Mental load, men & women, and changing your life through intentional choices

If you’ve happened to read anything on my blog before, you’ll know I’m very passionate about helping women like me overcome stress and overwhelm and find ways to deal with (and simplify) their daily mental load. And on the 1st October 2017, I got to do this at my very first live event, co-hosted it with the fantastic Life Coach Corinne Worsley. We called it Time for You. Be well, be true, be you, and we invited Life Coach (and dear friend) Patricia Campbell and Health Coach and doTerra Essential Oils educator Rochelle Hubbard to come and speak to a group of truly amazing ladies.

I knew Corinne and I were putting up a great event (even if I say so myself), but it really did surpass my expectations. I wanted to create a space where our guests could feel safe and free to share openly, respectfully, and honestly. And I think we really achieved that. Thanks to the ladies who believed in us and in our message and who attended on the day, we were able to unpick so many useful themes, and, on reflection, I feel there is so much to take away!

Curious? Want to know a little more?

time for you self-care event Mind your Mamma 1st October 2017 London

What if the Universe has a little message for you? 

At the start of the event, we all picked a card from the deck The Universe Has Your Back, by Gabrielle Bernstein, that Corinne kindly shared with us. And the beauty of this little exercise (our ice-breaker) was that everyone picked a card with words that spoke to them. So we didn’t just get to find out people’s names, what they did, and where they came from. We also got to find out some very personal things about them that they decided to share, right at the start. It was just beautiful. And before I even got to open my mouth and do my introduction, I already felt like I needed to reach for the tissues!

Stop accepting that stress is a part of life and start believing that you have a choice

This was effectively my introductory message. I shared my story, and especially my first ever session with a Life Coach in June 2016, the decision I made to take a break from my job and career, and breaking my leg.

Why did I share my story? Because I wanted people to know that…

  1. We’re all human, and behind the “I’m ok, I can do this” front that we all put up on a daily basis, things don’t always feel that way.
  2. We truly were in a safe space, where people could be themselves and be vulnerable, if they wanted to.
  3. You can either accept stress as a part of your life (because after all, it’s part of everyone‘s life), or you can choose to actively do something about it. I’m still working on it, but that’s doing something about it is a choice I am definitely making every day.

‘Do, ditch, delegate’

Corinne‘s session helped us discuss some of the causes of overwhelm and explore the mental and emotional load that us women seem to carry around all the time. Of course, one of the first ones that sprung to mind is that we’re always way too busy, literally trying to cram in too much into our days. But it all comes back to the fact that we have a choice. And we should take responsibility for what we decide to prioritise in life. If we don’t prioritise, if we don’t make that conscious, intentional choice, we just become victims of that busyness that is doing us more harm than good.

So I hope that everyone who attended has taken some time out, at home, to fill out the ‘do, ditch, and delegate’ exercise that Corinne shared with us. I find that when I start to ask myself the right questions and then write things down, things that had always been there, going unnoticed, start to become obvious. So whether you do this all by yourself or whether you decide to work with a coach, if that’s what you to do, do this exercise! If you ever feel like your life is too busy, you can’t cope with the amount of stuff you have to do, you feel like you’re always chasing your tail and like there aren’t enough hours in the day, stop and do this. Figure out what your priorities are and then start to structure your life around that, not the other way round. mental load men & women and changing your life through intentional choices Mind your Mamma

What about all these expectations, then?

Let’s think about expectations for a second. Perfectionism, expectations we put on ourselves, that others put on us, or that we put on others around us all play a part in how busy we become. Simply because we take on too much as a result.

But has anyone ever stopped, taken a step back, and questioned whether those expectations are valid? Do they still make sense and add value to your life today? When you catch yourself thinking or saying “I should do this”, stop yourself and question it. Why should you do it? What happens if you don’t? What if you write all these things that you feel you should do down and then find out that half of them are things you never wanted to do in the first place? Or that you’re doing to please other people? Or that you’re still doing because you started doing them 10 years ago? Think about it, is there anything on your ‘should list’ that could be dropped with a massive sense of relief? You won’t know this until you find some peace and quiet in your day and write a list. As per Corinne‘s suggestion, if it helps, start with the things that absolutely need to be done for you to ‘stay sane’ and keep going. If something doesn’t land on that list, question it!

The ‘do it yourself’ syndrome

What do you expect from others? Think about your partner, your children, or your family. Are these expectations realistic? Do they really matter? Sometimes us women ‘accuse’ men of not helping around the house, not remembering or finding things, or of not doing things that we haven’t actually asked them to do. Are they all meant to be psychic?? But what do we really achieve by doing this? Does it really matter in the bigger scheme of things if the kitchen doesn’t look the way we like it after they cooked a meal? Does it matter that they hung the laundry in a different way to how we do it? The same goes for our children – we can’t criticise them for not doing something if we always criticise them when they do do it and for how they do it.

A typical example of this are our mothers. A few of us in the room thought back to memories of our mums when we were growing up – if a job wasn’t done to Mum’s standard, she wouldn’t be happy! She wasn’t happy if you didn’t do, and she wasn’t happy if you did do it. Sometimes you just can’t win, can you? So how many times, as a child, you thought, “Well, do it yourself then!” That’s exactly what people around us will think if we keep criticising them, right? The work of Alison Armstrong, and in particular her book The Queen’s Code was mentioned at the event. Sometimes all it takes is for us ladies to speak to the people (and in particular, the men) in our lives in a way that makes them feel respected. And in turn that enables us to be heard. (Have you added the book to your reading list yet? I have).

