Dr. Adil Dalal states, “women Entrepreneurs Must Overcome Stress and Elevate Life”.
A toxic combination of stress, anxiety and mental disorders fused together form the modern day ‘social-atomic-bomb’ which is debilitating billions of people on this planet. The demographic most impacted by this are female leaders around the globe. Chronic stress appears to be a leading contributor to physical, mental and neurological health issues, making it a clear and present danger that requires immediate attention. Unless we make stress and mental health an international priority it will explode and devastate several generations of leaders to come. To diffuse this impending doom, leaders must learn to incorporate subtle humanistic technologies of the eastern and western worlds in their daily lives.
Primary factors for this epidemic include common misconceptions about the fundamentals of stress. To understand the mechanics of stress, we need to understand three key concepts:
1. Stress is not caused by what happens to us externally (stressor) but rather how we respond to the stressor.
2. Chronic stress is a consistent feeling of being overwhelmed; being aware of stress and addressing it quickly will prevent the onset of the lethal impacts of stress.
3. The response to stressors is personal and can vary significantly between individuals.
Due to the lack of the understanding of these fundamental principles, 12.5% of the population around the world (~970 million) have reported living with a mental disorder. COVID-19 pandemic increased this value significantly, resulting in ~1.2 billion people suffering from mental health issues, a number which continues to rise at a rapid pace.
According to the latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics, women experience 50% higher stress levels compared to men. This gap continues to increase as women are more likely to be juggle multiple roles including that of a mother, caretaker for elderly parents, homemaker, and breadwinner. Furthermore, women frequently face increased societal pressures, relationship stress, and reproductive health challenges. Female entrepreneurs are particularly vulnerable to experiencing higher levels of daily stress compared to their male counterparts (62% vs. 51%, respectively). High achieving women tend to share several traits – perfectionism, a strong inner critic, and a desire to be approved of by others. The reason for their increased susceptibility to stress is due to several factors including challenges of work-life integration, gender bias and stereotypes, financial pressures, multitasking demands, navigating business challenges, and higher expectations.
These leaders often continue their daily endeavors without fully comprehending the detrimental impact chronic stress has on their physical and mental wellbeing. Prolonged stress can cause or significantly increase their risk of obesity, sleep deprivation, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, asthma, and psychosomatic disorders like fibromyalgia. A lesser-known fact is that acute stress has been shown to destroy newly created neurons in the hippocampus, the brain region involved in memory and learning, leading to poor decision making and even memory loss.
Stress within leaders has a domino effect within an organization. Stressed leaders result in stressed out employees (internal customers) that adversely impacts the end customers and ultimately the profitability of the organization. The employees are already dealing with work-related stressors such as excessive workload, tight deadlines, job insecurity, lack of control over tasks, work-related technology, and a multitude of other factors. When they observe their executive under stress it builds a pressure-cooker situation which can result in adverse consequences for the entire value chain of the organization.
Just as each human being on the planet has a unique fingerprint, women entrepreneurs have a unique approach to dealing with various stressors.
The key to overcome stress is two-fold:
1. Know thyself, and proactively identify your unique stress triggers.
2. Design and utilize a custom approach to reduce and eliminate its impact on daily life.
Socrates believed the first step to true wisdom is to “know thyself”. This can be achieved using simple approaches like journaling to keep a track of emotions, stressors, and triggers. For example, if you find that one of your hot-button stressors is the traffic you face to and from work; it can allow you to design an approach like using the traffic as ‘me-time’ to listen to music, podcasts, audio books, or call loved ones – thus adjusting your response and alleviating the daily stress. To know-thyself, you can use additional techniques such as metacognition, introspection, or even more advanced and holistic techniques like energy analysis to identify energy blockages in the primary centers within the body. You can even seek professional help from counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists to dive deeper into your psyche to uncover past trauma that may underpin unwelcome triggers. Remember that self-care is not self-indulgence or a luxury, it is a necessity for self-preservation. As entrepreneurs this also means preserving the well-being of your employees, customers, and organization.
Once you have a clear understanding of your stressors, you can experiment with various techniques to modulate your response to them. Some simple approaches can be adjusting your sleep schedule, regular exercise, developing an attitude of gratitude, meditation, creative visualizations and several other options. When all else fails you need to trust the process of discomfort-acceptance-growth. For example, if one of your triggers is the desire to win over competitors at all costs, a simple self-realization that you already have achieved a lot in life, and that we all will ultimately leave this planet empty-handed, can provide a perspective that not all battles need to be won in life; sometimes lessons learned from disappointments can become a fuel that can ignite bigger successes. More advanced technological approaches can also be used, such as the Pinnacle Performance Zone™ theory and biofeedback software, neurofeedback, game therapy, and augmented and virtual reality solutions. If you have any questions on the above, please feel free to reach out individually, or through your corporation to me using LinkedIn.
In summary, although the epidemic of stress seems to be an unsurmountable global challenge, there is hope based on numerous techniques listed above. These techniques are most valuable to women and women entrepreneurs who are most at risk of experiencing chronic stress. By embracing positivity, overcoming challenges, and prioritizing well-being, you can confidently navigate the complexities of business, paving the way for sustained growth, and leaving an enduring mark on the entrepreneurial landscape. As women continue to break barriers in business, a positive mindset becomes the cornerstone for building not just successful ventures, but a brighter and more elevated life for self and others.
About Dr. Adil Dalal:
Dr Adil Dalal is a multi-award winner business leader. He has recently won Impact Leadership Global Award for being the Most Inspiring Thought Leader. With more than 20 years of experience as an Executive C-Suite Leader, he has a background in entrepreneurial business management, transformational program execution, and leadership in strategic global operations. He shares valuable insights in this article.