Category Archives for "Stress Management"

09 Your body is not an ornament

It comes up in my life all the time, and it may be something you're familiar with as well. It's when I compliment a female friend on either a photo of them or how they're looking today, such as their hair or their outfit, and  they deflect that compliment. I see it on social media when someone puts up a photo which gets a compliment and their response is "No, I'm looking old/ fat / having a bad hair day" and they find some way to turn down that compliment.

 It's not our fault - we're all conditioned when we see magazines with certain body types on the cover, Hollywood movies and TV shows with certain types of females and female bodies that are deemed acceptable by the media. I do think this is improving, but for those of us who are around my age we've had a long lifetime where this has been the case.

When we're feeling unhappy with our bodies, or we wish there was one thing we could change to look a certain way, it really comes down to the fact that we've been given the wrong paradigm for viewing our bodies.

We always seem to think a body needs to achieve a certain type of appearance. When you think about we are seeing our body as an ornament that needs to look a certain way. But our body is NOT an ornament. It's not here to look a certain way. It is the vessel through which we live. The function of our legs is not to be slender and a certain length and to look a certain way in short shorts. The function of our legs is that we can walk and run and get to where we need to be. The function of a torso is not to give us an hourglass figure. The function of our torso is to contain all the vital organs that keep us alive.

Our body is the vessel through which we look at nature, look at a beautiful artwork, and smell that divine food that someone's cooking for us or our coffee in the morning.

Our body is the arms and torso that we throw around someone in a hug when we love them. That's what our body's for -  it is to experience life through our senses.

And our body is the vessel through which we live out our dreams. When we have a dream to go to a certain country, or to write a book, or to achieve something in our career, or whatever the case may be it's our body that fulfils that dream for us.

It's our brain and our hand and our eyes that write the book. It's our mind that works out how to book a plane ticket and it's our body that boards that plane to go to the country we wish to visit.

So our body is a vessel through which we experience our dreams - we fulfil our dreams and experience life. It is not an ornament. And it's only by shifting that perception of ourselves that we can start to see our body in a better way.

We feel that our confidence in our body and our positive feelings towards our body relies on us looking for our "good" features. We're still using the paradigm about our body being an ornament and we can never win that game. And the media don't want us to win it, they want us buying expensive products and going on diets that don't work. It keeps us spending money, it keeps us controlled by them.

But we can think for ourselves and see our body in a whole new light. Not as "good enough" because "even though my hair is frizzy at least I like the colour of it".  It's not about that at all. It's about loving that our body is doing it's best to fulfil the goals that we set it.

 We're upgrading from the idea that our body is an ornament that needs to look a certain way and having good points and bad points that are all visual. To view your body as a vessel that's for experiencing life. And you can still have fun! Getting your hair and make-up done or buying an outfit that you love. But see it as a CELEBRATION of your body not trying to make your body enough. 

For some people I hope you already view your body in this way, and for others I hope that you're open to seeing your body in a new light. In a way that you can enjoy your body and celebrate it rather than always wishing it was a little bit different. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments, or women I'd love you to jump into my Facebook group Sisters With Heart and share your thoughts there.

08 – Be inspired by your future self

I have a beautiful Facebook group -  Sisters With Heart - where one of the lovely ladies asked me "how do I get inspired by a vision of my future self - rather than being caught up what I want now, how do I use the vision of my future self as inspiration".  I love this question because it's true : a vision of our future can keep us inspired on a goal. However there are a couple of ways this can be done, and one is more effective than the other.

How NOT to use a vision of your future self

The first way people do this is when they see a future self of how they feel they should be. They feel they should be thinner, or more fit, or wealthier or have got further head in their career. They want to be better in some way to be worthy.

When we use that idea of how we "should" be as our future self it really demotivates us.  We're thinking we're not all we should be now. When we come from this position of lack and feeling not good enough it's hard to get motivated by ANY version -  in particular the very version that reminds us we don't think we're good enough already.

A more helpful way to vision your future self

In truth we are all good enough and we deserve to have a future that lights us up with joy.

If I'm already worthy -  and I am  - what will bring me more more happiness and light me up, and will give more meaning to my life? Imagine THAT future self and that's a future self that will help you stay motivated towards your goal. Our  goals ideally will direct us towards that version of our self, not the vision of how we think we should be to be worthy.

Take some time as you're lying to go to sleep or having a shower, relaxing or driving along (safely).    

