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Nov. 12, 2022

Rachel Nelson - How to Navigate the Body for Stress & Anxiety

Rachel Nelson - How to Navigate the Body for Stress & Anxiety

Are you a female entrepreneur who has suffered from anxiety since you were a child? Would you like to be able to release the trauma your body holds?

This weekend on the Wellness and Wealth podcast, Rachel Nelson of Present by Nature shares how she worked through her trauma with breath work and how she teaches others how to do it too. In addition, three Holistic tools for stress & anxiety.

In this episode, Rachel Nelson answers the following questions:

Is there one primary cause of anxiety?
What does it mean when we go into a fawn response?
What’s the difference between breathwork and meditation?
Can someone with severe anxiety ever feel comfortable in their skin?
How can anxiety affect your decision-making as an entrepreneur?

Are you a female entrepreneur who has suffered from anxiety since you were a child? Would you like to be able to release the trauma your body holds? 

This weekend on the Wellness and Wealth podcast, Rachel Nelson of Present by Nature shares how she worked through her trauma with breath work and how she teaches others how to do it too. In addition, three Holistic tools for stress & anxiety.

In this episode, Rachel Nelson answers the following questions:

  • Is there one primary cause of anxiety? 
  • What does it mean when we go into a fawn response? 
  • What’s the difference between breathwork and meditation?
  • Can someone with severe anxiety ever feel comfortable in their skin? 
  • How can anxiety affect your decision-making as an entrepreneur? 

Connect with Wendy Manganaro:

Connect with Wendy Manganaro:  


Rachel Nelson

[00:00:00] Wendy Manganaro: Hi everyone. My name's Wendy Manganaro and I am the Host of the Wellness and Wealth podcast. I'm so happy to have you find us. And if you could take a moment and hit that subscribe button, I'd really appreciate it. This is the podcast where we believe when you show up better for yourself as a woman business owner, you show up better for your business. 

So sit back, relax. And learn from the practical to the woo-hoo, how to best take care of you. Have a great day. Stay blessed. And leave a review when you're done listening to the show, thanks so much. 

[00:00:38] Wendy: Hi everyone. We have another great guest as usual, if you haven't listened to any of our previous podcasts, go back, listen to them. Every one of them, you will get something out of. Today we're talking with Rachel Nelson and I'm excited to have her on the show because we are talking about anxiety and so I'm gonna read a her bio and then we'll get right into it.

At a wander List festival. In 2016, while Rachel was on a journey of overcoming anxiety and grief, she experienced the release of breath work under a tent with 100 other people in the middle of Vermont.

She had never felt more at ease in her body. Fast forward six years later. Rachel is now a certified anxiety coach and a breath work facilitator. She has discovered the importance of the mind body connection and supports clients on their journey to embodiment, mindfulness, and stress-free living. Welcome, Rachel.

[00:01:34] Rachel Nelson: Hi. Thank you so much, Wendy, for having me. I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for the introduction. Yeah, I'm excited to dive in with you today. 

[00:01:43] Wendy: I'm excited too because you are an anxiety coach. There are so many people who throw around that word. But I love that's what you dive into because everybody's I'm anxious, I'm not anxious and many times they don't know the background or why they are.

 So in your opinion, is there a primary cause of all of this anxiety that everybody has. Is there one primary cause or do you think everybody's individual? 

[00:02:07] Rachel Nelson: I love this question and it's so true. I do think the word gets thrown around a little bit.

And I think also a part of that is like, sometimes we don't actually know what we are feeling. Sometimes it's excitement, but we're like, Oh no, we're feeling something. It's anxiety. And we label it that because we're human and maybe we haven't spent the time to really sit with the sensations that we're feeling and really find out what are we feeling?

Is it anxiousness, is it stress? Is it overwhelm, is it fear? And thinking if there's a primary cause. I think that over time we've all had our life experiences, our events that have happened in our life, and we've given meaning to those events, those experiences. And from that maybe there could be fear, there could be a subconscious belief, there could be something that is causing your nervous system to have an automated response.

