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Keeping it nimbld S2 #3 Olivia James

Mental health is a paramount issue, even more so if you are a founder: when you are not well, everything stops. This week, Olivia James joins us to discuss all things mental health for entrepreneurs, tips and advice, as well as warning signs you should watch out for so you can stay well and healthy throughout your business leadership journey.


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References:

Website: https://harleystreetcoach.com/


Follow Olivia James on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/publicspeaking-olivia-james-leadership/

and Twitter: https://twitter.com/foundersupport

Articles mentioned:

Hannah, Z. (2021). Why you Gravitate to Puzzles when you're Depressed. Wired Magazine.

Cavelle, J. (2021). What you need to know about entrepreneurs' mental health. Elite Business Magazine.

Books:

Porges, S.W. (2011). The Polyvagal Theory: Neurophysiological Foundations of Emotions, Attachment, Communication, and Self-Regulation. W. W. Norton & Company.



About Olivia:

Olivia James is a Harley Street performance coach and therapist.


She treats confidence issues, public speaking anxiety and trauma. Her clients include entrepreneurs, senior leaders, philanthropists and public figures. After treatment, clients have delivered successful keynotes, pitches, TEDx and TV appearances.


Olivia brings unique perspectives gained from her clinical work with founders on mental health, confidence issues and resilience.


She is a speaker and visiting lecturer on entrepreneurship and mental health and has appeared at Regent's University and Bayes Business School (formerly Cass). She's regularly quoted in the media and her insights have appeared in Psychologies, Yahoo Finance and Wired.



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Carla ;)

 


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Episode Transcript:

CARLA VIEGAS

And everyone. And welcome to another episode of Keeping Getting Them Built. Thanks for joining us this week. We have Olivia James. Olivia James is a Harley Street performance coach and therapist. She works with high fliers, with entrepreneurs, with public figures. She helps them address confidence issues, performance, anxiety, trauma all kinds of things. Hi, Olivia. Thanks for joining us.


OLIVIA JAMES

Hello. Thank you so much for having me.


CARLA VIEGAS

Oh, you're very welcome. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to here?


OLIVIA JAMES

Yeah, so I've been a therapist for over 20 years now. Originally I have a background in linguistics, started to do bodywork in the 1990s and realized there was a lot of connection between the mind of the body, like a lot of trauma stored in the body.

And I started to add different qualifications to, to my toolbox that, that really help with the, with that interplay of the mind of the body and how it affects performance. I started to get referrals for people with a lot of public speaking anxiety and confidence issues. I realized I was really good at it and I really enjoy it.

And so ever since then, so basically that's what I do. But also I'm a guest lecturer on entrepreneurship and mental health at various business schools. I am a speakrt on the subject as well. So that's like being a nutshell, but I'd love to like get more into into the nitty gritty as we go.


CARLA VIEGAS

For sure. For sure. It's very interesting.

I got almost a little bit of a physical response to hearing entrepreneurs and mental health in the same sentence, which is weird also considering how we met each other - for a little bit of background for who is listening: I was a coach for a period of time. I am a huge mental health trauma stress resilience nerd, and Olivia James and I connected years ago during a training and I remember we just talked an arm and a leg off a donkey on that same topic and we really connected over that.

But, but, but interestingly enough, because I have this sense, not just me, obviously, I think probably a lot of people have a sense that we have to show up and look and be perfect when we are in the “entrepreneur seat” and and I have a feeling that probably sets us up for problems at a far higher rate than the average population.


OLIVIA JAMES

Yes, correct. Yes. And indeed, I was I was quoted in a piece about entrepreneurship and mental health. And the statistics are quite incredible that the more than the general population. So I think it's about up to 80% of entrepreneurs suffer with mental health issues, anxiety and depression. And in my clinical work with founders, I realize that lots of founders I've worked with and I've known personally have had early childhood trauma in the form of either abuse or neglect.

And what this has done is it's made them incredibly self-reliant, in psychology we call it self-efficacy which is a great mark of success. Only one problem there is that it makes them super self-reliant, but also it makes them really, really bad at realizing when they need when they need help and they can't do it for themselves. And also they only really rubbish of asking for help.

So it can be it can be like a double edged sword for founders. So, yes, I know not many people talk about this. So I think there's a lot of over glamor, you know, that we over glamorize the hustle and like the “never give up” and we don't really think about the, you know, the damage that the people could potentially do to themselves as well.


CARLA VIEGAS

Sure.


