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?
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!
I’ve been talking A LOT lately about the need for Mums to have a tribe. A group of women they can go to for support, advice, understanding, debriefing. Being a Mum is a tough gig. I’ve said it before and it remains true. Personally, I am so fortunate to have a whole tribe of amazing women in my life, many of whom I have only met, or found online, since I had my own children, and I’m keen to introduce them all to you.
So here it is – The Blooming Mama Tribe. These are the women who I look to for advice, support, understanding, when I need to let off some steam or just feel like catching up for a cuppa. Some of these women I’m lucky enough to consider my closest friends, some of them are part of my online tribe, who I’ve never met in person but who have been integral in my motherhood journey. And as the months go on, I’m hoping to get some of the big guns on here – some of my top hit-list women, the ones I’ve never met or even emailed, but who have inspired me for their knowledge and the message they are getting out into the world. Watch this space….
Today, I’m starting with a super-special tribe member – my amazing co-host on the Well Fuelled Woman podcast – Shani Prideaux.
As a holistic health coach, personal trainer and director of her own business The Fuel Focus, and mum to two gorgeous kidlets, Shani certainly has a lot on her plate.
From dance-battling her kids home from school, to smashing her personal training clients in the gym, to uncovering hidden health problems for her coaching clients – this lady is the epitome of a Well Fuelled Woman. She is passion, drive and determination all balled up into one little pocket sized bundle of energy. Read on for her interview – and just try to keep up…
Bloom Wellbeing: What does being “well” mean to you?
Shani: It means LOVING myself so much that I can’t help but be really conscious and plugged into all my choices 80% of the time. I follow the 80/20 rule. If I’m happy, well, moving and eating to benefit my mind and body, sleeping, living with passion and purpose 80% of the time, I can handle the 20% that isn’t optimal.
In other words, I’m not perfect, I don’t want to be, I want to SHOW my babies my reality. Which is pretty darn amazing 80% of the time, at least!
That means eating well, eating fresh, moving everyday, they come too, they are often at the gym with me, training too, we cook, we shop together, they even come to coaching appointments sometimes, my daughter especially loves it. She could probably tell most people where they’re going wrong. We meditate, do kiddie yoga in our lounge room.
BW: Have you always lived a healthy and active life, or have you had a long journey to where you are now?
Shani: Big journey! I had a great start, mum was really health conscious and I had a problem with having seizures – Mum refused to medicate me and we began working with a naturopath.
I was pretty sporty, netball and equestrian – pretty good too.
I am a hairdresser by trade and travelled in my early twenties, when I fell off the wagon in a big way, eating and drinking my way around Oz. When we came home we fell pregnant with our eldest and our whole world changed!
She was born and at a week old was very sick from a virus, it attacked every organ in her body and she had viral myo-carditis (swollen heart muscle). A long journey and open heart surgery. Five long months later we brought home our medically fragile baby, who had a sketchy prognosis! Mumma bear was on it! With help from my Mum and others, we set out to rid her of every toxic drug and substance we could and I got real educated about nutrition and Organic farming. We healed her with food!
Interestingly, probably due to money mainly, we didn’t eat half as well as her!
When she was 2 and 4 months we had her brother and at the time we were kind of homeless, our house was un-liveable due to an oil leak (I know right) it was deemed unsafe and toxic and at 37 weeks pregnant we were living in a hotel!
Anyway, to cut it short, I had an aha! She was noticing EVERYTHING, I was breastfeeding, stressed, isolated, living away from my home and support network. NOW is probably the time that I NEED to be well… omg lightbulb!
I knew what to do, I’d learnt all about it for Peyton (and she was starting to reject my efforts, coz you guessed it, I wasn’t role modelling it)
So I did. I dropped a bunch of weight and slowly, but surely, began my love affair with feeling good, the better I felt, the happier the kids were.
I began teaching group fitness (mainly so that I had to turn up, it was completely selfish) but over time I wanted more and more skills, I wanted to know more about how to help people feel better.
Now I’m obsessed with learning new things and relaying them to people who can benefit.
Shani: Then and now.
BW: Your children have obviously been a big part of your health journey, but how else has being a Mum changed your life?
Shani: Nothing happens by accident, thank goodness my baby got sick! I have so much admiration and love for that child, she saved us! Literally! She came into this world with a clear and vivid gift, which she shares readily, showing you yourself! It’s amazing, her intuition and conviction on what she ‘knows’ is amazing.
It wasn’t by accident that she was sick, it was to show us what could be done and now it’s our job to show others what can be done. She’s a miracle.
My boy is also this fascinating, light filled bundle of insight and joy. He’s my joker and my partner in crime to make s*&t happen, I love it!
If anyone suggests or even thinks about something fun to do or create, or have a go at, he’s on it!
What a great quality!
They drive me! They make me feel like I’m capable of anything. The pair of them have such unfaltering faith in me, that I can’t not be inspired everyday.
They are so great, they’re patient when I need them to be, if I have presentation deadlines or coaching calls or need to teach at the gym . But the second I’ve had a gut-full, they’re right there to tickle and laugh some life back into me! They can brush their teeth and get dressed in two seconds flat because I’ve decided to go ‘do something’ and they’re like little puppy dogs excited to see what it will be…
The best! I’m truly blessed!
Shani’s inspiration – her kids.
BW: I know you have a really holistic approach to health, fitness and wellbeing, and you’re passionate about getting the RIGHT information out to your clients – what are the major misconceptions you come across in this industry?
Ugh, so much! Dogma is my biggest issue. People trust us as health professionals and many, many abuse that trust by perpetuating their own agenda.
Everything works! For someone! Just definitely not for everyone.
We need to learn to trust ourselves and how we FEEL more than what someone tells us to do, or what they did. That doesn’t mean don’t try it, it means listen to your body talking.
Did you know Dr Atkins died of a heart attack? Yet his products are everywhere! Low carb diet has had MASSIVE world wide success and so it should, lots of people do well on low carb! Bars, shakes, powders and pills is NOT what Dr Atkins learnt kept people healthy in the villiages he studied. It’s marketing, money making and riding on coat tails at it’s finest.
I’d really love for the one message people take away from that little rant is to just stop for a second and assess. Even if there is some merit to the theory I’m reading, is what I’m being sold here the same as the original intention?
If you’re standing in a store whilst asking this question, looking at a product, chances are likely to be no.
There are many reputable, objective, holistic health coaches like myself around. Use us if you need guidance… but only if their objective is aligned with helping you to not need them for long.
Because that’s my other pet peeve, (and we were taught it in PT school) don’t give your client too much info, make them need you, they need to not know what to do without you… BS! Even if I’m coaching someone multiple times per week I’m not with them more than they are with themselves, for success to yield success, we must TEACH and empower!!! It flows on.
BW: Finally, if you could give just one piece of advice to all the Mums out there – what would it be?
Monkey see, Monkey do. PLEASE don’t put off making time for yourself. Being selfish is being selfless! It is THE way to help your children.
They see health, they see love, they see passion and vitality and then they want to be those things.
And… ‘No’ is love, sometimes they want things that aren’t best for the greater good, their health, happiness etc. No is love!
Every time they ask for something you have a teaching opportunity.
80/20 rule, my kids know it. If it’s over 20% you are doing them a disservice and that is not love.
WHOOOOHOOO!! What do you think? I really hope the passion Shani lives with has come across in this interview, because she truly does live her truth. If you’d like to know more about Shani and her business, check out The Fuel Focus, or listen in to our Well Fuelled Woman podcast.
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!