Build capacity and resilience so YOU and your BUSINESS can SURVIVE and THRIVE (during Covid-19 and beyond)
We have all experienced a massive curve ball in the past few weeks. Our stress response system has been on high alert. Everything has been turned upside down, our business may have been paused, may have got busier, may be threatened. Our business plans and business direction changed, paused, stopped. We are worried about our livelihoods, we are constantly thinking about the health and wellbeing of our families, friends, neighbours, business friends and networks. We’re anxious about the wider world now and in the future – will life change forever? For the good or bad?
What I’d like to talk with you about today is how this is likely to be affecting your health particularly looking at stress hormones and how this may impact you in the short-term and long-term.
You may also be thinking what qualifies Aileen to be giving me this advice about my business and my health.
Well, it’s my business life experience alongside my health expertise. For those of you who don’t know me, before I was a nutritionist and health coach, I was an owner /director of a catering and hospitality business. We took it from start up to sale in a decade and in the process, I crashed and burned. I made money but paid for it with my health. To cut a long story short that’s what led me to retrain as a nutritional therapist and health coach and create my current business.
So, I’ve walked in your shoes. I know what it’s like to be a business owner – the full cycle – all the successes and challenges – all the highs and lows – the desperation when you think your business is under threat – the tenacity, resilience and creativity which is required to survive and thrive. I’ve dedicated the last 10 years to studying nutrition and lifestyle medicine and working with people in business to build great health, capacity and resilience so that they can enjoy both their business and personal lives to the full.
Let’s have a look at what may be going on with your Stress Response during Covid-19 times.
Stages of Stress Response
When we are responding to stress (at any time) we typically experience physiological changes in 3 stages, known as the general adaptation syndrome (GAS). Hans Seyle (known as the Father of Stress) identified these stages as alarm, resistance, and exhaustion in his research published in 1946.
We experience these stages of stress multiple times every day i.e. we are going through the stress cycle over and over again.
Sometimes it’s for everyday experiences like:
- Preparation for a meeting
- Delivering a sales presentation,
- Anxiety around cash flow or debtors
- Coping with our workload
Sometimes it’s to deal with the extraordinary, the emergencies, the totally unexpected and events, which feel out of our control.
This is when the body reacts with a fight or flight response and our sympathetic nervous system mobilises stress hormones and energy resources to respond. Linking this back to Covid-19 and that curveball, as a business owner or leader you are most likely in the ALARM (working out what to do, perhaps in shock). The stressors you are feeling, physically, mentally and emotionally may feel intense and disturbing.
You are finding a way to deal with what is ahead or perhaps you are seemingly coping well. Many entrepreneurial people cope well in adversity, you may think its in your business DNA to roll with whatever is in your path and have an innate ability to bounce back. Of course, WE DO and WE CAN. In this phase the body is attempting to support us to get into balance to cope with dealing with the ongoing stressor whatever it may be, whilst we continue to focus resources against the stressor and remaining on high alert – ready for anything. There is serious potential for all of us to experience the resistance phase for too long during CoVid-19 pandemic. Feeling the need to work extra long hours and neglecting self-care may lead us into the exhaustion phase.
If we have been in the resistance phase for too long without an opportunity to recover, our physiological resources may become exhausted i.e. running out/running low on energy and nutrient status. We may become susceptible to burn out and chronic health disorders. Our business, staff, customers, suppliers as well as our families need us to be fit and robust for the long-term so it’s crucial that we manage or stress response positively and have a consistently good personal self-care system in place to support us.
4th Phase – Recovery
In more recent times, health practitioners and researchers have been talking about RECOVERY as a crucial phase not identified in Seyle’s original research.
The crucial thing is to allow and facilitate recovery, so we are reducing our stress load on a day-to-day basis. By doing this we helping to restore our adrenal reserve and avoiding being in the exhaustion phase for a longer-term period.
However, over a longer period, there may be some silent effects of stress, which may show up in your personal health, when your body inevitably requires you to slow down and take you into the EXHAUSTION phase before RECOVERY.
In the business world, we may be in the RESISTANCE phase for months and perhaps years ahead. So, what can you do to minimise the impact on your personal health? The obvious strategy would be to reduce your stress load, but in these times that may be too big a request.
My top advice would be to empty your STRESS BUCKET every day. Avoid 24/7 working, being on call, being digitally available, always thinking and doing. On a daily basis, take meal breaks and end your business day with a relaxing, non-business, switching off activity. Allow yourself to naturally fall into the exhaustion phase followed by recovery time. Doing that every day and scheduling rest days and holidays or staycations will help you naturally build capacity and resilience to cope with the demands of business and family life for the weeks, months and years ahead.
If you’d like to discuss how to work with Aileen please book a complimentary call https://www.thehealthheroine.com/book-high-flying-energy-consultation/