OLIVIA JAMES

Because I she said I mean it's like if if if you the founder, if you fail, everything fails.


CARLA VIEGAS

Yes. If we are not okay. Nothing is okay.


OLIVIA JAMES

If you're super stressed you can't think properly, your decision-making self, your cognitive abilities,


CARLA VIEGAS

Your creative thinking!


OLIVIA JAMES

It's all out the window.

And then, of course, so many founders burn out. I mean, you hear about people exiting. I remember years ago I was a vegan like a vegan restaurant in London before it was really very well known. And this was a guy who was a he was a founder who he'd made a lot of money, but he in the process, it ruined his health.

And I think most founders when they exit, they they have this issue of like, okay, I've ruined my made all this money, but I've ruined my health. How am I going to rebuild it? And of course, it's much better if you don't ruin your health in the process.


CARLA VIEGAS

Absolutely.


OLIVIA JAMES

I'm all about like helping helping people do that. And I sort of I work basically behind the scenes with founders on on this because, you know, there is there was still quite a lot of stigma.

I mean, there's a lot of you know, there's a little bit strained of like, oh, you've got to be vulnerable and like, you know, on social media and stuff, but really…


CARLA VIEGAS

Vulnerable on social media still means a very manicured presence.


OLIVIA JAMES

Exactly. I'm an advocate of strategic vulnerability instead of this oversharing on what when I we spoke about trauma earlier on the night, I ended up doing my trauma training in Los Angeles and my supervisor in L.A. said to me, watch out for a thing called the trauma Olympics.

And it's good, isn't it?


CARLA VIEGAS

The trauma Olympics. What is that?


OLIVIA JAMES

Exactly. So basically, if you're in a group with people that have all been through something like for example, like, oh, yeah, I have to regroup. People introduce themselves and they will try and claim the top spot of like, no, I have suffered the most. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

So we've we've got this, like, real, you know, everybody's, like, more comfortable about talking about mental health sort of on paper. But the reality of it, lots of people aren't comfortable with it because, I mean, if you're a founder, like, you don't want to be talking about your mental health publicly because these VCs are going to see it, your clients are going to see it.

Journalists are going to see it. Like, you know, for lots of people, there is still that stigma that they carry.


CARLA VIEGAS

And it's hard because in a way, it's got to be part of you. The due diligence is it's not just, you know, who do I have? How am I handling risk with my with my developers?

How am I handling risk with regards to myself and my own health? Yeah. You know, when you are talking about about health problems within founders, the image that immediately popped to my head is an extremely high profile example, which is Steve Jobs for a period of time, Steve Jobs was both the CEO of Apple and the CEO of Pixar.

And then he developed pancreatic cancer. And and he's famous for having mentioned that he strongly believed that holding those two jobs for that one year was what destroyed his health and it destroyed his health to a point where he then became blind to the symptoms that he wasn't okay and he didn't pick it up until it was too late.

So here we have potentially the most successful, most famous entrepreneur of all time ruined his health.


OLIVIA JAMES

Yeah.


CARLA VIEGAS

Yeah. Illustrates very well what you were saying.


OLIVIA JAMES

But what I do remember is, well, obviously what people also have to remember is that some people have high functioning depression, some people are depressed and they don't quite realize that unlike one of the one of the problems with this over glorification of the hustle is that people don't take care of themselves.

The amount of founders I talk to where I'm like, Have you had a walk today? And they're like, Well, I don't really have time for a walk. And even the most simple basic things, like going for a walk, taking a break, spending some time with your friends, like if we don't do those things like we, we, we don't even remember that it’s important.

And and of course we can function much better when we've had some time to time outside, when we have eating properly, when we have hydrated. Like you're not as functional if you sit in front of your, your, your MacBook for like 10 hours without a break here, just not you might if we you might think you're being super driven and it's like you never stop and on all this kind of stuff.


CARLA VIEGAS

Hashtag hustle hard!


OLIVIA JAMES

Exactly. It's actually not sustainable.


CARLA VIEGAS

Yeah. 100%. And it's interesting that I just as you were saying that I was realizing that I haven't had a break that I have I haven't gone for a walk but one thing that I am trying to do, I was just speaking with with a friend here at the space where I am working that the discipline that I do try to live by is that I will have a start time and I will have a cut off time.

I don't have an end time, I have my to do list for the week. I have my to do list for the day. I have a minimum of things that I need to do to move the needle. I'll do those first. If I run out of energy, if I'm just not feeling my best, I'm happy to skip the other items to the next day because I know I still move the needle and otherwise I'll keep going.

