How to tame Rushing Woman’s Syndrome

It’s that big exhale you take after sitting yourself at the steering wheel. It’s the pressure that builds when you count how many minutes you’ve got left until you need to run out the door. It’s the gradual tension that builds in your neck… in that same hard-to-reach spot. That’s your energy levels talking – and it’s not saying nice stuff.

For me, my energy (vibes, feelings, mojo; call it how ever you feel it) is a very, very important indicator of my health. As a general rule I think about my overall health in terms of a transaction – energy in, energy out. Whether it’s food, movement, social gatherings, housework, work-work or just quiet moments to myself. All are moments in time that either replenish or diminish my energy levels. The key I’ve found to managing my overall health and wellbeing is committing to an awareness of my body’s energy and honouring what it needs. Admittedly I get the ‘honouring’ part mixed up a bit.

I don’t think I need a scientific statement here to say that as women, we tend to be in a rush to do everything and be everything to all people. And when we rush we tend to get less connected to the way we feel and more connected to what we’re chasing. Or rather, the perceived need that we must chase at all.

In a bookmark worthy article over at The Whole Daily, Dr Libby Weaver author of Rushing Woman’s Syndrome (and one of Australasia’s leading nutrition specialists and weight loss experts) put what I’ve been trying to grapple with about my energy levels for years into a nice and simple, here’s-why-this-really-happens, tidy little sentence:

“Not that long ago in human history women were given the opportunity to do what had traditionally been their father’s jobs, while maintaining what were traditionally their mother’s responsibilities and what has unfolded for too many women is a frantic double shift, of working day and night, with very little if any rest.”

In short – we can’t do everything yet we feel like we must. And pronto!

A Mumma’s day often transitions from work-lady to home-lady; both are jobs. So we’re wired, 24×7, to get things done as quickly as possible usually with the goal to feel ‘complete’, ‘done’ or may be even just ‘free’ to have damn rest? As Dr Weaver explains, in the evolution of her book, she had never before witnessed so many females in a rush to do everything and be all things to all people.

Enter the Rushing Woman.

In my last few weeks at work I was determined to beat this buzz. I found myself making a new revisiting the previous week’s goal every Sunday: ‘No rushing, no striving – just flow’. But in the Monday morning after the night before of washing dishes, folding laundry, bathing baby, balancing books, paying bills, phone calls from it takes-half-an-hour-to-say-‘Hi’ relatives – truthfully – I was left uninspired by my Sunday mantra.

So I ask myself: ‘What am I doing wrong?’, ‘How can I be so clear on an intention only to be over-run by an intense feeling of overwhelm and lost time?’

If you’re gelling with these scenarios (and before you fly into another session of scolding yourself for what you didn’t get done today) take a moment to think about how you’re using your Third Space.

Let’s park the idea that we should probably focus on letting go of the hellish to-do lists altogether – sometimes our list of non-negotiables fall within one day. And here’s a concept that can help any lady rushing through it.

I first stumbled across leading educator and researcher in human performance, Dr Andrew Fraser, a few years back. His work on (or more appropriately in) the Third Space featured in an article in Madison Magazine a few years back. The concept stuck with me. Here was a whole ‘nother space in time I wasn’t using!

While I’m not advocating (and I am in fact guilty of) giving into a need to set and conquer a ridiculous list of tasks each day maybe we can use the Third Space to manage the huge amount of energy this type of rushing woman syndrome? After all, as Dr Fraser points out, it’s not what we do that matters. But what we do between what we do that counts.

So here’s a couple of Third Spaces to try to help with the transition between your different roles and environment. It’s all with the intent to help you find time and space to manage that precious energy resource that is you.

Your AM Moments:

  1. The kettle or smoothie ‘stand-off’: Rather than run away after flicking the switch use this time to stop to stand still and gather your thoughts for the first part of your day ahead.
  2. The car ride to calm: No radio, no music and 6 deep breathes will help with a reset (best served up after the school drop-off). Perfect for the transition from home-lady to work-lady.
  3. Toilet Time-Out: You gotta go at some point. Use the time at the basin mirror to take in your mornings mishaps and what you don’t want to carry forward into the arvo.

Your PM Moments:

  1. Let it go lunch time: Do yourself a favor; never deny yourself a lunch break and use the walk to get it or eat it as a time to reset. The 3pm munchies will thank you.
  2. Mindfulness Mailbox: Pause just for a second before you go inside the house. Head over to the mail box and ponder your way back before making you way inside to start back at your home role.
  3. Karma charge up: More of a mindfullness reminder before bed and great lead in to a meditation. Charge your phone, charge your mind. Resist the urge to scroll over to Facebook, phone down and eyes closed with a focus on reflecting on the day, resting the mind and resetting for tomorrow.