Based on your lived experience. And so it's this cyclical response because your body's trying to protect you, it's trying to keep you alive and so is your mind. And we're programmed to, to survive and I think it is individual in the sense of what is that fear? What is that limitation?

What is that automated nervous system response? But uniformly, I think it is something that we can sit with, we can overcome, we can discover more about and really get to that root cause of what that anxiety could be from. 

[00:03:34] Wendy Manganaro: And that's interesting too, cuz I learned about this not too long ago, so I've always known about, everybody hears about fight or flight, right?

[00:03:42] Wendy: Which I'm assuming your cortisone will rise. But I didn't know, it's fight flight freeze and fawn which I never knew was one cuz we hear about fight or flight so much.

But part of the anxiety is that I noticed that people with anxiety that sometimes they freeze. So and as you talk about what anxiety looks like for people, is it fight, flight, freeze and fawn? And we're actually feeling anxious. 

[00:04:05] Rachel Nelson: These four responses are a trauma response. And so when we talk about trauma, It can be what I call like little tea or big tea trauma.

So it could be, a big event or a small event, but our body still absorbs that experience. And from that experience you have the fear or the response that comes from that. So I too, I think, fight, flight, freeze, and fawn definitely can be related to anxiety and can be part of that automated response.

And, that's human. And it's working with your nervous system, working with your body to understand it on a deeper level and go from there. 

[00:04:49] Wendy: And what does fawn mean? Cuz that's the new one too. So I'm sure some of my listeners may never have heard that either.

Yes. So Fawn is when you back away, you become over agreeable or you become timid and Fawn. I hope that makes sense, but you more of a passive response. So by flight freeze is like when you're like, you actually freeze in the moment.

Maybe in that moment with a freeze response, you might even dissociate from your body where you're having this movie experience of a trauma response. And so then the FAW would be that more like docile. Let me take a backseat. I don't know what's happening, so I'm just gonna do nothing.

Response to what's happening in your environment. 

[00:05:32] Wendy Manganaro: Oh, that's really interesting. And I guess that's what can happen though. And I guess when people go through this they don't know that it's happening there. It's such a natural response system that they can for lack of a better word, awake later and go, What just happened?

Or they're so used to it, they don't awake from it. 

[00:05:54] Rachel Nelson: Yeah. I think every person's experience with trauma is unique and their system's response is unique and I think that could happen where you could have this response where, time does pass, and you're like what just happened?

[00:06:10] Wendy Manganaro: And they don't know. And or they're so used to it, they don't know. 

[00:06:12] Rachel Nelson: Yeah. Just so programmed and so used to that what their life experience is. I know like for me, for example, I struggled with anxiety for, 20 plus years where I had overwhelming anxiety.

And when I went to Wanderless that festival, I mean I was at that point I always say, Was that the peak? I don't know. Cuz it did get worse after that, but it was a pivotal moment in my journey with anxiety. I was exactly that. I was a person that was having this automated response and battling anxiety.

For the longest time I was trying everything. I was trying yoga, I was in therapy, was trying meditation. It was really giving everything a shot. And I'm so thankful that I went to that festival and found breath work because that's really what shifted things for me and it wasn't immediate. I definitely had a lot of resistance to the practice of breath.

and what that looks like. But it was something, I know that if I can have this automated response in my nervous system that is a trauma response, that it's possible that is something that you can shift no matter how long you've had this response for. Your body can learn another way of living and another way of.

[00:07:20] Wendy: And that brings me to the question breath work is it different than meditation? Is it the same? What would what would that fall under? 

[00:07:30] Rachel Nelson: Such a great question. Yes.

So I describe breath work as an active meditation. So you are using your in certain patterns to regulate your nervous system. It's very helpful for releasing emotion, for shifting energy, for calling in energy. It's a very energy based practice meditation also great. Not so much manipulating the breath.

So I find that breath work is a little bit easier for people that might not have experience with meditation, because it captures more of your senses, so you're using your breath, there's music involved, There might be movement involved, there might be sound. So it's more of encapsulating all those senses.

And so it makes it a little bit easier for people to drop in because they're not so much in their minds when they're doing meditation because we love to do that cuz we're human . 

