get healthy

Self-Care For Entrepreneurs // Retreat Yourself

By Kate Williams

As many of you know, my word for 2016 is 'nourish' and I wholeheartedly believe that taking care of yourself is a sure bet for entrepreneurial success. When you are stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed, overworked and stretched too thin, your body, mind and biz will suffer. So while it's not always possible to book a holiday or escape to the spa, this new business is just the solution you need. When I first heard about Kate's business, Retreat Yourself, I immediately knew I had to share with my Blog Society family....enjoy below and make sure to check out our giveaway to one lucky reader! (I've been lucky enough to see this box first hand and can say without a doubt it was jam packed with the most exquisite goodies I've ever seen!) x Jaclyn

Hi everyone, I'm so happy to be sharing my own story with you guys as there is no better time to talk about self-care than at the start of a new month and while the seasons are changing and I'm so happy tell you a little about my journey launching my brand new business (yes it's been a roller coaster!) The Retreat Yourself Box is Australia’s first seasonal health & wellness subscription box. It’s taken a spin off the usual subscription boxes we see on the market and created an entire experience, to really help you get the most out of your health and life. 

When you subscribe to Retreat Yourself, you receive a retreat on your doorstep at the start of each season (4 boxes per year) to help you get grounded, healthy & ready to transition to the season ahead.

The box is packed full of 10-15 sample and full sized health and wellness products worth well over $100. It also contains the RY Wellness Guide, which is a magazine style booklet containing loads of healthy recipes, stretches and yoga poses, lifestyle articles and beauty tips and tricks from health gurus across the globe. The box is all tied together with the exclusive Retreat Yourself day plan, which explains how to create your own health retreat at home, using the products and guide featured within the box. It’s essentially a health retreat in a box!

Having launched this Summer and selling out of the Summer Box twice, the Retreat Yourself Box has hit the ground running.

So why Retreat Yourself? And where did this idea begin?
Retreat Yourself was born just under a year ago. I was living in Melbourne at the time and had my heart set on starting an online coaching program for women which involved all areas of health – mind, body and soul, and learning to love #1. I was in the middle of doing an online business course called B-School, had just finished my personal training certificate, had enrolled at Beautiful You coaching academy to become a qualified life coach, and was going to combine them with my certificate in Holistic Nutrition that I’d gained a couple of years prior. I’d started my website and Instagram page, and was (and still am) a part of many different small business groups for female entrepreneurs who were starting or working in heart-centred business. I found that even though I was surrounded by so much support, I kept coming up against dead ends. 

Starting an online coaching program just wasn’t flowing for me, and I really wanted to reach people on a much BIGGER scale. Not only did I want to help women who were seeking my services, but also women who would never have ever considered hiring a coach to help them with their health and happiness. I was actually seeing a life coach at the time and I’d often have people say to me “but why Kate? You’re good at life!”. People just didn’t get it. The stigma that only people who were struggling with life should have a coach was surrounding me, and I felt as though it was holding me back and keeping me dead in my tracks. 

A few years ago I had a friend who had been receiving Bella Box. I thought it was such a great idea! Starting a health food box was then stuck in my head, but I was about to head off traveling again and was unsure whether I’d return. The idea sat dormant at the back of my mind for the next few years. In March last year whilst I was sitting at my desk doing B-School work on how to grow my coaching business, my mind started to wander. What if I could create a subscription style box that included the type of information that you’d get from a coach? That included products that ANY health conscious person would be interested in, and also encouraged self-care and looking after whole health? I literally sat there that day and the whole idea just came surging out. I knew what it was going to look like, smell like, I knew the name. I knew exactly what it was. It all made sense! And the best part? That I would be able to reach SO many people with this idea. It was a no-brainer. So that day I created a business plan, I started searching for a designer and I got planning. I haven’t stopped since! 

Helping women with their health wasn’t the only reason I started the Retreat Yourself Box. There are MANY angles as to why it began. I’ve never been a big believer in societies prescribed plan - having left New Zealand to explore new places when I was 20 years old; I studied the world instead of going to university. I didn’t believe in spending my youth studying something I may never use. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to help people, but wasn’t sure how this looked. All I knew was that the more I explored and discovered the world, others and myself, the more I’d learn where I wanted to be.

