Time for another great interview on the Healthpreneur Podcast! Today I am talking to Heidi Hanna, who I often call The Stress Master. She is a stress expert and has really figured out what is going on with stress in our world today—why we are all constantly stressed out and what we can do in our day-to-day lives to help alleviate some of it.
Heidi is a New York Times best selling author, chief energy officer and founder of SYNERGY—a consulting company providing brain health and performance programs for a ton of companies. Mostly small names like Microsoft, GE, Google, Starbucks, Boeing, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide—just standard stuff, really. Oh, and she’s also the executive direct of the American Institute of Stress.
So she’s fairly qualified. This is really a fantastic episode for any entrepreneur. If you’ve ever felt like you’re “burning the candle at both ends,” there will be some great insights here for you—I had some big “a-ha” moments in this episode, myself. We’re going to talk about why everyone needs to make an effort to relax and what it means to truly relax. On the flipside, we’ll also talk about how stress can be a positive thing.
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In This Episode Heidi and I discuss:
- The positive and negative effects of stress.
- Small steps you can take to take a step back and relieve stress in your day-to-day life.
- Stress loads vs. your stress lenses.
- The six primary stress reactions
- Why stress can be addictive
- Why relaxing and recharging is absolutely necessary.
4:00 – 13:00 – What is stress?
13:00 – 22:00 – Addictive stress, and why you need to recharge
22:00 – 30:00 – Relaxation tips and tricks
30:00 – 36:00 – Physical and mental recovery
36:00 – 39:00 – Rapid Five Questions
What You Missed:
In our last episode, I spoke with fellow Canadian, Shawna Kaminski, who is crushing it in the health and wellness space. She builds information products and she shared with us exactly how and why one of her first products took off, which helped her become super successful.
Oh, and this is actually her second career. She was a school teacher for twenty years before she started in the online health and wellness space.
You’ll want to pay close attention as Shawna shares some nuggets with us that will make a huge difference in the way you look at and run your business.
Hey guys. Yuri here, welcome to the Healthpreneur podcast! Hope your day is going great.
Today, I’ve got a great interview to bring your way. It’s going to be a little bit different than some of the other interviews where we talk more about the journey, the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur.
Today, we’re going to have a conversation with Heidi Hanna, who is a New York Times best selling author, chief energy officer and founder of SYNERGY, which is a consulting company providing brain based health and performance programs to organizations. And she’s the executive director of the American Institute of Stress.
So, if you haven’t kind of clued into who we’re talking to here—I call her the stress master, because she’s really kind of figured out this stress thing pretty amazingly well. And it’s all because she’s had to deal with her own journey, which she’ll tell us about in this interview.
I had some big “a-ha’s” and epiphanies from our discussion. This will be extremely valuable to you if you ever feel overwhelmed, if you ever feel like you have too much to do, if you ever feel like you’re rushing and if you ever feel stressed out.
What Heidi is going to share with us are some really cool insights and ideas to help you make sense of this and help you combat some of those feelings, so you can come back down to planet Earth and just kind of feel good again.
So, really good stuff, I’m telling you. You’ll want to listen to this entire episode with no distractions.
I’ll give you a little bit more about who Heidi is. She’s also a global speaker. She’s been featured in Fortune magazine’s most successful women in business, The ESPN Women in Leadership summits and the Million Dollar Roundtable—which to be quite honest with you, I don’t even know what that is, but it sounds pretty cool.
Her clients have included Microsoft, General Electric, Google, Starbucks, Boeing, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide and many, many more. There’s just a ton of cool stuff that she’s doing.
When people think about brain health, stress, energy, they think of Heidi. And I’m excited to bring her to you right here on the Healthpreneur Podcast. Without any further ado, let’s bring her onto the show.
Yuri: Hey Heidi, welcome to the Healthpreneur Podcast. How is it going?
Heidi: Thank you. It’s going great, and I am so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Yuri: You’re welcome. You and I have a lot in common because we talk a lot about energy.
You’re kind of the stress master, which is something I think a lot of people can relate to. I want to jump right into that for a second. How did you get into stress and why do you think it’s an important topic, not just for everyday people, but specifically for entrepreneurs?
Heidi’s Journey of Handling Stress Since Childhood
Heidi: Oh my gosh. Yes, of course it makes me chuckle to be known as the stress master.