I will do all the items in my list and as soon as those are done, I'm out the door. The cutoff is in case I'm not being quite fast or with it enough, I'll get to a point where like past 6:00, I'm finished, I'm closing down Gmail. I'm not responding to emails. There's nothing at this stage in the company that cannot wait until tomorrow.


OLIVIA JAMES

Yeah, it's that's that's very good. I mean, it's like for, for a lot of people, especially in the pandemic, it's like sort of the computer. I'm like, this has been, been our connection to the world. And like, you know, I I my sort of I'm on LinkedIn, you know, my, my biggest sort of platform is LinkedIn. And the other day I was like, it was like 11:00 at night.

And I looked at my email I saw an inquiry coming and 11:00 at night I like and I was, part of me was like, let me respond. Another thought, it's 11:00. I don't, it's like, but because we're so connected all the time, it's like, where, where is that line? And I think you're right, it's a really good time for people to, even if you have to artificially delineate that line, it's not because it's your own boss. It's not like back in the day when people would clock into the office of nine in the morning and clock out at five, and that was it. You know where we are very much our own bosses, and I think the other thing that that that I think about a lot these days is that also in a way that we have to sort of parent ourselves.

Like we have to say come on now. Now you're tired. Now you need to take a break, like, okay, you're a bit upset, but like, you know, to, you know, maybe go outside.


CARLA VIEGAS

That is so, so, so important for you to think about delineating your day. I work, at the moment, I'm working across multiple time zones because we have here in Dubai, which is GMT plus four.

I have colleagues in London, I have colleagues in the U.S. and and so it gets tricky. You know, I have an app on my phone that has this are beautiful that phones are pretty and has like all the different key locations that I know what time it is everywhere but but I try to be disciplined about it because otherwise I will be messaging my colleague in Detroit at like 11:00 my time, you know, if just starts getting silly, if this is this is really hitting home, all that you are saying. I think one thing perhaps that might be very hard for entrepreneurs and for early stage startup founders in terms of maintaining the mental health is that I feel like we are both in a situation where we have to present a hashtag positive vibes only front, not necessarily just to kind of, you know, look cool for investors, but also because we might feel like we have stuff to prove.

We might feel that we don't want to make it look like we could be failing even though, you know, ups and downs are are nothing more than that, just emotions like clouds in the sky. You know, they will come and go and I'm much less likely to be sticky if we look at them that way. But I'm saying all that that's on my head knows this, but I end up...


OLIVIA JAMES

So it's all it's all sounds lovely…


CARLA VIEGAS

But yeah, but then I don't do it. And it’s very lonely.


OLIVIA JAMES

Also very lovely in theory. I'm like, so one of the wonderful things that I show people, all of this is anatomical drawing of our nervous system. And I'm, you know very well you probably. Have you heard of the the vagus nerve?


CARLA VIEGAS

Yes.


OLIVIA JAMES

Okay, so here we go. This is an anatomical drawing from like the, the 16th century. So this is the nervous system and up to 80% of the, of the information comes from your gut back up into your brain. So this idea of the gut feeling it regulates like how safe you feel, how in control you feel. And so when you have a strong emotion it's real. You can't just you know, this mental sort of cognitive thing of like where you got very sort of like, you know, theoretical and say, well, it's just an emotion like a real emotion feels visceral. Like when you have a trigger happening, it feels visceral.


CARLA VIEGAS

It feels like a gut punch.


OLIVIA JAMES

Yeah, exactly. So this is like what we one of the things that I that I sort of really advocate is for people to, like, learn to make friends with their own nervous system. And I think some of the techniques that you and I have learned help us do that so that we can like deal with emotions. I think the problem becomes where either we feel that, like our emotions have been invalidated by others or ourselves like, you know, a lot of people come to me with with with performance anxiety, pitching anxiety, public speaking anxiety and they really, really feel that they shouldn't have this problem.

So now they have two problems. They have the anxiety and that they have the feeling that they shouldn't have it which which then kind of makes it worse. And so this this whole sort of toxic idea that, you know, if you got a problem, you just got to change your mindset, just change your mindset.


CARLA VIEGAS

Meanwhile essentially every person with depression on the planet goes: gee, thanks!


OLIVIA JAMES

Exactly. But but this is like the there's a lot of these sort of like hustle culture, sort of big gurus, the coaches and stuff that will constantly go on about mindset who have no concept of of how humans are actually wired. And as a clinician, of course, I want to help people like get to where they need to go as fast as possible.

