Yikes, Another Weekend of Lockdown

Yikes, Another Weekend of Lockdown

What now?

I don’t know about you but for me, every day this week has felt the same. I have completely lost track of which day it is. I even missed my virtual Wednesday Pilates class which I have been going to for years. With the current Covid19 situation my routine has been turned upside down. I don’t know if I am Arthur or Martha! 

 In our household, we are being very good at restricting our going out time to just exercise. We also decided at the start, to just shop once a week.

But tomorrow is the weekend and if we don’t change it up a little, how are we going to know? More importantly, how will our brains and bodies know it’s time for some rest and recovery?

Why is it important to recognise the weekend and have some rest and recovery? 

We all like certainty, and knowing where we are in time helps us to have some structure. It also increases certainty and, as a consequence, naturally reduces our stress levels. Right now, there are enormous amounts of stress and strain with all the uncertainty associated with these very unusual circumstances. 

Periods of chronic stress are not good for our bodies and minds and, if left unchecked, can lead to reduced immune systems, various physical diseases, and mental ill-health.  Chronic stress has been linked to cardiovascular disease, back pain, diabetes, depression and much more.  We need to do what we can to bring down the stress response and give our bodies a break. It sounds simple in concept but it won’t happen unless we put our minds to it.

The chances are that the Covid19 situation is likely to be more of a marathon than a sprint, so it’s important to pace ourselves by carving out regular downtime, rest and recovery.  

Ordinarily, most people would use the weekends for most of that, but nothing is ‘ordinary’ right now and if you’re not careful, each day could meld into the next.  

So, what can you do to acknowledge it’s the weekend and show your mind, body, and soul that it’s time to rest and renew before the new week starts?

Here are my top tips for weekends:-

Boundaries

Decide when you’re ‘shutting up shop’ so to speak. When will you stop ‘work’ and when will you start again?  What time on Friday will you close up the laptop and decide it’s the weekend? Now I know that’s not possible for everybody right now, particularly those who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat. However, it is still important to decide when you’re working and when you’re really taking some time off. Decide upfront and share with your household members so that they can support you. Allowing yourself some time off will really help let the dust settle and help you to see the way ahead more clearly.  

You Time

Carve out some time this weekend just for you. The chances are, if you’re not living alone, you have been on top of others way more than you are used to or might like! Whatever your living arrangements, carve out some ‘me time’ to do something you love.  Whether that’s reading a book, meditating, watching a favourite movie, stretching, doing some exercise, pampering yourself or just pottering around.  You might need to negotiate that with your family but with luck, you’ll be able to reciprocate so everyone has their ‘me time’.  If you are living alone, it’s just as important and you might need to give yourself permission.  Please do!

Change Your Food

One way to show your body and mind that it’s the weekend is to change what you eat.  If you are used to eating porridge for breakfast make it something else.  Choose a different cereal, eggs and avocado if you can get it, banana on toast, or a fruit smoothie.  Eat something different and that will help demark that it’s now the weekend and will help set up your body for the weeks to come.

Create a Different Version of Your Usual Weekend.

Keep to your usual routine where possible.  If you’re used to being sociable and meeting up with friends and family for coffee, drinks or dinner, keep doing it but in a virtual way.  I am enjoying meeting my friends and work colleagues for virtual G&T’s (gather and thrive) these days. I have even done some virtual meals together which have been quite fun.  The good news about that is you don’t have to cook anything special (unless you want to) and you certainly don’t have to make the effort to tidy up.  It’s a great way to connect with others.  If you’re used to doing chores at the weekend, my suggestion is to keep it that way.  Everything that you can do to keep your regular routine will help demark weekend time and increase your levels of certainty and give your body permission to unwind.

Be creative and crafty 

This may or not be something you are used to doing at weekends, but either way, it’s a great way to unwind while increasing your creative muscle, problem-solving and neural pathways. If you like cooking, this is a great time to dust off an old cookery book and find a recipe that your ingredients allow (might require you to go off-piste if you haven’t got all the ingredients). Crafts are a great way to entertain the kids and a lot can be done with all those empty loo rolls and other household items.  Creativity can come in many different forms so do something you love.  I am planning to be creative in my garden (feeling very lucky to have one) this weekend and create a vegetable patch.

