True success: Prioritising mental health in a stressful world

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Welcome back to Leader Talk! In episode 56 we chatted to the inspiring Greg Gillies, the founder of The Evolved CEO. He is also a highly acclaimed intuitive advisor, transformational healer and coach for high-achieving CEOs and businessmen.

After 20 years of experiencing the highs and lows of executive roles in the corporate world, Greg had achieved material success but found himself unfulfilled and empty inside. Drawing from his experiences and the lessons he learnt through healing, Greg now helps CEOs and founders find their inner truth, peace, alignment, and happiness.

In this chat, Greg speaks about stress, the importance of quietening the mind and habit stacking. 

Want to learn more? You can read or listen to our chat with Greg Gillies on YouTubeSpotifyListen Notes, or Player FM. It’s also available anywhere you listen to your favourite podcasts via Buzzsprout.

Authored by Greg Gillies, founder of The Evolved CEO.

Many driven individuals work tirelessly to succeed, whether it’s to provide for their family, avoid failure, or be the best. However, this pressure often leads to ignoring our mental and emotional health until we reach a breaking point. We’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that stressors can be dusted off, but this only compounds the problem until it’s too much to handle. We tend to overlook the signs of stress and anxiety and wait until we hit rock bottom before we take any action.

It has been said that the average high schooler today has the same levels of anxiety as a psychiatric patient in the 1950s. We’re living in an unprecedented time where our minds are constantly stimulated by phones and surroundings. This state of constant stimulation is the reason why so many people don’t even realise when they’re stressed.

Stress is a part of life, and we need to unlearn the mentality that you’re only stressed if you reach a breaking point. We need to prioritise our mental and emotional well-being so we can make better decisions for ourselves and our businesses. The only way to achieve true abundance and success is by healing your inner self.

What is stress?
Firstly, stress wasn’t intended to be bad. When we need to be active, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in and pushes blood to our muscles. When we need to rest and repair, our parasympathetic system moves blood to our glands and organs. Our bodies are meant to move between these two systems, so we can be active during the day and wind down at night to repair for the next day.

However, today, we’re in a state of sympathetic nervous system dominance, never truly resting. In other words, we are so constantly stressed that we don’t even feel it anymore, and we believe we need to be “always on” to survive.

Stress affects every aspect of our being, from our bodies, energy levels, emotions, and spiritual connections. It’s important to understand stress on all levels of your being and prioritise your mental and emotional well-being if you want to break the cycle and function at your best.

As driven entrepreneurs, we often ignore or push through stressful moments to succeed, but this only compounds our stress over time. If you brush every stressful moment under the carpet without doing the inner work, a single event can trigger you to spiral out of control one day. It’s time to prioritise your mind and body, not just your business. Success isn’t just about thinking your way through it – deep healing is critical.

Recognising stress
Are you struggling to quiet your mind? Do you find yourself constantly overthinking and over analysing? Many of us are unaware of how busy our minds are, as we are constantly inundating ourselves with information. Unfortunately, this can lead to emotional fluctuations, like anger, anxiety, sadness, and even depression, which are signs of stress and imbalance.

If you’re carrying inflammation or struggling to lose weight despite eating well and exercising, this could also be a sign of stress. When we’re in survival mode, our bodies hold onto fat cells for protection.

And it’s not just physical symptoms: if you can’t relax or sleep, even on vacation, you’re probably dealing with chronic stress. Stress is the leading cause of illness and disease, causing sleep issues, digestive problems, food cravings, and more.

While taking time off can give short-term relief, stress and imbalance are a compounding effect of a lifetime of challenges. So, what is the long-term solution for stress?

Quietening the mind
In times of stress, people typically focus on surviving in the now, without also considering the future. This is dangerous as it might stop you from recognising and adapting to the disruptions in your industry. Just look at Blockbuster, which could have owned Netflix for a mere few million dollars but failed to see its potential. Blockbuster went out of business while Netflix became a multi-billion-dollar company.

It’s important to consider the disruptions in your business and whether it’s worth burning yourself out to keep it alive when the control is outside of your hands. Global changes are happening, and fighting your way through them may not be the best approach. Many people are conditioned since childhood to believe that when the going gets tough, they need to get tougher, instead of seeing the inevitable. Healing your inner self is important to avoid burnout and stress.

When your mind is in survival mode, it’s very difficult to make positive decisions because your mind is literally out of control. The amygdala, the tiny part of the brain responsible for fight or flight responses, is constantly active in today’s world. This can cause the body to produce too much cortisol, leading to burnout and adrenal fatigue.

Taking a two-week holiday can help reset your mind and body, but it’s even better to give yourself a mini holiday every day. This can be as simple as taking 10 to 30 minutes of silence each day. Social media or Netflix is not a way to unwind, in fact, the noises and images add more stress to our lives by triggering the amygdala and dopamine responses. Going on walks and meditating is great, but a stressful mind won’t let you do that, so you must work on calming your mind first.

Habit stacking
Achieving success in business and life is all about prioritising your mental, physical, and spiritual health, which are the first three pillars of the 9 Pillars of Success, Love, and Happiness. Stress often stems from trying to control things that are outside of your control. The only things we have true control over are our own internal health, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. If we don’t prioritise these, we become victims controlled by everything external, constantly in survival mode.

If you’re experiencing stress in their business, it’s guaranteed that you’re not prioritising your mental health. By taking care of your mental health, you can look at your business differently and make smarter decisions instead of digging yourself into a deeper hole. It’s about healing years of built-up stress that’s holding you back.

Every day, do something for your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Even when you’re busy, you can stack these into one activity, like a morning walk without headphones, letting exercise take the energy away from your head. One activity that’s great for getting a reprieve from your mind is to sit, close your eyes, and try to listen for the farthest bird noise you can hear. By focusing on one of the senses, you’ll diffuse your stress and improve your mental health.

Transitioning from work to home life is also crucial. Avoid bringing work into your family life by leaving your phone in another room and diffusing yourself from work before transitioning to family time. These transitions are crucial for keeping balance in all aspects of life.

Asking for help
One of the hardest things for business owners tends to be asking for help, especially when you’re used to being the helper. Business owners might only ask for help on intellectual matters to help them become more successful. Unfortunately, many people only ask for emotional help when something traumatic happens, like a health scare or an ultimatum from a loved one.

If you’re struggling, it’s better to reach out sooner rather than later. Finding someone to help you process your emotions is far more effective than trying to suppress them with alcohol or other unhealthy coping mechanisms. Ignoring your emotional health can have serious consequences, including illness and disease. It’s essential to seek out support networks, whether it’s family, friends, or a therapist, who can help you work through your emotions in a healthy way.

Being vulnerable can be scary, but it can also be incredibly powerful. Taking responsibility for your growth and acting on advice from a good friend can lead to growth and healing. So don’t be afraid to ask for help and embrace vulnerability – it’s not a weakness but a strength that can change your life.

Stress is a part of life but has become so normalised that we don’t even recognise it anymore. We have been conditioned to believe that we need to be “always on” to thrive. However, this mentality is not sustainable and can be detrimental to our mental and emotional well-being. It’s important to understand stress on all levels of your being and unlearn the idea that stress is only a worry when it reaches breaking point. Recognising the signs of stress and taking proactive measures to manage it is the key to long-term success.

What steps can you take today to prioritise your mental and emotional well-being and break the cycle?