot of schooling to go through before we would ever make it there, but I made a habit out of constantly reminding myself of these dreams and goals and figuring out how to make it happen. My first year in practice we lived in our dream ski town and I hit my five year income goal. In the community I grew up in this would have been deemed almost impossible, but by creating a daily habit, my goals became a reality without much difficulty.

The second is a woman who had insomnia and such severe anxiety that she could barely leave her house. The four habits we focused on were increasing her protein with each meal, adding in daily self care, adding in some herbs and minerals for stress, and making sure she had an evening routine. Within three weeks she could leave her house and sleep again. She accomplished all of this by changing some habits.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Habits have played a huge role in my success. Anytime I fall out of my habits I see my mental, physical, and business health all shift in the wrong direction.

My top success habits that I use every day are:

  1. Checking in with a mentor either professionally or personally
  2. Spending quality time with people I love
  3. Writing down goals and gratitude
  4. Scheduling time for self care
  5. Be outside & moving my body

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

After helping thousands of patients and now practitioners develop good habits, the best way to do this is to start with habits that are attainable. If you make a plan to exercise for 1.5 hours a day, but the thought of that stresses you out because you have no idea how you are going to fit that in, start with 10 minutes a day. 10 minutes is doable and once you realize you can do it every day the time inevitably increases because you feel better and want to spend more time doing it. Also, if your initial goal was 10 minutes and now you are doing an hour every day, but one day you are really busy and only have 10 minutes to exercise there is less guilt for only doing 10 minutes because this was the original benchmark and you are still maintaining the habit. Consistency with flexibility is key.

Again, based on experience I have found a harm reduction model to be the best approach for most people. For example, if you have 5 cups of coffee a day, stopping cold turkey will likely leave you with terrible headaches and extremely low energy which will encourage you to pick up another cup of coffee and leave you feeling like you have failed. If instead try to go down to 4 cups of coffee a day for 3–5 days then 3 cups, etc. until you get to 2–3 cups per week, you won’t experience the same physical symptoms of energy crashes or headaches and psychologically you will feel more motivated because you are setting goals you can actually achieve.

With that being said, there are always people who do better with the all or nothing approach. However, I do find this rigidness to be detrimental to health and happiness long term for most people I have worked with over the years. I am a big fan of encouraging flexibility and openness to change because this is where lasting lifestyle changes actually happen.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

Absolutely! The top three habits I use to create optimum wellness in myself, my patients, and my business clients are:

