Why are women so stressed? Why are we getting sicker and sicker? Why are adrenal fatigue, anxiety and depression at an all time high? Why do we now face a concept known as “Rushing Women’s Syndrome”.
Why is the current state of women’s health so poor, when we have more resources than ever to supposedly keep us healthy?
It’s a difficult question to answer and there are so many variables for every woman experiencing overwhelming stress and dysfunction. But there are a few common threads, and in this interview, fellow Occupational Therapist, Jac Edser, and I have a candid discussion about what we see in our practices on a regular basis.
Occupational Therapists, Jac Edser (left) and Sarah Hausler.
Here’s just a few of the topics we cover in this discussion:
Why there is a global stress epidemic facing women at this current time
Why women are more susceptible to stress than men
How the desire to “have it all” has contributed to our stress epidemic
Why the feminist movement has been both friend and foe
How we can be more in tune with our “feminine power” and utilise this, rather than trying to create more “masculine” energies which can create stress
The link between physical and emotional wellbeing
How we can learn to “listen to our bodies” to help attain optimal physical and emotional wellbeing.
Have a listen below, and don’t forget to let me know what you think of our chat. Did you have any “Aha!” moments. Did it confirm some of your gut feelings about your own life? Or do you disagree completely?
Don’t think clutter impacts on your wellbeing? Think again!
I’m sure we’ve all watched those episodes of Hoarders and thought to ourselves – “How can people live like that?” Piles of decades old newspapers lining the hallways, stuffed toys stuffing every single closet, rusty saucepans spilling out of kitchen drawers. Ugh – it sends most of us non-hoarders into a tailspin! Often in these shows, there’s some sort of documented psychological issue that precipitated the hoarding – the compulsive need for “things” often comes from a place of deep unhappiness, anxiety or trauma. It really is quite a serious condition, and if you, or someone you know fits this category, I’d highly suggest looking for some professional assistance to help you work through it.
But I’m not talking about that level of clutter today. What I want to talk about is our everyday, run of the mill clutter. The type of clutter that the vast majority of us DO have in our homes, and which doesn’t come from a place of mental distress. It just comes from a busy life, full of stuff and things, and potentially with limited amounts of time and space.
Overflowing wardrobes, toys sprawled across every single room in the house, bathroom cabinets teeming with expired beauty products, cans of corn with expiry dates of October 2013. You get the idea. Most of us have clutter. And most of us just put up with it, perhaps telling ourselves that we’ll get around to clearing it out “someday”. Right?
Apart from the mental health aspects, the thing that always strikes me about the people on those Hoarders-type shows is how physically unwell they generally always are. They often complain of having multiple health conditions, many of which disappear once they get on top of the cleaning, clutter and chaos.
As with pretty much everything in life this falls on a continuum. We don’t have to have floor-to-ceiling clutter to be affected by it. Even your average run of the mill clutter can have a negative impact on our wellbeing. All the more reason to make that “someday” today, and take action on clearing your home of the unnecessary “stuff”.
Here’s just a few ways clutter affects your physical health,
Increased respiratory stress – due to dust, allergens and airborne particles
Increase falls hazards – not to mention the intense pain of stepping on a stray Lego piece barefoot – youch!
Mould. This stuff is toxic. Don’t just think about the mould growing on your shower curtain. How about the mould you didn’t know was growing on your winter boots, or that suitcase you put away slightly damp last winter?
But it’s not just about physical wellbeing – it never is! We already know that our physical health and wellbeing is intrinsically linked to our emotional health – mind-body connection, right? So these physical health issues will certainly affect our emotional wellbeing.
But there’s also more direct correlations between clutter and emotional and social wellbeing.
Blocked chi – the ancient Eastern practice of Feng Shui sings the praises of clean, uncluttered open spaces. This is because clutter is thought to block the flow of “Chi” throughout a space. “Chi” is the life force, we want it to be able to move freely and swiftly for optimal health, we don’t want it to become stagnant or stuck. When Chi can’t move freely, our energy and stress levels can be negatively impacted. Not convinced? Close your eyes for a few seconds and imagine yourself walking into two rooms. The first, bright, breezy, airy, lots of natural light, plenty of wide open spaces. The second room, piled high with books, clothes, bags, shoes, too much furniture shoved into the room. Maybe you’ve already been in two rooms similar to this. Close your eyes and focus down into your body – in which room do you feel the most comfortable? The least stressed? The happiest and calmest? I know which one it is for me. In fact, I use de-cluttering as one of my stress management techniques. You know I’m getting stressed when you see me emptying my collection of Women’s Health magazines into the recycle bin!