Mean I can't, but I have to deal with what's actually happening to them instead of saying, well, you know, it's just like you just got to get a grip. You just got to pull yourself together.


CARLA VIEGAS

Yeah. And that's, that's kind of shaming as well because it's like, well, don't you think I thought of that? It's, it's very it can be very invalidating.


OLIVIA JAMES

It can be a lot of the people who give this advice honestly don't know any better. And they all this advice and they think it's, you know, I've just got a I'm clearly not doing it right. But this stuff is meant to work. So people come to me with you know?


CARLA VIEGAS

I do wonder if people who give that advice are also saying it because they basically want whatever display of emotion is happening in front of them stuff because it's making them uncomfortable.


OLIVIA JAMES

Oh they can't deal, they can't deal. They can't exactly how exactly I've done various pieces which are analysts on things like on on, on grief and like break ups. I'm like, how do you? We have a journalist, like a broadcaster in the UK called Rylan, and he recently had a break up of this I think husband or boyfriend, and he was at Radio two and he was crying.

They actually gave him time off work compassionately and in this piece I said, So one of the things that that happens when somebody is in acute grief like that, is other people will say, like I say, like my, my, you know, a woman has broken up with her boyfriend. Her friends, well-meaning, will say things like, well, I never like them anyway oh, well you can do better than that. So basically, you're right. I think they're uncomfortable being with this other person in grief. And also they're trying to make the other person feel better by saying things like, Oh, you just got to go out there and party and like, you know, just get over it.


CARLA VIEGAS

They mean well!


OLIVIA JAMES

Exactly. They mean well, but it's actually very cruel and it can be very or, or, or know that will do this this trauma Olympics thing where they go, oh, well, if you think that's bad, you should hear what happened to my friend Susan.

Like five of her husbands left her. So then we get this again, like this invalidation and this sort of trauma, but it's all clumsy and it's all done with the best intentions. But it's obviously it's not.


CARLA VIEGAS

You know, it makes me think of two pieces of wisdom from Bernie Brown, which is that some of the most powerful words that you can say to someone is, me, too. And also, this sucks, but I'm here for you.


OLIVIA JAMES

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. I'm just saying to you back to a founder that I worked with who had broken up with with her boyfriend and I'm her co-founder, he’d also broken up with with a girlfriend and the main founder wanted to carry on working. And the co-founder was like, oh, you know, I need to like I need a holiday.

And there was a disconnect between how driven they both were, you know? And I think this can start to happen when when when personal. Like, we all have lives, side stuff happens. We all have personal things going on. We've got like, you know, we've got health issues, we've got health scares, we've got, you know, we've got our own like things that we're carrying and our families and all sorts of stuff.

So then but ideally, we want to give that space but also not, not stop our mission at the same time. And I think that's a really delicate sort of balance for people.



CARLA VIEGAS

Sure. For sure. Yeah. You know, some people listening might not be familiar with the autonomic nervous system, do you want to talk people through a little bit on the two different branches of the nervous system and how they manifest and how, because I think there's also a bit of talk that like now it's all about the rest and digest and and the sympathetic nervous system that might have been a bit unfairly maligned because it actually does serve a purpose.

But how do we know if it's not working, whether it's tilting too far and out of balance?


OLIVIA JAMES

I happen to have a magical diagram here! Let me see if I can get this sense so you can see it with the microphone, so.


CARLA VIEGAS

Oh, that's beautiful.


OLIVIA JAMES

This is Carla. When she's happy and groovy, she's feeling safe.

She's maybe giving a talk. She's like curious. Her mind can be outgoing.


CARLA VIEGAS

I'm here hanging out with Olivia James!


OLIVIA JAMES

She isn't reactive. She's not super snappy. Everything's groovy. She's happy, right? So this is when we're from the vagal point of view, this is like ventral vagal system. So she something by a process of neuroception call something in her nervous system goes: uh oh, danger, danger. Now, this may be an actual real threat. Or it may just be an imagined like it may not be a physical threat. But it may be something that triggers her so that her system will go into fight/flight mode. She may not necessarily run away or fight somebody, but her system will get ready to do that. So the blood will go into her arms or legs, heart, lungs in case she is getting attacked or she needs to run away, right. So that also means a lot of the blood will leave the prefrontal cortex, which is the bit she needs to for, you know, for remembering things and being rational and stuff. So if that if that response doesn't work, she can even like start to go into shut down mode where she's she's like in freeze mode.

