The nervous system is a complex system of nerves that act as wiring inside our bodies. Our bodies’ wiring sends signals between our brains, spinal cords, muscles, skin, and hormones to keep us alive and functioning. When a nervous system is dysregulated, it can result in problematic behaviors for the individual and those around them.
But how does nervous system dysregulation impact your performance as a small business owner?
Nervous system dysregulation impacts fight or flight and freeze and shutdown mode. Business owners in this state may have short tempers, rage outbursts, and trouble concentrating. They could be passive, withdrawn and shut down, making bad choices based on their dominant, primitive limbic system.
If you are a business owner who deals with a great deal of stress, you may wonder if you are affected by a dysregulated nervous system. Our nervous systems are designed to keep us alive, but when they experience ongoing stress, they can get stuck in less helpful modes. Join us as we uncover how small business owners are impacted by dysregulated nervous systems.
Nervous System Dysregulation Explained
Small business owners are some of the hardest-working people on Earth. Needing to be Jacks of all trades, they, or you, launch yourself into every task that needs your attention to make the business successful.
Long hours with often highly stressful events, topped with angry customers, can take their toll on the heroes of the commerce world. What you may not realize as you miss yet another dinner in favor of balancing those books is that the stresses can, and all too often do, add up.
The human nervous system is wonderfully intricate and primarily focused on keeping us alive. Each element is integral in keeping us healthy, balanced, and thriving. It keeps us aware of our environment and allows us to take action, when needed, to eradicate danger and bring ourselves back to a state of homeostasis or balance.
When we mention a dysregulated nervous system, we refer to the parasympathetic system. The parasympathetic system forms part of our autonomic nervous system and is responsible for many primal, automatic, involuntary responses to danger.
While having a shot of adrenaline can keep you on your toes in business for a short while, having chronic stress can cause severe damage to your body, mind, and lifestyle and can lead to a dysregulated nervous system.
Causes of a Dysregulated Nervous System
There are multiple possible causes for a dysregulated nervous system. The reason could be a lifestyle, psychological, behavioral, spiritual, or biochemical. A dysregulated nervous system is often out of balance because a stress event was not completed.
The cause could be something like unresolved money trauma. If you are a business owner with unresolved money trauma, you could be standing in the way of reaching your full potential as a profit-creating entity. This causes a loop of cascading neuroendocrine and inflammatory responses in the body, as it remains in a state of heightened response to a perceived threat.
Lifestyle or behavioral causes can include financial strain, significant life changes and pressure of essential decisions, social situations, relationship issues, environmental changes or issues, and not getting enough sleep or rest. (Sounds familiar?)
Psychological and spiritual causes can include issues like chronic stress, trauma, or addictions. Biochemical causes include chronic illnesses like Lyme disease, gut issues, heavy metals, other toxicities, mold, and inflammation.
Symptoms of a Dysregulated Nervous System
The symptoms of a dysregulated nervous system can be likened to a badly behaved child in many ways. However, having a dysregulated boss or co-worker in the workplace can result in a stressful environment for all concerned.
One of the simplest ways to identify a business owner, yourself, or anyone else with a dysregulated nervous system is that they will likely have rage outbursts or inappropriate violent behavior. They may overreact to seemingly minor issues. Symptoms of dysregulation can also be the opposite, with the sufferer becoming withdrawn and unresponsive.
Let us view some of the most common symptoms of a dysregulated nervous system.
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
- Inappropriate and violent behavior
- Angry outbursts and rage
- Addictive tendencies
- Poor concentration and memory
- Poor concentration and memory
- Withdrawn/Shut down
- Over-reaction, under-reaction, and unresponsiveness
Impact of a Dysregulated Nervous System to Small Business Owners
As a small business owner with a dysregulated nervous system, you may find that your daily tasks seem more and more stressful. The event or string of events that left you in a state of dysregulation needs to be dealt with and closed off.
Small business owners often have to perform multiple roles within the business to keep it afloat. The constant stress adds to the sense of threat that the nervous system experiences.
Here are some tendencies they might do or experience:
- Snap at customers, staff, or family members
- Become depressed or feel that your tasks are overwhelming
- Struggle to remember everything on to-do lists daily or concentrate when others speak with them
- Feel exhausted all day but struggle to sleep at night, and they might turn to addictive substances or behaviors to escape, even for a few hours
In a study published by the National Library of Medicine, researchers found that business owners exposed to stress performed more poorly on concentration tests than those who were relaxed. (Related article: How to Concentrate on Reading: Strong Focus and Better Concentration)
The study shows that business owners working under stressful conditions are more likely to make mistakes and less likely to work at their optimum capacity. Business owners who have dysregulated nervous systems are likely to act on impulse more than from a place of sound decision-making. Their decisions may negatively impact their staff members and clients since they are not made with the long-term in mind.
Your style of work may be unpredictable. You may have fluctuating energy levels and be upbeat one day and triggered the next, resulting in rage-filled outbursts or periods of being withdrawn and difficult to reach.
If you have staff members, they may find it challenging to work in the environment, as it will be unpredictable and volatile. You may make enemies without knowing how to control your behavior since it is largely involuntary. It is simply their body’s way of keeping them safe from a perceived threat.
How to Overcome a Dysregulated Nervous System
There are ways to prevent developing a dysregulated nervous system and ways to combat it as a small business owner. To prevent it, you should ensure that you find ways to reach a balance after a stressful event.
If your days are stressful, you should engage in a fun, de-stressing activity as many evenings per week as possible. You should find an activity you enjoy and take a little time for yourself. Helping yourself reach this homeostasis will go a long way in helping your body realize that the threat of the stressful day is over.
It is also beneficial to have de-stressing times throughout the day and a de-stressing place or object to look at when you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed. You may like to set the alarm at a particular time of day to breathe, drink tea, eat lunch, or partake in any other calming activity.
If you are aware of raging stress levels within your business, consider getting an app like the NeuroFit App that tracks your stress levels and provides bespoke nervous system exercises for the user. The owners of the app are also available to give workshops to business owners and staff if that is something that interests you.
Having a growth mindset is valuable in overcoming a dysregulated nervous system. When feelings of overwhelm, depression, anxiety, obsession, or anger begin to take hold, it is a brilliant opportunity to dig deep and use them as an opportunity to understand your shortcomings as a leader.
Instead of shame or fear, you can experience growth. Instead of anger or withdrawal, you can use the raw emotions to move past the stress, teach your body that the threat is over, and learn from the situation.
When you are aware that you have a dysregulated nervous system, you can begin taking accountability for your actions. You can try to wait thirty to ninety seconds before responding to a stress-triggering event. This will allow your rational brain an opportunity to weigh in rather than your fast-acting primal response that comes from your autonomic nervous system.
Small business owners who have a dysregulated nervous system act largely involuntarily. Their actions may be volatile and unpredictable. They may overreact to situations and become filled with rage at times.
If you have a dysregulated nervous system, your body is likely stuck in a loop of stress response that needs to be broken to allow you to return to your genuine self and perform as a high-functioning leader with a growth mindset.