[00:08:25] Wendy Manganaro: And then that's true. And if you're not used to meditating, which it took me years to be able to do, and even now, I'll meditate every once in a while and I'm like, I don't think I had a quiet moment in that at all.

And other times I'm really okay with it. But it's good to have something when you can't quiet yourself and yet you need to be able to do something to center yourself. So I like this idea that it stimulates the senses because I know that there's people who struggle. They wanna meditate.

They don't know how to be quiet enough even for a minute to be able to do that. 

[00:08:57] Rachel Nelson: Absolutely. I 100% agree. I remember this was around what time this I started doing this, but before I would head out to work, I would go on YouTube. I'd search for a five minute meditation and I would just sit there for five minutes and I would do five, 10 minutes of meditation, maybe pull a card or something to really set my day up.

For ease or my attempts, although I still had all of this anxiety that I was carrying around. And with breath work what's nice about it is you can do it by yourself. There's definitely resources out there. You can find it on YouTube and, other resources too. But what's nice about it is that when you're doing it guided is it's so energetic based that you really can shift your energy so smoothly and with so much ease that it's so nourishing when you're in that anxious state to be able to do this. And it's a practice, it's not quick fix or anything, but it is a practice and it's something that if you do breath work on Monday, you'll probably still feel the benefits by Thursday. It's this lingering kind of deep meditative space that you're able to drop into. It's definitely been transformative for me. I love it. I swear by it, . 

[00:10:06] Wendy Manganaro: That's awesome. And so that brings me to the question in your bio, you, you speak of having this moment when you felt at ease, I would probably, in my world call it a moment of clarity where it's like everything is calm for a second.

Can someone go from having mild to severe anxiety to learning how to be comfortable in their skin like that? Cuz you're talking about this breath work having elongated effects. And that it's a practice of I know for myself when I first started to meditate, It's taken me a while and now that you're talking, I'm like, I have done a breath work exercise.

I know I have. I went to somebody to do that with them and I was like, Oh, that's right. I did do that. But it's taken me a long time to be able to research and seek. And the more comfortable I get in my skin, the more I seek to do other things to be comfortable in my skin. So how did that and I heard you say that it didn't get better right away what does a practice look like so that it, you can start to feel like the benefit.

[00:11:05] Rachel Nelson: It's so great. I'd love to share a little bit about how anxious I was that like led to that moment. I had anxiety since I was maybe seven or eight years old, and in 2016 that's when I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.

So I was like, all right, at least now I know that I have anxiety and I was talking about it more and Like I said, doing the yoga, doing the therapy. And in 2016 my dad had passed away and my understandably so my anxiety just peaked and then, Three weeks later, I was in a relationship for three years and the guy that I was seeing breaks up with me.

My car gets vandalized, I throw out my back, it was everything. The sky was falling. And so my anxiety is at an all time high. I feel I can't breathe. I feel like I have pressure on my chest. I feel weight on my shoulders, very much a body response. And then I go to this breath work and I have this breath work experience and I had an out-of-body experience. I was like, What is this? This is like the coolest thing I've ever done. Everyone needs to do this. And then I didn't do it for another six months, like I found the thing and I just had so much resistance to the practice cuz depending on the breath pattern, and it can be pretty intensive.

And so I always encourage go at your own pace. You have full autonomy to, manipulate the breath, the work, do as much or as little breath work as your feels it needs. So I think I was right on par with what I needed at that time, but obviously in hindsight, I'm like, why? Why did I wait six months?

So as time goes on, as I find my practice and I was like, Oh, I revisited it. The resistance was still there. Revisit it. Revisit it. Now, today, I do breath work every day, but I started doing it, a session here. I found a coach that I absolutely loved doing sessions with her, leaning on support systems outside of me that work.

And so in terms of building a daily practice, I think, start with five minutes, start once a week. Definitely don't bite off more than you can chew, so to speak. But, I think I really swear by a daily practice doing your meditation, your breath work every day.