Let me just start by saying the only way you master anything—and I’m sure everyone who’s listening to this will appreciate this and understand this—the only way you do that is through a lot of challenge, a lot of discomfort, probably a sprinkle of pain, and a lot of work.
I think in the past I considered myself a stress expert, meaning I did a lot of the research—and I have actually been studying this my whole life because of my own personal struggles. And that is also something I’ve found with so many people in this space. Oftentimes, we teach what we most need to learn and we’re also fascinated by the fact that we can have all of this information that is still not really helping us to make the transformation.
So, I very early on suffered from an anxiety disorder that caused me to actually faint. Around the age of 10, I started passing out and no one could figure out what was wrong with me.
Because of that, I went to a lot of different doctors. Some of them thought I might be having some sort of minor seizure, it might be blood sugar. They weren’t really sure, but everyone at some point said it’s probably stress related.
And when you hear that something is stress related, it’s easy to think that it’s just all in your head. You should be stronger than that, you should just get over it. You should learn to cope with it.
And so, essentially, I struggled with that for about 30 years before I finally discovered that I have a condition called vasovagal syndrome, which if you think about the stress response, most people think of fight or flight. But even if you look at the animal kingdom, there’s a lot of animals out there that actually play dead when there’s something really stressful going on.
That’s essentially what was happening in my body. I have almost a reverse reaction where the blood pulls the bottom of my feet and gets out of my brain and I have to faint to get that blood back to my head.
I guess I was forced to learn how to act in order to manage that. Interestingly enough, my two biggest fears in life were flying and public speaking, and I found myself in a career where I was flying and public speaking.
Yuri: Just a little bit.
Heidi: And literally, 15 years of doing this, honestly, almost every single day, is part of the reason I also uncovered this whole area of stress addiction. It turns out that things that cause stress can also be highly addictive and keep us in this vicious cycle.
I say that just to say that we can get a lot of information and I think many times if we’re going to truly feel called into a certain type of work, there is a lot of pain that’s involved with that.
So even as I got better at coping with stress and managing anxiety, which also had the very difficult side effects with things like depression and other ways that I tried to cope that were not healthy.
Even going through all of that … Just a year and a half ago, I went through another really difficult time where I feel like life was kind of exposing me, emotionally, or breaking me open in a sense to just how difficult this journey can be.
And in that moment, really having the choice to say, “Do I want to get out of this because I can’t handle it anymore? Or am I going to really look into it and dig in deeper and have the tough conversations and really learn how to use this to my advantage?”
I’m grateful to say I had people around me that were really supportive and I was able to do that. So, I feel like going through the difficult times are really what broke me open to the depth of how important this topic really is.
Yuri: That’s awesome. That’s why I love our industry of health experts—well, health is the broad category—because we’re all coming from a place of our own challenges or struggles and we are trying to solve them for ourselves and the people we’re serving.
It’s such a cool place to work in and kind of connect with people like yourself are doing some really great things from a place of service.
I want to touch on two things. You talked about stress—the things that cause us stress are also very addictive. Can you elaborate on that?
The first thing that comes to my mind is people who are working 20 hours a day, they’re addicted to the work. How does it all kind of work and can you maybe elaborate on that a bit?
What is stress?
Heidi: To do that, let me take a step back and first. I think one of the most important things is to clearly define what stress is. Because one of the things I’ve found, even going through my challenges last year, is that I would go to the stress experts and say, “Well, what is stress exactly?”
And everyone would have a different answer.
And usually, the answer would take 20 minutes to get to. And so, if we know we have this stress epidemic—like, we know that 75 to 90% of medical visits are stress related, we know that stress costs the business economy $600 billion a year in the U.S….
We’re using all of these statements to categorize something where no one really even knows what it is.
I worked really hard to come up with a definition that I believe is helpful. You could define it in a million different ways, but this is the way I think is most helpful: it’s what happens in the gap between demand and capacity.
So, it’s an experience, an energy, a pressure, attention—you can define a lot of different ways depending on the circumstances. But it’s essentially what our brain and body are trying to do to help us cope when demands are greater than our existing capacity.
So, as you know, physical exercise is stressful and it causes our system to need to adapt and adjust. As long as we have the resources, we can rebuild and we get stronger as a result.
But, if you were to do weight training and the same muscle groups day after day after day after day, you obviously wouldn’t have the resources, you wouldn’t be able to adapt and there would be a chronic stress response. As a result of that you would break down, cause inflammation all of that kind of stuff.
