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

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

The Food and Exercise Dance

They’re two of the most powerful forces in my life: food and exercise.

For me these two are at the forefront of most decisions I make during the day. My inner-dialogue sounds like this: “I should just stick with oats for breakfast – it’s the most nutritious option in the cupboard,” or “What’s the best thing on this menu (in leafy green terms)?” and “I didn’t get to the gym this morning – fail – maybe I could squeeze in a walk in my lunch break? No, I’ll go to Pump tonight instead – that’s a whole hour – double brownie points.”

This might seem a little OTT but my health is important to me. Food and exercise are at the core of that, so, everyday I have these types of conversations with myself. Our minds and bodies know nothing else but to be honest and when I fuel and move mine correctly I feel the truth every time; nourished and strong.

This is the dance. When the song is playing good food and moderate exercise put everything in sync. Life just flows. The body is fueled to go the distance and my mind operates with clarity. It feels natural, easy… even effortless. The nutrition packed meals slide onto the table (and into my handbag – I’m super organised with healthy snacks when in this phase) and the movement enters my life from all angles: walks, gym classes, runs on the beach, pilates and yoga. My body laps up the endorphins and sound sleep that comes when I’m in the zone.

It’s good. It’s rewarding. But let’s be honest – it’s freakin’ hard to keep up.

The winter season has set upon my little piece of the world, the most southern (and I believe the most consistently cold) state in Australia, and I’m feeling ‘meh’. This week month I’ve been berating myself for the fact that I can’t be arsed lost my mojo for the Food and Exercise Dance. Despite knowing how good it is for me, knowing what it feels like to be in flow, I’ve forgotten the steps, the rhythm, heck I’ve forgotten the god damn song.

The new dance? ‘White’ is a fair description of what’s been on my plate of late: bread, potatoes, oats and diary, they’ve become my new staple. My green smoothies have lost their pop, my clean cut meats and steamed veges taste like cardboard and I’m craving drawn towards hearty, heavy, hot meals that are low in greenery and high in the Italian-comfort-food category. And exercise? Well swapping Pump classes and sprint sessions for a walk every-third-day is an even deal right?

If you’re joining me in a case of the winter blues (which I/we will get over and eventually find my/your mojo  underneath the bed covers, couch or fluffy dressing gown – wherever it was last year) it’s got me thinking: What’s healthy motivation to stay, well, healthy?

Some might describe my behaviour (a.k.a lack dancing) sheer laziness. Weakness might get a look-in and perhaps even a good old-fashion case of dog-ate-my-workout-DVD excuses? Laziness, weakness, excuses I’m sure I’ve seen these ‘motivational’ words somewhere before…

or this…

 

Oh… and this one makes me feel really good…

I used to pin these images, as ‘motivation’, to a fitness and health board I thought was destined to keep me on track. Then I started to scroll back through the images and quotes, this time with a clear and reduced need-to-be-perfect mindset, and was numb. “It’s just stupid,” I thought.

Let me ask you this: if I called you lazy, put a bunch of french fries in front of you and told you to do a thousand sit-ups whilst lifting up my top (exposing my perfectly photo-shopped abs) and saying “What did you do today to earn this?” you’d laugh and mime a WTF at me right? There’d at least be one hell of an awkward silence mortification. Moving past that situation I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be at the top of your she-makes-me-feel-good-about-myself list.

My point:

Just because you ate a burger or skipped the gym doesn’t make you less than the girl who didn’t. 

Berating and scolding yourself about how well you did the ‘dance’ this week is not helping you on your way. I really believe it is so-so dangerous to assess how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you were today with how much you worked-out or ate. You’re essentially attaching your worth to this assessment. You’re comparing. And human nature tells us you’ll almost always see yourself come up short against someone else.

Now I’m not giving you a free-for-all here. I’m not endorsing a self-destructive but ‘feel-good’ lifestyle. Food and exercise are at the forefront of managing your personal health BUT (and I really like to avoid this word) should not be at the expense of damaging your inner-self.

Remember her? She’s your feel-good compass. She’s that butterfly feeling in your gut when you’re excited or embarking on something new: “Keep, going,” she whispers. Your inner-self lifts the mental load when you’re down and high-fives you when you’re doing awesome. But she’s also fragile, like a child. When you berate yourself for not doing (or doing) something she takes the hit too. And not to get too woo-woo on you here but Louise Hay does explain this best:

It doesn’t matter how old you are, there is a little child within who needs love and acceptance…There is a parent inside each of us, as well as a child. And most of the time, the parent scolds the child—almost nonstop! If we listen to our inner dialogue, we can hear the scolding. We can hear the parent tell the child what it is doing wrong or how it is not good enough. We need to allow our parent to become more nurturing to our child.”

healyourlife.com

The message? More nurturing, less berating in the food and exercise dance. The routine needs to come from a place of respect and love for you and your body if you’re to motivate your life, not just your love-handles. Get-off the Instagram and Pinterest guilt trips. Where you are is just a point in time, it doesn’t define you. After all, you’ll do it when you’re ready.

Images: witchymoo.tumblr.com, Commentsmeme.com, via Pinterest, creatina10.com

{Found + Shared} My ‘Feel Good’ Finds

It’s rare that I let myself stop to do this. My personality doesn’t lend me to go back over old ground. My mind is usually so focused on getting the next thing done and ticked off the list that in my busy haze it seems like reminiscing is wasted time. Of course this is the crazy kicking in. In fact, sometimes, slowing down, being present and taking a look at where you are now and recognising where you’ve come from is all the therapy you might need.