Because when you're feeling anxious, I was feeling anxiety every day, why wouldn't I try and support my nervous system to ease that response every day if I was feeling so much anxiety. It's a daily practice, but you also you need to meet yourself where you are. So moving at your pace and doing it on your terms.

I would say start once a week, five minutes, and then work yourself up to finding a practice that really feels good for you. 

[00:13:38] Wendy Manganaro: I love that, you just said that if I was feeling anxious every day, why wouldn't I go and do something to feel better every day? And female entrepreneur or not, we get lost in business or family or, what, whatever the case may be, community and we had so lost in it.

We that's part of the whole thing is like we forget to take care of ourselves and then we wonder why we have this anxiety or we feel disconnected even though we're doing so much out there, but there, there's no connection because we're no longer doing the thing that take care of us. And then we get burnt out and we're surprised why do I feel like that?

But if you have this idea of I felt terrible every day, this is what makes me feel better, and even to your point of you waited six months I don't know what that is in the human mind that we do that to ourselves. It always amazes me. I'm like and anytime I talk to anybody, I'm like, So that was working.

 Whether it's in business or personal life , and now you're trying something else and you're surprised it doesn't work. there is, there's something to that. 

You feel better than why wouldn't you do the thing that makes you feel better? Speaking of entrepreneurs, how do you think anxiety affects business? How does it affect your decision making or your lack of decision making when you don't have something in your life to relieve that?

[00:15:01] Rachel Nelson: I think the journey of being a female entrepreneur is, it's exhilarating. There's so much that goes into it, and decision making is definitely part of it. From an anxiety perspective love to really return back to your intention, your why, your mission. and really instead of having that big, grandiose vision cuz anxiety, we can be 10 years in the future, you focus on today, you focus on the decision that you're making in that moment.

Because I find that it's a lot of little right decisions that lead up to the big, snowball effect of success but it's not necessarily like in our minds we think, Oh, this is gonna be like the biggest decision ever. This is gonna change everything. And in fact it might, it might be a big decision.

But definitely keeping that groundedness in your mission, returning to your why, returning to your intention and making the decision from that place. Because as long as you're connected to your why, you're in integrity. The mission behind your business. I don't really think there is a wrong decision.

I think it's just the right decision for you in that moment, whatever that looks like. 

[00:16:15] Wendy Manganaro: And for you, in your experience is, when somebody's of responding in trauma, right? It's like that why goes out the window. And.

Particularly when it comes to money lack mentality, right? I know a lot of business owners, especially if they're new, they go, Yes, I'll take that client, I'll take that. And then it doesn't, nothing feels right. They're in constant anxiety. , like, all of that shifts, right? And it begins.

I and I've done it. I've been like, Oh, this is a terrible idea. I'm taking the client. Anyway, guess what? It was a terrible idea. So it happens. When you're caught in that, how do you reverse yourself? Because confrontation causes anxiety For many people, we don't like, for men and women entrepreneurs, like we don't.

Usually like to confront people. A lot of us don't like, I don't like to confront people, so you know, how do you get through that uncomfortability of going, I made a mistake, This is not good for me. Let me reverse that. Especially when you have to have those hard conversations because trauma a lot of times results from Yeah, ability to have.

Hard conversation. So what would you recommend for female entrepreneurs who may find themselves I am out of sorts. I don't like this situation. This is not whether it's a networking group. There's all sorts of things that we do and we go, Okay, this is gonna work for us. And then, our, whatever it is, they feel you've disappeared or whatever, because you can't bring yourself because of the anxiety to have that difficult conversation.

[00:17:47] Rachel Nelson: Yes, it's so true. Our businesses will definitely bring to the forefront our, trauma responses. Exactly the example that you provided, in those interpersonal relationships, whether that's a friend or a sibling, or a parent or someone from your business, a colleague or a client.

These hard conversations definitely. Are real. That's definitely something that's definitely very present in all in business. My, my first thought honestly was having the support around you having those soundboards of whether that's, a coach or it doesn't necessarily have to be a business coach, but it can be or a therapist or somebody that you can have.

that soundboard conversation with, and really work through all the stuff that it's bringing up. Because these things, if they're happening in your business, are happening for a reason, and it's really an opportunity to heal these wounds. So if you're having this trauma response with your friend and then five days later you're having the same response with your client, I wouldn't say it's necessarily a coincidence.