Connect with the people you love 

I know many people are missing the face to face contact with our loved ones.  I am, for sure. I miss being with my 84-year-old mother and I am concerned about her welfare every day. Fortunately, she’s able to use her phone and we can Facetime.  There have also been times over the last year when I have gone to phone a friend and decided for whatever reason, it wasn’t the right time.  My attitude now is ‘just do it’ and weekends are a perfect time to contact the people that matter.  I have even resorted to flicking through my address book and contacting people I haven’t spoken to in years.  I have been surprised just how much joy it has brought them and me.

Make a Difference 

When you are feeling stressed and anxious, one of the best things you can do is to help others, and you might not normally have time during your working week.  Weekends are a perfect time for this and with more time on our hands, we have no excuses.  From a physiological point of view, when you help others, oxytocin is released which not only makes you feel good but it also naturally reduces blood pressure by dilating your blood vessels so you feel less stressed.  It’s addictive too. So, if you want to be addicted to any drug, make it oxytocin!  There are plenty of ways to help others right now, including just giving people a smile from the other side of the street.  Try it out and see. 

Learn something new.  

We undoubtedly have more time on our hands right now, and what we choose to do with that time will determine how you will emerge from this challenge. If you continue to do what you have always done you will get what you have always got. Now is the time to do things differently.  The world is not going to be the same after the Covid19 pandemic.

This is your chance to expand your knowledge and learn new skills.  Not only could that help you in the future, but it will keep your brain alive and growing new neural pathways. Why not use part of your weekend to learn something new and distract yourself from your worries and the news.  I have to say for me this is one of the delightful by-products of this time we are living in.  It has never been easier to learn something new, there is an endless supply of expertise at our fingertips.  

I have decided to re-unite myself with my concertina and learn how to play it properly.  I have to say for me this is one of the delightful by-products of this time we are living in.  It has never been easier to learn something new, there is an endless supply of expertise at our fingertips.  I have decided to re-unite myself with my concertina and learn how to play it properly. You’ll see from this video I have a long way to go!  I am reading books I have wanted to read for years and attending online lectures on subjects I never knew existed.  

What would you like to learn? Perhaps you have an old guitar at the back of the cupboard or a language you’d like to get stuck into – now is the time. I have a long way to go!   I am reading books I have wanted to read for years and attending online lectures on subjects I never knew existed.  What would you like to learn?

Have Some Fun 

I know it might not feel like a time to have some fun, but let me assure you it’s not going to make things any worse, and will likely make things feel much better.  There are just so many ways to have fun and each of us has different ways of doing it.  You know what brings a smile to your face, so do what you can to create moments of fun over the weekend.  I like to play games (card games, mah-jong, monopoly) and do jigsaw puzzles. My partner likes to be creative and make things.  Do your version of fun.  

Catch up on Your Sleep 

If you’re like most people your sleep is probably more disturbed right now than it normally is (understandable under these unusual circumstances). Take every opportunity to top up your sleep quota, whether that is a lie-in, an afternoon nap, or an early night. The weekend is a perfect time to catch up.  Now I know this isn’t always possible especially if you have small kids but grab every opportunity you can.  If you haven’t heard me bang on about it already, sleep is the most underrated health habit and productivity tool.  Being sleep deprived is not something you want to be right now. Think about how you might set yourself up for the week ahead by getting some early nights.

Catch up on jobs you’ve been wanting to do for ages.  

In the past, I have often had good intentions for doing certain jobs I’ve been meaning to do for ages and just never got around to them.  I no longer have an excuse.  There are so many things that could be tackled over the next few weekends. Clearing the cellar, loft, shed, cupboards or garage.  Tidy that room that has been neglected, throw away paperwork gathering dust, create a photo album, re-cycle old clothes, toys, unloved gifts/purchases (perhaps not right now, but get them ready anyway).  

