From Chaos to Control, 7 Days to a New Me
In this episode of "Stand Out from the Inside," host Edgar Daggett sits down with Eliz Greene, a renowned stress management consultant and speaker, to discuss her journey to becoming a professional in the field. Eliz shares her personal experience of surviving a heart attack while pregnant with twins and undergoing open-heart surgery, which motivated her to pursue a career in stress management. She emphasizes the importance of stress management for those who have undergone heart surgery and touches upon the significance of blood donation, which has personally affected her family. Eliz also discusses her book, "Stress-Proof Your Life," and provides practical tips and strategies for managing stress in daily life. This conversation offers valuable insights into stress management and its impact on the overall well-being of people.
Guest: Eliz Greene
Social Media Handles:
Stress-Proof Your Life is available at www.stressproofnow.com
About Our Host:
Edgar Daggett born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI. He currently serves as the Specialty Programs Marketing Associate at Versiti Blood Centers, where he focuses on direct involvement and campaign management on specialty products and diverse groups. Past family experience inspired him to begin his journey at Versiti in 2020. He knew that the need for diverse units was growing year to year, and because of his personal history, he decided to make the change – and help make a change.
Through the Stand Out From the Inside podcast, he hopes to empower new and bright individuals in his community and beyond to spread the word on the need for diverse blood products through donation and blood drives.
“I hope you all enjoy the Stand Out from the Inside podcast presented by Versiti, where we talk about the needs of the community and ways we can become stronger!”
About - Podcast Show Series
STAND OUT FROM THE INSIDE presented by Versiti is a podcast where—we recognize community with light, uniqueness, and identity. Edgar Daggett will talk with individuals to celebrate ethnicity and blood type — it is part of our survival. Because within our communities, we have attributes that we give and serve in our community. This is a fresh podcast that will give voice to diversity and inspiration. We will promote strength, trust, caring, inclusivity, and positivity. And will go deep on the lifesaving impact of blood donation. How do you Stand Out from the Inside? https://www.versiti.org/standout
EDGAR: Welcome back to the Stand Out From The Inside Podcast presented by Versiti. I’m your host Edgar Daggett. Last time we caught up with Eliz Greene on ways to handle stress and ways the blood donation actually helped herself and her family. She’s back to continue her story on stress management and ways we can all do better in handling stress. Eliz Greene, welcome back to the Stand Out From The Inside Podcast. So for yourself, obviously writing a book, that's a massive project, so did you also have the reaction of stress while writing, while writing the book?
ELIZ: The book was a seven-year project. I did, yeah, I did a job stress research project as part of the book. Looking at my original data set was 4,000 people from all over the world in all kinds of different industries, all different kinds of age ranges, looking at what is causing stress at work, and that was the key piece. And then putting the strategies on how do we address those things? Because in my study, even though most of the time I get called because an organization thinks that they have a work-life balance problem.
ELIZ: Work-life balance is only the problem for about 7% of people. Almost all of them, 70% say it’s overwhelming. The sheer volume of work that needs to be done in the time allowed. Or uncertainty, whether that's change; certainly over the last three years there's been a remarkable amount of uncertainty — economy, those sort of things. Definitely in the realm of, we don't have any control over that. So if we're trying to solve a job stress problem with work-life balance strategies, we're not really actually solving the right problem. [00:03:03]
EDGAR: Correct. Cause that only affects seven percent.
ELIZ: Right. So when I work with an organization, we use that same tool, that assessment tool that I used to do the research in the book to see what's causing stress in that particular job environment so that we can really pinpoint not only opportunities to make a difference, but also what are the strategies that are really gonna work for this group of people.
EDGAR: Wow. So, and that was a seven year project to get this completed.
EDGAR: All right. So let's break down one of those sections. I wanna give like for somebody, or we can give an example of someone in a specific job field. We can make up a person, create go into a section and see what they will get from that section. You know, you said it was a little bit like a workshop. What are you trying to, what are you trying to do in order to solve the problem that you need? I kind of wanna know a little bit about that.