And this is actually some people kind of live in this sort of like functional freeze a lot of the time. I think especially in the pandemic on some level, some of us are now in a functional freeze. So so so what? So all these states are obviously like when they are when we go into them, when there's an actual danger then that we call them adaptive but what sometimes happens is that I call this hot, really bad experience like rollerskating when she was a child.

And now somebody says to her, hey, do you want to go roller skating? She and her system quickly will go into, stop, fight, flight, freeze mode.


CARLA VIEGAS

…because my body is remembering.


OLIVIA JAMES

Exactly, exactly. So and then if somebody says, right, come on, we're going to make you go roller skating like her whole body kind of like go into like so they can almost go into a shutdown mode.

So this is really what we're talking about. So all these states, when there's physical danger, when there's like, you know, somebody like physically going to attack you, all these states are, of course, very useful well, what tends to happen is, you know, often in our professional lives and our start-ups, these fights can get activated when there isn't physical danger.



CARLA VIEGAS

The fight or flight could be me super nervous about an investor meeting and my heart is pounding and I'm kind of scared.



OLIVIA JAMES

That was actually something that you mentioned about this, this sort of like anxiety and excitement. So there is within like people who help people with pitching anxiety and public speaking anxiety.

There's this whole thing of like, say you're standing there, absolutely terrified. And somebody says to you, Carla, no, no, no, you're not you are not nervous. It's excitement. Now you're standing there and you're thinking, okay, I know that I'm terrified, but this is like, oh, it's a little reframe that's given to sort of like to try and help you to sort of reappraise is this now there are problems with this, that the problem is that they've done studies about this that people who do this, their anxiety doesn't actually go down. They're just turning the excitement up. So it's a bit of a mind trick that doesn't actually help calm the nervous system. So it's it much better if you have techniques like the ones that you and I have learned that will help us actually calm the anxiety down to the point where we can still function and still be groovy and still be there like for our audience.

And of course, when you're pitching, there are lots of emotions tuned of course, when you're pitching - because you really want this, you know, you're really want this investment. And it's just it's for many founders, especially female founders, it's usually an idea that's very close to their hearts. And it's like something quite, quite vulnerable and well, actually really, really help genuinely help the world.

And so there are lots of emotions tuned in when we're pitching. And, you know, the statistics of like pitching for female founders are quite you know, they're pulling they're about 2% or something. I'm actually speaking at a conference about this. In about a month's time of speaking out there at the London Stock Exchange, for anybody, if anyone wants to come and watch, you can get tickets online or in-person.

So I'll be talking about the sort of psychological impact on female founders of this it's about 2% of VC funding, and it's actually that goes to female all female teams, and that's actually gone down so when you are pitching, of course, there is some anxiety, but it's got to be manageable. And ideally, when an investor asks you a question, that you don't get incredibly stop being reactive or start crying or something else, because these things, these things are going to happen. If you if you don't have a handle, if you don't learn how to how to regulate your own emotions and your, I guess, like stress levels your own nervous system activation.


CARLA VIEGAS

Yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. For sure. Because we we are very much in an environment that does perceive displays of emotion as being somehow weakness. I remember many, many, many years ago I was in a very, very stressful meeting at work and I started welling up. It was just I couldn't I couldn't help it. And I was surrounded by all these men and I could see this look of terror just living up on their faces because they were like, oh, my gosh, she's going to cry.

And I literally just kind of got ahead of that train and just went, look, men and women often express their stress in different ways. This is my pressure valve. I am not falling apart. I'm not weak, I’m not struggling I'm just stressed. This is what it looks like. Can we not pay attention to this? And everyone, relax, continue talking about what we were talking about.

And I had tears pouring down my face while I was going through things.


OLIVIA JAMES

Amazing. Oh, that's good.


CARLA VIEGAS

That's because I saw this look of terror and I just thought, I am not having this on top of all this stress. No, no. This is actually quite a normal response. Can we please not freak out because someone has tears?


OLIVIA JAMES

Like various clients to me, actually, this has happened to me at work and, you know, it's I hate it. Yeah, yeah. But see, I can't. I can't.


CARLA VIEGAS

And perhaps, you know, with, with more female founders and more female CEOs and more female business owners becoming the norm. This will hopefully be less of an issue.


OLIVIA JAMES

Usually it happens in response to some quite bad behavior or invalidating behavior or aggressive behavior.

It normally is a response to something out of order, that's for sure.