  1. Schedule time for self care. I don’t care if this is a lot of time or a little time you just need to schedule it in. Self care is also not over exercising. Too much exercise will add more stress to your system which will end up having the opposite effect on wellness. Self care is doing things that are relaxing and nurturing such as having a bath, reading a relaxing book, going for a walk, meditating, or even just sitting and doing absolutely nothing for five minutes.
    I worked with a man who ran a huge company and team and was working all of the time, constantly needing to answer his phone, and working well into the evenings. He was completely lacking work life balance, was drinking coffee all of the time, and suffered from anxiety and insomnia (a common concern people come to see me for!). For him, the biggest change was scheduling time for meditation every day. We worked with diet, decreasing coffee, and herbs, but also made sure he added in self care every single day. This daily self care completely transformed his life because he remembered that he could work less, take a break, and could control his anxiety. He was able to sleep, feel relaxed throughout the day and ultimately have better performance and focus as an entrepreneur.
  2. Taking supplements. I am a Naturopathic Doctor so of course I love supplements, but they truly make a difference in overall health, performance, and focus. I always recommend using herbs and nutrients to both calm the nervous system and to balance cortisol. Adding this to your daily routine, alongside diet and lifestyle changes, is the quickest way to optimize wellness.
    I saw a woman who was diagnosed with depression and had been on several medications throughout the years with no help. We tested her vitamin D, a common lab test I run with patients who have depression, and found that it was extremely deficient. We got her on the proper dose of vitamin D and her depression resolved. This is decades of depression resolved in a matter of months because no one had checked her vitamin D, that could easily be remedied through supplementation. I have TONS of these stories from women getting pregnant who were told they were in premature ovarian failure, and would never have kids to people who could barely get out of bed to having energy and motivation to live a life they love.
  3. Practice reframing and gratitude every day. Training your mind is the number one tool to optimize wellness, performance, and focus. If you are having a bad day and don’t feel like exercising but feel bad about yourself instead of seeing it as space to rest this will affect your health. If you don’t do well at something and see it as failure instead of a learning lesson, this will affect your performance. If you are working on a project and are distracted by negative thoughts, if you can’t reframe it will be difficult to stay focused. People who are the most positive and grateful are that way because they are constantly reframing their thoughts to create this as a habit in their mind so it starts happening more naturally.
    I come from a family of worriers and worst case scenario thinkers. When I was a kid I used to panic anytime my parents were out because I pictured them getting into a car accident and never coming home. When we moved to our dream town I thought ‘what if this business fails and we need to leave town’, when I started my first business I thought ‘what if no one likes me and I never get busy’? I was hardwired to change positive experiences into negative scenarios. I have been practicing daily gratitude and reframing for years now, but it wasn’t until I made a daily habit of them that these hardwired circuits finally started to rewire.
    This is something I do every single day because as soon as I stop I can see the old patterns trying to creep back in and those thoughts are completely paralyzing. This daily habit has lead to me having an amazing, thriving clinic, an online education platform where I help women balance their hormones and become pregnant, donating to causes I am passionate about such as one that gives underserviced girls menstrual products so they don’t have to miss school, a supplement company with a product that has transformed people’s lives, and helping other wellness providers create an income and life they love while helping more and more people.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Definitely.

The first and easiest thing to do is setting reminders. I have automatic alerts set to my computer every day at nine am to remind myself to practice gratitude and reframing.

For self care, literally schedule it into your day. I did this so often and forced myself to do it even when I thought there wasn’t time that now I just automatically do it every single day. It is part of who I am and no longer something I need to actively remind myself to do. Whenever I see a patient or entrepreneur that struggles with this I also advise them to schedule it in and it inevitably becomes an automatic part of their lives.

For supplements, leave them somewhere where you can’t forget them. If you take Magnesium to calm anxiety, relax your muscles, and help you sleep, keep the bottle beside your bed or toothbrush so there is no way you can forget to take it. If you use herbs in the morning to help balance cortisol, keep them beside your teapot or or frying pan (whatever you use every single morning).

The last thing is to give yourself grace and permission to not be perfect. I think perfection is the killer of joy and also sets us up to feel like we have failed. If you don’t expect yourself to be perfect if you forget to do your gratitude one day it will be a lot easier to get back on top of it the next day. If we see skipping the habit as failure it’s a lot easier to just throw in the towel and not pick ourselves back up again.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

My top three habits for optimal performance at work are:

One: Scheduling tasks based on how your energy naturally changes throughout the day. I figured this out when I was in school and continue to use it to this day — there is even new research coming out on how entrepreneurs experience burnout differently and how to best structure your time based on this model. Our cortisol naturally spikes in the morning to give us lots of energy and focus in the early parts of the day, then slightly drops in the afternoon and fully drops before bed leaving us tired and ready for a deep sleep (if this doesn’t happen for you your cortisol levels are likely imbalanced). Therefore the best way to schedule tasks is based on energy and these changing cortisol patterns. Research by Suzanne Barclary suggests breaking your schedule into three categories based on energy:

  1. When you are well rested. This is usually within the first 3–4 hours of waking. You should schedule tasks that require: decision making, creativity, and difficult analysis.
  2. Mid-range energy and clarity. These are times in the day when your energy is consistent and your brain is clear. At these times you should work on tasks that require concentration, learning, and writing.
  3. Low energy and foggy hours. This is for tasks that are restorative, repetitive, and familiar. Some examples are: e-mails, admin, and organization.

This will vary slightly for each person, so it is about finding which hours are the best for you for these three categories of tasks and scheduling your daily work around it.