Images: via We heart it, via Pinterest, via We heart it, lamthanh via Pinterest

Which one is right for you? Quitting versus Letting Go.

A few weeks ago, in a moment of complete peace and clarity, I quit my job.

A much needed disclaimer: this is not a post about how you should drop everything (a.k.a. quite your job), buy a ticket somewhere exotic and set-up camp to go ‘find yourself”. Stay with me for a little…

I’m now well into ‘my notice’ period and I have no regrets about finishing up at the end of the month. This is highly uncharacteristic for a self-confessed planned and calculated person control freak.

I have some loose plans around what I’d like to do next but nothing rigid. And this surprises me the most. Traditionally I’m never without a clear set of next steps, I’m always aware self-conscious of what I ‘should’ be doing and rarely will I commit to any decision until I’ve researched, pondered or given it the once over with a pro-versus-cons list. I’m that friend who is annoying to shop with because she never just buys the pair of shoes. She has to check every other store for the slight possibility that she might make the ‘wrong’ choice and miss a much better style or sale. I’m the girl who fears regret, error and waste.

So why hasn’t this all kicked in to gear after I’ve completed disregarded all of the logical reasons for staying at a good paying, semi-career developing, work-life-balance-orientated and generally all-round great job?

My conclusion? I don’t think I’ve actually quit. I’ve let go.

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And as a budding wordsmith I had to get deeper into what that meant – literally. And the dictionaries set me straight. As a round up…

To QUIT brings about words like:

stop, cease, discontinue, give-up, force and (as per my classic example) to resign.

 

To LET GO has connotations of:

permission, being released from, dismissing or escaping to be free.

 

It was the perfectionist mindset that I’d applied to all facets of my life that got me in the ‘quit’ space a few years ago. ‘If you can’t do it right perfectly why do it at all?’ was a re-occurirng  story in my head. So I attempted the resignation. Thanks to an incredibly wise, empathetic manager, mentor and friend – it wasn’t accepted. It’s crazy to think that sometimes people in our lives can see our lives so much clearer than us. What was said as ‘I can’t’, ‘You need someone better’ by me was heard as ‘she needs time to see the good’ and ‘here’s an opportunity to help someone’ by her. Incredibly, incredibly grateful.

So I worked on it. I continued with adjustments. I was in a financial and fateful position that saw me go part-time (and have a baby – yikes!). I accepted that my managers ‘great’ needed to be my ‘enough’ and not ‘you need to do more’. My husband gave every inch of his being to help me without request. I got a nice, professional lady to to ‘talk’ to me once a month. And with this help I found ways to enjoy what I was doing again, actually see good work being done and set time aside to answer an overwhelming call to explore what it really is I want to be pursuing.

This opened my eyes. My grey-glasses had been lifted and the world wasn’t so bad after all. I saw options I could never see in a down-an-out, this-is-my-lot-in-life-so-I-should-just-accept-it funk I’d got myself into. I saw possibility, I realised that a career change wasn’t something to fear or get right the first something. I accepted that the judgement of family, friends, ex-colleagues or people in my network impacted me as much as I choose to let it. I had a stupidly-simply revelation that no one, but you, actually makes rules about how you explore your life or structure it. The adjustment got me back into a space where I became.. content.

So I let go. I gave myself permission and am completely at peace that I no longer need this part of my life.

And here I am verging of being the stay-at-home-mum/studier/start-up-blogger/happiness seeker and what I have to offer is that maybe we get quitting and letting-go mixed up and misused. They each have a purpose in our life. The most important factor is that the definition sits ok with you.

To divorce or stay together? To keep studying or start working? To sell or stay? What do you need to quit and what are you ready to let go? The lesson I’m taking with me is to ask the question first. Don’t berate yourself on the answer, neither is right or wrong. Just make sure you know the difference before you do it.

 

Images: Stanley Kubrick via FlickerTalasanayoga.com

Seven for yourSelf on Sunday

 – We all have them. Bad weeks. And in the name of practicing what I’ve been preaching I said ‘no’ to a few things last Friday – blogging being one of them. So Lovely, this week it’s all sent from a well-rested and heartfelt place. And if you’re feelin’ me on the bad week then this post is ESPECIALLY for you (and the up-coming meltdown you may be fighting off!). – 

I read a lot about self-love, mindfulness and taking care of yourself. There’s a lot of good, practical advice out there. But there’s also a lot of stuff that makes me cringe. You know, the build-a-shrine-for- yourself type stuff. Or the say-you-love-yourself-in-the-mirror-three-times-a-day kinda practices. While I completely believe this kind of thing works for those kind of people it’s just not me.

What is me and what I can manage on a weekly basis is a little Sunday afternoon/night ritual – in the name of self-love. It makes me feel good and sets me up for a week that’s Teflon to any signs of feeling overwhelmed.