So, I think this is important to understand because it’s not just the demands and it’s not just our capacity. There’s one other factor that I have just been fascinated with. I look at demand versus capacity as being your stress load—so that’s the load or the tension that’s existing on your energy, your time, your resources.
The other thing that’s really important is your stress lens, and that’s the perspective that you have on stress. And that is actually primarily genetics and early life experiences.
Those two factors combined are going to create the mindset that you have, which we know is flexible and adaptable—and that’s what stress mastery is all about. How do you change your lens while also navigating that demand and capacity? That’s that’s the first piece that, I think, is really important to understand.
The second piece is that what we think of as the stress response is actually not totally accurate. As I mentioned, fight or flight is just part of the picture. We actually have identified six primary stress reactions, and this is going to tie in to why stress is addictive, so hang in there for one second.
Fight or flight is one, and that’s primarily adrenaline based. It gives you the rush and you get more things done and you’re like hyper-focused, feeling like you have tons of energy and it’s this sweet spot for a lot of people, especially entrepreneurs. We wait until the last minute, we get a surge of adrenaline and we’re awesome.
Then, we have what’s known as the freeze or faint response, and this is more of a chronic response. This is what causes me to actually faint, even though most people wouldn’t get there for a long time, because of childhood trauma, genetic predispositions, my system is a little bit hijacked, so I go there quicker than most people.
But you also have a freeze response, where you get kind of analysis paralysis. If you stay stuck in stress too long, most people will get there. Their body and their brain are actually now kind of starting to break down, you have more fatigue, maybe chronic pain. This is more of the freeze-faint response.
Then there’s two others that are really fascinating, they’re more oxytocin driven. When you’re having a stress response and there’s a surge of oxytocin—which is a bonding chemical—there’s a reaction we call tender befriend.
More women than men happen to have this because we produce more oxytocin and it has to do with estrogen, and we can get into all the details of that.
Simply put, some people when they’re experiencing stress will react first by trying to help other people or by trying to create relationships and social support. And in the big scheme of things, all of those reactions are healthy as long as we use them as information for positive change.
Here’s where it gets addictive; that initial kick that we get from primarily the adrenaline response helps us to get things done. And so, when we are low on energy, it’s kind of like backup energy. It’s almost like having a cup of coffee or having some sugar, it gives us that surge and it feels good.
What happens as that starts to wear down is, we just don’t feel good. People who are constantly running, a lot of times under the surface, they are so tired that they’re afraid if they stop they’re not going to get started again.
And so, mentally and even emotionally, they’re kind of hanging on to their stress. And I know so many people who I work with will say, “I don’t want you to get rid of my stress. I need my stress. I need that energy because I’m afraid if I don’t have it, I might not get out of bed in the morning.”
So, there’s actually a few different factors, one is just the literal, physical stimulation that we get from stress. The other thing is stress has become a bonding experience. So we just live in a culture where the busier we are, the more stress we have, the more validated we feel by that.
I remember one time driving in my car and looking down at my email, which I never do, and I did it this one time, I was needing to feel connected. I was actually kind of nervous about something and I needed that hit that told me that people needed me.
I looked down, I didn’t have any emails and I started to cry. I was like, “This is so weird, it’s been 20 minutes, my phone must be broken. Nobody needs me.”
Yuri: So true though.
Addictive stress, and why you need to recharge
Heidi: So there’s connection through stimulation and technology, there’s validation. We crave more information all the time. We know the brain is hardwired for new novel experiences, new novel information.
And again, I want to say that all of that is positive, it’s just that the brain and the brain’s cravings, when they get hijacked by a world that’s telling us, “You’re not enough, you don’t have enough, you need to be hacking your system, you need to be hustling, you need to outrun everybody” … that gets us stuck in this state where under the surface of that false energy, it’s kind of like a credit card.
If you’re spending a bunch of money and you’re getting a rush from that, but you’re not opening your credit card statement, you’re never even going to know what’s going on. It’s the same thing with the body.
If you don’t really slow down and check in with yourself, you may not realize that you’re speeding up the development of diseases and disorders. You may not even realize that that fatigue you’re feeling, if you were to really slow down, that is your body’s way of saying, “This is not working for us, long term you cannot sustain this.”
So, you can either pay attention to the signs—which are the little things that try to get your attention, like a little headache or mild fatigue—or you get to the point where you have serious symptoms, and that’s usually when people start paying attention because so much of our health is impacted by our level of stress.
