How A Dysregulated Nervous System Impacts Your Performance with Mallory Meyer, Leadership & NeurocoachNov 13, 2023
Understanding the relationship between a well-regulated nervous system and our emotional well-being, performance and productivity is essential when running a business and leading a team. If you have been experiencing chronic stress and anxiety, sleep disturbances and trouble concentrating, looking at your nervous system can be a good place to start in order to address these states of being that can seriously affect your health and the way you perform as a founder and/or leader. Mallory Meyer, Leadership & Neurocoach, joins us on the blog to share how we can spot imbalances in our nervous system and develop the skills we need to regulate our emotions in a more mindful and effective way, improving our productivity and overall well-being.
Tell us more about yourself and what inspired you to enter your current field of work.
In my past life in the corporate world, I was a typical overachiever. Now, I've transitioned into the role of a "leadership wingwoman," blending my expertise as a Polyvagal-Informed practitioner, Life & Success Coach, Hypnotherapist, and more. With a diploma in HR and a decade of corporate experience, I've gained a deep understanding of the critical connection between a healthy, engaged work environment and business success.
Over the past three years, I've grown my coaching business to multiple 6-figures in under 18 months. As I've evolved, implemented my learnings, and integrated my experiences, I've reflected on the often-overlooked factor that profoundly impacts our performance, productivity, and overall well-being – our nervous system.
Now, I've come full circle, supporting executives and visionary leaders in enhancing their performance, team engagement, retention, and mental resilience with preventative solutions to combat burnout. In a world that demands agility, proactiveness, and a break from traditional structures, my extensive experience and ongoing journey are poised to revolutionize how you motivate your team. It's not just about reshaping mindsets but rewiring neural pathways, ultimately achieving leadership excellence in a whole new way.
What are the signs of a dysregulated nervous system?
A dysregulated nervous system refers to an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which involuntarily regulates various bodily functions such as heart rate, breathing, digestion, and stress responses.
Signs of a dysregulated nervous system may often appear as:
- Chronic Stress and Anxiety: persistent stress and anxiety in high-pressure situations.
- Difficulty in Concentration: struggling to focus, make decisions, solve problems, or stay on top of important tasks – all critical skills for leaders.
- Irritability and Mood Swings: frequent mood swings and irritability, affecting relationships with team members, clients, and colleagues.
- Insomnia and Sleep Disturbances: sleep troubles leading to fatigue and reduced overall well-being.
- Impaired Communication: difficulty engaging with others, listening actively, and expressing yourself clearly.
- Decreased Resilience: a weakened ability to bounce back from setbacks and adversity.
What is the impact that nervous system imbalances have on our physical and emotional health?
Divided into two realms of Physical and Emotional health, the effects of nervous system imbalances may manifest as:
- Weakened Immune System: nervous system imbalances, especially prolonged activation of the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) branch, can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses and infections.
- Chronic Health Conditions: these imbalances are associated with long-term health issues, including cardiovascular issues, digestive troubles, and autoimmune diseases.
- Sleep Disturbances: sleep problems, such as insomnia, leave you fatigued, affecting your overall effectiveness.
- Headaches, digestive issues, muscle tension.
- Increased Stress and Anxiety: dysregulation heightens stress and anxiety, impacting your emotional well-being and even potentially causing panic attacks.
- Difficulty in Coping with Emotions: emotional regulation becomes challenging, making it difficult to manage and process emotions effectively.
- Strained Relationships: emotional instability can strain both personal and professional relationships, influencing your overall quality of life.
How does dysregulation in the nervous system affect our performance as leaders and entrepreneurs?
Dysregulation in the nervous system can significantly impact leaders and entrepreneurs in various ways:
- Decreased Decision-Making Capacity: leaders who must regularly make critical decisions find their judgment and decision-making abilities impaired by a dysregulated nervous system.
- Lower Employee Morale: irritability and poor communication negatively affect team morale and dynamics.
- Reduced Innovation and Creativity: hindered creative thinking, which is essential for staying competitive.
- Increased Health Care Costs: physical symptoms can lead to higher sick leave and healthcare costs for both leaders and employees.
- Overall Business Performance: in the long run, a persistently dysregulated nervous system can affect the overall performance and success of a business, underscoring the importance of addressing this issue.
How do you fix a dysregulated nervous system?
I always advocate that each individual I work with should have agency and awareness of their baseline and current capacity. As Deb Dana suitably puts it, are we being operators or passive passengers with our nervous system? Are you in the driver's seat?
It's not about "fixing" but rather practising with modalities that activate and increase ventral vagal activation from the sympathetic, if not dorsal. It requires each individual to be committed and proficient in "training" their nervous system.
With each client, I incorporate customized and personalized modalities such as Emotional Freedom Technique, Hypnotherapy, and science-backed neuro exercises to promote emotional regulation, enhance mental resilience, and alleviate stress and anxiety. All of these help clients effectively move into regulation when confronted with threats and uncertainty. By doing neuro-exercises, we increase our resting vagal tone, providing more resilience against "breaking points."
Here are some proven ways to enhance your vagal tone and support your well-being:
- Deep and Steady Breathing and Meditation: take time to relax and clear your mind.
- Vagus Nerve Massage: applying light to moderate pressure to areas near the vagus nerve, such as the neck/shoulder region near the base of the skull or the side of the neck, use your fingers to massage these areas, promoting increased vagal tone and a slowed heart rate
- Physical Activity: engage in regular exercise to relieve stress and improve your well-being, Yoga is great as you are asked to hold position and invite in slow deep breathing.
- Cold Showers/Plunges: gradually increase welcoming these into your routine
- Professional Guidance: don't hesitate to reach out to therapists or practitioners specialized in nervous system regulation if needed.
Remember, it's not about "fixing" but about training and nurturing your nervous system for a more resilient and balanced life.
How has learning how to regulate the nervous system helped your clients?
Learning how to regulate the nervous system has proven to be transformative for my clients, especially when delving into the nuanced realm of nervous system recovery within the context of leadership and entrepreneurship. It transcends traditional business strategies, focusing on the strategic nurturing and alignment with the recovery of the nervous system for long-term success and overall well-being.
Take, for instance, a specific client who grappled with constant pressure to innovate and meet tight deadlines, leaving her perpetually drained and overwhelmed. Introducing her to nervous system regulation techniques shifted her internal state. She embraced incorporating short mindfulness exercises into her routine, particularly during high-pressure moments. The impact was remarkable—she not only experienced improved focus, creative breakthroughs, and sustained energy, but this positive shift also directly influenced the company's capacity to generate fresh unique ideas and confidently make decisions that weren’t ruled by emotion.
Where can our readers learn more about your work?
Readers can learn more about my services and offerings at: https://courses.whitewolfreiki.ca/leadershipcoachingwithmal
Mallory Meyer is a Leadership & Neurocoach, Healer, Educator and International Speaker. As a former Corporate Human Resources professional and multiple six-figure entrepreneur, Mallory understands the complexities of navigating the world of business and corporate leadership and uses her unique approach of combining multiple modalities to guide and support founders, executives and visionaries in achieving heightened levels of performance and productivity in a way that is healthy to their nervous system and overall well-being.
In her upcoming talk in the Co-created Hub membership, Mallory will be sharing her nervous system mapping process to help our community learn more about the different states of the nervous system and how to regulate it for optimal performance and enhanced well-being. You can join our hub community and watch Mallory's talk by completing the below form.