Being an entrepreneur comes with a load of stress. It is exciting to be starting something of your own and be free from having a boss or the demands of a corporation. But let’s face it; you are suddenly playing every role in the company: marketing, managing, public relations, book-keeping, etc., and that is a lot to juggle. Keeping your stress levels in check is critical, and to do that you need to focus on three main things: diet, exercise and relaxation.
Stress comes in many forms. The physical stress from sitting at the computer, mental stress from trying to get it all done and then emotional stress worrying if you are doing it right or if the clients will come in. In order for your body to properly function, it needs adequate nutrients, sunlight, rest, water, and joy. Without this formula, dis-ease is likely to form. When you are preoccupied with work, relationships, a packed schedule or financial strain, stress can take over all aspects of your life; leading to emotional eating, restless sleep, depression and dehydration. Fatigue is usually the first sign that imbalance is setting in, and if ignored, will move to aches and pains or gastrointestinal distress. These are signs from your body that something needs to change before a diagnosis is given and chronic illness develops.
Photo Courtesy of American Psychological Association
Often when stressed, we feel like we lack control. There is not enough time, resources or energy, and we feel we are walking around in a state of deficiency. Ironically, our bodies are dealing with deficiency, because in the face of stress our bodies become depleted of the vital micronutrients that keep our energy strong and the mind sharp. For instance, stress depletes your body of many vital vitamins and minerals like B Vitamins, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. These nutrients are released from the body to fight inflammation and neutralize free radicals, which are created in response to stress, poor diet, pathogens, etc. Without these valuable vitamins, your immune system becomes weak and you are unable to fight off viruses and other pathogens.
Stress also exhausts minerals like magnesium. As the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, magnesium is necessary for enzyme creation, calcium uptake and anxiety control. Studies have shown that events like heart attacks and high blood pressure are often accompanied by magnesium deficiency. When the body is in a state of stress, magnesium is released to help cope.
So what can you do to alleviate stress? Focusing on how to protect and restore these vital nutrients is key. It is critical to support yourself with a healthy diet, get adequate rest, and to engage in meditation, exercise, or anything that relaxes your body and brings it back to a peaceful state, sparing further mineral depletion. Food, in its ability to heal, support and build can combat stress by transferring the power or control back to you. Each meal, you have a choice to eat foods that can quell the stress process or stir it up. The best way to ensure adequate nutrients is through a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. Fruits like oranges, kiwi and cantaloupe are high in Vitamin C, which is also found in vegetables such as cabbage, leafy greens, broccoli and peppers. These vegetables also contain Vitamins A, E, and K, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and more. Healthy fats and lean proteins help to balance your blood sugar, which can go haywire under stress. They also provide a steady flow of energy throughout the day, and can help create sharpness or clarity of mind.
When using food to calm stress, we not only have to make nutrient-dense choices, but may also need to limit certain foods as well. For instance, the Standard American Diet (rich in heavy meats, processed foods and sugar) is a nutrient-poor way of eating which, along with our fast-paced, high-demand culture, is a recipe for depletion, fatigue and illness.
Often when stressed, sugar and caffeine help see us through. However, despite the temporary energy lift, sugar and caffeine actually contribute to anxiety and add more stress to your body, putting you at risk for adrenal fatigue and blood sugar discrepancies. By making changes to your plate each day, and filling it with vibrant, energy-giving foods, you can choose to fight inflammation, curb anxiety and fuel your body to face life’s ongoing demands.
Nature has perfectly created food to fit your needs and keep your body in optimal health. Eating at least 5-7 servings of fresh produce per day will provide what you need and it is easier than you think to achieve that goal. At every meal, ask yourself, “Can I add a veggie or fruit to this?” The answer is likely to be a resounding YES! For instance, top off your oatmeal with berries and ground flax seed; snack on an apple or banana mid-morning. For lunch, choose vegetable soups, salad or vegetable stir-fry. Your midday snack can be vegetable sticks with guacamole or an apple with almond butter. Dinner will include protein, cooked vegetables and a salad. If you are craving something sweet at the end of the day, reach for fresh mango or a bowl of berries. By making these simple substitutions or additions, you will also be adding in fiber, helping to regulate your digestive system, which is often thrown off in stressful situations.
Eating to beat stress is easy and manageable. However, if you find it challenging at first, then a whole-food based supplement may be a good idea while you work on creating more balance in your life. A supplement can help immensely and give you some time to develop new habits. If you are taking any medications, consult with your doctor before adding in supplements. Vitamin C and magnesium are generally safe and do not interfere, but you should always discuss any changes you make with your doctor.
The bottom line is you have control over your health. Choose to support your body with colorful fruits and vegetables because these foods offer the nutrients needed to combat stress and keep you healthy. As entrepreneurs, we are in this game to help people or change the world. Our mission can only be accomplished when we feel good. When you give your body what it needs, it will work endlessly to support you. When all else seems out of control, remember that the power to eat well is in your hands - and with that power, you can accomplish amazing things.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.