  • 1
    Think what future version of you would light you up and fill you with joy and bring you extra meaning, knowing that you're good enough and worthy already.
  • 2
    Ask yourself: what is the next right step in that direction?  

You don't have to know the whole pathway. You just need to know you're facing the right direction: the future that lights you up and take that next right step.

 I'd love to know how you go with this idea and what your vision for your future self is. Let me know in the comments. And all those who identify as women please jump into my beautiful Facebook group Sisters With Heart and let me know what your future self is. I can't wait to see you there.

07 Why it’s good that stress affects each area of our life

There are different ways stress affects our life, but this is good news, I promise. 

If you think back to a time when stress was really affecting you and think about all the parts of your life that were involved.

It might be that your emotions and thoughts were affected, how you look after and feel in your body. It might change your habits - perhaps comfort eating or scrolling social media endlessly as a distraction. It might affect your environment - with clutter in the house or an overflowing inbox at work. It may even build up enough to affect relationships if you are taking it out on your partner or kids. Energy and spirit are affected too.

Here's the good news - while stress affects all these parts of our life, how we handle each of these aspects of our life also has an impact on our total stress levels.

If we are really good at processing our emotions, think constructively, have healthy habits, look after our body with rest and nourishment, set up our environment to support us, have healthy relationships and look after our energy and spirit then this will have a massive impact in reducing our total stress.

This is awesome news because it means if you are feeling stressed you can work on any of these areas - ideally eventually all of them - but you can begin with any of them to reduce your total stress levels.

For example if you have a stressful relationship issue with stress building up and you are feeling triggered but you are unsure how to deal with it at the moment directly, you can begin by taking care with all the other areas of your life. SO make sure you are allowing time to process your emotions, looking at your thoughts and the beliefs being triggered by this situation, getting enough sleep so you are better equipped to handle it (everything is better on a good night's sleep!). Are you setting up good habits and does your environment support you? There are energy visualisations for unhooking from a relationship trigger and letting it go, and spiritual tools can help guide you to the next right step for approaching it.

This is the same with any kind of stress. If you are dealing with a chronic illness, and your body is stressing you out, you can begin by setting up your environment to support you, establishing healthy habits, addressing your emotions and thoughts about your body and getting support in your relationships. 

Any one area can help in all of the others as well. I dive deep into this in my beautiful book, Transform Stress to Self Care. It addresses each of these 8 areas and how we can manage them to better reduce stress in all of the others.

Whether you grab the workbook or address these areas yourself, consider where you can make tweaks in one or two of these areas to support your life. 

Is there a habit that would help you? Can you set up your environment so it's a haven not a source of stress and clutter? This includes anywhere you spend time - work, home or even your car! I set up my care to be a sanctuary back when I was driving around each day to get my little one to sleep. Which of these areas can you begin to make changes to support your happiness and your peace of mind - emotions, thoughts, body, habits, environment, relationships, energy, spirit?

Let me know where you'll be making a tweak to support your happiness in the comments or join in my community for heart-centred women, Sisters With Heart, and let us know in there.

Until next time, take the very best of care - because you deserve a peaceful mind, a happy heart, and a life you love.

04 How to implement habits that support your goals and vision

Habits are the actual HOW of making our dreams come true. If you have a beautiful vision for your life, it is the daily habit that will determine whether your efforts lead to your success. For example if we have a dream of good health but sit on the couch eating chips, that habit does not support our vision, but perhaps a habit of green smoothies and exercise does. So it's about how we behave on the daily that leads to a cumulative effect.

But there is one way people trip themselves up when trying to form new habits.

Way back when, I was working in mental health and helping people with quite significant illnesses form healthy habits. And I learnt a lot about what helps a habit stick and become part of your life, and what makes it more likely to trip over.

A couple of years ago my workplace had a 10,000 steps/ day challenge. I'm not a very active person, so 10,000 was a huge leap. I made the 10,000 steps by pushing myself, but once the challenge was over it was too big a leap to maintain and I quickly went back to how I was.

Then, after having my bub, I was feeling very inactive. SO this time, I looked at my current levels of activity and increased this habit by just 500 steps/ day. It was such a small increment that it was almost impossible to fail. 

Often we're inclined to start a habit at the ultimate level, and the gap for our little lizard brains is too big - we get into resistance, sabotage and feel overwhelmed and triggered. But when we set a new habit in the smallest possible way, it falls under the radar of our resistance and self-sabotage and is much easier to form a regular habit. SARK talks about "tiny actions" and Brooke Castillo did a podcast about "minimum standards", all based on similar ideas.