I think there’s a reason why Sunday has always been declared as a ‘day of rest’. We’re like any other processed-orientated being. Unless we use our down time to re-fuel, re-boot or re-whatever-the-hell-you-want-to we just can’t sustain our focus, speed or efficiency that our working week has come to indulge in. I think sometimes Sundays get taken over by family-obligated events, grocery shopping, sports, bad TV, household chores that can’t wait and even I’ll-get-that-done-before-Monday work tasks.

Try to be conscious in your down time. There’s no point in rushing through a list of ‘relaxing’ things thinking at the end you’ll be delivered with an unplugged and chilled-out feeling. The zen is actually in the time it takes you to do these things. The time you wouldn’t or couldn’t allow yourself before. Admittedly you’ll get to enjoy the smooth and soft feeling some of these things leave you with but mindfulness about why you’re doing them is key.

So here they are…

1. A good-ol-fashioned Sunday casserole

Dice it all up and chuck it all in. No browning of the meat or caramelising of the onions (I personally can’t tell the difference on a 4 or 8 hour cook) and all with a can of tomatoes and some fresh herbs. Having this simmering away in the background means you’ll not only avoid the 5pm rush hour (and the onset of Sunday afternoon Mondayitis ) but you’ll also have one less meal to cook during the week. Try this super-simple recipe from The Whole Daily for Slow-Cooked Sweet Balsamic Lamb Shanks. Last Sunday I threw all the ingredients in the slow cooker and walked away – it was da-bomb.

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2. Leave-in conditioner (because it can ‘…happen overnight’ and it does ‘happen’)

The next best feeling to that just-had-my-hair-cut glow. Whether you’re a morning, night or both kinda shower person, on Sunday, spray or dollop some leave-in conditioner into your strands. It adds a whole 2 minutes extra to your shower routine but leaves you with glossy locks that’ll last all week (if you do this regularly). Your hair will feel smoother, softer and you’ll look in the mirror and curse at it less – promise! My favourite is De Lorenzo’s Instant Reconstructurant. It’s a perfect spray-n-go and a little goes a very long way.

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3.Change the bed sheets.

Nuff said. I’ll admit I don’t always get to it every single Sunday (is that gross?) but if the weather’s been kind for washing and I get a smooth run in the afternoon it’s the biggest pay-off: smooth, crisp and fresh sheets to dive into Sunday night.

4.Nail polish  – take it alllll off.

I know, you were thinking a top-up coat weren’t you? Well if you can make time – go for it! But personally by Sunday any nail polish I’ve skimped on quickly during the week is pretty cracked and peeling. It’s a sore sight and a constant reminder that ‘I need to do my nails’… so I take it off. A clean slate, an a-la-natural feeling and the added benefit of giving my nail beds some time to breathe and avoid them drying out.

5.Re-pack your hand bag.  

Actually, this is more of a sort-out-all-the-crap-you’re-carrying-around-with-you than a pack-situation. I gather so much stuff during the week: receipts, baby toys, fruit-I-mean-to-snack-on, more receipts, pens and there’s usually a half-drunk bottle of water swishing around in there too. And for anyone who’s tried to call me and always gets message bank…I missed you because I was elbow deep looking for my phone! Take it all out, put the necessary back in. It’s a sure way to get lighter and less chaotic when you’re out-n-about.

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6.Read or Write

This one is about mental renewal (I know it’s a random book collection we house at our place!). Mindfulness. Creativity. All the good stuff we often don’t let ourselves indulge in during the working hours. I don’t think you have to get too woo-woo here on the mindfulness stuff but just find something that completely absorbs you. This is what actually gives your mind a break from the guzillion thoughts you usually have running through your head. It’s one book with one story for one moment.

There’s also a bunch of proven benefits to reading too.

Read what makes you feel good – but check-in on yourself with this. Be honest. Don’t pick up a trash-mag because it’s a mind-numbing, easy, exercise that you know will just end up making you feel crap because you’re obsessing over the pictures and all the lumps and bumps you can’t see. You’re doing damage here. This is a small part of a Sunday you’ve chosen for yourself remember? So read something that honestly serves you, gets you feeling inspired, excited, hopeful or just relaxed.

Or if reading isn’t your bag then try writing it out – journal your thoughts, write an email to an interstate girlfriend or a cheeky lunch-box note for your partner. Pen-to-paper is gold.

Trust me, when you find the thing to read or write you’ll want to draw on this in he not-so-inspired moments of the week.

7. Skip X-Factor…get an early night.

Yeah I know – it’s not rocket science – but how many actual early Sunday nights do you get? Heading to bed at 8.00pm to only settle in front of the tele doesn’t count. Sleep is one of the best ways to nourish our bodies and if you’re going to kick-ass all week then you need to load-up. Sleep allows our bodies to restore and detoxify given they don’t have to worry about keeping up to our daily functions.