CARLA VIEGAS

For sure for sure. We're at we're in a kind of corporate environment where anger is okay, but tears are not. I actually my my personal opinion is that I believe that both have a little bit of work to do. I believe that that women could do with being more receptive and feeling less personally attacked by a display of anger. And men could do with feeling a little bit less responsible like they have suddenly to become the white knight. Oh, my gosh, the world is falling apart if a woman has tears in her eyes. It's just an emotion, like the cloud in the sky, it will pass it, know I'm here's hoping, here's hoping.

We will all be enlightened enough when that happens.


OLIVIA JAMES

Like from my clinical experience, I obviously I can't, like, identify clients or I can't talk about client cases in detail. But from my clinical work in the last month, I've had two female clients at least talk about like, you know, this, this emotions at work. And what often happens is they feel angry, but it comes out as tears I'm actually I think so.

So that when I said it's not acceptable to be angry, I think it often it's not acceptable for women to be angry. So we were almost like re-plumbed our emotions.


CARLA VIEGAS

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So and I wonder I wonder if sometimes this disconnect and understanding this response in each other could also come from the fact that women get socialized to not express outward anger and so it comes out in tears. And so when we get to a point where we are actually outwardly angry, we are ready to world to burn the world down. And men are socialized to turn all pain into outward displays of anger. And so if a man actually cries that he is falling to pieces inside and that might be why when we see a man being angry, we think that he's going to burn the world down and when a man sees a woman cry, he thinks that she's about to jump out the window and they’re both wrong, yeah, it's like a cat and a dog type situation, misunderstanding each other. Something that I think could be of immense value would be what would be practical ways in which I can tell if I am out of kilter in my nervous system and what's the kind of practical steps that I could take to bring myself back, say I'm about to go up on the pulpit and present at a, say, a pitch kind of event where, say, each company has 2 minutes to pitch themselves.

And I am so nervous and my heart is beating. And suddenly I'm feeling like I'm out of the room. I'm floating above the building. What do I do?



OLIVIA JAMES

Yeah, yes, I've got a good, good, good trick for you. So if you're in the room with people so there's a brilliant thing you can do where you can if you move your neck from side to side and you're like, you're actually scanning the environment. So you're saying to that really old I look around the room, you're saying to that really old part of your nervous system, I'm scanning the room for predators. I'm there and it's like it's sat on the set of a system.


CARLA VIEGAS

Oh, I like this. And it's good it's because something that does happen is when people are very stressed, when we're very much in that fight or flight, even a peripheral vision closes in, and that's where the expression tunnel vision comes in.

And I also I've read recently that it’s also the principle behind EMDR when we are walking and like you were saying, that we are surveying our surroundings, we're walking forward and we're scanning side to side with our eyes and just doing that restores some structures in the brain that do pull us out of that reptilian brain mode.


OLIVIA JAMES

So so yeah, that's, that's number one. So the other thing you can do and obviously you can like we call it orienting and you can also like if you're in a room and there's like spotlights on the ceiling, you can count those, it sort of gets you back. The other thing you can do is if you're in the room with humans, you smile at a few people you make eye contact with some people, ideally beforehand.

Yeah, I know. I've all been we've all been there. We're like, I don't know about we're about to go on standby and you start to get a bit nervous. Everybody does like, you know, I do keynotes like 500 people. Like, I know what it's like.


CARLA VIEGAS

It never stops being scary, does it?


OLIVIA JAMES

It depends. Like, it really depends on the situation and where you are. And if you've traveled and if it's a very different culture or such a very different audience that you're not used to thinking like, yes, but one thing you can always do is make eye contact with people as you are waiting to go on beforehand and try and chat to a few people while this does and you smile at a few people.

This gets your nervous system back into that social engagement. So the get your folks out back into your audience and connecting with them because that's ultimately why you're there. You'll left with them. It gets your attention of your own anxiety and of your own kind of nerves and how nervous you are. Get your attention out on it. Where we settle you.

Because also as humans, what we do, we do a thing called coagulation. So nervous systems to regulate together and also the audience will love it. I remember doing this not a oh, I did a tall order at a school like a Muslim center for these students. And they were so lovely. And I was talking to them about like how they can handle like performance anxiety and exam stress while I was chatting to them it was so sweet.

So I also got to know them a little bit before I went on and it was really good. So it's actually really nice to be able to like chat to your audience beforehand. So you're connecting with the humans you know, it's not just a scary. They will also really appreciate you taking the time to talk to them as well.