Move 

The chances are, if you are now working from home, you are doing less movement that you are used to. Perhaps you are stuck in front of your computer and don’t get up as often as you might.  You no longer have the commute or the face to face meetings or coffee conversations that would have naturally caused you to move.  If you want to stay away from muscular-skeletal problems you need to move. How about changing your movement routine from your usual weekday routine.  How about a longer walk or swap running for a cycle at the weekend? Oh, and it doesn’t need to be conventional exercise – you can get the benefits from dancing with your loved ones, playing games with your kids (young and old) or entertaining your pets.  The bottom line is ‘change it up’ and MOVE!

Do what you can to continue to have a weekend break and distract yourself from work and worries. This will reduce the stress hormones, help you keep a sense of normality and I believe it will serve you well over time.

STRESS – Good or Bad?

Many people say that STRESS IS BAD.

Well, I want to tell you why that is BS.

We are designed for stress. Some stress motivates us and gets out of bed in the morning. The stressful times in our lives are what really make us value and appreciate the times that aren’t.

Our bodies are physically pre-programmed to respond to a threat by kicking in the stress response and giving our bodies the superpowers to FIGHT, FLIGHT or FREEZE. To help us run away from a predator, for example, and survive. When repeated, these episodes of acute stress help to build high levels of resilience.

What is not good however, is CHRONIC STRESS. This is when the stress hormones kick in and don’t come down as there is:
stress 
after stress 
after stress

This is what causes BURNOUT.

The multitude of things, situations, people and environments that are kicking off the stress response these days are no longer life-threatening. It could be something as small as an unread email, a look from another person, an impending deadline. These can all kick off the stress response, which, when it happens too frequently over extended time periods, is what ultimately leads to BURNOUT.

Did you know that 80% of doctors’ appointments are for stress-related conditions? The World Health Organisation recognises (CHRONIC) STRESS as a global epidemic. In fact, 85% of heart attacks are stress related – that’s a terrifying figure!

So what can you do?
If things feel like they’re getting on top of you, here are 5 tips you can employ in your own life to regain control:

1) BREATHE – box breathing helps you calm yourself down. Box breathing is just this. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, out for 4, pause for 4. Do at least 3 rounds and notice what’s different now.

2) Take a WALK – outside ideally – if that’s not possible just get out of your chair and take a walk around anywhere.

3) Take a FAB break – FAB = Fluid adjustment break – fluids in fluids out!

4) Have a MINDFUL moment – focus on your body and bring your attention to the sensations and what’s going on right now. Bring all your senses into the NOW.

5) SLEEP – I know you’re unlikely to be able to go to sleep right now unless you are tucked up in bed – in which case you shouldn’t be looking at your phone! But here’s the thing, if you want to stay on top of your stress the best thing you can do – by far – is to get some more sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours per night of quality sleep per night and you’ll be part of the successful few. Cut out screen time an hour before going to bed and allow yourself extra time to fall asleep to ensure you are getting close if not more than 8 hours.

Join my THRIVE TRIBE if you’d like more tips on living your best life.

S x

 

World Suicide Prevention Day.  What Can You Do?

World Suicide Prevention Day. What Can You Do?

It’s suspected that the world suicide figures are a shocking, 1 person dies every 40 seconds.

That’s close to 1 million people every year, and the numbers are only growing. In addition to these numbers, there are many more who attempt suicide, putting them at an extremely high risk to attempt again. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds, and the number one cause of death for men under the age of 35.

Today, Tuesday 10th September is World Suicide Prevention Day. Many organisations are doing incredible work to reduce the stigma surrounding mental ill-health in preparation for World Mental Health Day on October 10th. I suggest you check out the World Health Organisation’s 40 Seconds of Action campaign, which I am also partaking in just by writing this email!

I myself have gone through a period of suicidal thoughts. I have also had a good friend commit suicide, who I’d known was depressed, and I wish I’d done more.

It’s important to remind ourselves that most who are struggling will not reach out. No matter how many television ads they see, or posters on the inside of cubicle doors, they won’t call the helpline. They won’t talk to a friend. They won’t seek professional help. The black dog of mental illness often prevents them from being able to help themselves in ways not even they can understand.

