Stress is a silent destroyer of businesses, and female entrepreneurs are very rarely left unscathed from its path of destruction. In a report by FLIK, it was shared that 52% of the women and non-binary respondents to a study they performed reported dealing with mental health issues. The most common problems reported were depression, impacting 36.6 percent of the respondents, and anxiety disorders, at 33.3 percent. Depression and anxiety cause stress, which creates dysregulation in the Autonomic Nervous System in the Vagus Nerve. This harms not only our mental health but our HEALTH and impacts every area of our lives, including our businesses.
How stress impacts our health
How we manage stress is different for everyone, and it’s dependent on our upbringings and the family environment. We build up a tolerance to an unhealthy amount of stress because our minds think it’s “normal.”
When stress is chronic, it will erode your health and well-being. This will have a negative impact on your nervous system, which impacts your sleep, digestion, skin, hormones and menstruation. Typically, when working in highly stressful environments, we have higher blood pressure, potentially are more constipated and have a hard time relaxing or resting. In both the personal and professional lives of people who live with stress, they typically mask what is truly going on inside and in the nervous system.
Our allostatic load (the medical term for our body’s capacity to function, based on our physiology’s optimal function) is negatively impacted if we tax our Autonomic Nervous System for too long. This challenges our heart functions/capacities, burgeoning our veins and vessels, our capillaries do not have the same return, and our digestion becomes static, thus causing toxins to sit in the body.
We need to find a happy balance in our allostatic load so that we can rest, relax and sleep and digest to our fullest health optimal potential, without the support of medicine or substances.
The importance of regulating the nervous system
A healthy nervous system has the capacity to undergo stressful situations and events while being able to come down to a resting rate (heart, respiration, digestion and sleep) in a time-sensitive period.
After a stressful event, we should be able to sleep that evening, have an appetite, be able to provide self-care to ourselves and have regular blood pressure and heart rate. Far too often, we get stuck in an elevated sympathetic state or become completely shut down, and these are both highly dysregulated states.
The more we can maintain a healthy state, the healthier we will be. When we regulate our nervous system, we will manage and overcome stressful events, we have fewer sensitivities to food, allergies, scents and sound, and we will live without leaning on coping strategies such as drugs, alcohol and other addictive behaviors.
Four ways that you can regulate your nervous system
- Ensure that you prioritize sleep. A lack of sleep causes stress, and stress causes a lack of sleep. Having enough time to sleep is imperative, along with having good sleep hygiene.
- Managing your diet is a very important element to stress management. How you fuel your body will impact how your body processes emotions and feelings like stress.
- Make sure that you have extremely clear and firm boundaries. It is important not to take on too much and being able to say no to things that compromise your boundaries.
- Balancing rest, play, and self-care will help to optimize stress management. Humans require a lot of downtime doing nothing to heal and recharge. We don’t need to fill every waking moment with tasks, chores, activities and work. I invite you to find stillness and embrace rest.
As female entrepreneurs, we once wore “busy” and “stress” as a badge of honor to show the world how accomplished we are, but times have changed. And now, a lot of us are not only prioritizing rest, but a lot of us are working on healing the wounds that stress causes in our bodies and mind. When we regulate our Autonomic Nervous System, we have more energy, can sleep better, be more productive and creative and show healthier in our businesses.
Verdell Jessup is a Somatic Experiencing & Developmental Trauma Specialist and trained in the Feldenkrais Method. Verdell works primarily with the Autonomic Nervous System and the Vagus Nerve to help the Nervous System become more regulated through somatic touch work. She lives part-time in Vancouver and Kamloops, BC, Canada and works with people worldwide. She has been in private practice since 2010 as a Somatic Experiencing practitioner(trauma resolution) in addition to the Feldenkrais Method (neural plasticity). Verdell has assisted over 5000 hours at Somatic Experiencing trainings and in Transformational Experienced Based Brain trainings with Stephen Terrell. She loves the work she offers to help people of all ages heal from adverse experiences. Verdell has been known to heal medical mysteries and can see you at any stage of your healing journey.