ELIZ: You were there one of those that you were most intrigued by?
EDGAR: So let's say, you know, work-life balance, let's continue on that.
EDGAR: Work-life balance you said is maybe, it's a lot of work. I'm very stressed out. Have x amount of work on a lot of projects obviously. Would pay make a difference, would it not? But how would I, you know, calm down and deflate that balloon and what section would you think would be right for me?
ELIZ: So, one of the cool things about how the book works is that when you come into it, if what you're dealing with is there's just too much in that... work and life swirl together. There's no separation between work and life. Certainly not after the pandemic where work and life happened under the same roof a lot of the time, so they never have been separate. But now we're really aware that they all happen at the same time. The section about overwhelm really is a process of looking at what is calling for your personal time, energy, and attention in your environment? And it's a long exercise that catalogs all of the things that are calling for your time, energy, and attention. And it's not a, these are all bad things. This is really just in a typical week or a typical month. What are you doing? Are you caring for children? Are you caring for parents? Are you driving a neighbor to a doctor's appointment? How many hours of the week are you spending on work email, or meetings? And so, cataloging all of those things and then placing them into a model that looks at where are you spending most of your time and attention. And when you look at that, First of all, the sheer volume of things that you are trying to do or pay attention to is enough to sort of allow you to sit back and say, oh wow. There is a reason that I am feeling like I am. Just the sheer volume of that most of the time is overwhelming. Then we go through a process of evaluating each of those things that you identified. Is this something that is adding to your vitality, your ability to have a enjoyable and purposeful life, or is it something that is detracting from that vitality? You do a little calculation for all of those items, and then we reorder that in terms of what is the value of those activities. You wanna have the things that are very valuable in terms of making your life better. [00:06:52]
ELIZ: In the center and you push the things that are detracting to the outside. When you look at that, it gives you a different perspective on how you're spending your time and energy and attention. And then we go through a process of figuring out is there anything we can eliminate. Is there anything that we need to elevate? Because if we spent more time on it, we could actually improve our lives? Are there things that we need to look at and examine? Because we might have given that a negative evaluation, but maybe it's something that is very integral to our job? And we need our job to pay for all of the things in our life.
EDGAR: Yep. Right.
ELIZ: So we need to really examinate the ancillary and tangential benefits of doing our job a lot of the time because if we just look at numbers on a check, sometimes it's very easy to have a negative evaluation of what our job is providing. But when we look at all of the other things doing that job brings to our lives. And maybe we really like our coworkers. Maybe we really are connected to the mission of that business. Maybe we need to look at what the money from that job and the benefits, financial benefits of that job allow us to do for ourselves and for our families. And when we mix that in, it sometimes is able to get that where that time and energy doesn't feel so bad to give because we are really looking at the full benefit of that time and energy. And then we go to what are the things that we actually just need to protect ourselves from? Because we can't get rid of this negative thing. It's something that needs to be there. We just need to be able to do it without it impacting really what's important to us.
EDGAR: It's almost like taking a very large step back and just analyzing what you're doing. And being like, okay, grabbing all your tasks; you said prioritizing the super really important things that are part of it. And then maybe some of the projects that you're doing aren't for you, or aren't supposed to be under you, or maybe they don't have to be done today, but you're thinking about them.
EDGAR: And that's all like, you know, 1, 2, 3 — it ends up being multiple projects where, okay, now it's building up.
ELIZ: It's called an ecology process because we're looking at an environment and then we're actually looking at how do we make this environment better. We're using ecology. And in an organization you can do this process together to really evaluate what you as a team are spending time, energy, and attention on. One of the things that's really helpful is the thing that most people don't like to do, is essential to make everything else work. And nobody really saw that before. So now instead of saying, oh, why do I have to do that stupid report and being mad about the time you have to spend that, you recognize, no, this is actually really important and you feel better about it. Correct. Which makes a difference. [00:10:18]
EDGAR: A big difference when it starts calming you down. And thank you for that example. You know, and I think it's still establishing as I'm talking and listening to you that you may not even know that you're stressed possibly.