It’s essentially just speeding up the development of anything that’s already going wrong in our system.
Yuri: Yeah, that’s that’s really cool. That’s stuff that I have never even heard, which is good to know.
I was going to ask you … I think fight or flight is what people kind of tend to associate with, with respect to stress—but even then a lot of people just don’t recognize it. How does someone know when they’re in that state? Because, I’ll just give an example, at our Healthpreneur Live events … I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that. I use the example of like, I was nourished from like a spiritual level.
I just felt really good all day long and people like, “Aren’t you tired? Don’t you need any food?” And I was like “No, I just feel nourished.”
One of our Mastermind members, Steven, said, “that’s called fight or flight.” And I was like, “Well, is it or is there something else going on?” And after the event I was like, “Okay, now I’m pretty tired. I’m going to just chill out for a couple of days.” I kind of felt the aftereffects of that.
But how do you know, in the moment, if you’re just doing what you are called to do and you’re feeling really good. How do you separate that, from that addictive, elation type of experience? Or is there a difference?
Heidi: That’s a great question. I think we can benefit from, again, looking at what stress is.
There’s a big difference between acute and chronic stress. Acute is in the moment, you’re really actually needing those heightened levels of energy, and there’s nothing wrong with that for a shorter period of time. It’s different for everyone, how long that they can sustain that.
Let’s go back again to the exercise metaphor, if you are training someone physically, you would be looking at things like type, duration and intensity, right? Same thing with stress.
What kind of stress are you having? How long is it going on? What is the intensity level? And that’s going to kind of determine the effect it has on you.
Let’s say you go to an event, it’s a weekend long event and you’re just on this high—and spiritual energy, by the way, is one of the buckets that we fuel that can make us feel like we don’t need physical energy for a while, because we’re just overflowing with that. We can sustain that for a period of time.
Let’s say the intensity goes way up and you’re at this two or three day event. Yes, you have more stress, but you’re also getting the reward through that process and you know that there’s a time coming that you’re going to be able to recharge and repair.
So, the most important thing in that is if you’re aware of it and you appreciate what’s happening, you build in your own recovery period afterwards. You know that you’re going to have a decrease. I’m sitting here using my hands as if anyone could see me—but everything about the human system is designed to oscillate, so we have these ups and downs.
The problem is not that we go up and have this really exciting, stressful, intense time—and I say stress, by the way, there as a positive. Stress is positive up to a tipping point. You have this stress energy that’s awesome, as long as you know that it’s going to come back down, and then you recharge.
So, you schedule time where you’re going to go get a massage or you’re going to spend time in nature, you’re going to reflect, you’re going to journal, you’re going to listen to music, you’re going to get more sleep, you’re going to eat in a way that’s restorative.
All of those things to rebuild your system, you can then go back into that high stress state again, it’s just like performing in sports.
But, what most people do is they kick it up like that for a weekend and they push really hard and they come back and they actually come back to more work. They spread themselves too thin and they never take that recharge break.
So that is what I think is so important. It’s not the level of stress, but are we matching that for our own unique makeup? Are we matching that with the level of recovery that we need to then come back to that optimal state?
And through sports and exercise too, you can continue to push and push and push to levels you never thought possible, as long as you’re getting the recovery that matches that, for you to then be able to do the repair.
Yuri: That’s such a great “a-ha.” I hope all the listeners are getting this, because I think as an entrepreneur, we often think we’re invincible and we’re just going to keep going and going and going.
One of the big epiphanies I had about this, I guess a couple of years ago, is when I was working with Dan Sullivan as a strategic coach. He has this whole three-day system, which is where you’ve got your prep days, your focus days and your off days, or your buffer days.
The off days or the free days, you do nothing. It has nothing to do with business. And that was a real big challenge for me because I’m always thinking about all this stuff. I think a lot of us are being real creative, we’re always in our heads, we are always thinking about all that stuff.
How do you get someone to switch off? And how do you advice someone to chill out, take a day off, take a couple of days off?
Heidi: This is the hardest thing to do. This is why I decided to make this my whole life, honestly.
Because I started off teaching nutrition. I was teaching nutrition, exercise, physiology, a little bit of performance psychology. I was doing that for a long time, but what I kept finding more and more was that people know what to do.
People have access to information for the most part. Now, there’s still great need to work with people through that, to customize it. There’s also all sorts of cool things going on with nutrigenomics, there is a space for that, but the one thing I kept bumping into time and time again, was I couldn’t get people to do nothing.