Financial stress: Bills that get misfiled and forgotten so you attract late fees, food that gets wasted as it’s stuck at the back of a cluttered fridge. Having four almost identical black clutches because you can never find one as it’s stashed somewhere at the back of your wardrobe so you just buy a new one. Clutter costs us money, and that causes us stress.
Guilt – when faced with clutter in our homes, or our lives, many of us experience extreme guilt. “I really should sort that mess out”, “I really need to clean out that spare room”, “I really need to take those bags of old clothes to Vinnies”. We instinctively know that our clutter is detrimental to our health, so we feel guilty about it, which simply amplifies the negative emotions we’re already feeling.
Not to mention how clutter affects our ability to manifest the life of our dreams – it’s all about abundance and the law of attraction. This part is pretty new to me, but the total expert on it is Denise Duffield-Thomas from luckybitch.com , check out her website to see how clutter impacts on your lucky (or unlucky!) life. There’s also lots of correlations here to financial stress – just as I mentioned above!
This is seriously one of my favourite things to do in the entire world. (I know, I’m strange – sorry!) But I simply love the feeling that comes with clearing a space, and feeling the fresh energy flowing through. I always feel calmer and more focused in a de-cluttered space, and I seriously struggle to focus in a cluttered, messy office. So yes, I’m struggling a bit now, as my office has gotten pretty disorganised towards the end of this year, due to a pretty hectic last few months! But don’t worry, I’ve already got a few days over the Christmas break set aside to declutter, clean and sort out my office!
In fact, I love de-cluttering so much that at the start of 2014 I set myself a New Years Resolution – to declutter 2014 items from my home! Sounds impossible? Nope, it’s not. In fact, I’m so, so close, to 2014 items. I’ll blog about it when I hit my target. (And no, I didn’t start with a Hoarders-style situation!)
My de-cluttered bookshelf.
But if you’re not a seasoned de-clutterer, don’t despair. There’s a million and one resources out there about de-cluttering so feel free to Google away and find one you like, but a couple of my favourites are listed below:
(ps. No affiliate links here, I just love to share the people I think are great!)
So over to you? Are you a de-clutterer? Do you do a yearly de-clutter, or are you more of a de-clutter daily type of person? Or are you just drowning in a sea of kids toys, tupperware containers and “one day I’ll fit back into them” clothes? I’d love to hear your story – let me know in the comments below!
Psst. Wanna be a Mumpreneur? Want to live the ultimate lifestyle and work on your own terms? Want to set your own flexible hours so you create your business around your kids and never miss another Book Week parade or Sports Day? Yeah, I know you do. We all do.
And it’s so tempting right? It’s so tempting to tell your crappy, insensitive boss to “Shove it! I’m outta here and I’m going to open my own business!”
Yeah, go sister! Woman power! Mums can do anything!! Whooohooo!
But hold on a sec there honey. Do you really know what you’re getting yourself in for? Do you really understand what it means to be a woman, who also has children, who also happens to run her own business from the kitchen table? (and who may or may not also have to hold down a regular “dayjob” while she gets this Mumpreneur thing off the ground). By the way – I’m not a huge fan of the word “Mumpreneur – but I’m using it here because “woman, who also has children, who also happens to run her own business from the kitchen table” doesn’t quite have the same SEO ranking. (And don’t worry, if you don’t yet know what SEO is, you will soon!)
I’m not saying don’t do it. Don’t become a “Mumpreneur”. I can’t say that, because I’m doing it right now – and you know what – it is great. And I can see amazing things on the road ahead. But right now. About 12 months into my self-employed sojourn. It’s freaking hard. And it’s an awful lot of work. And it’s costing money. And, and, and – so much else.
Mumpreneur in action. Yes, this is what action looks like sometimes.