And if that’s not enough reason to get you into bed then think of all the cellular renewal that you’re not getting – Hun, it’s a free wrinkle cream!

So this Sunday be a little gentler, kinder and self-loving and set yourself up for a great week.

 

Images: via Pinterest,  Butter with a side of bread.com, Stephanie Hudson, Stephanie Hudson,iStockStylecaster.com, Stephanie Hudson, Gianmacro Giudici

Why my flu might make you feel better

I was taken down last week. Completely floored. I staggered around my home from my bed to the couch to my baby’s bed to the couch and back to bed until I couldn’t stagger anymore. So I shuffled. A barking cough kept me up at night (as well as a blocked nose – the ability to breath is pretty important), 2am sweats and 5am chills had me reaching for hot water bottles and wet face washers. When I finally got vertical to carry my seven-month-old around every muscle in my body ached to drop her. I’d forgotten how merciless the flu was.

There’s nothing like being sick sedated to give you an instant hit of gratitude and a new perspective. A lesson, if you will. And seeing as though I tend to be a hard learner of my own capabilities, when the lessons are flowing life usually is not.

A lesson-learner for me, and hopefully, a gift-giver to you. My flu was what I needed to shed some light on a few home truths I’d been avoiding about myself. So it’s confession time. And hopefully you feel better for hearing them.

Lesson 1: I’m clearly not in that great shape: If I was, I wouldn’t have been struck down ill. I know this because the last time I caught this strain of flu (blacking out from dehydration and needing a fluid drip) I was 5 months off a break-down. Heading back to work from maternity leave and arriving in the thick of Tasmanian winter has seen my struggle with the Food and Exercise Dance taking it’s toll on my body. I might have lost weight (Perhaps one advantage of the flu?) but having your jeans hanging around your butt is not a good, nor my preferred, look. I believe in saying no to habits that are purely motivated by winning brownie points on the skinny-scale. But it has to be balanced with keeping up daily rituals that secure a clean, energised and strong body. I haven’t done this. It’s time to let-go of the toast and coffee for breakfast and get back to my blueberry oats and apple-cider vinegar teas.

Lesson 2: It takes me forever to ask for help. It wasn’t until the eighth day of my flu that I asked someone for a break. There were six days and seven nights before that which I spent saying “I’ll feel better tomorrow. I can get by for now,”. Why put myself through the pain? I’m embarrassed it took as many sleepless nights and all-day-pajama days as it did to get the picture. With a rational head on my shoulders today it’s just crazy. And not smart.

Asking for help is probably the most effective way you can use your time when you’re down and out. Whether you’re a mummy or a manager taking the long way around trying to figure shit out for yourself, just to avoid asking a question or feeling like you’re burdening someone, only looks like a better option in your head. Trust me on this.

So I’m kicking this habit. You too? Let’s ask for what we need: help around the house, a baby-sitter, someone to show us how to [insert that thing you’ve been trying to work out how to do for ages here]. Girl, if you don’t ask – you don’t get.

Lesson 3: I watch too much TV. The first few days of my flu consisted of lying on the couch, cruising through the Foxtel channels and trying to sleep with TV ads blasting at me. It wasn’t until I turned the TV off, took myself to bed and forced myself to ponder my own thoughts until I fell into the deep sleep my body needed that I started to restore my energy levels. Some might argue with me on this but it’s gotta be said: watching TV isn’t rest. We need real rest, daily, to keep that beautiful body of yours in fighting condition. My problem is the time I actually have to take that rest I’m spending in front of the tele. You know the drill: you get home from work, get dinner sorted, retire to the couch, watch a ‘little’ TV then head to bed waking the next morning only to feel tired as when you went to sleep. Hun, we’re all doing it wrong.

Sleep specialist and Author of The Power of Rest: Why Sleep Alone Is Not Enough, Dr Matthew Edlund, says watching television is ‘passive rest’ and leaves our brains buzzing. Instead the sleep guru says active rest is the ticket to take if we want to be more alert, effective, reduce our stress levels and generally live a healthier life.

Sign me up! What’s active rest? Apparently chatting with friends (real ones you can touch, not on Facebook), concentrated tasks, meditation and conscious breathing. In a nutshell look for social, mental, physical and spiritual ways to do this.

Or, just turn off the TV and see what happens.

Lesson 4: I’m not organised. Really, I’m not. I have many good-girlfriends that often say ‘You’re so organised Steph, I’d never think to do that,’. Well, truth is, that’s on the outside. I’m ‘seemingly-organised’ and my flu caught me out. The week previous to getting struck down I’d procrastinated on a bunch of stuff. This is a huge problem for me, procrastination. Book work, paperwork, online grocery orders, paying bills (ah-hem blog posts!) and just getting back to people were ‘on-my-list’. As Monday came around, and the the outside world got back to work, the phone calls and emails started flooding in. Voicemail full. Inbox outta control. Being chased by people is a personal bug-bare of mine. I feel suffocated and anxious when I hear people on my voicemail asking me for something I said I’d give them and haven’t. Worse is knowing they’re going to have to wait longer because you’re just too sick to get it sorted.