Story: Before starting medical school I had been traveling for an entire year which meant I got up when I felt like it, did whatever brought me joy throughout the day, and very rarely had to do anything at a specific time (and even then if we missed the bus or train who cares, we could get the next one). So when I started school again it was a rude awakening from the life I was now accustomed to and since I was in a very chill, low work mindset my grades started to reflect this, which was extremely uncommon for me as a consistent top-of-the-class student. To make up for this I completely overcompensated and started studying all of the time. I would be studying for hours and hours nonstop in the evenings to try and cram everything into my brain and my grades were improving but my mental health was declining. I realized that traveling had instilled in me the need for moments of pure joy and a work life balance that was competing with the need to excel at school. So, I had to completely shift my approach to school. I realized that if I studied early in the morning, despite not being a classic morning person, I was more focused and productive. I could get more done in way less time and still have space to enjoy a relaxing meal and spending time with my husband in the evenings. Not only did I remember things better and enjoy my life more but I was also getting way better grades and back up to the top of the class in less than half the amount of time I was spending studying before.

Two: Batching your time. This is the best way to improve performance at work. Every time you switch a task you waste time. If you are switching between writing, recording videos, checking emails, meetings, then checking social media imagine how much time you are wasting simply in the moments you are switching and having to refocus. If, for example, you schedule a three hour block for meetings, two hour block for writing, and thirty minute block for emails you will save incredible amounts of time which will greatly improve performance. Some of my colleagues will be more extreme and schedule entire days for meetings or writing but I find personally I need 1–2 scheduled task switches throughout the day to keep me fresh and focused.

Story: I bought my clinic from a retiring doctor so I started out busy with patients. This was great because I learned a lot quickly but it was also terrible because I was still recovering from feeling burned out from school (yes, despite spending way less time studying than everyone else we were given too much for any human to accomplish unscathed). I recognized that I was on a clear path to burnout again. How on earth could I manage having employees, seeing patients, running a clinic, and taking care of admin all at the same time?? This is where I learned to both batch my timeand set strong boundaries around it. Instead of scheduling breaks between patients to catch up I started scheduling six hour blocks in my day where I would see patients back-to-back and schedule admin or other tasks in the off hours. This small shift in schedule saved me massive amounts of time and allowed me to get necessary non-patient work done. I now only see patients in four hour blocks because this is the amount where I feel the most balanced and give the best care. I am also now able to spend time on bigger projects that will impact more people than I can do with one-to-one alone.

Three: Do tasks that you feel like doing first. You will obviously have a list of things that need to be done at a certain times but take a look at this list and see which one you feel most excited to work on. If you work on something just because it is on your to do list but have no motivation to do it you will waste a lot of time. Starting with or switching to something you are motivated to work on will enhance your performance because your energy and enthusiasm will help you accomplish it more quickly with better quality. Seeing a task being completed gives you confidence, peace of mind, and motivation to move onto the other less exciting task (and almost always the task you were unmotivated to do becomes motivating at a different time in the day). This simple shift will make you much more efficient and lead to optimal performance.

Story: This is another skill I learned from being in school and running a business, which both involved having way too much on my plate. In school I was constantly having to study for exams, while having several projects due, and prepping for patients — all of which looks completely overwhelming on a daily ‘to do’ list. What I found is that if I figured out which tasks should be prioritized for that week based on deadlines and then looked at the list and started with whichever one I actually felt like doing, even if it wasn’t the task that needed to be done the soonest, I was able to get it done and check it off the list making the rest of the list seem much more doable. I still do this now. People always ask me how I get so much done and still have time to socialize and enjoy my hobbies and it is because I do what I feel like doing first, batch my time, and schedule tasks based on my energy.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