Make something a habit in the tiniest form and then when it has become a habit we can build on it. For example, if you want to start running, begin just insisting on yourself running down the driveway each day. If you run further, great. But just get down the driveway.

Once it IS a habit, expand and grow. You can get much further much faster by bypassing resistance until the habit is in place. Rather succeed at a habit of 5000 steps a day than fail at reaching 10,000 and giving up altogether.

So I'd love to hear,  what new habit are you trying to form? And what is the smallest way you could implement it daily? Let me know in the comments below, or women, jump into my Facebook community Sisters With Heart, and let me know in there.

05 Three ways to make your new habit stick

Once you've decided on a new habit, it's vital to set it up for success. We often don't think about what can go wrong or how we can sustain the habit. We make it hard for ourself - we don't change anything in our environment, but we expect the change in our behaviour to somehow stick.

But we're going to change that today, by giving our new habit a fighting chance at being a lifelong habit.

There are 3 areas we can set a habit up for success:

  • 1
    Remove an obstacle. If you can't remove it, ask yourself how can I deal with it or work around it?
  • 2
    Add something to your environment to support the habit and make it almost inevitable.
  • 3
    Clear space and time for the habit. Declutter an area of your home, or cancel some commitments in your schedule that are no longer a priority.

This is where a habit goes wrong... I decided this January I was going to make green smoothies every day. I have a blender, and had the ingredients and looked up some recipes. All good.

So one day when I was hungry for a snack, I decided to make a green smoothie. I walked into the kitchen. My blender was at the back of a cupboard. I hadn't used it in ages, I'd have to look for all the parts, give it a wash, prep the vegetables and hunt for that recipe I'd found a while back.

By contrast, there was a plate of fudge on the bench, leftover from Christmas. I'm already hungry at this point so of course I went for the fudge!

A better way to support my green smoothie habit would be to get rid of the fudge from the house, to set up my blender ready to go on the bench and to have the recipe to hand and some vegetables prepped. This way I could walk in to the kitchen and go for it.

So for any habit you're trying to implement, think of how you can get rid of an obstacle - in my case, the fudge; set your environment up to support you, such as keeping the blender on the bench and vegetables to hand; and clear space; for example clearing other clutter from the bench.

These are simple things but often overlooked, but are really important for the success of a new habit. Think about how your habit will happen and how you can support it. And let me know - how will YOU be supporting your new habit?

06 Why self kindness is the key to achieving your dreams

In this series of posts we have looked at a mindful reflection practice to keep life on track and stay aligned with our values and vision, and to notice our blessings. We then created a vision board to reflect our life vision. Not the shoulds, or how to be good enough... but coming from the place that we are good enough, looking at the life that lights us up. 

We then established a new habit in its tiniest form to set us on the path to this vision by cumulative effect, and also explored ways to remove obstacles and set up the environment to support success.

This last post of the series is the most important of all. We will be talking about self kindness, and why it's vital when building a new habit, and always.

We get it the wrong way round. We think the goal will help us feel good about ourselves. We tell ourselves, when I lose weight, I'll feel good. When I earn more, I'll feel good. 

In truth, when we're kind to ourselves, we can support ourselves to reach our goal. If we're always beating ourselves up, we have to overcome that to reach our goal. When we're lifting ourselves up, we can more easily reach it.

So the practice is to look at how we're talking to ourselves.

How do YOU talk to yourself? Are you saying, "I can't do it", "I always give up", "I don't have the right qualities for this goal".

Or, are you saying "You've got this", "pick yourself up, you can do it".

If you catch yourself beating up on yourself, don't beat up on yourself even more because of that! Instead, think how you'd respond to a best friend who'd you'd unintentionally put down.

You'd apologise, and correct what you said to be supportive.

So when you catch yourself in the act of putting yourself down, apologise to yourself. Because self kindness is about being your own best friend. So however you'd make it right with your best friend, give yourself the same respect.

And think how you'd encourage your friend. How can you do the same for yourself? Can you put encouraging reminders into your phone or stick a message on your mirror?

Let me know in the comments how you're going to be your own best friend.

03 Creating a vision board for inspiration

Resolutions often have an energy of things we "should" do to be better somehow - I should lose weight, I should achieve more. This gives them a heavy energy, so it's no wonder we often drop our resolutions soon into January.

Rather than that process, let's start from the truth - we are good enough as we are, and we can create a beautiful vision for our own happiness and highest expression. From that we can create a vision for our life ahead.