EDGAR: You feel that reaction. But you know, most— I didn't know it was a reaction, so maybe, maybe you don't know it's stress. Like, so how do you identify that it's stress like, and that you have to take that step back. And how do you make that next step? Like is there any thought that we could help some of our viewers and listeners?
ELIZ: Absolutely. Noticing what's going on in your body and in your brain is really important because we all can get acclimated to the level of stress that we're under; just like we're recording this in January, a 40 degree day in January is like, woohoo. It is warm! In the Midwest where Edgar and I are, a 40 degree day in January is a treat. A 40 degree day in June, is frigid.
EDGAR: Oh yeah.
ELIZ: It's just because we get acclimated to a certain thing and when you feel the change, then it's uncomfortable. We get acclimated to a certain level of stress. Doesn't mean that level of stress is healthy. We have just gotten used to it. So there are things that our body will do to send us signals that it's experiencing a stress reaction. Some of them can be really sneaky, that you wouldn't necessarily recognize. Tummy troubles, indigestion, can be an indication that stress is high. Certainly feeling things like your heart beating faster or maybe pounding in your ear that under a lot of stress you might get that symptom, but under that acclimated stress level, you may have trouble sleeping. Or waking up at the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep because your brain is just busy with all of the things that you're trying to pay attention to and all of that stress hormone. And then for a lot of us, when we become acclimated to a very high level of stress, our bodies will make the cortisol come out, and that usually has the look of some sort of emotional reaction that is sort of what you would think would be normal to the issue at hand. So if you are finding yourself getting angry and angry is a socially acceptable emotion for everyone. So it's not like crying.
ELIZ: Anger is socially acceptable so we can express that wherever, but if you're getting anger showing up at the person who's making your coffee at the coffee shop, that may be an indication that your stress level is just at the point where it doesn't take much to set off the reaction that is too much and your body says *ppppwwhheew* and you get that anger. And when you express that anger, you probably raise your voice, your heart rate goes up. There are these physical reactions to that anger, which signals, when you are done doing that, that cortisol release. So your body's real, really smart. That stress will eek out of you. And if you're finding yourself crying at unusual times, or even laughing, somebody tells you this horrible thing that just happened, and you're like, I can't even believe, you know, like your reaction is just to laugh at it. Laughing and crying changes the way you breathe. When we're stressed, we take short little breaths.
ELIZ: Anytime we lengthen them and deepen them. It's a signal to our body to let that cortisol out. So if you laugh or you cry, that's what's happening. So that cortisol is leaving your body. Your body will figure a way to let that cortisol out if you don't help it.
EDGAR: And that container, that balloon that keeps that pressure is different for everyone because there are individuals that release... so anger release, anger... seconds, you know what I mean? It boiled over it, it raised to the max. The balloon one was completely inflated and it just released; while others it takes a little bit more. A little bit more to build up, you can take a little bit more of whatever's coming at you a little bit more. So I think that's super important for you as a person to understand your levels. Like you know, a little bit about yourself, like, okay, am I quick to react in in anger? Am I quick to react in sadness? And for me it's interesting. When you're at the movies, you know, it's a super sad movie. It's not reaction is stress. And it could be a positive, it could be a negative. When you release emotion, is that all due to that reaction of stress? Is that all for it or would that be a little bit different?
ELIZ: So it's not necessarily all related to the stress. What I'm talking about is that it's not because you're watching a sad movie and you're crying, it's because you are so overwhelmed that you end up sitting in your car in the parking lot on your lunch break and crying because you don't know anything else, anything else to do. It is a unusual emotional reaction to things.