It’s like everyone would say, “Okay, I know meditation is the best thing for me, but just teach me how to workout or just teach me what to eat.” Like, “Teach me what to do.”
And I would say, “The most important thing that you could do, is not do.”
And that’s just so opposite of not only how we’re wired as entrepreneurs, but also the messages the world is telling us. Even when we go to these mastermind programs and all of that. I just did one for a couple of days and literally by the end of the day, I’m like, “I’m full, I can’t take in another thing.”
And I recognize every time I go to something like that it’s like I’m wasting my money if I don’t build in at least a day or two to actually let that stuff settle in.
Because otherwise, it’s just like over stuffing ourselves with nutrition. Our body needs the time to actually utilize that to our advantage or else it just shoves it away into storage, and we do the same thing with all of our notes from all of our events.
I really think the only way to do this is, there’s some re-programming that needs to happen in our own mind—and it’s different for everybody, how you do this—that says that taking care of yourself is not an option, recharging is not an option.
I have a wristband I wear that says, “I’d rather be extraordinary at less, than ordinary at more.” And I focus on that.
All the little things that you can do to remind yourself of that and mandate it to the point where you put it in your schedule, and I know for you, that had to be super hard to say, “I’m going to put a day in my schedule where I’m doing nothing.”
It’s almost like the opposite of what most people do. We have to catch ourselves going off into like, “I’m building a new business in my mind while I’m getting a massage,” and catch it.
I call it catching the monkey.
That’s your monkey mind that’s being hyperactive and saying, “You can’t slow down because you have to hustle, you have to hustle, you have to hustle.” No, actually you don’t.
As an entrepreneur, you are wired to hustle, so all those messages that everybody is giving you that you have to hustle, really, are for everybody else. You don’t need that, you’re wired that way already. You need to learn how to slow down and let that stuff sink in so that you can really connect to the deeper part of who you are and what matters most to you. And be fueled from what you’re saying, that spiritual level, where it’s like, “This is a calling, this is bigger than me.”
When you have that kind of fuel, you can do extraordinary things.
But the other piece I’ll just mention about the neuroscience aspect of all of this, which is another thing I think most people know but they don’t practice as if it were real. It’s that the way we get to true insight and intuition and that kind of deeper level of processing, is through relaxation.
You have your best ideas in the shower. I get a massage every week and it’s the best money I ever spent on my business, because even though I’m trying to quiet my mind, after that, I let myself just free flow.
I’ve written books an hour after a massage because it’s like I’m finally making these connections that I couldn’t make when I was in that adrenaline based fight or flight, get things done, go to hustle mode.
Whatever it takes for you as an individual listener. As you’re listening to this, I would say, what would it take for you to truly commit to recharging your own energy? How do you do it? Because it’s going to be unique for everybody.
What’s your reaction type? What’s your best recovery technique? It’s a little different for everybody.
And how do you put that in your schedule as important, if not more important, than anything else you do during the day? Because it’s going to empower you to do everything else more effectively and minimize that tension or strain you’re getting from stressing beyond your limits.
Yuri: That’s so good. I know this is kind of like going off on a “how-to,” which is perfect because I think everything happens for a reason. And I think our listeners will greatly appreciate this interview.
I know that, just in my mind, I’ve got so many notes here, and one of the things that I’m challenging myself with is, I like driving fast. I don’t tailgate people, I just like driving fast, I guess.
For me, a challenge would be, ‘Let me drive five kilometers, or five miles below the speed limit and just deal with that,” and I think there’s a lot of different moments in our lives, where we’re trying to get things done so quickly, it’s like, “just step back and slow down.”
And that’s challenging, but I think you brought up some really, really good thinking exercises and points to reflect upon. And I think a lot of our listeners can relate to who we are as entrepreneurs, at a DNA level. So this is extremely valuable. Thank you for sharing.
Relaxation tips and tricks
Heidi: Let me also just say to you, I just want to reemphasize that what you just said about driving slower, is a perfect practice.
So, really think about even things like that. If you just notice yourself in a situation where you can slow down, that may not seem like it’s going to impact all of these other things, but these are mental and emotional trainings that you’re breaking a pattern of rushing—and I call this rushing syndrome.
Most of us have rushing syndrome and we’re stuck in that, so any little thing that you can do to break that pattern is going to have a training impact that will affect everything else. That’s a great practical example.
