They are some of the most common mental health issues that people face in their lifetime.
While these symptoms can affect all genders, female entrepreneurs are especially prone to anxiety and stress due to the nature of their work.
The pressure to be successful is high for women who run their own businesses, so we need to be aware of any anxiety and stress symptoms we may experience and take them seriously.
In this post, we will discuss what anxiety and stress are, why it's important for female entrepreneurs to understand this, how it can affect you physically as well as emotionally, and finally what you can do about it!
What is anxiety and how does it affect you
Anxiety is a mental disorder involving excessive and persistent worry or anxiety that is out of proportion to what would be felt in a perceived 'normal' situation.
Anxiety affects someone's thoughts, feelings, behaviours, physical health condition and even social interactions.
Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness among Americans with an estimated 18% experiencing one at some point in their lives.
Anxiety affects both men and women, but it is more prevalent in females.
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America estimates that women make up anywhere from 60-80% of those living with anxiety disorder diagnoses.
How does it affect you?
- Anxiety often manifests in physical symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing and stomach aches which trigger anxiety in a vicious cycle of worry about the body or fear about what is going on inside it.
- Anxiety complicates life in so many ways and creates a sense of fear, hopelessness or dread. It also creates feelings like fear, worry or nervousness which are thoughts about something bad that might happen.
Stress has been found to be just as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day! Stress triggers anxiety and anxiety triggers stress.
They can become a vicious cycle.
Stress and anxiety contribute to higher rates of cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal issues and obesity.
The anxiety cycle is one that needs to be broken as soon as possible because it can cause serious health consequences if left unchecked.
For example, in addition to the physical symptoms mentioned above, anxiety often manifests into insomnia or difficulty concentrating, leading to mental health concerns like depression or addiction.
If stress and anxiety are left untreated, you may find yourself feeling hopeless or even suicidal.
Anxiety and stress interfere with work and relationships, which causes distress not only for the individual but also for those around them who love them.
The different types of anxiety
There are many anxiety and stress symptoms, and we all experience them to different degrees at one time or another.
It's not always easy to understand where our anxiety stems from- is it the demands of life?Is there someone in your family you don't get along with that brings out your worst fears, is it a case of someone you don't know following you around and making threats against your safety, is it financial stress or are we just stressed from too many commitments?
There is so much stress in our fast-paced world that it's no wonder some of us have anxiety.
In the last few years, anxiety and stress symptoms have been on the rise in cases among women entrepreneurs.
This is specifically due to their lifestyle choices such as always being on the go, time constraints and feeling obligated to take care of so many people.
If you are a female entrepreneur, it's important for you to recognise any anxiety and stress symptoms.
When you have them, know that there is help available from trained professionals who can be your support system through this difficult period in your life.
The types of anxiety:
These are the different types of anxiety - Generalised anxiety disorder, Panic disorders and Hyperventilation, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Hair pulling, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) Agoraphobia, Phobias, and Social anxiety disorder.
Generalised anxiety disorder
People with generalised anxiety disorder have excessive worry about everyday life events such as work or school.
This condition is characterised by physical symptoms of increased heart rate, muscle tension, shortness of breath (dyspnea), palpitations, chest pain or tightness in the chest, dizziness, nausea or diarrhoea.
Panic attacks are intense and sudden periods of anxiety that cause a variety of physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations (tachycardia), shortness of breath or smothering feelings in the throat, shaking chills (shiver spasms) sweating profusely. Breathing difficulties may also be a result of panic attacks.
Hyperventilation occurs when anxiety is at its worst and this can lead to panic attacks, chest pain or even a loss of consciousness.
It's time for female entrepreneurs to be aware that anxiety is not only something they should keep in check with the help of professionals; it also needs to be addressed if you want your business' success.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is other types of anxiety.
Awareness and acceptance are the first steps of starting to move forward, but we need more female entrepreneurs that will come out and talk about it.
Hair pulling is a type of anxiety-related disorder in which the person compulsively pulls their hair out to relieve stress.
It is considered an impulse control disorder. Impulse control disorder is not a mental illness, but it is an example of anxiety.
Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is another type of anxiety and it causes you to have a compulsion or repeated action.