I remember when I first had the idea of starting this blog… I wanted to be of service. I wanted to add value to a girl’s screen time by finding and sharing the things I loved, coveted, made and struggled with (the good and the I-can’t-believe-she-actually-admitted-that bad). I wanted to relate to that girl’s good vibes: inspiration, encouragement, connection and the kind of excitement you get when you find the last pair of Tony Bianco shoes, in your size, at half price AND with a red ‘take 50% of the marked price’ sticker on the bottom. Yep, that’s fate in my book.

I trekked through the few short years it took me for me to find the courage to start this little online piece. I trekked and I stumbled. On stuff. Stuff I thought worthy of sharing. Pretty things, useful things, great-buys, beautifully written and inspiring articles, quirky books or just a few tried and tested practices that my girlfriends noted were ‘a really good idea’. But away they went, in a file far-far away or banished as another bookmark in the ‘when I start my blog’ folder.

Today I decided it was time to share some of my collection of ‘feel good’ finds. And by this I mean sharing the feeling I found when I first read, heard, watched, touched or started to practice these little gems. To me they represent pit stops on my journey, my learnings, ergo a wee bit of wisdom (can I say that at 28?). Maybe they’ll help you to? So here’s five to start…

1. Journaling: Because it works.

I was lucky enough to be given a beautiful journal by a gorgeous, and very wise, friend. In it was a heart-felt message of all the lovely things we never say or acknowledge about ourselves. I start here every time I open it and before I pour the day’s thoughts onto the page. It sort of grounds me.

I can not begin to explain the magic that can happen in these little A5 bound trees. Something happens when you physically write down thoughts. It’s like a compass. Suddenly the path you were taking inside your head looks god-dam-awful once it’s on paper. Avoid making yourself write in it every day (unless you need to, of course). We’re human, we rebel against rules. Treat it like the treasure chest it will become and write (and unload) your most heaviest of bundles. I promise (and to coin a term from a girlfriend) the world on that day will feel less ‘wah, wah, sad’.

2. Indulge in curiosity and new age philosophy

Now not to get too woo-woo on you here, stay with me. I just can’t help but seek out a little bit of divine direction. While I don’t claim self-help books solve problems I do think it can be a case of horses-for-courses. If you read your horoscope you’re teetering on the same lines as Dan Millman’s book  The Life You Were Born To Live. A Guide To Finding Your Life PurposeIt’s based on determining your birth number (my birthday is 08/02/1986 so my birth number is 0+8+0+2+1+9+8+6=34 and 3+4=7, 34/7) which essentially highlights your life path (or at least the issues and challenges you’ll face). Gotta say this book was spot on for me. And like I’ve said about personality testing, this just gave me a little peace that I’m wired in a particular way. This time it’s my stars that are placed in exactly the way they’re meant to be. If you’re curious, lend it (yes, from one of those things called a li-ber-ary). If you want to work on it, buy it.

3. Accept the fear. Then lean into it.

My. God. This was the most amazing discovery for me. An entire blog of women putting it out there for all to see. What they would really do if they weren’t afraid.  I first came across this in the December 2013 issue of Marie Claire magazine and was moved by the article only to be floored by the raw honesty of the blog posts. It all started from a speech given by Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg,  who asked graduates of Barnard College: What would you do if you weren’t afraid? A message that has since rung hard in the ears of women around the globe.

Real women, real fear. I felt comfort, connection and a little less weird after delving into the Lean In project. Fear was at the absolute crux of why I procrastinated for years before starting tofindandshare. Fear that it wouldn’t be right, that others would judge and ultimately that I would fail. If you’re planning a new somethin-somethin or holding on to old stuff because you fear the new, screw it. SCREW. IT. And then visit the blog.

4. Focus on wellness, not abs.

And if you can get pass that, I think you’re half-way there. This is where I try to stay. Admittedly I fall off the wagon and start eating less and exercising more for the wrong reasons. The Wellness Guys help me stay get back on track beautifully. It is my favourite, favourite way to spend a morning getting in a quick half hour brisk walk while listening to (and learning from) these weekly podcasts. No. 56 ‘The myth of perfection’ and no. 98 ‘From Stress to Strength’ are a couple of beauties.

5. Plan. Just a little

I’m about to pick-up (for the second time) Shannah Kennedy’s Simplify, Structure, Succeed. The practical tool kit for modern life. One might say that if I have to pick this up again, clearly it didn’t work. Here’s the thing, like I said before, horses-for-courses and this time around the track I’m clearer and more motivated than ever to take another look. Yes, the pretty pictures do keep drawing me back and Shannah’s effortlessly simply and structured way of explaining things suits my linear personality. But the main reason I want more is because last time Shannah helped me clarify my values. I’d never been able to do this before. Shannah calls it The Values Game and mine are Happiness, Achievement and Health. This is what drives me. Turns out they can drive me a little crazy, but never the less, these are my drivers.

Now to plan where they’ll take me…

 

 

Hey hun, I hope you liked this week’s post? I’ve taken a little va-ca from deep ponders this week and would love to know if you found this useful. Thanks for taking your time-out here xxx

 

Images: Amelia Sieber, Stephanie Hudson, Stephanie Hudson, Karina Eibatova, Stephanie Hudson, Sweetwildwellness.comshannahkennedy.com