Working on yourself, seeing perspective: understanding life is full of seasons. Understanding stress can be good. In order to be a better person, friend, employee, employer, more successful (in how you define) — it takes work, time, discipline, and yes, stress. Stress can be a good thing; working as a motivator. Stress becomes an issue when it is a constant and you are unable to process and work through it.
With all that’s going on in our country, in our economy, in the world, and on social media, it feels like so many of us are under a great deal of stress. We know that chronic stress can be as unhealthy as smoking a quarter of a pack a day. For many of us, our work, our livelihood, is a particular cause of stress. Of course, a bit of stress is just fine, but what are stress management strategies that leaders use to become “Stress-Proof” at work? What are some great tweaks, hacks, and tips that help to reduce or even eliminate stress from work? As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tylar Brannon.
Tylar Brannon grew up in Cary, North Carolina and attended NC State University for her undergraduate degree. It was during this time that she realized she enjoyed helping businesses grow and decided to further her education at the University of South Carolina School of Law, receiving JD/MBA dual degrees to set her up to do just that. After grad school, she moved to DC for a few years and was eventually called home to help the then budding business of Optimal Bio. She worked to create processes, organize the business, and ultimately make life easier for the staff, vendors, and most importantly the patients. It didn’t take her long to realize that running this business was her passion. Since becoming CEO in 2018, she has expanded the company to six locations (Cary, NC; Charlotte, NC; Southern Pines, NC ; Wilmington, NC; Charlottesville, VA and Charleston, SC), doubled patient count year after year, and continues to work closely with future and existing patients to help them achieve healthier and more balanced lives.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!
Growing up, I always thought I wanted to be a doctor, so it’s pretty full circle that now I am part of a medical company. While I’m an attorney by degree, going into law school I knew I wanted to end up on the business side. I received my MBA while in law school and after graduation I worked in Washington, D.C. before moving to Raleigh, NC where I joined Optimal Bio. When I first started with Optimal Bio, I thought I would be there temporarily to help them while I was applying for jobs. However, after putting new processes in place, taking over the finances and creating a culture, I was advised to “stay and create my own company.” Now I’m proud that we have grown to six offices, with plans to continue to expand.
What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?
Oh so many lessons, however, a few key ones –
Focus on your strengths instead of always looking at your weaknesses; look at your strengths as a positive. Create your own path and your own boundaries. But the biggest lesson is to have confidence in yourself- you are good enough. For someone who is type-A and very driven, you often are always trying to be better yourself (which you should always strive for). However, you need a balance of a foundation of confidence, trusting in yourself and seeing what you have accomplished.
None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?
A supportive team, network, coaches and friends are key to success. I am part of a group called Vistage- it’s an organization of CEOs and business owners. We meet monthly to discuss current business issues, strategy ideas, personal items- the list goes on. Being part of this group has encouraged me, challenged me, inspired me and given me the confidence to grow in my role, grow as a person and ultimately help grow Optimal Bio.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?
Optimal Bio plans to open two new office locations in 2023. We will be opening a location in Greenville, SC in Q1 of 2023 and a location in Q4 of 2023.
By opening two new locations, it widens our footprint to help people. At Optimal Bio we specialize in Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). Hormones are the foundation to our health. Further, Optimal Bio focuses on the patient, finding the root cause and education.
Health and wellness are foundational to a happy, successful and enjoyable life. As Arthur Schopenhauer said, “We do not become conscious of the three greatest blessings in life, such as health, youth and freedom, as long as we possess them, but only after we have lost them.” At Optimal Bio, we practice preventative healthcare. We give you the tools and resources to prevent sickness and disease, and for your body to function the way it was created to. As we age, our hormones decrease, and because of environmental factors, our hormones are now decreasing at a much quicker rate. Testosterone and estrogen are hormones with over 500 functions in our bodies, and almost every cell in our body has a hormone receptor (brain, skin, heart, nerve, bone, vascular, etc.). If our hormones are out of balance, our bodies can’t function properly- resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression, sleep, menopause in women and more.
Females are more than twice as likely as males to suffer from anxiety and depression. Why? Testosterone yields protective benefits against both. Males with decreased levels of testosterone have a significantly higher presence of anxiety and depression. Many studies show that testosterone-replacement therapy greatly improves mood, alleviates anxiety and mitigates symptoms of depression. Additionally, BHRT may protect against heart attacks, disease, dementia, and osteoporosis, and help heal PTSD and TBI.
Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about stress. How would you define stress?
I would define stress as that feeling that you are underwater, like something heavy is on your chest. You aren’t able to think at full capacity or get things completed because your brain feels limited by the stress that is taking priority.
