Biology of Trauma® Podcast
With Dr. Aimie Apigian MD, MS, MPH
Episode 79
The Resilient Professional: Strategies for Allowing our Health to Guide our Work
"How does that impact your ability to recover from a very serious disease when you're pretending like you're not even sick in the first place? We get forced into stopping."
~ Dr. Sally Riggs

The Resilient Professional: Strategies for Allowing our Health to Guide our Work

How Personal Health Affects Business and Vice Versa

Many of us in the healing professions have faced our own personal health challenges, and that is often what leads us to our important work. However, navigating our own chronic health symptoms while also running a business or managing a career can be incredibly challenging. 

The reality is that our personal life and our professional life are deeply intertwined – they are not separate entities.

Whatever is going on in our personal health will inevitably show up in our work, and vice versa. The stresses and demands of running a business or maintaining a career can also have a profound impact on our physical and mental well-being. 

It’s a delicate balance that requires us to be deeply attuned to the needs of our mind, body, and spirit. In fact, our physical health gives us messages to help guide our work.

Dr. Sally Riggs experienced this first hand with her journey through long-haul illness. The financial pressures and work demands made it difficult for her to fully prioritize her recovery. That in turn impacted her ability to show up fully for her clients. 

It’s a cycle that can be so difficult to break free from, but it’s essential that we find ways to put our own health and well-being at the forefront, even as entrepreneurs and professionals.


Long-haul Recovery, Including the Safe and Sound Protocol and the Impact of Social Media on Research and Support

Dr. Sally’s experience with long-haul symptoms is all too common, but her journey also highlights the power of tools like polyvagal theory and the safe and sound protocol. 

When she first discovered the safe and sound protocol, it was a true light bulb moment – she finally started to experience those precious moments of ventral vagal, which she had not felt since her symptoms started.

However, as we discuss, Sally also recognized something. That she may have jumped into working with others with long-haul symptoms a bit too soon, before she had fully regained her own resilience. 

The cycle of shutting down and having to start over again was incredibly frustrating, but also a valuable lesson in the importance of pacing oneself and truly honoring the needs of one’s own nervous system.

The role of social media in the long-haul community has also been fascinating to witness. As traditional medical pathways have fallen short, these online support groups have become a lifeline for so many, allowing people to share research, resources, and their personal experiences. 

This crowdsourcing of information has been both a blessing and a challenge, as Sally noted – it can lead to feelings of inadequacy or pressure to be “doing more” in one’s recovery journey. But it has also fostered a sense of community and validation that has been essential.

Ultimately, Sally’s story underscores the deeply personal and nonlinear nature of healing from long-term illness. 

The safe and sound protocol and other polyvagal-informed tools have been invaluable. But, the real work lies in cultivating self-compassion, patience, and a deep respect for the unique needs of one’s own nervous system. It’s a journey we’re all navigating together.


Tracking the Nervous System, Managing Symptoms, and Finding Balance with Movement

The ability to truly track one’s nervous system state has been a game-changer for both Sally and myself. 

It’s not enough to simply apply strategies or techniques – we have to first understand where we’re at, what our baseline is, and how our system is responding in the moment. So often, we assume we’re in a “calm” state. 

When in reality, we may be in a more numb, dissociated place. Learning to discern the nuances of our nervous system activation has been essential.

Sally shared some wonderful practical tips, like having the right supports at her desk – a foot rest, weighted blanket, even a rolled-up towel for back support. These small adjustments can make a huge difference in our ability to simply be present and engaged, rather than constantly battling symptoms of dysregulation. 

And of course, the importance of taking breaks, honoring the need to shut down and rest, cannot be overstated.

The balance with movement has also been a critical piece. As Sally noted, even simple things like throwing punches could send her into a shutdown state early on. 

But over time, her resilience grew. She was able to incorporate more movement, like dancing, as a way to process and release built-up energy and tension. It’s all about finding that sweet spot! That individualized approach that honors where our nervous system is at in the moment.