During the last 10 years of travel I have experienced some weird and wonderful things. I’ve spent time volunteering in Nepal, Zambia and Melbourne. I’ve done 7 ski seasons. I’ve backpacked through India, Mexico, America, Sri Lanka, South East Asia. I’ve lived in multiple cities and towns across Australia and Canada, and have spent some time living in Japan. My life has been anything BUT stationary. Even as the beginning stages of Retreat Yourself were implemented, I backpacked across Thailand and Vietnam, having email conversations with my designer as I trotted between different locations. People would often say to me, “I wish I had a life like yours”, and my answer was always – you can! The only thing between you and living your best life is YOU.

One thing that lingered over my head during many years of travel was the thought of “am I doing what I ‘should’ be doing?” “What if I don’t ‘succeed’ at life?” “What if I become a ‘nobody’?”. This pressure loomed over me like a dark cloud for many years during my mid 20’s, which lead me to Melbourne where I was going to get a ‘proper’ job. I somehow landed upon a good role in the corporate world as a Contractor Manager, where I was managing around 200-300 corporate contractors across 18 companies. My strengths certainly lay in the relationship building side of things, with coffee drinking and lunching becoming the usual. Besides the fact that it was great to escape the office, I really liked getting to know about my contractors lives – both at work, and at home. What I learnt during this time is that SO many people aren’t doing what they want to be doing in life. So many people are stuck in their usual comforts and are so paralysed by fear of the unknown that they stay stuck in something that may not be serving their highest good. When I’d chat to my contractors and delve a little deeper than the usual chit chat, they’d tell me that they wished they could start their own businesses, or spend their time creating things, or traveling, or doing what the loved. So why weren’t they doing these things? I’d often ponder to myself. It made me realise how difficult it can be for some people to follow their dreams. Lack of confidence and just general fear would keep them at a stand-still. This to me, was absolutely absurd. So when Retreat Yourself came up, I thought YES! This is how I can help those people who have taken the plunge to start their own small businesses to get their product out into the world and into the hand of potential customers. A HUGE focus of the Retreat Yourself Box is on small Australian brands and people who align with the ethics of Retreat Yourself. It makes my heart sing to know that I can be helping people from all angles.

I really do pour my heart and soul into this baby. I have a vision of impacting the lives of women across Australia, and hopefully one day – across the world. My vision for Retreat Yourself is huge and I will continue to work on it until women learn how to love themselves and put their health and happiness first. Why? Because at the end of the day, YOU are the only obstacle in the way of living your most fabulous life. When you learn to love and care for yourself, the world is yours.

Kate and I are proud to team up and be giving a way to Retreat Yourself box to one lucky and deserving winner. To enter all you need to do is tell is leave us a quick comment below and share your favourite means of self-care (ie. travel, massage, exercise, mediation - get creative!). PLEASE make sure you leave your contact email so we can get in touch with you! One winner will be drawn at random and announced via social media on Saturday 9 April. Entries close 7 April at midnight (EST). Good luck!

Kate Williams, Retreat Yourself  (*You can find Kate on Facebook, Instagram)

Free DIY Printable // Today I Choose Joy Poster

I have been waiting to write this post for weeks, the words have literally been pouring out in preparation for this announcement. I am thrilled to be teaming up with Emma Kate Codrington to launch a new #bloglovefest initiative for the month of April: A Collective Celebration of Self-care.

Over the next 4 weeks we’re going to be releasing a series of self-care printables designed to help you keep calm, collected and focused on the all important and timely topic of self-care.  Before I tell you how you an get involved, l’d like to share where the idea for this month’s movement stemmed from…I have a feeling many of you will relate.

There was a moment earlier this year when, nearing 2am, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and barely recognised the reflection staring back at me. I had been working furiously for hours on a project that I was passionate about, had an early morning meeting that I needed to be prepped for, had just rewritten a 3 page to-do list and while normally these things help me feel organised and collected the feeling that overcame me that night was not just one of exhaustion, it was of complete energy void. My inspiration and energy tank was complete wiped out. There was nothing there. As I dragged myself to bed that night (and the next, and the next) that feeling of being replenished never seemed to come. It began to have an impact on my health, weight, relationship and overall feeling of well-being. I had put so much on my plate, wanted to achieve so much, had so many ideas and was perpetually in a state of dizzying busyness that I completely lost sense of myself. When it came to my blog and business future I felt flat, zapped and joyless.