To keep this vision front of mind we can create a vision board - a physical or digital representation of the life we want. A vision board is a very inspiring talisman we can continue to look back on to stay motivated towards our dreams.

It's quite simple to collect images that inspire you to create a vision board. The one thing I see though is that some people create a vision board based almost entirely on material things. And we all know that when we get a new material things, we might get a buzz for a while but it's not really the answer to lasting happiness.

While you can have that on your vision board, I'd encourage you to think - "What will really bring joy to my life?" Is it deeper connection? And not just what you want to HAVE in your life, but who you want to BE and what you want to DO with this one crazy, beautiful life.

You might see a theme forming from your images and a word of the year can emerge, and you can put this word on your vision board.

If you feel short of time or this is yet another thing you need to do, you can jump straight to having a word of the year or choose just one image that inspires you. Let it take the amount of time you want to give it.

Let it be the process you want it to be. Play music, get a cup of something, and enjoy whether you take 5 minutes or over an hour.

If you'd love to take this process deeper, check out my online workshop here. And I'd love to see your vision board! Share it in the comments or women, jump into my Facebook community and share with the sisterhood.

02 A mindful reflection practice

This process has changed everything for me and how I stay aligned.

Have you ever noticed how at the end of every year, people on social media are saying "Oh, I'm so over this year - I can't wait for next year!" But then the next year they say the exact same thing? It's passive, wishful thinking where people hope for life to get better but don't do anything to learn from their situation. Instead, they seem all too willing to write off a year of their life. 

Don't write off your life one year at a time! Implement this mindful reflection to take the lessons and the blessings with you.

This is a practice I do even more than the end of each year - I do this each quarter to keep on track and focused towards my goals. I also complete a simple daily practice to ensure I keep aligned.

Quarterly (or annual) mindful reflection

Reflect over the last 3 months (or the time period of your choosing), and reflect on the following questions. You may like to journal the answers or just give each a few moments thought.

  • What are the behaviours, actions and beliefs that have supported my vision?
  • Which behaviours, actions and beliefs have NOT supported my vision - even sabotaged it?
  • What were the highlights? Take time to celebrate and remember no matter what, there were some good points.
  • check
    What needs healing or forgiveness? How will I proceed with this?
  • check
    What were my lessons?
  • check
    What do I need to let go of?
  • check
    What am I most grateful for? What am I most proud of?

Daily mindful reflection practice

These are some questions I reflect on most days. You may like to use these as a starting point for your own daily reflection, or choose your own. It's important to choose questions that reflect on the areas of life important to you.

Once again, you may like to journal or just give these questions some contemplation time.

  • How much sleep, water and steps have I had? These are basic self care questions. Self care is the foundation of wellbeing so reflect on how you take care of yourself.
  • How was I aligned with my values today?
  • check
    How was my productivity and focus? This is great if you experience procrastination or are working on a project. 
  • What were my thoughts like today? This is useful if, like me, your thoughts can spiral negatively.
  • check
    What did I experience in my emotions and intuition today?
  • check
    How was my relationship with food today? I ask this to check in where I am eating for emotional reasons or making choices that don't feel good.
  • check
    How was my connection to my body today?
  • check
    How was my connection to others?
  • check
    How was my connection to Spirit?
  • check
    What am I grateful for today?

I hope you enjoy this practice - make it your own. I'd love to hear, what one mindful reflection question you will be adding to your practice? Share in the comments or come join my Facebook community Sisters With Heart and tell me there.

01 – Why I don’t make new year’s resolutions and what I do instead

Today we will be talking about why I don't make New Year's resolutions, and what I do instead.

Recently I fulfilled a life long dream, and published my first book, Transform Stress to Self Care. As soon as I'd written it, I realised the conversation wasn't over - it's so important to manage the stress we have to get the most of our lives, so my Youtube channel and podcast was the next step.

Being January, I wanted to discuss why I DON"T make resolutions. I was committed to resolutions until a few years ago, when I realised I wasn't achieving any of them. I realised there was something broken with the model of resolutions, and explored other ideas of what to do instead.

This article explores why I don't make resolutions and what I do instead, and there will be 5 following posts diving into the 5 step process I do instead. You might like to come back to this annually or even better, quarterly.