In these past 12 months I’ve learned a thing or two about running my own business while simultaneously raising two daughters, running a household and, yes, holding down another part time job to ensure we can still pay the mortgage! So I thought I’d do you a favour and list a few very important questions you should ask yourself if you’re thinking of making this big scary, crazy, amazing leap into Mumpreneur-dom.
Question 1: Is my significant other on board?
Because if he (or she) isn’t, strap yourself in for some drama. Cue arguments about “getting a real job” and “stuffing around on facebook isn’t going to make any money” and “no, we’re not spending $6K on a business coach”. Starting a business is a crazy tough slog, it’s no surprise so many start up businesses fail. If you’re serious about starting a business it’s going to take time, money and sacrifice. You’re going to need the support of your partner, because you’re going to need them to pick up the slack around the house. You’re going to need them to be okay with the fact that they’re doing the dishes for the sixth night in a row because you’re tapping away on the laptop trying to figure out how to install a WordPress theme to your blog. You’re going to need them to be okay with the fact that you won’t have as much time for them anymore – at least not right now. Get them on board early. Explain your passion. Share your plans and goals. Keep them involved. And hopefully they’ll be supportive.
Question 2: Am I prepared to resent my children at times.
Gah! Yes. I did just ask this question. Please stop calling me names.
This is the dirty little secret of Mumpreneur-ship. Because as much as you love your precious little cherubs and think to yourself, “I’m creating this new business for them, for us, to create our dream family life”. I absolutely guarantee that you are going to resent the socks off of them at least once while creating your new business (probably more than once, to be perfectly honest). Perhaps it’ll be the night before your big launch/meeting/presentation – when your teething baby keeps you up all night. Or the day you miss an all-important webinar because you’re cleaning blue paint-coloured poop off the carpet at the exact moment it goes live. (True story, not mine, thankfully!!)
The fact is that young children and start-up businesses don’t mesh nicely. They’re both unpredictable, time consuming, and, yes, frustrating. When you’re starting a business there are going to be days when you simply need to “GET STUFF DONE” no matter what. But guess what, you can’t always rely on your children to be perfect angels on those days. Even if you have childcare and supportive family, you’re still going to have to find time to do work at home – and the kidlets under your feet are going to get in the way. There are going to be days when you want to spend more time on your business than you do on your kids. You will feel like this. And you will feel guilty for feeling like this. Are you prepared for that?
Question 3: Am I prepared for the haters, the trolls and the poppy-loppers?
Not everyone is going to think your business is a great idea. Lots of them will try to dissuade you – “Don’t you know how bad the economy is, why on earth would you start a business now?” The thing is, these peeps are generally well meaning, they honestly just want you to be safe and secure, and not broke and homeless. They just have a completely different mindset and view of life than you. So they’re not as bad as the haters, the ones who will try to tear you down any opportunity they can. Why do they do it? Mostly they’re jealous. Maybe they want the kind of life and business you’re working towards. Maybe they just don’t have the guts to take that leap of faith. That makes them feel shit. So they take it out on you. #hatersgonnahate
Question 4: Am I prepared to replace most of my friendship group with another one entirely?
The truth is, I now spend way, WAY more time with my new business gals (who I didn’t even know a year ago) than I do the best friends I’ve had for 20 years. Starting your own business can be seriously isolating. Not a lot of people do it, and it’s scary and intense and there’s sooooo much to learn. So we business chicks have to stick together – we seek others out so we can network, learn, brainstorm and absorb business advice by osmosis. Most new Mumpreneurs figure that out pretty quickly and start surrounding themselves with other business minded folk. This isn’t to say that you won’t, or can’t, ever see your friends again, but just beware that friendships are likely to change. See question 1 and 3 for prime examples! Plus, because of all the extra work hours you’re putting in – it can often be quite hard to find time for all your friends – you’ll start prioritising them. Sad but true. The good news is, the ones who are really, truly your friends. They’ll stick around. They’ll stand by you. They’ll understand when you haven’t spoken for them for the past two months. Because that’s what TRUE friends do. (ps, for the record, I still love my old friends even if we don’t get to see each other as often – you know who you are!)
Question 5: Am I in it for passion or profit?
Really you need to be in it for both. If you’re not passionate about the business you’re trying to build, you’re simply not going to have the motivation to stick with it.
