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The Importance of Nervous System Regulation for Entrepreneurs

In this article we're chatting with Rhysa Sisco, who went from occupational therapist to nervous system regulation coach for business owners. She shares how her personal struggles led her to realize the importance of untangling our beliefs and how she helps others improve their communication, creativity, and overall well-being.

Plus, she shares some awesome tips for using sensory tools to manage stress and anxiety. So grab your favorite drink and join us for a fascinating conversation.

How We Experience Stress As An Entrepreneur

Just like in our daily lives, we experience stress as an entrepreneur as well. This may come in the form of tech-headaches, customer service or many other stressors but no matter what causes the stress, it’s recognized by one system in our body. The nervous system.

“The nervous system’s sole responsibility is to keep us alive so it is constantly scanning our environment and asking “is this safe or unsafe”?” - Rhysa Sisco

Many times our nervous system sends signals of “not safe” when we are experiencing something new or difficult for us and this definitely comes into play as an entrepreneur. From that signal you can feel fear, anxiousness, overwhelm or like you are going to be sick.

When you experience this in your entrepreneurial journey, ask yourself “is my nervous system protecting me because this is a dangerous situation or is this blocking me?”.

“If it’s a block, then we have to say ‘okay, how can I learn to make my body feel safe right now so I can move past this’?” - Rhysa Sisco

In order to navigate through these feelings that arise within us when we feel the stress response, it’s important to understand where we are in the cycle of stress.


**This was also a podcast episode (episode #188. Use the player below if you'd prefer to listen to this message.


Stress Zones:

Rhysa shares that we have different zones when it comes to stress and it’s important to understand which zone you’re in to determine what tools are best for you. Here are the different stress zones broken down:

  • Green zone: feeling relaxed, happy, and content. This is when things feel easy, and deep intimate conversations can happen effortlessly.

  • Blue zone: feeling depressed, disconnected, and apathetic. This is when the body slows down to protect itself from pain.

  • Yellow zone: feeling anxious, fearful, and frustrated. This is a common zone for entrepreneurs dealing with clients who are not following through or for situations where something feels off, but there is no immediate danger.

  • Red zone: feeling out of control, yelling, screaming, or feeling the urge to hit, bite, or kick. This is a protective response when the body feels attacked and in danger.

Stress Sensory Tools For Entrepreneurs:

The body plays a larger role in our stress and anxiety levels than our minds, with 80% of the response happening in our body. Our nervous system communicates through our senses, and we can use sensory tools to help calm ourselves down. We often lose these skills as adults, but many sensory tools take less than 30 seconds to use, such as taking a deep breath or focusing on a pleasant scent.

Matching the appropriate tools to these zones is important because using the wrong tool can exacerbate the negative emotions.

Red zone:

  • Go for a run or do a heavy workout

  • Dance

  • Hit something (e.g., using a pillowcase filled with plates and a hammer)

  • Move your body in some way (e.g., go for a walk)

Yellow zone:

  • Go for a walk

  • Do slow, rhythmical activities that feel safe to your body

  • Kick your feet under your desk (using a band tied to the desk)

  • Drink water or refill your water bottle

Blue zone:

  • Take a warm bath or shower

  • Listen to calming music

  • Practice gentle stretching or yoga

  • Wrap yourself in a blanket or use a weighted blanket

  • Engage in other soothing self-care activities

Building Your Entrepreneur Stress Toolbox:

Here are the steps for building a toolbox for different emotional states using sensory tools:

  1. Identify the emotional state you want to address, such as feeling anxious or overwhelmed.

  2. Create a sheet of paper with six columns for each of the senses: movement, sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.

  3. Write down the sensory tools that you already love in each category, such as stretching for movement or listening to music for sound.

  4. Evaluate each tool and determine how it makes you feel. Does it make you feel calmer or more engaged?

  5. Match each tool to the appropriate emotional state. For example, a calming scent like lavender might be great for the yellow zone when you're feeling anxious, but a more energizing scent like citrus might be better for the blue zone when you're feeling lethargic.

  6. Choose 3-5 tools for each category and add them to your toolbox. You should now have a set of 15-25 tools that you can use to address different emotional states.

Take Away Message / Action

Make your Stress Toolkit so you have it ready at your fingertips when you need it. Please don’t wait until you hit the moment of stress to come up with the list, be proactive and do that today so you can simply choose which tool to use the next time you need it.

Until next time give yourself permission to use stress response tools and grace along the way. I’ll talk to you soon.

About Rhysa:

Rhysa Sisco is an occupational therapist and entrepreneur turned business mentor for leaders with over 10 years of experience of coaching, mentoring, and guiding. Rhysa is an expert in the nervous and sensory system and the creator of The Business Regulation Program, for soul-led, aligned entrepreneurs to break through money business blocks by regulating their nervous system. She has been featured in Authority Magazine in several articles, spoken at retreats, coaching groups, and podcasts.

Rhysa's Resources:

Get More Done with Less Screen Time with Shailla Vaidya

“If it’s a block, then we have to say ‘okay, how can I learn to make my body feel safe right now so I can move past this’?”

- Rhysa Sisco


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