Ultimately, this journey of tracking, shifting, and finding balance is an ever-evolving process. But the more we can attune to the nuances of our own nervous system, the more we can respond with the right tools. 

It’s a profound and deeply personal path, but one that is so essential, both for our own well-being and for our ability to show up fully in our work.


Prioritizing Self-care for Entrepreneurs and Professionals

One of the hardest lessons that I’ve seen many entrepreneurs and professionals have to learn – is that they are the most important asset in their business or career. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks, the financial pressures, and the desire to do everything ourselves. But the reality is, if we don’t take care of ourselves first, we simply won’t have the energy, resilience, or clarity to show up fully for our work. Trust me, I have also learned this the hard way. That’s why I love to share this because it was a game-changer for me.  

Sally’s journey really highlights this. The scarcity mindset that so many of us fall into – the fear of not having enough, the drive to just keep pushing – can be incredibly detrimental. 

It puts us on the edge of that trauma response, which then leads to burnout, shutdown, and an inability to function at our best. 

Breaking free of that cycle requires a fundamental shift in priorities, where we make our own self-care and energy preservation the top priority, not just one more thing to add to the to-do list.

These acts of self-compassion are not luxuries – they are essential. No matter if it’s scheduling regular vacations, establishing firm boundaries, or simply taking the time to tune into our nervous system and give it what it needs. 

As Sally shared, the “Sally doesn’t do” list has been a game-changer for her, allowing her to protect her most precious resource: her time and energy.

Ultimately, when we put ourselves first, we improve our own well-being. Not only that but we model that for our clients, our colleagues, and our communities. We show them that it’s possible to build a thriving business or career while also honoring our deepest needs. 

And in doing so, we become more resilient, more creative, and more impactful in all that we do.

I’ve had a great time sharing this with you! 

Until next time.

To your best health and your best self, 

~ Dr. Aimie 

Here’s what you’ll learn in the full podcast episode:

  • Personal health impacts business, vice versa
  • Navigating chronic illness while running business
  • Polyvagal theory and safe/sound protocol support
  • Social media’s dual role in long COVID
  • Tracking nervous system, balancing movement
  • Prioritizing self-care as entrepreneur/professional

Helpful Links:

Related Podcasts:

Unlocking the Role of Disguised Grief in Health: Explore the complex relationship between emotions, particularly disguised grief, and our overall well-being. 

Health Issues: What to do when the protocols aren’t enough: Trauma and health issues go hand in hand. We are diving into the important question of: What to do when the protocols aren’t enough for resolving a chronic health issue?

Where To Start:

Foundational Journey: A 6-week Journey I lead where I safely guide you into your own nervous system to see what is stored!  More importantly, is what comes next. I want to teach you how to create that felt sense of safety in your body. I want you to have tools and a foundation of regulation. 

We lay this foundation through somatic and parts work.  

Think of it as stabilizing your system before going into surgery.  We lay the foundation before doing the deeper trauma work. 


Attachment Pain Guide: Learning how to get to a secure attachment starts with understanding the types of attachment pain you have. This guide helps individuals better understand the types of attachment pain


C60 C60 is thought to be the most powerful antioxidant yet known. C60 protects the body from oxidative stress, which is the main cause of cellular damage. By scavenging free radicals and reducing oxidative stress, C60 allows the body to heal naturally. This allows you to focus on healing your body from stored trauma!

Magnesium Sleep: With magnesium being one of the most common deficiencies from chronic stress and in mental health, this is a must.  Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in our body, which makes sense that it’s the first to take the hit when we are stressed.  You feel better, sleep better, and connect with others better when we have our magnesium reserves replenished.      

Products I recommend from this episode

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By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or others. Consult your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Trauma Healing Accelerated, any guests or contributors to The Biology of Trauma podcast, or any employees, associates, or affiliates of Trauma Healing Accelerated be responsible for damages arising from the use of the podcast.