You may have primarily heard me speak about ensuring that our minds are set up to thrive by taking time out for ourselves, not letting our physiological needs slip, and taking care of number one.

However, I also cannot stress enough the importance of checking in on not only our loved ones but also those we sense may need some support. R U OK day is coming up on Thursday 12th of September, which is a great reminder to us all to frequently check in with others.

I truly believe reading about mental health not only helps those who suffer, but also gives others a much greater understanding of its workings so as to support others more effectively. So, in light of this awareness week being centred around the worldwide epidemic of mental health problems, here are three great reads that I would recommend to all:

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful – Sarah Wilson
If you have anxiety, this book is for you. If you love someone who is anxious, this book is for you. I Quit Sugar founder and New York Times bestselling author Sarah Wilson has lived through high anxiety – including bipolar, OCD and several suicide attempts – her whole life. Perhaps like you, she grew tired of seeing anxiety as a disease that must be medicated into submission. Could anxiety be re-sewn, she asked, into a thing of beauty? Sarah travelled the world, in a quest to unravel the knotted ball of wool that is the anxious condition. She emerged with the very best philosophy, science and hacks for thriving with the beast.

Thrive – Rob Kelly
This book is an ACTION novel, teaching people to change their limiting thinking styles.
By joining together new research and unique clinical insights, Thrive demonstrates how most symptoms and problems in life are actually created or exacerbated by people’s limiting belief systems and thinking styles. It enables people to really understand the importance of their cognitive processes and to realise that the way they think, feel and react to situations has a profound effect on how they experience life.

The Marriage Plot: A Novel – Jeffery Eugenides
Eugenides’s book revolves around Madeline, an English major at Brown who struggles to reconcile her life with her love for Victorian literature. The book’s beating heart is the complicated relationship she has with Leonard, a possible representation of a friend of Eugenides’s who dealt with depression for much of his life and ultimately died by suicide.

I hope you enjoy these suggestions and that you too can take your #40seconds of action today.

Kick-start your Personal Growth with Tony Robbins

Kick-start your Personal Growth with Tony Robbins

If you’ve ever been tempted to do a Tony Robbin’s training, please don’t hesitate.  Do it now!  Why do I say that?

Doing ‘Unleash the Power Within’ 15 years ago has completely changed my life.  It has been the catalyst for my personal growth, moving from anxiety and depression to confidence and success. 


Has there ever been a time in your life when you look back at your younger self and you don’t recognise yourself?


Well, I cannot believe how much my life has changed since I attended that particular event at the Excel Center 15 years ago.


Back then I was in a marriage that didn’t work and wasn’t good for me, (I was married to a psychopath).  I was doing a job I didn’t enjoy that was causing me stress and anxiety and many sleepless nights.  I didn’t have time for my family and friends because I was so consumed by my work.  And I carved out no time for myself.  I looked old for my age, with all the stress and worry, and I was fed up and disgruntled with the world.  I couldn’t see a way out!


Somehow, I had lost my sense of self and felt like the ball in a pinball machine – being hurled from one place to the next by other peoples’ demands.


That was until I attended  UPW (Unleash the Power Within)

I have to say the environment was alien to me, seeing thousands of people all in one room and most of them jumping up and down on their chairs, dancing and hollering.  I wasn’t really sure whether I would last the morning, these people didn’t really seem to be my tribe.  But with my friends’ help, I did stay and I am so pleased I did.

Spending 3 days with Tony Robbins challenged my thinking and caused me to look at different aspects of my life in new ways.


For the first time, I took responsibility for what was going on in my life and decided to change it.  It took courage and wasn’t easy but it started that weekend.


Fire Walking was a highlight – walking on fire and not burning my feet was terrifying. But I followed Tony’s instructions about getting into an empowering state and it worked.  That taught me that I can do anything now if I put my mind to it.  Boy has that mind-shift changed my personal growth and success!


I began to realise just how powerful our minds are and that they can be either used for good or ill.  Our thoughts can empower us or annihilate us – the choice is yours.