So I decided to do something about it.

At the same time, Emma happened to reach out and together we felt that if we were feeling this theme of burnout then others would be too so we wanted to create a community focused initiative that would help individuals take care of themselves better, finally.

So this morning I’m excited to release our first printable post – Today I Choose Joy – a simple yet powerful intention and an incredible first step for self-care. Our emotions can run our day if we aren't careful, remembering always that we have the power to choose how we feel and how we spend our energy. We may not be able to control what happens around us but we certainly can control our reactions and today, rather than feeling (go ahead and insert your own emotional adjective!) go ahead and choose joy. I hope you’ll join me in sharing your own stories below and that you’ll come along for the self-care ride this April.

Get involved and share the poster or these special images via social media using our #bloglovefest hashtag. Simply right click images below to save or click on the link below to download your first printable in our April #bloglovefest series:

DOWNLOAD Today I Choose Joy Poster

Visiting Blog Society for the first time? Well a big hello to you - and here's hoping you have a kick-ass, self-care April! If you're interested in more fun content, free advice and a beautiful community of global creatives, then join our tribe here.

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Is Stress Preventing You From Growing Your Business?

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By Kelly LeGendre

Yeah, I already know what you're thinking... ANOTHER article telling me how stress is ruining my life? I mean, that's all well and good, but between deadlines, a never ending to-do list, and an overbearing mother-in-law who just decided to drop in for the weekend, what exactly is a girl supposed to do?

I know it can be easy to gloss over stress-reduction recommendations when you're thinking of stress as something that might/maybe someday impact your health in a negative way. What I think a lot of women don't realize is that stress can have huge impact on your hormonal health and quality of life in the here and now. 

In my day-to-day life, I work with women who want to naturally increase their fertility. And most of them are totally clueless when it comes to all the ways stress is keeping them from getting pregnant. But when you take a look at the physiology, it's not surprising that so many busy, professional women are having trouble conceiving these days.

In fact, while I know it might sound crazy at first blush, the effect stress has on your hormones is so far-reaching that it might even be derailing your efforts to sustain and grow your business. Seriously.

When you experience stress, whether it be mental, emotional, or physical, your body starts pumping out three hormones: cortisol, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), and norepinephrine. Cortisol is the one we're concerned with here, and since most of us are living lives where stress is pretty much a constant in one form or another, our bodies are continually manufacturing cortisol. 

This means trouble on two fronts. 

First, it can be difficult for your body to keep up with the demand. Cortisol is made from a precursor hormone called pregnenolone, which is also used to manufacture progesterone. Cortisol is more essential to your immediate survival when you're facing a potential life-threatening emergency (say, running for your life), so when your body starts running low it begins to shunt all available pregnenolone away from making progesterone and into manufacturing more cortisol. The end result? You end up low on progesterone and other critical sex hormones.

Next, while epinephrine and norepinephrine dissipate rather quickly, cortisol tends to linger in your body and cause all sorts of problems, even after the immediate stress is resolved. One of the side effects of elevated cortisol is insulin resistance—an attempt by your body to keep quickly useable fuel in circulation for when the whole running-for-your-life thing starts. 

This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, but since stress these days is much more likely to come from a looming deadline than a looming predator (and unfortunately, your body doesn't know the difference), cortisol induced insulin resistance just further whacks out your hormones and sends you on your way toward metabolic syndrome and, eventually, type II diabetes.

I'm sure you're wondering what all of this has to do with running your business...

Well, in addition to a lot of the symptoms normally associated with wonky hormone levels (rough periods, infertility, etc) low progesterone levels can also be responsible for things like anxiety, insomnia, and difficulty concentrating. And cortisol is even worse. If you ever find yourself feeling distracted, overcome with negativity, thinking everything feels harder than it should be, worrying about things out of your control, or crying for no reason, it's likely that unbalanced cortisol is to blame. High cortisol can also decimate your memory and make you feel like you're constantly fighting an uphill battle to get things done.

Basically, unbalanced hormones make life (not to mention running a business) feel a million times harder than it needs to.

So what's the solution? You obviously can't completely eliminate stress from your life, so it's all about minimizing what you can and finding better ways to deal with what's left.