But you also need to want to make money. Which means you physically need an income stream – ie. you have to have something to sell!
But you also need to believe that you’re worth the money, that you deserve to make money and that your product is valuable enough for people to pay you for it. So really, you need three things: Passion. Profit. And a passion FOR profit.
Question 6: Am I ready to be transformed?
This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT question of them all.
“Am I ready for a complete soul makeover?”
This is what you don’t think about when you’re first starting out. You just think to yourself, “Oh I’ve got a cool idea for a business, let’s start a blog and make some money”. You never think to yourself, “Gee, I feel like undergoing a complete and utter transformation of my personal and professional development, my mind, heart, body and soul, my view on the world, my belief in the concept of abundance and laws of attraction, my self-concept of who I am as a person and what my true calling and purpose in life are.”
No-one ever thinks that.
But that’s what happens. I’ve met so many amazing entrepreneurial women over the past year while I’ve been building my business. And while they come from all different walks of life, run completely different businesses and are at a million different stages of business growth and development – they all have one thing in common. Change.They’ve all undergone somewhat of a transformation. Some to the point where they barely recognise themselves from the person they once were. Some to the point where they’ve realised that they need to leave their husband because they’re not willing to put up with a sub-par relationship anymore. Some to the point where they’ve lost friendships because their old friends either “don’t get them” anymore, or got too shitty that they weren’t available for Friday night drinks every week anymore.
Are you willing to go there? Are you willing to make that much of a change. Are you willing to be utterly and absolutely transformed. Are you prepared to barely recognised the person you’ll be in 12 months time?
There’s so much said these days about how difficult it is to regain your health and fitness after having a baby. People talk about how tired new mums are, how time poor, how sleep deprived, how gym memberships are too expensive for those of us on maternity leave. And you know what. That’s all true.
Absolutely true. If you’re a new mum you probably are sleep deprived, you probably do have less free time in your day and less disposable cash in your back pocket.
So yeah, the time and money needed for getting fit, healthy and well are likely to be a lot more scarce than they were pre-baby.
But you know what. None of that matters!!!
Because at the end of the day, time and money are not the most important factors in whether you’ll get healthy or not. Think about all those super-rich or commitment-free people you know in the world (or that you used to be!) Are they all super-healthy? Not necessarily. Because it’s not actually about time or money.
Want to know what it is about? Inspiration and commitment.
Last week I was talking about inspiration, and how it’s so much more powerful than motivation. Go check out the post if you have time, but basically what I said was that having something that INSPIRES you to improve your health, rather than just a kick-up-the-backside short term motivation blast, is a much more effective path to health and wellbeing.
New Mum? No time for exercise?
Now what’s more inspiring than being a new Mum?
All of a sudden you have this teeny little bundle of preciousness in your care, and he’s relying on you 100 percent to look after him. To be there for him. To keep him well. And the only way you can really do that, is if you’re well yourself.
I’ve never met a mum who doesn’t want the absolute best for their child, who doesn’t want them to be as well and healthy as possible. The trick is to shift that thinking over to yourself as well.
So rather than seeing your children as your barriers to exercise, eating healthy or taking some “me-time”. Use them as your inspiration for exactly those things.
Which brings us to the second part of the equation: commitment.
You can’t just be inspired to be healthy and well. You have to be committed. Dedicated to creating and maintaining a lifestyle geared towards optimal health and wellbeing.
That’s why it doesn’t matter if you can no longer find two hours in your day for your back to back RPM classes. Because if you’re committed to being well, then every decision you make within your 18 hours (or more!!) of awake time per day is helping you get there.
It’s about eating nutritious, satiating food. Building movement into your whole day on a regular basis. Getting sufficient rest. Drinking enough water. Reducing your toxic exposure. Being kind to yourself. Gratitude. Mindfulness. Socialisation. So much more than just time and money. If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry. That’s exactly what this blog is for. We’re going to be covering all these topics and more.
But for now, just remember. NOW is the time. The perfect time to change your life for the better. For your own sake, and for the future of your family.
Are you on some kind of health journey? If you’re reading this blog, chances are the answer is yes. So let me ask another question. What has prompted you to be on this journey – is it motivation or inspiration?