Yuri: I’ll give you another one, which is, on Thursdays I usually record most of my podcasts episodes. I batch out anywhere from four to eight interviews in a day. And that’s like, go, go, go, nonstop, and I recognized that.
After doing that for the first time, I was like, I feel pretty exhausted. So what I mandated, I built in was, every, after every second interview, I would give myself five or ten minutes to just sit down in my chair and close my eyes and breathe deeply to slow down, because if I just kept going through the interviews, I’d be exhausted by the end of the day.
For me, that’s something else that I do now with all my interviews—to show up to the best of my ability for every person, but also to conserve my health. That’s something that’s working well for me.
Heidi: And what you’re doing there, I think everyone needs to recognize too, is that it’s not that you couldn’t push through those interviews, you absolutely could. And maybe they wouldn’t be super impacted with the quality and all those things that are important to you, but the difference is how you feel after that.
Here’s something people have to keep in mind, what else in your life is important outside of your business? You push and push and push, and at the end of the day, how do you show up for your spouse or your friends or your kids, or anything else in your life that you say you’re doing all of your work for? And I think that’s really important.
So, catching yourself in those moments and even talking to yourself. I literally talk to my brain, because my brain has some pretty crazy thoughts that are not aligned with how I really feel.
They’d say, “Just push, just push, just push.” And it’s like, “Hey, I appreciate what you’re trying to do here, but we’re going to just settle down for a few minutes.” And what happens is, by the end of the day, you still actually have energy—so you could even just do that as an experiment.
What happens if every hour you were to stop for three to five minutes, to listen to a song or do some deep breathing, or go for a walk outside. I’ll just do, literally, a lap around my house and come back.
What can you do to break that pattern of pushing and rushing that will then allow you, at the end of the day, to feel good. And that’s when you know you’re oscillating in a way that’s consistent with the amount of stress that’s positive and the amount of recovery that you need to be sustainable.
Yuri: That’s so good. You bring up such a good point because if we have families, if we have a spouse, what’s the point of doing everything we’re doing if we’re vegetable by the end of the day?
We’re not fully present with them. That’s not really serving you or them.
Yeah, I think it’s just a matter of reflection, it’s being like, “Okay, what’s really happening here?” Another interesting example is from tennis—I love tennis. We’ve seen people like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, in their 30s now, come back stronger than ever before because they took six months off. And that’s almost unheard of.
Roger Federer takes six months off, comes back, and he’s playing the best tennis of his life. And arguably, a few years back, everyone was saying he’s never going to win another Major. And I think that is going to start an interesting trend in sports.
I think athletes or entrepreneurs are very similar because we’re all looking to push the edge, and I think it’s just such a great example. This has been extremely illuminating and useful, Heidi, so thank you so much for sharing all this stuff.
Physical and mental recovery
Heidi: I want to add one quick thing—and I promise I’ll make it quick—but one of the biggest trends right now in fitness is going to be recovery. We are absolutely at that point where we’re looking at things like float tanks, hyperbaric chambers, how do you really optimize that recovery time?
And so, think of yourself as a business person, as needing brain health and fitness. What does your brain need to be pushed and then also to recover that energy? And when you look at sports, those sports that are more just reactive, let’s say, soccer for example, you still need that physical recovery for sure, there’s a strategy to it, but it’s much more kind of primal reactions.
If you look at things like tennis or golf—and I do most of my consulting and even personally I like playing golf to challenge my own mind—you’re looking at things that really require this level of intention and focus. We know how much of those games are actually what happens in the mind, that then changes the way the body operates.
If your brain is important to your business, then you absolutely need to be thinking about the same thing as well. How do you integrate all of your energy in a way that’s going to help you to perform.
Yuri: That’s awesome. And we can talk about this forever. I think it’s going to stimulate some interesting conversations.
I completely agree with you that recovery is the next big trend, because we’re seeing a lot of things like CrossFit, American Ninja Warrior, Orange Three, like these go-go-go high intensity metabolic workouts—and everyone’s laying on the ground after like they are in a coma.
There’s an oscillation to that and I think you’re completely bang on with there being a big need for recovery. That’s why yoga has been so huge—restorative yoga, not like crazy Bikram.
Heidi: Yeah. But most people still want to do the hot yoga, and it’s like “I do yoga and then I’ll also do the hot yoga” because I don’t like the other kind.” It’s like, “Yeah, because you don’t like slowing down!”
Yuri: “I want to feel like I worked out.”