The reasons I don't make resolutions

  • 1
    A year is just too long. I don't even remember what I wanted a year ago! We usually forget by December what we wanted to do in January. Somehwere throughout the year we lose focus and our goals are not front and centre. New things take our attention and we forget until the next January.
  • 2
    Resolutions often have an air of "should" about them. People feel they "should" lose weight or "should" be further ahead. It's another pressure we put on ourselves and our resolutions then just feel like yet another task. With that heaviness in the energy, it's no wonder that we push it to the back of our minds, distract ourselves and give up.
  • 3
    Because resolutions are usually for a year not a quarter, we make goals that are too big so we feel overwhelmed and give up. There is a theory that a stretch goal can be more motivating than a small goal. You need to see what works for you. For many of us, when we don't believe the goals can happen or we feel overwhelmed by them, it is harder to work towards them. Having a small goal with a short timeframe feels immediate.

What I do instead

  • 1
    I focus on quarters now - the goal and the deadline remain visible on the horizon. This is how I wrote my book after  many years of failing to write as a resolution. With this short turn around, I stay focused and inspired.
  • 2
    Instead of having "should" goals that I feel I must do to feel better about myself, I begin with the premise that I'm good enough already, exactly as I am. I then go from there to create visions that are exciting - what would excite you to have happen? What would light you up? When your goals enliven you, you don't need to work so hard to stay motivated. 
  • 3
    Instead of big goals I have an exciting vision and then look at short term achievable goals and small incremental habits that support it. By setting a tiny habit which is so achievable, it's easy to commit to it, do it and with a cumulative effect over time achieve our results. For example I am currently losing weight for my health by just not eating anything after my evening meal. When I radically overhaul my whole diet in one go, I can't stick to it. But by just not snacking at night, I can stick to this habit for an ongoing basis and create permanent success.

So I'd love to hear how you're inspired to create positive growth in your life this year. Which of these ideas speaks to you? Let me know in the comments! And if you love it, please subscribe on Youtube or iTunes and share with your friends.

First, we make the beast beautiful – a review and a tale

Anxiety is not a word I've ever used to describe how I'm feeling. Nervous before presenting at a conference, perhaps. Stressed before exams. Shy at big gatherings and networking events. But not anxious.

Sarah Wilson's (affiliate) First, we make the beast beautiful is a memoir of Sarah's experience of anxiety amongst a seemingly isolated childhood and autoimmune conditions. I was expecting to feel immersed in her story, but her storytelling wove quickly between her experiences, scientific studies related to anxiety, and strategies she has tried. Her voice - both in writing and speaking - has a pragmatic tone and while engrossing it spoke more to my mind than my heart.

This is likely to be largely due to my lack of identification with anxiety. But I found myself expanding in understanding of the experiences of those I care about who live with this every day. And even those of us who experience anxiety in isolated events can benefit from understanding these experiences more, and knowing we are not alone in them. 

During the course of reading the book, I was told a story of a devastating event involving a baby. My fear came up so strongly, that it was clear my vigilance as a mother exists just under the level of anxiety. People have quite rightly commented that I'm a "relaxed" mother - but I'm a mother also who understands the fear of the words "What if...?" Having this experience gave me the realisation of here anxiety exists under the radar in my life, and I felt greater awareness of my emotions in general in listening to the experiences of others.

My favourite ideas from the book

We can all benefit from living more comfortably with our emotional states. The idea I wish we all knew is this - what if, regardless of any diagnosis or issue we may have - we saw ourselves as not needing "fixing". Rather, applying understanding and compassion to ourselves and finding ways to live with ourself.

Sarah describes a lesson from one of her supports, Eugene Veshner, a hypnotist. He says we can't get rid of habits, we build new ones instead. I am a firm believer in this. Eugene explained to Sarah that as we develop a habit it creates a neural pathway. A new habit must be repeated many times to form a new pathway, which will eventually be stronger than the previous habit we are trying to replace. This is an idea I have found to be true when it comes to creating new core beliefs. Sometimes in life we make the alarming discovery that we have been living according to a harmful belief. Instead of trying to just nor believe that thing, I find it useful instead to build up repetition of a healthier belief while allowing ourselves to hold the old belief more loosely.

As well as this gem, here are the other strategies I love and find useful from the book:

  • meditation and mindfulness, and time out from life
  • setting boundaries and manage expectations whether about emailing or social participation or general availability.
  • simplify, own less, have a uniform and set morning routine and meal plans to reduce the anxiety of decisions

So I'd like to hear from you - is anxiety something you experience? Which strategies do you find the most useful? And which ones will you try?

1 2 3