ELIZ: So you can get angry just because whatever that person did, annoyed the heck outta you. That doesn't necessarily mean that your stress level's too high. It just means that person was super annoying. But if you can usually handle that super annoying person with a little bit of grace and be like, whatever. This time you explode at that person and you're like, that was unusual for me. That explosion is probably an indication that your stress level is high.
EDGAR: Yeah. And it kind of feels, it probably feels a little bit different too, like almost like as if you're attacking in a way.
ELIZ: Well, it feels out of control. And I think that's the indication is that if you're having this unexpected, kind of unexplainable emotional reaction to something, that's the time to step back and sort of check yourself about like, okay, what is going on? Is my stress high? That's an indication that it is time for us to practice a little bit of those skills so we can get that cortisol level down and then look at what's causing the stress. Because we can do everything, you know, we can raise our heart rate, we can change our breath. We can do all of those things to sort of manage the pressure, but if we're unable to change that external pressure that keeps triggering it. In the long run, that's hard to sustain. And for people who are going through difficult times, that self-care, that self-management is so important. My mom, as I talked about, went into the hospital the day before Thanksgiving and stayed for 22 days. That was a long period of time of a lot of uncertainty and a lot of stress and an upending of all kinds of things for our family, but for me personally, and I'm a solopreneur, you know, so that's a lot to deal with. So I had to be very smart about recognizing when my stress was going up and taking the time to actually practice those skills; cuz just cuz I wrote a book on it doesn't mean I'm perfect on it all of the time. But practicing those skills and making sure that that internal pressure stayed low enough that I could withstand the external pressure that wasn't going to go away. [00:18:51]
EDGAR: Wow. That is all this information and we haven't barely touched this book. So if you guys get it, get her book. And not only that, you also have a resource page.
ELIZ: I do!
EDGAR: It's stressproofnow.com.
ELIZ: stressproofnow.com. Absolutely. And there's a link to get the book. There's also free resources. There's, If you're wondering how high your stress is, really, there's a little video series that allows you to take the assessment that's in the book and figure out how stressed you are, and how likely the level of stress that your experience is to impact your physical health. Because stress is one of the major risk factors for heart disease and all other diseases really. So if your stress level is high, it eventually is going to impact your heart. Cuz really, if your stress levels are high, none of us need stickier blood, higher blood pressure, or higher heart rate. Right? Eventually that does bad things to your heart.
EDGAR: Yeah. So question. So we got a book, we got a resource, we're consulting all these massive organizations. What's next? What's in the future?
ELIZ: Ooh. What's in the future? That's a really good question. I really love working with companies who value their people and know that they need to protect their high performers from the stress they can't avoid. Doing that more is in the future, making it possible to reach more people. I think the thing that I'm working on right now is having some sort of book study. Where I can help people go through the book because I know for most of us, we get a book and it sits on our nightstand. Right? It's there. I have good intentions about it, but I think if we can provide some sort of destination that people can come on an every other week or monthly basis, it's more likely that people will actually do the work, because if people do the work, it will make a difference in their lives.
EDGAR: 100%. And I think it's super important, I've learned so much from just being in our short time here. But you're also a speaker and you have so much... so much information, so much advice that this comes from somewhere. It just doesn't appear. Okay. Where did all this information come from? Wanted to consult about it.
ELIZ: That is a really good question. So if we go back on the way back machine and go back to November of 2000, I came out of that experience knowing that I was given this whackadoodle story, you know, having a heart attack while at seven months pregnant with twins, all of the surgery, all of that. I was given that for a reason and I had this, if you wanna call it vision of standing in front of people, and giving them information that will allow them to make a difference so they can live longer, feel better, get more of the important stuff done. That's where it started, but my background is not in heart health. And so as I started talking about that, because at that point the idea that a woman could have a heart attack was shocking, especially a young woman. I spent the first part of my career really educating people about women in heart disease and the importance for treatment and research around how women's bodies and hearts really worked. I did a lot of research. I went to a lot of meetings of the American Heart Association. I did the work so that anything that came out of my mouth was good, medically backed, scientifically sound information, because I don't wanna give somebody a skill or a strategy that isn't going to help and worse going to cause a problem. [00:23:23]
EDGAR: That's right. Yep.