And to top off the chasers, no food in the house to nourish me. No food when you’re sick is not cool. There’s no gourmet meals pre-prepared in my freezer, no fresh fruit in the bowl and nothing that hasn’t gone mouldy in the vege drawer. As I dug out copious amounts of meat packs, loaves of bread and one-day-I’ll-use-that half-cups of frozen vegetable stock I was cursing myself for having nothing at-the-ready. So it’s eggs on toast for this sniffling black duck.

I can no longer kid. I’ve tried to be the super-organised, Pinterest-perfect, Martha Stewart Housewife and I’m just not. But I don’t think I have to be. Good news is the above can all be avoided and not by being super-organised.

I procrastinate. Usually because there’s something I want to get it right. Get perfect. Whatever I need to do there’s usually a sequence or a process that I’d like to be followed. Sometimes it’s a work/play thing: “Get your housework done then you can blog,”. Or sometimes it’s an idealist thing: “Before I respond to that I just want to read up on it a bit more so I know exactly what I’m asking for,”. Of course life gets in the way of all the steps I put in front of myself  that ‘must be done’ before doing the thing I actually need to do. I end up being late, being chased for something or hungry (like above).

How do we avoid this? Just do it. A job done shitty is better than a job not done at all.

Lesson 5: I need to let-go of the small stuff. Which kind of relates to the previous lesson. If I’m less focused (and more realistic) about the small things I think must be done I’d have more time for the meaty stuff. You know, that DIY project you’ve wanted to start, the garage sale you’ve been meaning to sort out or holiday research you’ve been going to do.

The flu saw no washing done in my house for 10 days. This might sound normal to some of you but anyone with a baby and a husband will get what my laundry was looking like on the tenth day (and by the way, bless my husband who was busy working full-time, cooking, looking after bub and running for cold-and-flus during this time. He did his fair share). The floors were covered in lint and crumbs, the shower was growing mould and there was just general crap everywhere. But you know what? What needed to be done got done. We ate, we showered, we had clothes to wear and most importantly we all got the rest we needed. While I won’t be making a habit of letting my house get to the state it was I’m really getting focused on letting go of this fictitious need to get all the small stuff done, it’s just not that important.

Which is all I’m sayin’ really. What’s really important? Are your daily rituals serving what’s important to you in your life? Or has the day started to run you? Has your mind started to play tricks on you about what must be done and what must command your attention? Don’t let a disabling flu get you down before you realise it. It’s a bitch of a way to learn the lesson.

Images: Justin Pumfry/Getty Images, All Posters, Shutter Stock via Pinterest, Roxalne.com via Pinterest, MelissasheartandhomeGillian Zinser, Intimateweddings.com

Time to reset

I need one of these. A go-to reset button that gives my mind, body and soul a much needed refresh. But like anything that’s worth doing a reset takes effort and it’s usually in the form of giving ourselves permission, organising the diary and the guts to bloody well just do it.

Admittedly when we’re busy scattering ourselves across our multi-layered lives it seems unatural to stop. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months and before we know it the year’s almost out and we’re not far off burn out. When I get caught up in the rolling sphere of life I have this sense that I’m almost there. There’s lots of “Have a day for yourself next week,” and “Do this, then you can do your stuff,” swirling around my head. I resist the time for me. I often put off making that hair appointment, or date with myself to just sit in a cafe with a mag on my own (weird I know, but the introvert in me craves this) or even just going for a walk. I let these things go because there’s always something more pressing, more important and more valid than my own space.

In actual fact this is BS.

There is nothing more important than your mental health. Our minds are the control centre of our universe. They house our perception and guide each step we take throughout the day. Mindset gets us to work, tells us to work-out, to eat, sleep, cook, make coffee and drink green juices – it holds all reason for all things. Let that get outta whack and the many worlds you occupy will know about it, quick smart.

And here’s how it happens. The tasks of you’re normal day-to-day routine aren’t the big deal. School drop off, opening shop, responding to emails or writing a letter – millions of women tackle their to-do list every morning. We’re super stars at this stuff. But say you have a few newbies this week. The washing machine breaks down. That’s annoying but manageable. You can handle looking at multiple washing baskets for a week. Then your boss might catch you in the hall and ask for a briefing on your projects “in an hour please,”. With heart pounding and brain in overdrive you keep the briefing on your less-than-fabulous progress on these projects up beat and positive. She goes straight to the hard questions, is disappointed with the answers and pissed. Not a great outcome. Later that week you’re running late (to one of your many commitments) traffic is stupid and you left on a bad (and loud) note with your partner who just doesn’t get why you’re so upset that you have nothing clean to wear. So you’re extra pissed at the guy doing 60km in an 80km zone. He cops a finger and you cry as you arrive in the car park greeted with no free spaces. The acronym FML come to mind.

