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.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."