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?
Wow! Can you believe it’s the last day in November! Yes, tomorrow officially marks the start of the crazy, hectic, silly season month we know as DECEMBER. Bah – bah – bahhhhh!!!!
Are you ready for it? Got the Christmas shopping done? Arranged the meal plan for Christmas day? Booked the caravan park for your Boxing Day getaway? Put in your Christmas leave form yet?
There’s always so much to do at this time of year. Family functions to endure. A million parties to dress up for. School concerts to attend. Kindy graduations. The list goes on.
It’s also a really, REALLY expensive time of year (at least it can be). All that primping and those new outfits for all those parties can add up!! Though if you’re like me you just give up on shopping for new threads and hope and pray you can still squeeze into last year’s party dress! Am I right?
Put all this together and what do you get?
All wrapped up in shiny Christmas paper with a red bow on top. A great big parcel of stress. More unwanted than that foot-spa hubby got you last Christmas.
Stress is huge for many people this time of year, which is why I’ve created this totally FREE four part video mini training series “De-stress for December”.
It’s four of my favourite little strategies for letting go of stress, and allowing yourself to have a stress-free, enjoyable holiday season.
Check it out on YouTube and get ready to relax these holidays!
ps. If you liked this video series, you really should check out my four week online stress management program, the Busy Woman’s Stress Makeover. It’s just $89 and it will lead you through an entire body-mind-soul stress transformation!
When was the last time you felt the sand between your toes?
“I want my staff to work hard. But I also want them to play hard!”
This was what an awesome businessman once told me when he was discussing how he runs his clinic. He’s an Occupational Therapist – like me – and he employs about a dozen other OTs. He wants them to work hard, but he sets shorter working hours and is super-strict on his employees taking leave. Because he also wants them to have balance. Time for family. For rest. For recreation. For adventure. Time for life.
I like his thinking, because I know that far too often those of us who have families and mortgages can repeatedly put off doing those very things that can bring us balance.
To succeed in life we have to work hard. To make more money we have to work longer hours. More hard work equals more money and more reward. That’s how the story goes.
And it’s true. To a point.
But what’s also true is that we frequently fall into the old trap of working more, doing more, trying to be more. We drown out the little voice in our head that starts telling us to pull back, that we’re taking on too much, that we can’t possibly maintain the pace we’re setting for ourselves. That we haven’t taken a break in nearly two years. That we’re working such long hours some days that we barely get home in time to tuck the kids into bed.
But it’s okay, we counter – it’s just for now, just until the end of the financial year, just until we get through this round of bills, just until the kids go back to school. I’ll put in the hard yards now, and I’ll take a little break sometime soon.
It’s easy to understand why we do this. We all have goals, we want our careers and businesses to prosper, to create an ideal future for ourselves and our families. So we convince ourselves that the sacrifices we make now will pay dividends in due time. It’s the rule we’ve always been taught – delayed gratification at its darndest.
But the problem arises when that planned break gets continually pushed back. And back, and back. When we live our life constantly forging ahead, but never retreating.
Retreat is all about giving yourself space. Emotional, physical and social space. It’s important because space is where we bloom – both personally and professionally. It’s where and when we develop amazing experiences and memories with our partners and children. And experiences are more valuable to them than any gadget you’re planning to buy with your next paycheque.
I know it seems counter-intuitive. That to push your life forward you should step back for a bit. But it’s absolutely the truth. The challenge is knowing how and when to make that retreat – how to balance your work and personal commitments. This takes practice, and the ability to read your own personal signals as to your stress and energy levels. For some, it may mean enlisting a health or business mentor to help you learn how to do this.
My advice to my clients is to schedule your retreats. Plan your calendar well ahead of time and build space into your life on a daily, weekly, quarterly and yearly basis.
It doesn’t have to be oodles of space. Just enough to make sure that you (and your family) get the best version of you in the present, without sacrificing your future wellbeing.
So embrace your space. Value the importance of retreat. By allowing yourself the space to breathe deeply, you’ll breathe more life into your life.
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!
One of the best things I’ve done for myself this year has been to start a regular meditation practice. It’s something quite new to me – and to be perfectly honest, it’s something way outside my comfort zone! But over the past several months I’ve come to realise what an incredibly powerful tool meditation is for new mothers.
As mums we can easily become overwhelmed by the enormity of our role. Every decision seems impossibly important. We find ourselves busily plowing through days – doing lots, but somehow not achieving much. Our minds suddenly cannot seem to be quietened.
If this sounds like you – meditation could be a wonderful solution.
Uncertain about meditation? Don’t be.
Meditation doesn’t need to be scary – we don’t need to climb to the highest mountain in our village and sit upside down cross-legged on a bed of lotus flowers in order to meditate.
We can do it anywhere, anytime, and there are several different forms of meditation you can try.
At its core, meditation is about allowing the mind to be still, calm, to focus. By allowing our mind to quieten, we also quieten our body and soul. Letting go of stress, anxiety and other negative emotions is the key benefit.
Here’s a few different meditation strategies to consider.
Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Stop everything you’re doing and simply focus on your breathing. Focus on breathing deep down into your belly, not high into your chest. Focus your mind on the breath – in and out.
When you notice your mind wandering – which it will! – Just be aware of this wandering, let the thought go and bring your attention back to your breath.
Try this for a few minutes every day.
I find this is a particularly good technique to use if you need a “time-out” from a crying baby. Put the baby in a safe place – on his or her back in the cot – and walk outside to try this technique for just a minute or two. It could be just enough time to break the cycle of stress and anxiety you feel building up, which allow you to go back to your baby with a calmer focus. Babies pick up on our emotions – if we can remain calm, it will help baby to learn how to be calm.
2: Your Mummy Mantra
A mantra is similar to mindfulness meditation, but it can be used for a shorter period and you focus on a word, sentence or phrase which has meaning to you and calms you.
It could be a simple word such as “calm”, “peaceful”, “relax”, or it could be a more meaningful sentence such as “this too shall pass”.
Silently and calmly repeat the word or words to yourself, for as long as you need. Don’t try to change your thoughts, just allow the process to calm your mind.
This is a great technique to use when your baby or child is upset or causing a scene in public – such as at the supermarket!
3: Moving meditation
This is a great one for people who don’t like to meditate or “can’t handle” sitting still – great to practice while walking bubs in the pram.
Find a calming, peaceful place to walk – along the beach, a park or trail is great to increase your connection with nature.
Before you start your walk – stop for a moment to appreciate your surroundings, then bring your focus to your body. Feel the weight of your feet on the ground, feel the movement of your legs striding, feel the lift of your torso holding your body up. Raise your face up and feel the sun on your face. Concentrate on how your body moves and the sensations of this movement as you walk.
Mindfulness is key here – being aware of your body and its surroundings.
4: Guided Meditations.
There are literally thousands of guided meditations on the internet – some better than others. My advice is to simply google the sort of meditation you’re after, eg. “guided meditation for stress relief”, “guided meditation for confidence”.
Listen to a few and choose some that you like. You can then download your favourites to your iPhone – you can listen to them anywhere – take your baby for a walk in the pram and take a few minutes to sit at the park and meditate.
I quite like Meditation Station on iTunes – lots of free guided meditations for different topics.
5: Take a class
A formal class is a great way to get the maximum benefit out of meditation, as you can be led by someone trained in meditation techniques.
Most yoga classes will include some kind of guided meditation at the end, which is always great. Also, many massage practitioners will include some form of guided meditation at the end of their treatment.
Another great option is an actual meditation classes – there are several around Adelaide – just google meditation in your local area – you might be surprised what you find!