Yes, these are first world problems, and ones we should probably be grateful for, but for many of us they still trigger our body’s stress response. Whenever we get going (feeling worried, overwhelmed or in desperate need of a deep breath) our brain gets trigger happy. It releases chemicals like adrenalin and cortisol which gives us that heart pounding energy burst we need to to get ‘it’ done. Like most drugs a little at a time can be an enjoyable buzz but a chronic use and you have a problem.

Don’t dismiss the stress you’re feeling because you think your problems are less than anyone elses. No matter the size they’re valid, real and most likely making you unhappy. In fact you’re probably joining the one in seven Australians who reported feeling depressive symptoms according to a national survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society last year. And no surprises that the top five sources of stress were money, family, personal health, issues maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the health of those close to us. Our modern lifestyle is sending us all a little cra-cra.

So whether you’re a CEO or a cleaner everyone has valid reason to take time out. So here’s my go-to list of mini (uses less time and money) and maj (uses more time and money) resets I like to indulge in. Trust me, the world looks much better on the otherside any of these…


Mini: Buy flowers

This takes five minutes in your lunch break or during your grocery run but it literally means you stop to smell the roses (or whatever flower takes your fancy). Choosing a bunch of these beautiful stems is a great way to break a spell of busy and get you present and in the moment.

Maj: Make a garden.

This brings me back to earth, literally. Something about getting dirty with soil, watering the plants, being outside and making something pretty. Make a morning of it: plan out your area (pots or a garden bed), take a trip to the nursery, get some gorgeous plants and get dirty. You’ll be as proud as punch with your new little flower nook.

Mini: Drink a cup of tea

See there’s a process to enjoying a good cup of tea. Boil the kettle, let the tea leaves steep, drink it hot and sitting down. A good session of tea and a book can chase your troubles away.

Maj: Bake and share

Cooking, for me, seems to involve hurrying around a kitchen to get something on a plate for the troops to eat. But baking, baking I do with love. It takes more time and organisation but I think it’s the creation of something from scratch and sitting down with friends and family to eat and chat that’s good for your soul.

Mini: Take a bath

If you have one, use it. Dave Hughes makes a joke about how boring this is (I think it’s a male thing, my husband says the same) but if you’re in need of some quiet time away from the pack this is my no. 1 go-to. Add some candles, relaxing tunes (and in my case another mag) and there’ll be no need for the following.

Maj: Visit a day spa

This takes time, money and organisation but it’s oh-so worth it. When a major reset is due this a guaranteed way to switch off, recalibrate and completely disconnect from the norm. You’re not usually allowed mobile phones so you’re temptation to check Instagram or Facebook is removed. If you’re local my favs are Decadent Hair and Beauty  and Lotus Waters Wellness Center. And if you happen to be tripping up to the Gold Coast I can attest the spas at the Phoenician Resort and Pallazzo Versace are da bomb! Note: I’ve only suggested those spas I’ve tried.

 

Mini: One episode of Sex and the City

You know what I’m talkin’ about. Just searching for an image to place here makes me want to grab the SATC DVDs, turn off my phone and snuggle into the couch and start that whole love-hate relationship with Mr. Big again. The frustration was enough forget anyone’s problems!

Maj: The entire box set of Sex and the City

A rainy weekend, hot cup of tea and a packet of Tim Tams. Nuff said.

Mini: Walk on grass with no shoes

My husband swears by this and it turns out he’s not wrong (dang it). As well as helping you to reset and clear your mind, Mind Body Green notes there’s a few extra health benefits too.

Maj: Go for a run

Yes I hear the groan but it works. Try committing to just 20 minutes, even if it’s a jalk (alternating between jogging and walking). Getting your heart rate up, breathing in outside air (I hate running in gyms) and having your mind focused only on taking that next breath is a cleanse like no other. I know it hurts but it’s a good one.

And when all else fails (and this is soooo true) just spend 5 whole minutes doing what you were born to do.

 

Image 1: RosieSandz.com Image 2: Mackenzie Horan Image 3: Lushome.com Image 4: Contesse du Chocolat Image 5: Dailycandy.com Image 6: Vianna Image 7:  Schoone Oordt Country House Image 8: Danielle Knighton  Image 9: Esquire.com Image 10: Özkan Yıldızhan Image 11: Hollywood Physique Training Image 12: kushandwizdom

Strong women say no

Are you doing this? Running rampid through town, around the house and thinking about what you need to get done tomorrow – right now? Yes, I’d be happy rocking these pins too, but let’s see how far the chase actually takes you.