The first step is offloading. Make a list of all the tasks you deal with in your business and your home life in a typical week—is there anything you can delegate? So much of the work we do is just busy work and when push comes to shove there are always things that can be eliminated or consolidated. 

If you find you're getting overloaded with menial business tasks, maybe it's time to hire a VA. If you're spending too much time on domestic work, consider hiring a housekeeper a couple times a month. Anything that can free up some extra time and brainpower is a worthy expense.

Once you've eliminated what you can, the next step is finding a way to reduce the remaining stress you can't avoid. When we work for ourselves, it's all too easy to let our other interests fall to the wayside. Take some time everyday to do something (non-business related!) just for yourself. Block out a half an hour to read a book, take a walk, or do whatever it is that makes you feel more you.

Then of course, there are the two things that every single article ever written on stress reduction wants you take up—yoga and meditation.

I wish I could disagree, but the truth is that there's a reason they've become cliches. One of the reasons they're so effective is that they can not only help you de-stress while you're practicing, but both actually train you deal with stress more effectively in your day-to-day life as well.

By slowing down and forcing yourself to sit and just chill with your crazy thoughts (or even physical discomfort) without distractions, you become more familiar with the way your mind reacts to stressful situations. And once you're able to recognize those reactions during your practice, it becomes a million times easier to spot and calmly defuse them in the wild.

Mindfulness meditation is the gold standard for learning to calm your mind, but if you've a true beginner, guided meditations are a really accessible entry into the practice. In most, a speaker leads you through progressively relaxing your entire body and then usually gives suggestions for releasing stressful thoughts. 

Try googling “guided meditation for stress” or “progressive relaxation” and listen to a few to find one or two that you like. Make time each day to practice each day—I personally like to listen to guided meditations while relaxing in bed before falling asleep. When you start to fall in love with meditation (and I promise you will if you start with this type), then try taking it up a notch with a mindfulness or mantra-based practice. There's a ton of info to be found online about both.

Finally, herbal support can be a godsend when it comes to managing stress. Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, eleuthero, rhodiola rosea, holy basil, and astragalus can help moderate your body's stress response and regulate cortisol production. I recommend supplements that include a blend of adaptogenic herbs, with my personal favorite being one called Adrenal Response, made by Innate Response.

So eliminate as much stress as possible first, find ways to deal with the rest, and then consider an herbal formula if necessary. If you learn make stress-management a priority, I promise you'll not only feel a million times better, but you'll finally be ready to take your business to the next level as well.

Kelly LeGendre is a licensed acupuncturist and holistic fertility consultant who has been helping women overcome their fertility challenges and grow their families for over a decade. She created The Fertility Fix program in 2012 to teach women to take control of their own hormonal health through a combination of functional nutrition, herbal medicine, and lifestyle modification—and conceived her own son on the program! Click here to get her free ebook, The Fertility Fix Guide to Supercharging your Fertility. 

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Link Love // The Friday Files

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My body was giving me signs all week to slow down but in typical fashion I ignored them and kept surging forward. Am I the only that does this? Bad habit I know but if you have tips I'd love to hear them! I had a lot on my plate (like we all do) and am putting in some long hours because I've got some great things happening on the horizon that I'm impatient to get off the ground - know that feeling? I find it hard to slow down, stop thinking, stop working or stop planning. Until your body steps in and forces you to slow down and that is exactly what has happened as I end the week in bed with a full blown head cold. Luckily I didn't have to miss last night's first Mentor Power Hour which was an event that filled my heart with gratitude for our amazing community and filled my head with knowledge.

I can't wait start planning the next one and if you have ideas on what topics you'd be interested in I'm all ears. For now I'm hoping you all had an adventurous (and healthy) week - I'll be pumping vitamins and catching up on rest in anticipation of the next week's big week at work and then a few blissful days in Bali with my blogging crew. Bring it on. The blogosphere didn't disappoint this week and here are a few must read posts I'm passing on to get you through the weekend...

  • The recipe everyone is talking about and I can't wait to try
  • Loving this post that explores how YOU blog?
  • These photos make me miss living in California
  • One of the most colourful interviews we've done this year
  • It's time I (finally) start wedding planning - this might help.
  • Just because everyone loves a perfectly wrapped gift.

Know a blogger that should join our tribe? Get them involved here.