I would say it's really an opportunity because these things are happening so that you can heal what's coming to fruition in your life. And for me, I find that there's three different forms of healing that and one is self to self, so that's sitting in your meditation.

Sitting and doing your breath. Work your daily morning practice with yourself, grounding your own energy, working through what's on your plate with yourself. And then the other is self to others. So that's what I was talking about before, working with a coach, working with a therapist, working, with a facilitator of some sort.

Somebody that you can trust to hold that space for you. And the third is self to source. So that's kind more of the spiritual universal working. , universal energy to heal these things. So there's definitely resources out there and methods out there, but I would say it's an opportunity.

And then one other thing that also came to mind was I think when these things come up, we feel fearful, we get nervous. We go into our automated responses, whatever that might look like. And whenever I find that I'm nervous to make a mistake. I always remind myself that I can only fail forward.

 I'm not gonna, end my business completely because of this one choice. If it happens and I made the wrong choice, I can always choose again and I am always going to fail forward because in a indecision is more debilitating than making a decision

[00:20:20] Wendy: There's truth to that and I think that is a trauma response when you make no decision and then it builds. That's when you feel I have no way out. It gets exasperating the lack of decision making. So if somebody is Out there who's listening and they've learned as we were talking about what fight, flight, freeze or fawn and they go, Oh yeah, I either, freeze or, and I didn't know that, but that was part of my response. Or I fawn because I say yes to everything just to have things go, like what would be a good first step if they're starting to realize that to get help, what's the first step for them to say, Okay, I realize that this might be a problem.

Where do I go from?

[00:21:03] Rachel Nelson: Yeah, I love the awareness component. We don't know what we don't know. So as long as you bring awareness to it, that's really the first step. And then the second, I work through these automated responses with my clients, my one-to-one all the time. This is what we work on.

So not saying, I would say work with a coach or work with a therapist to really heal this response. Yeah, that would probably be my first thing. So the awareness, a beautiful, Absolutely love it. And then, work with someone that you trust. 

[00:21:34] Wendy Manganaro: Yeah, that's perfect. And, and that's part of taking action because even if we have awareness, we may not have an awareness as on a level of working with somebody else who starts to hear patterns and situations that we don't know we have because we are.

So used to them. So it has been, I can't believe this has been a half an hour already, but it has been a fantastic half an hour. Please tell everybody how to get in touch with you. I know you have an offer that you wanna tell everybody about, so please take this time to do that. 

[00:22:04] Rachel Nelson: Oh, thank you. Yes. So I'm most active on Instagram, so you can find me on Instagram.

I'm at Ray r a e, the anxiety coach, and I also have a website present by nature.com. And right now I actually just yesterday opened up for more spots in my one to one package. So this is a six, three or six month program, Anxious to alinged really focused on overcoming anxiety, getting to the other side of what that looks like, really connecting with your body, with your central channel, with your alignment, with your power center.

So it's really supportive for for anxiety and definitely if running your own business. There's so many things that come up on that journey and it's definitely supportive for that. So if you're interested, just you can shoot me a DM or email me and I would love to chat with you.

[00:23:01] Wendy Manganaro: Thank you so much for being with us. Please reach out to Rachel. She has been a lovely guest. Both times I've talked to you has been fantastic . Thank you so much for being on my show. 

[00:23:11] Rachel Nelson: Thank you so much, Wendy, for having me. 


Rachel NelsonProfile Photo

Rachel Nelson


At a Wanderlust festival in 2016 while Rachel was on the journey of overcoming anxiety and grief, she experienced the release of breathwork. Under a tent with 100 other people in the middle of Vermont – she had never felt more at ease in her body. Fast forward six years later, Rachel is now a Certified Anxiety Coach and Breathwork Facilitator. She has discovered the importance of the mind-body connection and supports clients on their journey to an embodiment, mindfulness, and stress-free living.