I’m the first to admit to an OTT work ethic. While it’s paid off many times in the past, it’s like a drug. I know it’s bad for me, I’ve tried to kick the habit but on some level the chaos feels good. See it all seems to stem from a list. On the fridge, in the diary on a pretty piece of kiki-k ‘To-Do’ stationery (I’m a sucker for those) the list of tasks looks so structured and organised, even complete, on paper. It sits as a beautiful compilation of all the things I’m going to get done that day. There’s a mindset that it it’s on a list it’ll get it done, I’ll remember to do it.

The thing is I never actually forget. Remembering isn’t the problem. The list morphs from the paper into my head and becomes tattooed onto my brain, not as a friendly reminder (the tone of these lists get nasty), but as a constant reinforcement of what I haven’t achieved that day.

My mantra this week has been ‘Get.Your.Shit.Together’. Last night I laid myself to sleep planning out the day ahead of me. How organised I would be to have vacuumed the whole house in the hour between Harper’s bottle feed and breakfast. I’d have a whole ‘nother half-hour to hang some washing, get dressed, make the bed, do the breakfast dishes, pack Harper up and drive to the gym by 9.30am. Anyone with a child will be shaking their heads at this and not be surprised when I say I got no-where near that list done. And so that’s all I thought about… what I didn’t get done.

If someone kept telling you about all the things you’d forgotten to do, had given a half-arse attempt at doing or just ran out of time to do in the midst of chaos, that is your day, wouldn’t you tell them to back off? Wouldn’t you tell them that the reason your lounge room floor looks like a creche and your car appears to have taken on a 4WD track is because you just haven’t had a spare hour to dedicate to these jobs? Or maybe you’d whip out your diary? It’s jam-packed with work meetings, doctor, accountant and school appointments, just-need-a-decent-coffee-with-an-adult appointments and let alone tackling you’re daily sort-yourself-out schedule. Wouldn’t this be your instinct?

So do it. Tell yourself to back the fuck up.

Let’s just be a little bit more realistic. The ‘list’ does not control you. You control the list. And no matter how hard or fast you work there will always be something on the list. So it needs to be managed.

A very smart and endearing CEO once said to me, “If I see you here past 5.30pm, I don’t see that as you doing a good job. I see that as you not being able to manage your work load.”

Ouch. This knocked my whole perfectionist work ethic out reception’s front door. Fear was my first instinct and I had trouble comprehending his words. In my mind working harder, doing things faster and staying up late to fit more in was a way of life, especially in a (often egotistical) corporate world.

It’s taken me many years, a breakdown, a couple of therapy sessions and much willingness to ‘let-go’ but I now understand what he was trying to instill in his team.

Your list is your workload. Managing your workload means managing the unnecessary, staying focused, prioritising and most importantly saying ‘No’. Now this isn’t another take-control-of-your-life-and-quite-your-job kinda post. It’s a simple reminder that day-to-day we run the list. We manage the workload. We say ‘Yes’ and we should also be saying, and be ok with saying, ‘No’.

And ‘no’ this very word is not weakness, a can’t-hack-it attitude or a cop-out. It’s a conscious uncoupling of you from the list (thanks Gwenyth and Chris). It’s permission, it’s empowerment and it’s ownership. Take yourself back to a time when someone said no to you. Didn’t you feel like they had the power and the say-so? Didn’t you feel like you had to check back with them if it was ok?

So here’s three ways (another list) to try to start taking back your say-so.

1. Keep making the list. But pick only three items for that day.

My lists are epic. They’re comprehensive, detail oriented and completely unachievable. Don’t do this. Set yourself up for success and choose only three that you can achieve.

2. Verbalise it.

Say it out loud to yourself, the cat, dog, the baby – whoever or whatever. The most important thing here is that you put it out there. It’s no longer just a thought, you’ve part-way actioned it.

3. What’s the worst that will happen. Really?

Is it that bad? Will it really be the end of your world (or someone elses) if you say no? Put your big-girl pants on and give yourself a reality check on the situation – there’s a likelihood you could live with the outcome.

So, with every email, phone call, load of laundry, trip to the shops or errand you run – take back your say-so. Say yes when you can and say no when you can’t. Be honest. Don’t ignore the deep inhale when you know you’re taking on too much. You are a superwoman. But even she didn’t have super powers to do it all.

 

Image 1: via Vaunte.com Image 2: simplyseleta.com Image 3:  Lilian Ricano Image 4: webjunkiesblog

 

Why you do what you ‘do’

Rock bottom. Ever hit yours? Ever crashed and burned into a complete heap? There’s a build up. A heaviness, like the calm before the stress-storm. It’s when your body says screams ‘it’s too much, too much for right now,’ but the mind says ‘you must’. Or maybe you’ve all of a sudden found yourself in the situation? You lost your job, someone broke-up with you (or you can’t escape them) or your cash-flow is getting pretty damn low? You’ve felt chained to the bottom (wherever that is).