Heidi: And if you don’t like doing it, then that’s even more reason why you need to practice. Relaxing is hard work, because we don’t do it—so we’re retraining something that’s so fundamental for our system.
And there’s a lot of great ways to do that. I think when people start getting more familiar with things like heart rate variability training and the different types of meditation that are restorative, that are more suited for entrepreneurs than say, sitting and thinking about nothing for 20 minutes—which is torture for an entrepreneur.
There are ways to do that that will help you center and focus, and learn how to practice that on your own. It just takes training like anything else.
Yuri: Yeah. Well, before we jump into the rapid five, what’s one technology, or app, or feedback mechanism that we can use to get a better sense of how relaxed we are or how stressed we are?
Heidi: Yeah. I’m in the process of evaluating some of these, right now my favorite is still HeartMath. The HeartMath Technology, which essentially just gives you a clip that you put on your ear—HeartMath is really only looking at heart beats.
And there are other technologies, there’s a company called Thought Technology, actually out of Canada that has a sensor that incorporates heartbeat as well as temperature and skin conductance, or sweating of the finger as well.
So there’s different ways to do this, depending on how deep you want to go into that process. But I do think that biofeedback, when you’re looking at the beat to beat change of the heart, it’s the number one way to evaluate resilience.
We use it a lot with our athletes, and I think for entrepreneurs, it’s a quick way to just kind of get a quick check—looking under the hood, how’s the heart beating, how’s the breath working for you.
And it will also give you a way to identify your unique breath rate. We know that studies have shown about six breaths per minute is ideal for most people, but it may be a little bit faster, a little bit slower, so you can really customize your experience and then you’re getting feedback through your computer or cellular device that will tell you when you’re in that optimal state.
That feedback is really programming your brain to recognize what that feels like, so you don’t always need the device—you could then do that quick breathing technique for two to three minutes before giving a talk or doing something else that’s important.
But the research really shows we need at least 10 minutes of training time. So, I would recommend everyone really build that in.
10 minutes of training time every morning of breath work with biofeedback, and then, once you’re training that skill just like anything else, then you can do the quick-shift techniques of two to three minutes as needed. But those aren’t going to work very well for you until you’ve kind of build that fundamental ability to get into that state through consistent training.
So, two to three weeks of training, ten minutes a day, would dramatically change most people’s ability to get into that ideal state.
Yuri: That’s awesome. Six breaths per minute. That’s the kind of a standard? That’s what we’re looking for?
Heidi: Yeah, that’s the standard and you can do this. It’s about 10 seconds of five seconds breathing in, five seconds breathing out.
Some people like to breathe out a little bit longer than breathing in, the research actually shows that that steady state is optimal for most people. But just like any research, there’s always people that’ll fluctuate on that.
You could breathe in to four, breathe out to five, or breath in to four or breathe out to six. When you’re breathing out, you could think about it as that’s when you’re actually pushing the relaxation brake on your system.
So, breathing out just a little bit longer than you’re breathing in may be more beneficial for some people, but if you have some trauma in your background, like I do, and someone says just take a deep breath—that’s actually really stimulating. I say that because if breath work is challenging for you out there, and a lot of entrepreneurs actually have had some trauma in their history, then do something first to help you get into a relaxed state.
For me, I actually listen to music, or sounds of nature, or I’ll use aromatherapy as I’m breathing, and that really helps me to calm down the system more quickly.
And then I’ll use that same aroma therapy before I give a talk, without even doing the breathing, and it cues me to get back to that state as well. So, you can kind of pair techniques to do it even more quickly.
Yuri: That’s great. This has been so good, Heidi. Thank you. So, are you ready for the rapid five?
Heidi: I’m ready. Let me do a couple of deep breaths and then I’ll be ready.
The Rapid-Five Questions
Yuri: All right, so here we go. Number one, what is your biggest weakness?
Heidi: I’m very sensitive.
Yuri: Cool. What is your biggest strength?
Heidi: Let me just say, my biggest weakness is also my biggest strength, though! You just took me right there so, I didn’t mean to cut you off.
My biggest strength is also my sensitivity. I have learned that sensitivity is both, and so just like stress, it’s all a matter of how you learn to navigate it.
Yuri: That’s awesome. What’s one skill you’ve become dangerously good at in order to grow your business?
Heidi: Oh gosh, that’s good. This is so terrible, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten really good at anything yet.