The easiest way to develop these habits is to take time to look at your schedule, think about when you are the most productive, restructure it, and plan your entire day out in batches. Instead of trying to do this day-by-day, if you sit down and schedule your month or week out in advance it will make it much easier to accomplish your goals. The other piece is to communicate to others that this is what you are doing and don’t take no for an answer. This really comes down to boundaries and seeing a counsellor or mindset coach to work on practicing and maintaining good boundaries is extremely helpful.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Getting outside every day. When you are having a hard time focusing, taking a break is the easiest way to get back on track. If you go outside you are getting more oxygen and energy to your brain, and if you go for a quick walk you are energizing your entire body. Simply being in nature decreases stress hormone production and puts whatever you are working on that seems like a life or death situation back into perspective. Even a five minute walk around the block or sitting by a tree can leave you feeling rejuvenated, energized, and ready to focus on the task at hand.
    When I first started the clinic I was so busy and overwhelmed that I was working in the evenings and had no time to even think about exercise. However, I lived close to my work and could walk there and back every day and started to realize that when I was walking home I suddenly felt the stress of the day wash away and all of the problems that I couldn’t seem to solve would suddenly become crystal clear. Because of this I started incorporating extended daily walks/hikes into my routine and found the more I did this, the more I was able to focus on and sort through problems that would have taken hours for me to figure out if I was stuck at my desk. I also realized that by the time my walk was done I was completely regrounded and if I needed to do more work I was much more focused and efficient when I sat down to do it. Whenever I have a hard decision to make or I am losing focus I get outside to and inevitably by the time I get back the problem is solved and I am able to sit down and complete whatever I was having a hard time focusing on.
  2. Don’t switch back and forth between tasks. This is the biggest mistake I see when helping CEOs and entrepreneurs become more efficient. If you are focused on writing a document for a project, don’t stop halfway in between and check your emails, social media, or schedule a call. I said earlier to focus on the tasks you actually feel like doing because this is a great way to be more efficient and focused, however make sure you give yourself adequate time to get the task done without distractions. Book one or two hours specifically for writing tasks and do not schedule anything else for that time. If you need to both write an article and an employee manual and thought you were going to work on the article but when you sit down feel like working on the manual, then work on the manual but make sure that is the only thing you are doing for the next hour.
    I was teaching a group of entrepreneurs about overcoming burnout and when we reviewed this topic there were a lot of excuses such as ‘I need to always be available on my phone’ or ‘I need to be available to check my emails several times throughout the day in case something comes up’ but despite the hesitation each of the women tried blocking and batching their time. One woman in particular was constantly answering her business phone on the evenings and weekends because she thought she needed to do this otherwise her clients would be mad. We discussed setting a boundary in place about when she would answer her phone and she was terrified but when she tried it she discovered that no one was mad and in fact people had more respect for her because she had more respect for her own time. Her business grew and she outsourced more of her sales to her colleagues and even took two months off in the summer, something she would never have considered doing before. Because of these changes her health drastically changed. She was able to sleep without medications and experience increased energy throughout the day without any coffee (she had been drinking two pots per day previously to keep her going)!
  3. Create a non-disrupting environment. We get distracted very easily by our phones, our messy desk, things we need to do around the house, colleagues talking, etc. To be extremely focused, creating a non-disrupting environment is necessary. Here are some ideas: if your desk is messy switch to a different location that has nothing on the table or clean your desk at the beginning or end of your day to make sure there will be no distractions; answer your phone and email at designated times throughout the day instead of randomly whenever you feel like it; wear earplugs if you are in a noisy environment; and lastly work on your boundaries. Boundaries are often overlooked for performance but you need to be crystal clear with your boundaries to have optimal focus. People you work around need to know that when your door is closed or you are in the middle of a task you are unavailable and that is that. You can set loving boundaries that respect your time without being hurtful or disrespectful to others.
    When I was traveling we were always sleeping in hostels and if you have ever slept in a hostel you know that this is not the best sleep environment. People will come in when they want, be loud when they want, and snore louder than you thought humanly possible. I was so frustrated by this because I was always able to control my home and work environment and could not believe that I was having a terrible sleep because of these people but also did not have the money for a more exclusive sleeping option. After weeks of terrible sleeps I realized that these people and the hostel were not the problem, me and my mindset were. I thought about how I could create a non-disrupting environment for myself in this extremely disrupting one and realized that if I got earplugs and an eye cover this would solve most of my problems. It seems like such a small shift but suddenly I was responsible for my own comfort and couldn’t blame anyone else which was completely empowering. When we realize that we are responsible for our own work environments we have the power to create a non-disrupting environment that will lead to optimal performance.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