So those are two like Top Tips I can give to people, to present.


CARLA VIEGAS

That's wonderful. I really like the the looking from side to side with the eyes as well as the neck. Like I like I really, really think that I really like that.

And I find that interestingly enough, if I am so stressed that I am in that kind of fight or flight situation, I find that if I look one way and if I spin my eyes all the way, out to them turning my head and my eyes and see how far towards my back I can see, it's almost like my vision becomes blurry and it's almost like the field of vision doesn't want to go there.

It's closing my field of vision, and I can notice that and what I'm feeling relaxed and kind of in that balanced state. It's like it opens again, like I can, I can look all the way back, both with my eyes and my neck. Yeah, that's very interesting. I'm going. I'm taking that one for my bag of tricks. No, I'm I'd love I'd love to share one that I that I use as well.

This was a trick that years ago I learned that this training by a gentleman called Mark Walsh and and he had this little kind of almost like a checklist that you run through your body to counteract some of those “closing into the tunnel feeling”, feeling like you are just ahead floating on top of your body, like all these physical responses that we get and sensations, whether in the fight or flight sense.

And so what he would do would be hold your fingers out in front of your eyes and just spin your arms up while still looking forward and just to keep your attention on your fingers and keep bringing them back and back and back and back until you try to do a 180 degree angle across both sides of your face. Can you see your fingers? And and I find that when I'm stressed, I can't see my fingers when they're all the way up here, and I can see them like here. And so and so I know that I'm in a stressed state and so I'll run through this top to bottom type thing where I consciously relax my forehead, relax my face, my tongue, my jaw, my neck, my belly, and I take a couple of deep breaths and focus all my attention on my feet.

And then I do it again. And if it's still not working, then I'll bring in the orienteering that you were just mentioning so I look around. And I will say, how many blue things can I see around me? How many? And I start going, you know, how many things can I hear? How many things can I smell?

And start orienteering myself via those senses. And then I use this again as a gauge. The fingers are spinning them back out again and they're back. I've got my 180 degrees. My, my field is fully open. I'm relaxed. So I think at some point people might spot me on the edge of a stage doing that little dance.

Thank you so much, this has been great!

One more thing I wanted to talk about. We've talked a lot about anxiety and fight or flight. And that and also just a little bit of shame and an on emotions at work. And let's talk a little bit about depression. So we talked a little bit about high functioning depression.

What are the signs that someone should watch out for? That they could be at the risk of developing depression. What kind of precipitating factors could there be that we should be careful with?



OLIVIA JAMES

It's a really it's very different for everybody. Like some people find their sleep is really affected. Some people find that they can't really sleep. You know, some people find a cold, you know, conversely, that they sleep a lot when they're depressed. Some people start to neglect like, you know, personal habits. Some people find I did a piece for Wired magazine a little while ago about depression and puzzles, doing puzzles. So some people find that they can't really do very much for one thing, that the condo is puzzles like Sudoku or crosswords or or playing games, because what I explained to the journalist is that it sort of gets your… It feels like you're doing something. And it's usually very there are strict rules, there were no big surprises in a puzzle. And when it all falls into place and you solve it, it's very elegant. And of course, life is a little bit messy than that, but it can actually give us a like a satisfaction to complete a puzzle.


CARLA VIEGAS

So it's a win win is that something advisable or is that the kind of behavior that could pull this further into depression?


OLIVIA JAMES

I like like I said in the piece, if you find that one problem is that you find if you're if you choose a puzzle that's too hard, it's going to be really frustrating. And especially a cognitive function is usually a little way off anyway when you're depressed. So don't choose anything that's too hard because it'll make you feel like even more of a loser, basically.


CARLA VIEGAS

Well, the wins are good.