ELIZ: Then I started more and more to get asked for programs on work-life balance and stress. I always talked about those things because it's a major risk factor, but that started to be the thing that more and more people asked for. So I needed to do the same work. I needed to do the research. I needed to read the scientific articles. I needed to do all of that work. So again, what's coming out of my mouth is scientifically based, data-informed information that will make a difference and not cause harm. So, which is why it took me seven years to write a book.
EDGAR: But you're, you're verifying the facts and you wanna make sure what you're giving out to the world is correct, accurate, and it's gonna make a difference.
ELIZ: It works!
EDGAR: Yep. And did you have like anybody, so I know you said the Heart Association did you have any people that helped you on the way? Did you have any other organizations that were like, gave you the hand and was like, no problem, come along. You know, let me show you the ropes? Because you had mentioned that this wasn't what you were gonna do, this wasn't what you were doing at the beginning. This is something completely different that just, you know, after what happened with yourself, it impacted and was like, okay...
ELIZ: Right. I was a dance teacher and choreographer in the days before.
EDGAR: Okay. And so you were super happy, you know, continuing.
ELIZ: Right. So with the stress research, I actually went back to my former professor at the University of Wisconsin to help me design a study that was going to be scientifically valid. And while I am not pursuing a PhD, I wanted it to be a good quality study that's reliable. So that was helpful. In the process of all of the work that I did learning about heart disease, I became a very good reader of scientific research, and that is a skill that develops over time because they are not written for the general public. Very dense and a lot of terminology. So as I shifted that research from the heart side to the stress side, now I'm looking at different types of scientific studies, but it's still all of that same data information. Fortunately, one of my daughters is actually a psychology major now applying to grad school, PhD programs in in psychology. So she shoots me on a regular basis, articles that she thinks I'm interested in or things like, oh, we talked about this. This is like what you talk about. And it always sends me down an interesting road to deepen my knowledge and what I can share. [00:26:31]
EDGAR: So you're always learning. You're still to this day always continuing to learn because things are always changing.
ELIZ: They are. I mean, think about what... I am 12 days out from being positive for COVID. And I'm feeling much better now, but with the heart condition and it's the first time I have had COVID. But with a heart condition that puts me at high risk. Probably the vaccine made it so I didn't have a super bad case of it, and then I was able to have the antiviral. The idea that we have this thing that can make a difference three years into a brand new virus is amazing. Science changes all of the time. If you're not keeping up with it, you're giving bad information.
EDGAR: No, a hundred percent. And it's something that you want to keep updating. So maybe we'll see a second book in the future. We don't know. We'll see. Huh?
ELIZ: Yeah. It's it's really interesting. With the work that I do, there is always a new topic, a new mini topic that sometimes it comes out of. Doing the work with an organization. And in addition to that assessment, I talk to people in the organization so I have a good idea of what's causing stress in their environment, what are they doing about it and what might work. And there are times where I work with, for example, I worked with a group of people who are relocation experts. So you get hired for a new job and you're gonna go from Wisconsin out to Connecticut. There is a company that is gonna handle that whole transition. They're gonna help you sell your house, they're gonna help you find the new house. All of that. Moving, changing jobs, high stress situation, and those people who are going, that family who is going through that transition. It's not like they were living in a stress vacuum to start with. So now we've ramped up that. Therefore, when the truck doesn't show up when it's supposed to, that relocation agent gets a very stressed phone call. And that's called stress dumping when somebody's calling you and dumping their stress all over you. This is a new topic that I have because I designed a set of strategies around that particular incident that it's sort of almost like a little script that when that phone call comes, here are the things you need to think about and do... and we all, it may not be an angry client that calls, it may be the kids at college that calls and has a problem or whatever it is. We've all experienced that absorbing of stress. And stress is a sympathetic reaction. So if we're talking to somebody who is stressed, our stress level goes up. It's part of empathy.