People-pleasing, boundaries, and learning how to say NO

This is a theme that came out loud and clear in both our Life Coaches’ sessions. So often in life, we feel that we can’t say no to some people – our bosses at work, our families, our mothers-in-law! But why though? And is it really true that we can’t say no? What’s the worse that can happen when we politely explain why we think we can’t do something? There’s no need to be rude with anyone, but could our people-pleasing attitude be one of the causes for taking too much on and then falling into the trap of resentment? Corinne‘s suggestion was to ‘choose discomfort over resentment’. Think about it. What would life be like if we started noticing these behaviours and started making intentional choices, where we can, not to take on what we feel we can’t or don’t want to take on? If you don’t have any boundaries, you’ll always fall into the resentment trap because people will keep asking things of you, not knowing that you have a problem with that. And if you keep stretching your boundaries, eventually they will snap. Food for thought?

mental load overcoming overwhelm making intentional choices

So how do we help ourselves? 

Looking after our health and our bodies is a great way to start! A few of the things that came up for us in the room were:

  • Cutting down on caffeine – it might give you an immediate boost, but it interferes with sleep quality and can contribute to anxiety.
  • Get enough sleep!
  • Eat good, nutritional food that makes you feel good and energetic. Avoid skipping meals and resorting to sugary snacks when you have too much to do. It really doesn’t help!
  • Breathe. Quite literally. If you catch yourself feeling anxious or overwhelmed in the middle of the day, do some deep belly breathing. We tried this briefly with Corinne during the session – place your hand on your belly if you need to and feel it move up and down when you breathe. If only you notice your chest is moving, what you’re doing is shallow breathing instead. And that might not help you feel any better, unfortunately. So try it out, and if you’re a busy mum, I really recommend you pick up a copy of Mindfulness for Mothers, by Rebecca Ryan. In this blog post, I’ve also listed some of her tips for very quick calming exercises that you can you do in the middle of the day.

What’s the cost of not looking after yourself? 

Ah, I wish you could have been there to hear the very honest, vulnerable talk from Life Coach Patricia Campbell. I won’t go into the details of what she shared about her life, but my key takeaways are here.

Do you value yourself?

When you don’t value yourself, you don’t believe in your worth, and you don’t love yourself, you’ll continuously attract the wrong things in your life. The wrong people and the wrong situations, for example. At the back of Patricia’s talk, I’d highly recommend you read the book You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, if you haven’t already. It’s no coincidence that this is what I’m reading at the moment!

Stop keeping yourself small

Your ego is a funny thing. It wants to protect you and keep you safe. But what it can also do is keeping you small. In other words, you can quite literally ‘sabotage yourself’ and ‘get in your own way’. Because you’re too scared of doing something different, for example. Something that’s outside your comfort zone. So you end up ‘distracting yourself’ from the things you are really meant to do – the things that scare you, and that your ego wants to subconsciously protect you from. There’s no growth within your comfort zone, unfortunately. If you want something, and if you want to go for it, let your intuition will guide you. Listen to it, and take action accordingly. Patricia is so passionate about this that she had already inspired me to write a blog post about this – go after your dreams!

Ask for and accept help

Why are we so scared of asking for help? Why do we want to please others so badly?

Human beings are social creatures, and we have this strong, innate need to be accepted and loved. So we fear rejection. We fear upsetting others. Deep deep down we fear we are going to end up alone. And even if these feelings aren’t up there in our conscious mind, they might sometimes be the driving force for some of our actions. How many times did you find yourself stressing in anticipation about asking someone for help? Then when you actually ask, you realise it wasn’t such a big deal after all! And if they say no?! Oh, then we tend to internalise it all. We think it’s about us, about something we did wrong, or, worse, because of who we are. But most of the time it’s got nothing to do with us – other people are just either enforcing their own boundaries or simply, they just can’t help on that occasion. But you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Stop bottling it all up

We may think it’s a sign of strength, but keeping everything in and not showing emotions isn’t healthy for us. Because things that we internalise have a sneaky way of hurting us eventually or coming out in other ways. Anger, resentment, guilt, grief – all these emotions (and much more), when not dealt with, can end up damaging our mental and physical health. Once again, I really recommend you read Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life.

Can essential oils help?

The short answer is yes. I wrote a blog post with some high-level information about essential oils and emotional health a few months ago, but if you want to know more about this, I suggest you check out the work of Health Coach and doTerra essential oils educator Rochelle Hubbard, of Eat Smile Live.

It’s over to us now… Make choices. Take action.

The mental and emotional load us modern women carry around is not really healthy. Stats show that women’s mental health is taking a turn for the worse. But we are the ones with the power to change this. And of course, change it for the better and for the next generation, too. We need to understand and believe that we have the power within us to do this. And that, for our own sakes (and our families’), it’s a very good idea that we start making intentional choices and take active steps to make these changes happen. It doesn’t happen if we don’t take a break and actively think about this. It doesn’t happen without conscious, intentional action.

So, will you take a good look at your own life, take a deep breath, decide what you need to change, and go for it? Even if it feels scary, uncomfortable, and difficult?

4 Comments

  1. Emma
    6th October 2017 / 2:23 pm

    Really good post and very timely for me. Today I went to a yoga class and took a conscious decision to have only one cup of coffee 🙏

    • Sara
      6th October 2017 / 2:38 pm

      Great to hear you enjoyed it Emma, and that it was timely for you! I have NOT been to a yoga class today, AND I’ve had 2 coffees. I should ‘sort myself out’! 😉

  2. 6th October 2017 / 4:21 pm

    It was a great event and I was honoured to be there. Thanks for putting it on!

    • Sara
      6th October 2017 / 4:24 pm

      Thank you Lucy! It was great to have you there – thank you so much for travelling all the way too! 🙂 x

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