So what did I do after UPW?

I split up with my husband after 18 years of marriage and have now reached a balanced way of co-existing and co-parenting my son.  I am the Founder of the Thrive Tribe and help busy women to feel more empowered and share strategies so they can have more success in their careers, relationships, health and wellbeing.  


Unbelievably my current partner happened to be at the same UPW event!  Can you believe that?  We didn’t meet but somehow it is reassuring and rather wonderful to know he was in the same room all those years ago, experiencing his version of the UPW journey.


I an now an award-winning Speaker, Author and Trainer. To my joy, I have a thriving business that educates and trains people about mental wellbeing and how to set your self up to Thrive at work and in life.  If you don’t have a sustainable strategy you are more likely to burnout and derail your career.  

What I have discovered on my journey is that there are 5 key things you need to master if you want to Thrive at work and in life – but more of these personal growth strategies another time.


If you have ever felt tempted to do a Tony Robbins event – hesitate no longer and take charge of your life by attending UPW (Unleash the Power Within).  Tickets are going fast and you may have to pay more than you had hoped but what price would you put on your success and freedom?

I’ll be heading for the US in December to do his ‘Date with Destiny’ event next.  I wonder what will happen as a consequence – can’t wait to find out – I am on my way!

3 Tips For Getting More Done And Avoiding Burn Out

3 Tips For Getting More Done And Avoiding Burn Out

Are you a busy woman rushing around trying to balance family life with work but then never having any time for yourself?  Or maybe you’re an entrepreneur feeling like you’re spread too thinly and there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done?  Maybe you’re fed up with having to sacrifice yourself, your health, enjoyment and relationships to fulfil others demands.

Over the last 10 years, I have moved from being hospitalised from burning myself out to finding a balance in my life.

I want to share with you 3 simple ways to get more done in your day so you can achieve more, worry less and get yourself back on track.

Tip 1 – Sleep Rules

The mistake that many people make with their productivity is that they prioritise work over everything else.  This includes sacrificing sleep to get things done.

Sleep is the most underrated productivity tool there is. Research has shown if you don’t get enough sleep, things take longer to do, you make more mistakes, your brain can’t focus or be as creative as it might and you can feel cranky too!

You know what its like when you see people wandering around sleep deprived and they have no idea how it’s affecting their productivity, but yet this is seen as normal.

So, instead of prioritising work and compromising your sleep you need to simply flip it on its head and prioritise sleep. You’ll feel refreshed, energised, think more clearly, be more productive and have time for the things that matter.

Tip 2 –  Be in Charge

 Another mistake that people make is allowing their day to be in charge of them rather than them being in charge of their day.

This means that they are influenced by what comes into their in-tray or email and they often then get caught up in what appears to be urgent rather than what is important.

When that happens day in day out the important things don’t ever happen in your life which causes your business, career or other priorities not to move forward as they should

So instead of allowing your day to be in charge of you, you need to spend some time strategising each day.  To strategise, simply make sure you spend a few minutes before your day starts to decide:-

  • what’s important now
  • what must get done today
  • how can you be your best self

This will give you more focus and you will feel more in control. Get the important things done not just the urgent things.

Tip 3 – No Time for Distractions

Another mistake many people make with their productivity is they allow themselves to be continuously interrupted. This makes it more difficult to focus, think clearly and to get any quality work done.

Instead of allowing yourself to be interrupted you want to create blocks of uninterrupted time.  Schedule time to do a particular task, create a space away from distraction, turn off your phone and computer ideally or if that’s not possible, at least turn off the notifications and tell people you don’t want to be interrupted for the next period of time.

With fewer distractions, you will have more time to focus on the things and people that really matter.

NOW if you have found value in these three tips you going to love the Thrive Tribe Live Quarterly meetups.

The Thrive Tribe Live events are for like-minded busy women who want to get more control back in their lives so they can have more success without the stress and more joy and confidence.

Join me at the next gathering in Central London here, where I will be sharing more tips on how to bring more balance in your life and not burn out.