A compulsion is something that you do repeatedly to try and relieve anxiety. You may have a compulsion to wash your hands because it makes you feel like they are cleaner than before or more "pure."
When you obsess over compulsions, you may feel like they are taking over your life.
Agoraphobia causes an anxiety attack and it is related to fear.
It may be caused by the inability to escape from a situation because you feel like something bad will happen if you leave or do not stay in one place.
This anxiety disorder is often seen in people who have a fear of being outside or away from home.
It makes them avoid certain places, such as grocery stores, theatres and other places that are filled with people.
It could also be related to panic attacks, which many people experience during stressful times and may cause them anxiety symptoms such as chest pain or dizziness/lightheadedness.
Phobias are intense fears of specific things or events, such as spiders, heights or germs.
People with phobias will often try to avoid the thing they fear the most even if it is irrational.
This anxiety disorder can be treated through therapy sessions that help people learn how to confront their fears.
Social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder is a condition that can cause anxiety symptoms such as trembling, blushing and sweating.
People with social anxiety disorder are often anxious in groups or around strangers because they fear being judged or embarrassed.
They may have fears of what others think about them, worry too much about embarrassing themselves or feel like everyone is looking at them.
This type of anxiety can quickly become overwhelming, which can lead to people limiting their lives and avoiding certain activities.
People with a social anxiety disorder may avoid going places or talking to new people because they fear the situation will make them anxious.
Those who suffer from this type of anxiety need to learn how to face fears in order to start living a more fulfilling life.
Different types of stress faced by entrepreneurs
Stress is all around us, but entrepreneurs feel it in a different way. In fact, they experience three types of stress:
- anxiety and stress symptoms
- imposed or external
Anxiety and stress symptoms
The internalised worries that many people face every day.
Entrepreneurs are particularly susceptible to this type of symptoms because they usually take on a lot of responsibility, and they are their own boss.
The next type is self-generated — the anxiety that entrepreneurs feel when trying to reach goals or deadlines.
Imposed or external
The third type comes from imposed or external sources: job insecurity, economic uncertainty, family responsibilities, lack of support systems at home.
For these reasons as female entrepreneurs we have to ensure that we are on top of our wellness and take care of our mental and physical health.
Common anxiety and stress symptoms
Many people feel anxious when they anticipate a future event or worry about what might happen.
But sometimes the feelings of anxiety persist for hours, days, weeks, months or even years in conditions like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) and PTSD.
- One of the most common symptoms is tension, which can be described as a feeling that you are not able to relax or release the muscles in your body and mind.
- Anxiety also manifests itself through nausea, diarrhoea, chest pains, dizziness and shortness of breath.- Female entrepreneurs often experience anxiety due to many factors such as fear.
- Stress and Anxiety can cause Difficulty concentrating and focusing on tasks at hand which may lead to Procrastination
- Anxiety and Stress can cause you to be more irritable which may make team members less productive in the workplace
- Many female entrepreneurs experience anxiety due to their concern for the family that they might not see often, such as a mother with children or an entrepreneur running a business from home.
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia) due to worrying thoughts keeping the person awake at night. Excessive sleepiness throughout the day can also be a symptom of anxiety if present for more than a few weeks.
Self-Care for Female Entrepreneurs
Self-care is about more than just taking care of the body. It is about finding a balance in your life and making time for yourself to focus on what matters most to you.
As an entrepreneur, it's important that you take self-care seriously because if anxiety and stress symptoms are not managed well they can have significant impacts on your emotional health which will then affect all areas
Making self-care a priority will help you to be aware of any anxiety and stress symptoms. Why?
- First, chronic anxiety can lead to depression which leads to a lack of productivity in the workplace or at home.
- Second, it's important for you as an entrepreneur to take care of yourself when managing other people because they will respect that and want to do their job better for you if they see you putting in the time and effort.
- Third, anxiety can be linked to depression which leads to a lack of productivity at work or home because it takes so much mental energy just to get up and do things even when we know that self-care is important for our health.
Strategies for staying centred when life gets hectic
Be aware that it is important to speak with professionals when you are feeling high levels of anxiety and stress symptoms.
