Career 16 February 2017
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.
3 Min Read
With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.
When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.
Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan
Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.
Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.
The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.
Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits
The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.
With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.
Tip 3: Start slow and strong
If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.
Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.
Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize
In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.
When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.
Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness
From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.
Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.
Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.
A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.
Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition
In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.
If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health
While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.
For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.
While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.