Well, you know what, because I’m looking at all these papers, I’m getting way better at kicking out content. But in order to do that, I have to kind of manage my sensitivity.
I’ve gotten really good at prioritizing taking care of myself, and that has allowed me to then fine tune some of these other skills. Because if I am stuck in that stress state, it makes me hypersensitive, and I won’t get any work done because I feel like it’s never good enough.
So, I think prioritizing self care, I’m real close to being a master at that.
Yuri: That’s great, awesome. What do you do first thing in the morning?
Heidi: First thing in the morning, I move my body. For me, I have to get some sort of physical exercise or activity before my brain even comes online.
Yuri: Finally, complete this sentence, I know I’m being successful when …
Heidi: I’m smiling. I just smiled! I know I’m being successful when I’m smiling.
Yuri: That’s great. Well, there you have it guys, Heidi Hanna in the house. Heidi, thank you so much. Where is the best place for people to stay up to date with what you’re up to and your work online?
Heidi: You can find me at heidihanna.com, that’s my website. And I’m so excited, we have some new programs launching this year, 2018. Hard to believe I’m saying that. People can take a free stress assessment, which is at mystress360.com, and that will actually help you to identify your stress load, your stress lens, and even your reaction type so you can figure out what kind of recovery technique is going to be most effective for you.
That is the one tool I’m most excited about sharing with the world because I do think you really have to understand your unique relationship with stress in order to figure out how to master that. There is no one size fits all approach.
Yuri: That’s great. Heidi, once again thank you so much for all the work you do for giving me a couple of epiphanies today. This has been really great for myself and I have no doubt for our listeners as well. Thank you so much for being with us and sharing your awesomeness.
Heidi: Thank you and thanks for all the great work you’re doing, I look forward to connecting with you again soon.
Yuri: Thank you.
I don’t know about you, but I had some serious breakthroughs from that discussion with Heidi. And I’m already planning some cool things to help me just do nothing.
And if you have a tough time doing nothing, I challenge you to do nothing with me. Is that good? Is that a challenge? We’re going to do that together? We’re going to do nothing together.
We’re going to bring this simmer down in our body—that pot of water that’s boiling all the time, and always doing, doing, doing. We’re going to do nothing. We’re going to just simmer down and chill.
So one, as I mentioned, when I’m recording these podcasts I’ll take a five to ten minute break every two interviews and I’ll just sit down close my eyes and breathe. That’s something I’ve forced myself to do, because otherwise it just spirals out of control.
One of the things that I suggest to anybody—and this goes back to my nutrition, health, energy coaching because I’ve obviously written the book, The All-Day Energy Diet, which was a number two New York Times bestseller, plug, plug.
One of the things I recommend to people when I’m doing these types of interviews on other podcasts is that when you feel the day’s rushing away from you, when you feel like mid-afternoon you’re just going, going, going, going and you’re not even aware of what’s happening anymore … That’s when you have to turn everything off and just stop and chill out.
The key though, as we’ve identified in this episode, is being aware. Being conscious of what’s happening. Because if you’re not aware of what you’re doing, it’s really tough to identify it and obviously make a positive change.
If you’re somebody who just wants to feel more relaxed, more in tune with who you are, less stressed out, less busy, you need to slow down.
And as I mentioned to Heidi, I’m going to challenge myself to drive five kilometers per hour below the speed limit. That’ll be interesting, that’ll be interesting. I’m usually the one driving like 20 to 40 over the speed limit—not in residential areas, by the way, only on highways. Because I have three kids, and I can’t stand when people drive like maniacs like that.
But I’m going to challenge you to figure out, for you, how are you going to slow down? What’s the one thing that you can implement into your life to help you slow down? Is it meditation? Is it to sit outside and look at the birds? I don’t know.
But I want to challenge you to really figure that out, because when you can build that practice into your daily life, it will really make a difference for you. You’ll feel more connected to what you’re doing, you’ll feel more relaxed, you’ll feel that you have more time, and you’ll feel less rushed.
I think it’s a great message that Heidi was able to share with us, and that’s why I’m so pumped to have her on the podcast. I love what she’s doing, she’s doing amazing work and she’s also worked with ELPGA, NFL—a lot of amazing organizations who need to hear this message just as much as we do.
That’s all for today, thank you so much for taking the time for joining me. I know that Heidi and I had a lot of fun bringing this to you.
And as always, go out there, serve more people, share your message, share your stories, share your magic, continue to be great and do great. And I look forward to seeing you in our next episode.
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