OLIVIA JAMES

Depression is very different for different people. Some people find that they suddenly really tearful. Some people just feel incredibly numb. It is a very different thing to different people. You know, some people just find that they, you know, they don't want to eat some, but some people overeat. So it's really hard to say, like sleep can be very different, the eating patterns can be very different, like sociable. Like some people like when they're super traumatized, you know, they will be like hyper, you know, they will try and be really like outgoing because it because their depression is so masked, they're sort of hiding it from themselves. Other people just don't want to, you know, they don't have that mental capacity to even answer a text sometimes, you know what I mean? It can be really, really hard when you're not depressed to actually ask for help, which is why sometimes I think people post on social media and they do this like, you know, they will they will say like, I feel I feel they some people find it easier to tweet something and say, I feel really depressed, please say hi, rather than actually call a friend or a helpline or the doctor and say, I've got a problem. I need help. So. So, yeah, depression. It can honestly manifest in lots of different ways. I do like but if there is like if you are depressed, like first port of call, always like see your medical provider you know, you need to get that checked. I personally my, my sort of clinical supervisor, Dr. David Lake, you know, who’s a famous tapper (EFT), you remember Dr. Steve Wells and Dr. David Lake. So Dr. David Lake always says like, you know, anti-depressants for many people can be very good because it can actually give them enough energy to actually seek the therapeutic help that they need. So there are a lot of like like complementary therapists who are very, very anti medication. I would never be I would never say to somebody, you know, I would always recommend to people, go and see your provider, get some help. You know, you do need to take some other steps. But if you know, medication can be a first step. I mean, I've you know, I've known I've known various people sort of over the years who you know, who haven’t made it. And it's it's terrible. You know, we need to give everybody the help that they that they need because.


CARLA VIEGAS

Absolutely, yeah. Depression is a potentially deadly illness, which is what people don't realize. And anti-depressants are not for everyone, but when they work, they could be life changing. And so I have seen situations where patients were so profoundly depressed that it felt like therapy would be of no value to them because they were just unable to enact any of the CBT techniques or lifestyle tweaks that would help them come out of the hole. And so they needed to go on antidepressants for a little while to lift them from zero up enough that they can start engaging with the things.


OLIVIA JAMES

Exactly. Exactly.


CARLA VIEGAS

Yeah, that's that's great. That's so, so so perhaps the takeaway here is to get to know yourself when you're well and pay attention when you start deviating from that.


OLIVIA JAMES

Exactly. Exactly. And they can be so much harder now in the pandemic. We're still like you know, where most of us have lost, you know, our basically our social lives, lots of us of, of like lost touch with friends. So we may not have somebody nearby who can actually say to us, actually, you don't seem your normal, groovy self. Like how you know. Yeah, because when it's yours, when it's you, it's easy to slide in like down and without realizing, like, you know, what's happened to you


CARLA VIEGAS

Especially when we're by ourselves a lot, there's no one's around to notice it.


OLIVIA JAMES

Yeah, exactly. Go. So you do, like, check in with yourself? I think you're right. I mean, see what you like when you. Well, but I mean, some people, you know, have been living with depression for years, you know, even decades. So, yes, it's, it's a huge factor. And I think post sort of posts, hopefully we're coming out of the pandemic now. But I think this is going to be the one of the big legacies from the pandemic. The other thing, I think that, you know, lots of people try and cope by drinking. I think in the UK we've probably got stats. So something we've got another million people who are now dependent on alcohol and there's a massive link between alcohol and depression. So if you have found yourself like hitting the drinking, it's more also like, you know, have a little work with yourself and say, okay, what, what's going on here? You know, it's like a very well be a sign that something is going wrong. Exactly. And it's, it's very of course you know, it's been very tempting. I think lots of people are slid into like the Netflix/wine, like escape. You know,

CARLA VIEGAS

It's it's easy to fall into that haze.


OLIVIA JAMES

Yeah. People's intake has gradually gone up. And I honestly like there's no judgment here. I mean, especially people who had to deal with jobs and home schooling, young, you know, taking care of children and home schooling children during the pandemic.

I mean, it's been incredibly tough for people. So, yes, no surprise that people have sought comfort in alcohol.


CARLA VIEGAS

Thank you so much. Thank you so much. I think a lot of people will find this very helpful. But before we go, where people can get where can people find you if they want to hear more about what you do, go see you talk live, maybe inquire about working with you.


OLIVIA JAMES

So first stop is my website, which is www.HarleyStreetCoach.com . You can connect, I'd love to connect with people on LinkedIn, do send me a request: Olivia James on LinkedIn. I've got about 11,000 connections on there so far and rising. And my Twitter for founders and entrepreneurship is @foundersupport. Yeah I'm speaking at an event called Funding Focus at the London Stock Exchange on the 10th of March which if you go to web, the Funding Focus website, you can get tickets that you can either we were going to livestream it and we're going to have people that are in person as well.

So do have to come and join us. It's a lovely auditorium there in the stock exchange to do come and like watch me speak. And, anybody wants to book me to speak or have me on that podcast. Also send me a DM and I'd love to have a chat with you.


CARLA VIEGAS

Wonderful. Thank you so much.


OLIVIA JAMES

Thank you. It's been a real pleasure.


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