Inspiration. Trumps motivation. Every single time.
Most people don’t undertake health transformations for no reason. There’s usually a catalyst. They see themselves in an unflattering photograph, or the scale clocks over to triple figures, or they get chest pains after running for the bus. Something happens to make them think – “Crap, my health isn’t great, I’ve GOT to do something about this”.
That’s motivation. But motivation is fleeting, it doesn’t usually last for long periods. Once those skinny jeans fit better, or the scales start reading a happier number, the reasons to maintain that health journey start to lose importance, and the commitment fades. That’s because motivation is usually extrinsic, it comes from outside of us. It’s about pushing ourselves to do what we think we SHOULD be doing. That’s never going to last long, because eventually it becomes draining and tiresome.
What you really need is inspiration, not motivation.
These two terms are often used interchangeably. But there are distinct differences, and these differences are the reason why some people’s health journeys are more successful than others.
As I said, motivation comes from our environment, from outside of us. Inspiration, however, comes from within. It comes from somewhere deep inside of you that drives you, because you absolutely know with all your heart and soul that whatever it is, is the right thing to do. The only thing to do.
When you’re inspired to make a life change it doesn’t necessarily become easier to do, but you’ve got more chance at sticking with it. Because whenever the road gets tough you focus back on your inspiration – your reasons why – and they’ll always be there. Your health becomes a priority, it takes precedence over everything else, it becomes a part of your identity.
This is why people who are inspired achieve their goals fully and more greatly than those relying solely on motivation.
So what’s the take home message? Get inspired. Take some time to figure out exactly why you’re on your health journey.
Ask yourself “What is my motivation for A, B or C? How can I turn my inspiration into motivation.”
It’s a subtle mindset shift, but it can have powerful results.
Do you want to lose weight to rock your bikini on holiday in Fiji in three months? That’s motivation. Or is it to lose weight so that you’ll still be healthy and fit enough to travel to Fiji when you’re 80? That’s inspiration.
Do you want to quit smoking because it’s making it hard for you to catch your breath on the soccer pitch. Or do you want to quit smoking so you live long enough to coach your grandkids’ soccer games? Inspiration.
Over to you. I’d love for you to share your experiences of motivation and inspiration below. What have you found has made the difference in helping to achieve your goals?
What do you want to change in your life? Go on, I know there’s something you’d like to be different – most of us have a list as long as our arm.
The sticky bit is that change is hard. Really hard. For whatever reason, we humans are definitely creatures of habit and we find it hard to move outside of our comfort zone, even for the simplest of things.
This is the reason why “6 week programs” and “30 day challenges” are all over the place right now. We all seem to need a bit of an external push to create the change we seek. So I thought I’d add my two cents worth to the mix. These are my two favourite pieces of advice for creating positive change in your life. And they’re totally linked, so really it’s actually one piece of advice in two parts.
Part 1: Act as if.
Now I didn’t create this advice, it’s been bandied around so much over the decades that I don’t even know who thought it up. But here’s the crux of it – work out what or who it is that you want to be – then act as if you’re already that person. Simple really. Want to be the person who eats healthy food, not crap? Buy healthy food and stick it in your fridge. That’s what a healthy food eater does. Don’t overthink it. Just do it (to borrow another well used phrase.)
Part 2: It’s easier to create a new habit than it is to break an old one.
It’s true that we really are the sum of those things we consistently do every single day. Our habits are deeply ingrained, not only into our lifestyle, but into our very neurological makeup. Our brains love habits – because once we’ve created one, the brain doesn’t have to think about that particular activity anymore, and it can have more time to rest. Brains are lazy like that – they don’t want to do any more work than they have to! So once we’ve created a habit we’re hardwired to keep it. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to break habits, but it can be hard. However, creating a new habit does seem to come a bit easier. So I always encourage people to create new habits to help crowd out the old!
Socrates – he knew his stuff.
Want to curb your 3pm-sugar-fix-must-have-chocolate-now habit? How about you start implementing a 2pm green smoothie habit? You’ll find that you probably won’t need to 3pm sugar fix after that. Try and think of different ways you can hack your bad habits. Sneaky, but effective.
So there you go, my top two bits of advice for creating change. Because change is good!