Entrepreneurs, Stress & Meditation

A couple weeks back, I had a full-on nervous breakdown. I had just come off of working a 30-hour weekend doing my social media and marketing duties at The Wellness Show, and I was teaching 5 classes and had a deadline for an edit on my book.

I was exhausted and overwhelmed and I just lost it.

I’d love to say that moments like this are rare in my life, but they really aren’t. I admit I often feel overwhlemed and stressed out–especially early in the week when I have my primary working days.

One of my big issues with dealing with stress is that I don’t take care of myself. If I’m really stressed out, I have a hard time sleeping because my brain won’t turn off. I forget to eat, and I drink more coffee.

And it’s not like I don’t know better. I mean, I do. But my body shifts into some kind of primordial “fight or flight” thing, and all I can think about is what I need to do to get stuff done so that I feel like I’m more in control of my life again.

I was talking to my friend Farzana about this the other day, and we started chatting about meditation and the work she does with entrepreneurs. I asked her if she could put some thoughts together about this, for you. Oh–and by the way, Farzana is self-employed, too, so she has first-hand experience of this crazy lifestyle we’ve all bought into.

Let’s face it, the entrepreneurial lifestyle isn’t an easy one. It’s hard work, long hours and of course many nights falling asleep with your laptop open. Most of us are solopreneurs and to be successful we become good at wearing several hats at once. We are our own administrators, marketers, accountants, project managers, as well as being experts and practitioners in our own business… Let’s not forget being friends, partners, parents and children to those we love.

 

Life gets stressful. The entrepreneurial life even more so. Living your life while you are working towards your dreams; you are responsible for supporting yourself, your family, your employees; where everything you produce is dependent on how well you perform–it’s a lot.

 

There’s this funny little steroid hormone called cortisol. Most people know about it as the stress hormone that makes your midsection thicken among other things. While this is true, Cortisol is also the “wake up and get going in the morning” hormone and it helps us when we need a boost of energy. A healthy person has a lot of it in the morning and less throughout the day, and then when we sleep it builds back up again. Stress, however, causes more and more cortisol to be released throughout the day. This is the kind that makes your midsection thicken.

 

You see in today’s world, most of us aren’t facing physiological life or death threats that would require us to really use that cortisol and the fat that comes with it. Today most of the threats we deal with are psychosocial. Unfortunately, our bodies today treat these same work stresses like you’re about to die and triggers your fight-or-flight responses and thus excess cortisol.

 

There have been numerous studies on meditation and its effect on cortisol levels. One was performed (and replicated) on Medical Students (seriously stressed out people) and found that a meditation practice significantly reduced the bad type of cortisol production in the students.

 

I believe that , like most people, entrepreneurs don’t meditate because it takes too long and they don’t have enough time to learn to do something they perceive as difficult or frustrating. I also believe that many existing meditations were developed and practiced for different lifestyles and purposes. While some types of meditation were created for shamans to expand their consciousness and leave their body, other meditations served to help people live in isolation or silence. Entrepreneurs today need something that is effective and quick. They need something that will help them be calm, clear, focused and energized, which is why I developed the “I Cheat at Meditation: Zen in 60 Seconds” technique.

 

It’s all about being able to clear away the challenges and the constantly growing to-do lists, to declutter your mind from the events of your life and all the minutiae to get back to yourself. I don’t meditate for the calmness. That’s just a side effect. I meditate to remember who I am. When I have myself clear, I am clear on what is important to me, I communicate gracefully with intention and I bring my best self to every engagement, especially with the people I love.

 

So. Yeah. Meditation. I should do more of that. 🙂

 

I’ve read Farzana’s book, and it’s great–really simple and easy to follow–and she has these audio guided meditations that you can listen to pretty much anywhere.

 

I have also had great experiences doing group meditations. There’s something about the intention of it–sitting in a room with a bunch of other people who are all there for the same reason–that makes it easier for me to get to that zen state. There is also a kind of powerful energy that occurs in the room, as well.

 

If you want to learn more about meditation and group meditation, there’s a cool event happening here in Vancouver later this week, called Camp Still. Billed as “Vancouver’s First Mass Meditation Party,” Camp Still features mass meditations, a sound bath (I’ve never done that!), DJ’s, food, and lots more. Oh–and Farzana will be there, too!

 

I’d love to hear from you–what are your thoughts on meditation?

 

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

Comments 2

  1. I’ve tried to meditate in the past. Usually three things happen: either I fall asleep or I get more anxious as I start going through the list of things I should be doing, or organizing. Or depending on what kind of mood I’m in before hand there’s a musical running through my head!

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