For these habits having a practice focused on developing your mindset is key. In every one of these instances shifting the way I thought about the situation is what led me to create these new habits. This could be meditation, working with a coach or counselor or reading books on the topic. Another great way is taking a few minutes to journal anytime a mental barrier comes up. Write down the barrier or mental ‘lie’ you are saying to yourself and the positive or ‘truth’ on the other end of the page. For example: I can’t get any work done at home because my kids are always interrupting. This is a lie you are telling yourself. Beside it, write the truth: I can get lots of work done if I set boundaries with my kids and ask for help. By doing this I will actually have more quality time to spend with them when I am done working. My mentor taught me this exercise and my husband, who is a counselor, told me this is a CBT technique called the ‘judge’. It is incredibly useful to reframe negative thoughts and thoughts that decrease performance and wellness.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

Flow is reached when there is a novel mix of joy, challenge, movement, and creativity or imagination. The more flow states you can reach outside of work the easier it will be to reach flow during work. I find the easiest way to reach flow states on a regular basis is to ensure you have hobbies outside of work and are constantly seeking new experiences. Novel experiences change our perception of time, making time expand and ultimately putting us into flow.

Being a workaholic and repeating the same tasks over and over is not helpful for flow! Some of the easiest places I find flow are being creative with painting or pottery, moving my body and pushing it to different physical limits and terrains with hiking, cross country skiing, and snowboarding, or moving my body in different ways dancing to music I love. The best place to start is with new experiences that engage all of your senses. If you don’t have the space to try something new, although you should really make space for it!, simply engaging in activities you love in a slightly new or more challenging way can put you in a flow state.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

There are two movements I would love to see that kind of go together.

The first movement I would love to see happen is for people to create more work/life balance and space to do the things they love. I would love for the definition of ‘success’ to be reframed to enjoying life more and working less. When people are more joyful and have space to thrive, better ideas and movements will happen, people will help more people, and more people will ultimately feel fulfilled.

This ties into the second movement which is that everyone learns more about their health and how to prevent chronic disease. This is not a big secret but people who can afford to learn more about their health are and people who can’t aren’t and are suffering preventable diseases as a result. This ties into my first point because decreasing our work, and therefore stress, and increasing our joy will only result in less chronic inflammation and therefore less chronic disease.

I think we need to figure out a way where everyone can work less but still be compensated fairly to be able to engage in activities they love. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen patients who have spent their whole lives working and waiting until they retire to ‘do what they love’ then are diagnosed with a chronic condition. They can’t do any of the joyful things they were planning on doing when they retired. It is devastating but I believe that if we changed the whole model people would make space to do things they loved throughout their lives instead of waiting until they retire or for their 10 days of holidays per year. Then because they were more joyful and less stressed this would also make them less susceptible to chronic inflammation and chronic disease.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love to have breakfast or lunch with David Lebovitz. This is because he sees the world the same way I do, through his stomach and taste buds. In his book ‘The Sweet Life in Paris’ he wrote that someone asked him about what to do in Paris and all he wrote her was a list of all of the places to go eat and how she thought he must be crazy because he didn’t mention any of the main attractions. When I read this I thought ‘I need to meet him’ because this is exactly how I see travel and I too give lists of places to eat to friends when they ask for travel tips. David also embodies work life balance and takes time to experience and enjoy the day to day while running a successful business. I am obsessed with Paris, food, wine, cocktails, and simply enjoying the small pleasures in life so I don’t see how this could be a bad idea. (I also speak french and worked in France so I wouldn’t embarrass him at a french restaurant).

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I spend most of my time hanging out on instagram @dramandachay where I chat business, mindset, and optimizing wellness.

For more info, readers can also check:

Clinic website: https://thenaturalpath.ca/

Business consulting website dramandachay.com which is currently being revamped but will be ready in the new year.

Supplement website: https://enlivennaturals.com/

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

Thank you so much for having me, it was an honor!

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