ELIZ: That reaction. Our neurons are mirroring their neurons. See, I learn new things all the time. So that's a natural reaction. But if we've all of a sudden *BbbBrrruup* up to their stress level, we are now not able to have that creative and critical thought that's necessary to solving the problem. So if we can take steps to bring our stress level back down so that we're able to engage on a different level and help hopefully in the process get that person to come down a little bit. If we can do those things, then this turns out not to be the horrible phone call where you hang up and you're like, I don't even know what to do with myself anymore. Those are the sort of things that come up. So yeah, maybe there's a book along the way of the collection of all of these new things. But it's always, there's always something new coming along the line.
EDGAR: No, that's super exciting to hear. And you know, and you see it once in a while where especially in customer service, I feel like that's where you'll definitely see that. You'll get that phone call.
EDGAR: Call, contact centers or just the hotels, someone's yelling and some people are really good about it. They'll just, not even say a word, they'll just wait for it to calm down, relax. And then try to get that energy out. Like, okay, let's solve the problem. Wow. And I think a lot of, you know, in that customer service world that's really used a lot.
ELIZ: It is. That's why those jobs are hard. Because you're dealing with people who are having a terrible day. Right? You don't necessarily call the customer service line just to say, Hey, I really love your product. Right. It's pretty rare that that happens. [00:31:39]
EDGAR: No, but I wanna say thank you so much and as we start wrapping this up, I have one big question for you.
ELIZ: All right.
EDGAR: You know, we've seen everything that's coming out, but this is the Stand Out From The Inside Podcast, so I have to ask. How do you, Eliz Greene, stand out from the inside?
ELIZ: I love that question, and in my examination of leadership and setting culture, which is all part of helping organizations do better for their people around stress, one of the things that I recognize about my belief about leadership is that it's really setting other people up to succeed. I love working with people, helping them find the resources, being their sounding board and watching them succeed and grow and fly. And I do that in a couple of ways. I am a member of the National Speakers Association, which is a group of people who do this wacky speaking profession, and for people who would like to enter that world, I have mentored on a bunch of different levels helping people reach their dreams in that sense. And then I love working with kids.
ELIZ: And particularly that sort of teenage world of watching people grow and I haven't had as much of that lately, but having, knowing that this conversation was coming as something that maybe that's a thing to do in the new year is really expand that opportunity.
EDGAR: New Year's resolution. Something to grow in and see where... It'd be super exciting to see. Well, I wanna say thank you for taking the time. It's been super exciting to hear your story, your side on blood donation, but also a little bit about your professional life and where you're headed. And if anyone's interested, go check out her book, go to the resource and learn. And where can people find you on social?
ELIZ: Oh, all over the place! So on Facebook, I'm @elizgreenespeaker; on LinkedIn, I'm @elizgreene; on Insta I'm @theelizgreen; and Eliz Greene has so many Es it's obnoxious. There's an E at the beginning, E L I Z. And then there's an E at the end of Greene, G R E E N E; so many. [00:34:25]
EDGAR: It is been a pleasure having you. We wanna say once again, thank you so much.
ELIZ: Oh, it's been a pleasure. Have a great day.
EDGAR: Everybody, that wraps up the first two episodes and that two part, the second part finale where we had Eliz Greene where she talked about her personal life, blood donation, and how to handle stress. I wanna thank all of our viewers, all of our watchers, and all of our listeners, for tuning in to the Stand Out From The Inside Podcast presented by Versiti. It has been an amazing kickoff, and we have more guests on the way, so stay tuned. Be on the lookout for the latest episodes, and we’ll see you all next time. And remember, how do you stand out from the inside? See you all next time.
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