In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. So what has led to this chronic stress? Why are so many of us always stressed out?
I believe there are so many reasons that contribute to people “always feeling stressed out.” Foundationally, I do believe people do not realize that it is very normal to have hard days, stressful days, hard months. Without that understanding, hard days and months will be harder if you are not able to process and work through those stressful or difficult times.
Top reasons why I believe people feel more stressed out than before are:
- Constantly being stimulated by our phones; feeling like we should always be available due to texts, email, Slack.
- Comparison on social media and the constant scrolling; it affects how our brain processes emotions.
- Health — food, lack of exercise, etc. Food is medicine- it either hurts or helps us. It makes up our cells and DNA. Processed food is directly linked to anxiety, depression and brain fog, which leads to stress. Further, exercise helps reduce anxiety and depression- endorphins are a real thing. With a diet full of processed food and lack of exercise, it directly impacts how we feel, which leads to feeling stressed out.
- Working on yourself, seeing perspective: understanding life is full of seasons. Understanding stress can be good. In order to be a better person, friend, employee, employer, more successful (in how you define) — it takes work, time, discipline, and yes, stress. Stress can be a good thing; working as a motivator. Stress becomes an issue when it is a constant and you are unable to process and work through it.
What are some of the physical manifestations of being under a lot of stress? How does the human body react to stress?
Stress causes inflammation in your body. Not all inflammation is bad; however, constant or chronic stress leads to chronic inflammation — which can show up as: anxiety, depression, brain fog, headaches, inability to concentrate, heart issues, gut issues and metabolic issues. The healthier you are in both mind and body, the easier you are able to react to and process stress. Your mind is a muscle, like your body, and you need to work on it to be able to process stress. When your diet is primarily processed foods, you do not workout, and if you have not done the inner work- stress is like gasoline to a fire. Stress is not easy for anyone, but you are able to try to help and manage.
Is stress necessarily a bad thing? Can stress ever be good for us?
Stress is not necessarily a bad thing. Stress can be used as a motivator- making us stronger and preparing us for the next time we experience stress or a hard situation. Working out puts our body under stress, if you are working out the proper way, our bodies use that stress to make us stronger and healthier. Stress is a bad thing when it is chronic- when you do not process, learn or heal from past stressors. Stress affects you physically, emotionally and mentally. Don’t get me wrong, there are days, weeks and even months where I am more stressed than usual, and I try to prepare myself for those days. This could be exercising most mornings, eating clean, constantly reading books, listening to podcasts, surrounding myself with hard workers and trying to remember perspective and appreciation.
Is there a difference between being in a short term stressful situation versus an ongoing stress? Are there long term ramifications to living in a constant state of stress?
Yes, there is a significant difference between being in a short term stressful situation versus having ongoing stress. Being in a long term constant state of stress is the foundation for many health issues. Short term stressful situations can actually be good for the mind and body.
Is it even possible to eliminate stress?
No, and you don’t want to eliminate stress. There are benefits to stress like mentioned above. You need stressful times to learn, grow and appreciate the good.
In your opinion, is this something that we should be raising more awareness about, or is it a relatively small issue? Please explain what you mean.
Yes, we should be raising more awareness about stress, because chronic stress leads to many health issues, and there are many things we can do ourselves to help us process and mitigate chronic stress.
Let’s talk about stress at work. Numerous studies show that job stress is the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. For you personally, if you are feeling that overall, work is going well, do you feel calm and peaceful, or is there always an underlying feeling of stress? Can you explain what you mean?
As someone who runs a company, there is always an underlying feeling of stress. However, I do believe I am able to handle and process stress due to who I am as a person, my routines, my work ethic and who I surround myself with. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” I understand this as- you never know when those really hard days are going to come, so by working out, eating well, studying, learning and spending time alone, you can help prepare for them.
Okay, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview: Can you share with our readers your “5 stress management strategies that busy leaders can use to become “Stress-Proof” at Work?” Please share a story or example for each.
- Be disciplined; create a checklist.
- Morning workout is non-negotiable.
- Focus on your health- eat clean, take supplements, get your labs checked.
- Always work on yourself- read, listen to podcasts, join peer or mentor groups. Know your core values as a person, and focus on perspective and appreciation.
- Work hard.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?
My go-tos right now:
- Who Not How by Dan Sullivan; The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
- Podcasts: The Skinny Confidential, How I Built This
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Education and awareness around what is in our food and how it directly affects us physically and mentally. Food is medicine. By fixing our diet, it can make a tremendous impact on our society.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
- Optimal Bio Podcast on Apple, Spotify and our website.
- LinkedIn: Optimal Bio & Tylar Brannon
- Instagram : @optimalbio
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.