Well, I’m here to tell you it’s good. Damn good. Get-excited-and wish-it-would-happen-to-you type good. In fact it’s a gift. While I didn’t know this at the time (and it hurt like crazy) my rock bottom gave me more than I could have ever gotten from a self-help book, Tony Robbins seminar, meditation retreat or whatever life-guidance tool I was grasping to at the time. (P.S No offence Tony, I’m sure they’re great, I’m just taking the piss.)

My rock bottom was the complete inability to control my own mental state. It broke me. Key words: inability to control. In that moment everything in my world was bad. I hated the State I was in, the house I was in, the job I was in and even the clothes I was in (given the latter a healthy amount of retail therapy kept me afloat there for a while). I could not stop stop the negative. Of course when you’re looking at your life through a perfectionist’s eyes, comparing it against a standard of rules and expectations, nothing will ever be good enough. And so, with nothing meeting the mark, I felt like I’d failed. I’d convinced brainwashed myself into believing that there was no way out, that I was stuck in this vortex forever and I should just give-up and accept the cards I’d been dealt. Depressed much?

What a drama queen. Really, why was my brain functioning like this? I used to be such a positive person. When I looked at the facts I knew logically that  life wasn’t as bad as I felt emotionally but I just couldn’t shake the overwhelming, all-consuming cloud that haunted me every day.

The thing about rock bottoms is that everybody’s is different. And each is justified – no judgement here at all (and like I’m in a position to judge!). For me it was loosing control. For others it might be having to ask for money, for help or taking a less-than-desirable job. Some things just seem like the end of our world as we know it.

Needless to say it was a ‘Hail-Mary!’ moment when, with the help of a professional, I could actually see why my reactions were my reactions. Why I saw the world around me in black and poo-colours and no longer in rainbows.

“In times of stress we revert to the opposite of our type,” my therapist said.

“You’re not crazy, you’re just not yourself right now,” she said.

After a quick Tom-Cruise-jump-on-the-couch type moment and a shout of relief that I wasn’t sentenced to this state forever, she handed me a Myers-Briggs Personality Type test. Seeing my natural tendencies on paper brought me peace and pride.  ‘I knew this was who I was,’ I said with tears in my eyes. Suddenly the why I was doing what I was doing started to make perfect sense.

Fancy knowing yours? You can take the test here.

Me? I’m an INFJ. I get my energy as an introvert, I favour intuition when considering new information, I use my gut feeling to make decisions and I structure my world by judging decisions quickly, planning and organising accordingly.

If you’re also this type it might resonate with you that we can be determined and passionate, have a creative flair, seem to be able to ‘gel’ with people easily and, as such, seem to be able to talk them into whatever we’re passionate about at the time. Those are strengths.

However, here are some danger zones. Without a goal or direction INFJs loose their sh*&*. What’s the point if we can’t see it, right? If we’re not moving towards a ‘worthy’ goal then that’s just whack. As natural perfectionists we try to match everything to the beautiful and unrealistic picture in our head. It must be ‘just-so’. Which is great, until it must be ‘just-so’ everywhere. At work, at home, at the gym, with our bodies, our outfits, our cooking for Christ’s sake! We fight for the ideal. Always.

This is why I was so crazy, tormented unhappy. I couldn’t see a clear link between my job and my career goal. Nor could I connect the state I lived in to the environment I wanted to raise my family in. I felt like I couldn’t ‘organise’ my way out of the situation so I tried to perfect it instead. I became obsessed with the facts of eating right, to the point where I’d decline dinner invites to avoid ‘bad’ food. I’d prepare the house every morning to a standard Martha Stewart would be proud of. I’d stay back hours at work editing, reviewing and trying to perfect reports sometimes days in a row. And I felt compelled to be out-and-about with work, friends or family events. I was becoming extroverted, super-sensitive, over-thinking basic information and could not commit to a cupcake. The complete opposite of my natural type.

The lesson? My rock bottom was heavily related to the way I’m wired a.k.a my personality type. Without first understanding why I do things, I didn’t have a hope in hell of getting out of my big, over-inflated, depressive rut.

So if you’re toes are touching the bottom, you’re second guessing your thought patterns or you’re just curious about yourself then start on a new little adventure – get to know your type. You’ll be kinder to yourself because you’ll know what drains you. You’ll be happier because you’ll find what feeds you. And most importantly you can be at peace with what you do. Say hello to the naturally perfect you.

P.S I’d love to know what you thought of your type so post your ponderings in the comments below!