Entrepreneurship brings about a unique stress to those who embark on this path less taken. In turn, we seek actively and engaging methods of stress relief and relaxation: meditate, exercise, do yoga, take active breaks, recharge in nature, etc. While these strategies certainly have benefits, they add to-do items to the seemingly endless lists that women already find too overwhelming. We are constantly prioritizing, multi-tasking, juggling, and problem solving every day and adding to our list may increase guilt or a sense of being under accomplished -- even if the goal is to help promote balance and well-being.
Often strategies to help us de-stress require attention-shifts, leaving work, making appointments, and carving out time during the day for additional tasks. In a nutshell, they make us feel like we need to do MORE. At The TouchPoint Solution, we incorporate many strategies to promote calm balance, and we also recognize the need for solutions that don’t take time away from the tasks at hand. Promoting stress-relief in real time without taking away from our work productivity is paramount as we are constantly shifting priorities and keeping pace with the ever present demands of being a tech start up. As a co-founder, I employ these methods myself and also encourage our employees to use these methods. After all, what good is it to be a neuropsychologist who has created a stress-relieving device and then not use it? I prefer to practice what I preach outside of the clinic and boardroom.
Here are two tips that can help boost productivity and de-stress women entrepreneurs that we find incredibly valuable in our organization.
1. Push-Pull Information Management
Before I co-founded TouchPoint, I had no real presence on social media. The necessity in my start-up created the need for me to dive in and I quickly found myself bombarded with notifications and distractions that almost immediately had me feeling busier, but with a drop in productivity. The seduction of scrolling through posts mindlessly quickly turned into a major distraction during my day. I quickly learned that managing this kind of information was key in balancing what I really needed to attend to online vs. the lure of extraneous information.
Social media notifications and news alerts from twitter, text, Facebook, etc. are examples of push information. Most of it is unnecessary and costly to you regarding attention shifts and distractions. Unless it’s an emergency, you don’t need to orient your attention to each distraction. This constant shifting alone can raise stress levels because you can maintain the feeling of being extremely busy, but in reality, your productivity is lower because of the constant distractions. Some push notifications such as news stories about global terrorism invoke negative feelings as well, which you then need to contain and compartmentalize during your workday. In contrast, when you “pull” information, you are actively deciding what is important and needs to be considered at the moment. This is deliberate and focused. Most of us have a push/pull ratio that is too push heavy, which results in wasted time and an increase in stress.
2. Use Bi-lateral Alternating Stimulation Tactile (BLAST) Technology
The TouchPoint Solution's first product, Buzzies, is based on a successful component of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment that I isolated and determined could be used to reduce stress by 74 percent in just 30 seconds. The stress of co-founding a start-up became a source of irony because I had created a product to reduce anxiety and stress, so I quickly increased my daily use Buzzies to help me manage the stress of the increasing demands that I was working hard to juggle. To de-stress and keep me in an optimal performance zone, I use this technology when I'm having a stressful conversation, doing media interviews, speaking publicly, and if I have trouble going to sleep because my mind isn’t calm. Our CEO, Vicki Mayo, uses our technology every morning when she is preparing for her day. Both of us help ourselves out by using these on our children to help them go to sleep and ease fears.
Being able to calm down without interrupting what we are doing and in a way that is not detectable by others (Buzzies are 20 percent less noisy than an iPhone buzz) is important for us to be able to reap the benefits of what we’ve created in real time and real world situations.
Yes, I still exercise, take deep breaths, and engage in multiple strategies for overall lifestyle balance and health. However, I find that managing the push/pull ratio and using applied neuroscience in Buzzies during the day are two underused strategies that can help women entrepreneurs improve productivity and increase their chances of success.
Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire!
I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.
The announcement was made, the audience cheered, and the crown was awarded. The light was dazzling,, she looked stunning, almost blessed. The judges made the right call with 2019's queen.
Reflecting On Myself
Suddenly, the YouTube video ended. And I was left looking at a black screen. In the darkness of that screen, I saw my reflection and I began assessing what I saw, asking myself, "What have I been doing with my life?" It may seem like an overly dramatic question, but at that moment, I had to ask myself seriously… What have you done? The fact that I couldn't come up with a solid, confident answer gave my inner-cynic license to quickly spiral into self-criticism.
This went on for quite some time, until I got up. I stood up and walked to my mirror to have some serious one-on-one "Queen Talk." I needed to get out of that self-critical mindset, and I know that physical movement is something that help disrupt a way of thinking. I needed to remind myself of who I really was. The negative feelings I was experiencing at that moment were not reality.
Here are a few reminders for whenever you need some Queen Talk!
1.) Comparison is truly the thief of joy.
This saying feels like a cliché. That is, until it's applicable to you. At that moment, this "cliché, becomes self-evident. Comparing myself to someone on a stage with years of experience in an area I know nothing about is not only unfair but straight-up mean. A part of my comparison comes from me wondering, "Would I have the ability, if put in that position, to perform at such a level?" The answer is totally and without question, yes. I excel in the field I work in now, and I know that if I put that same energy towards something else, with practice, I could do just as well. No joy can come from comparing yourself to someone in a completely different field!
2.) Never forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.
Every single day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to wake up with all ten fingers and toes and choose to create the kind of life I want to live. There is so much power in that alone, but sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Let us not forget those who are unable to make that same decision every day of their lives.
3.) Appreciate how far you have come!
I've been very intentional for some time to be kinder and gentler to myself. I need to realize that I am human. Being human means that I will not know everything, and I will continue to make mistakes.But I must let go of the need to always be right. I feel empowered when I can see the growth that I've made, regardless of the mistakes that may come in the future. I don't react to every little thing that bothers me, because I have learned boundaries when it comes to dealing with others and myself. I truly value my time and my energy, and, for that, I am proud.
4.) You Can Be Who You Want To Be
If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it in reality. I saw myself when I looked at the women on stage, when she smiled, the way she talked, her elegant walk. For a moment, in my self-criticism spiral, I forgot that we are all connected. Debasish Mridha has said "I may not know you, but I don't see any difference between you and me. I see myself in you; we are one." I will not sit in the mentality of lack, there is more than enough opportunity and good fortune to go around for everyone. Her win was not a loss for me, but it can be a nudge from the universe for me to go ahead and dream big!
This Queen Talk was not easy. There may have been some tissues and tears involved but giving myself an honest yet compassionate talk is sometimes what I need to bring myself out of some bad head space. In these moments of doubt, you truly need to be your own best friend.When times get rough, criticism won't always come from outside sources. How you speak about yourself internally is crucial to how you see and feel about yourself. As Beyoncé once sang, "I've got Me, Myself, and I." We must put forth every effort to be there for ourselves. I look forward to more Queen Talks when some negative emotions arise. I am grateful for the person I am today, but I am excited to see the women I become.