Professionals can help provide support so your business does not suffer because you don't address the issue at hand. These people can
The next time you're experiencing this, try these tips:
- Stay grounded by connecting with nature - get outside, take a walk, or enjoy some fresh air.
- Get rid of clutter around your home - this will help you feel calmer and more relaxed because it will make everything look neater; also decluttering helps relieve feelings of being overwhelmed which often leads to increased anxiety and stress
- Set yourself up for success by establishing realistic expectations about what is achievable in any given day/week/month/year; don't try to overachieve because this can lead to feelings of failure which increase anxiety levels (e.g., "I'm not doing enough")
- Try simple relaxation techniques before bedtime every night- deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization exercises, aromatherapy using essential oils
- Get enough sleep each night. Chronic insomnia is a well-recognized anxiety and stress symptom
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and sugar to help stabilize your moods; instead of coffee or sugary beverages in the morning have a cup of green tea in order to increase energy levels without stressing the adrenal glands
- Eat breakfast every morning. This will help to stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent anxiety-induced sugar cravings.
- Don't listen to self-defeating thoughts (e.g., "I'm not good enough," "I don't deserve it")
- Practice mindfulness. Focus on the present moment, observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment
- Get regular exercise. This will help to relieve anxiety and stress symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches or fatigue
- Avoid triggers that aggravate anxiety and stress symptoms (examples: large crowds, hectic schedules) by taking care of yourself first
- Practice self-care. Get enough sleep, eat a nutritious diet, get regular exercise and again - practise mindfulness
- Recharge with downtime every day. Take at least six minutes to meditate before returning to work.
- Practice gratitude daily, It helps to put things in perspective.
Time Management to prevent anxiety and stress symptoms
As entrepreneurs, time management is an efficient way to avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. But the best way to make sure you're using your time wisely is by making a routine for yourself and sticking with it.
- Keep a to-do list
- Find the right balance between work and life
- Take time for yourself - schedule in relaxation, exercise, and even socializing
- Create a schedule that blocks off time slots for specific tasks throughout each day, week, month, quarter etc (i.e Mondays from 12 pm to 11 am are devoted exclusively for marketing)
- Use apps like Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook to set your schedule in stone.
- Keep a list of daily, weekly and monthly tasks that need to be done for easy reference (i.e if you are running low on funds, always know what needs to happen next so you can avoid feeling stressed about it)
- Find a balance between the things you want to do and the things you need to do
- Set deadlines for projects
- Be realistic about what you can do in one day - don't overcommit!
- Don't compare yourself to other people or their success stories; there is no "right" way to be successful as an entrepreneur
- Set aside some time each week to plan out your goals for the future (and how to get there)
- Consider hiring help if it's too much for just one person! There are plenty of services available like virtual assistants or online task managers that will take care of tedious tasks so that entrepreneurs can focus on running their business instead of doing all the grunt work themselves.
Resources for Female Entrepreneurs Suffering from Anxiety or Stress
If you are experiencing so much anxiety and stress symptoms that it's affecting your day-to-day functioning, you should consult a mental health professional to explore the possible causes and treatments.
You can also do an internet search on anxiety or stress symptoms for more information about how these disorders manifest themselves as well as what you might be able to do yourself if they start getting out of control.
The following resources are helpful for female entrepreneurs experiencing any of the anxiety and stress symptoms.
- HelpGuide.org: Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) - symptoms, causes, diagnosis
Whether you're a woman or not, self-care is important. We know it's hard to put yourself first sometimes when so many other people rely on us for support and care.
However, if we don't take time for ourselves every once in a while, our mental health will suffer - which can affect the quality of our relationships with others as well as how successful we are at work.
The good news is that just by taking some small steps each day toward caring for your own emotional needs (e.g., meditating after a stressful day) you'll start feeling more confident and strong right away!
If this has resonated with you but all feels too overwhelming to tackle alone, reach out to an experienced consultant.
The most important thing that we can do as female entrepreneurs to support one another is to keep talking about our experiences and how they affect us so that others have the opportunity to learn from them. What's your story? Do you have more tips on handling anxiety and stress symptoms? Comment below.