Meditation To Reduce Stress

Meditation

By Kristi Ketz

"I don’t like coming and going….I like being.”

What a profound quote!! Don’t ya think? Sounds kind of nice. Is it possible to drop into “being” while still coming and going? That is what I’m trying to do. Because as a multi-passionate entrepreneur, helper, and mom of two awesome little girls, I do a
lot of coming and going. Wait! Back to the quote. Who said that? ME at age 10!!! Apparently I said this on a 12-hour car trip to Florida during our annual family beach vacation when I was 12. I assume I was pretty miserable in the car when I said that! My dad thought it was so
clever that he sent my quote to the Christian Science Monitor where it was published. I must have had a little voice inside all of those years ago that knew the focus on going and coming took away the peace of being. Since that time I have done ANYTHING BUT BE. It was only until I was much older and in my late 30s that I discovered meditation. My first serious introduction was a nine-day mindfulness meditation retreat/training with Jon Kabat-Zinn in 2008. He is largely responsible for brining mindfulness meditation into Western medicine. I
later attended another nine-day retreat/training with his associates from the University of Massachusetts Stress Reduction Program. I have seen the research and have reaped the personal benefits of using meditation to reduce stress and even lowering my blood pressure throughout the labor process with my second daughter. As much as I believe in meditation to reduce stress (and the many other benefits), I
continue to have a really hard time “being”. I still don’t enjoy “going and coming” but that is where I seem to stay much of the time. To-do lists, plans, goals, routines, time management, stress, busyness, feeling frazzled, and on and on. I say I want “to be” but if you looked at my life much of the time you would see a person frantically running from one thing to the next. You would see a person who says “yes” to too
many things. You would see a person looking scattered and unorganised. I claim that I love to relax and slow down but when I do I either feel bored, worry about all of my to-dos, and/or feel guilt for not being productive. I know that I’m not the only one who knows the value of meditation and has difficulty incorporating it into their daily life.

Meditation & Stress

My Meditation Practice and Barriers to Practice
Do I meditate daily? No? I really have been trying. And it helps. It makes a huge difference in my feeling of calm and peace. So, I’ve been meditating much more regularly in the last few months. It is AMAZING how even two minutes can change my mood, outlook, and how my body feels (immediate relaxation, decreased heart rate when stressed, less muscle tension). It really is a quick fix when I use meditation to reduce stress.

With these benefits, why would I have a problem regularly meditating? I don’t think I’m unique. I’ve neglected meditation because “I’M TOO BUSY!!” I’m on a time crunch and have these phone calls, emails, and texts I need to address. There are dishes in the sink and laundry on the couch. These tasks have a visible outcome - I can see the checkmark on my to-do list and know that I am moving forward. The problem is as I check one thing off the list, then more things get added. The list will never end. I have learned that I can spend my days being a slave to the never-ending list or I can take time for myself and my mental and physical health. As I heard Tony Robbins once say, if you don’t have 10 minutes a day you don’t have a life. Good point. If I don’t have 10 minutes a day to use meditation to reduce stress, then I’m really in trouble. So, I’ve been trying.

The Science Behind Meditation to Reduce Stress
I love the science behind meditation. In the past, I saw it as woo woo but there are physical and physiological changes in the body when we meditate. Like……

1. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital Study showed THE BRAIN CAN CHANGE FOLLOWING MEDITATION. Wow!!! Here’s what can change….there is thickening in the parts of the brain associated with learning, memory, and executive decision making. Who doesn’t need a boost in these areas? Also, certain parts of the brain get thinner (the amygdala in particular). This is an exciting finding to me because the amygdala is associated with threat, fear, and anxiety. I’ve dealt with enough anxiety for a lifetime, so if that part of my brain can change in the right direction, I’m all for it.
2. A study from the University of Wisconsin showed a shift in activity in the pre- frontal cortex in locations related to the processing of emotion when under stress. The group that meditated had shifts in activity from more right-sided activity to left-sided activity. Prior to this study, it was thought that the right/left activity in this part of the brain was a fixed trait and that by adulthood you were who you were….nervous or calm. So thankful that does not turn out to be true!!
3. The same study found that those in the meditation group had a better immune response when given the flu shot. As someone who has historically gotten sick after times of stress, wow!! I am all for meditation to reduce stress! I am. I really am. Despite my trying to find every reason in the book to do something else.
4. There was another study with patients with psoriasis who had to have light therapy (which can then lead to skin cancer). The study found that those who meditated during treatment healed four times faster and therefore were able to discontinue the therapy sooner and thereby decreased their risk of skin cancer.

So, How Do I Meditate to Reduce Stress?
In my meditation training, I have learned that in addition to formal meditation there is informal meditation. Informal meditation is what I work toward in the hours and moments that I am not sitting doing a formal meditation. It’s a way of life. A way of being. It is not natural for me. It’s basically being 100% there in the present moment. So, if I’m folding laundry. I’m folding laundry….not thinking about what I am going to do next or what I didn’t get completed today. If I’m watching my girls’ favorite t.v. show with them, my eyes and ears (and brain) are also on the show and not on my phone scrolling Facebook. I’m not reviewing my to-do list in my head while appearing to be paying attention to the show. The more I can do this the more relaxed and calm I feel. I work on awareness of where my thoughts go and repeatedly bring them back to the moment. The thoughts are what are stressful. Either a sad memory. Or a big project that feels overwhelming. Anxiety about something in the future. This letting go and returning to the moment isn’t easy. It feels like a magnet pulling my mind down the rabbit hole of old, persistent thoughts. It is difficult to pull away from those thoughts but is becoming easier with mindfulness meditation. In our fast-paced world we feel we need to be doing, doing, doing. To get ahead. Or sometimes just to stay above water. But, in actuality, it is a pretty well-known fact that if we can “do” less and recharge ourselves, we can then accomplish more in less time. This also applies to multi-tasking. Mindfulness meditation has taught me that by focusing on one task and staying present, I have less stress and am able to complete the task sooner than doing several things at once (like writing an article, working on laundry, and doing the dishes all at once).

So, How Do You Start Using Meditation to Reduce Stress?
As hard as I’ve made it (and I know I’m not alone), meditation is very easy to start. You don’t need any equipment, just the willingness to sit down, be still, and continually redirect your thoughts to the present moment. There are various free apps that provide guided meditations. Feel free to message me for my favorites. I also have a free one available on my website. You can also just set a timer on your phone for as long as you want. One minute to one hour. It doesn’t matter. During that time, just sit down or lie down and pay attention to where your thoughts go and return them to the present. For me, the breath is the easiest anchor point. It’s OK when your mind wanders off because it will. I was taught that being dead is the only way to keep your mind in one place. So, don’t be disappointed when yours doesn’t
stay there. The benefits come from RETURNING your mind to the present not KEEPING it in the present. So, each time you catch it “out there”, congratulate yourself and return it to the present. I’d love to hear from you and see how your practice is going. I’m happy to answer
any questions as you practice.

Biz Health // Calamari & Raw Veggie Salad

Calamari & Raw Salad

By Shani Timms

Hi, I’m Shani from Keep it Simple! I have a strong passion/ obsession for food, health & creating recipes that promote healing in our bodies. For most of my adult life I have suffered from issues with my gut: everything from intolerances, Irritable Bowl Syndrome (I call it FBS, furious bowl syndrome), leaky gut, candida, parasites… you name it – I’ve had it! I like to see these issues as a gift from the universe. At the time, it was hard to see them as a blessing, but now I look back I see these experiences for what they truly are… A gift, a lesson from the universe. Each one taught me a vital lesson in my health and my healing journey and I can honestly say I would not be where I am in my life today without them.

I think this mindset can be applied to many aspects of life… Instead of focusing on the doom & gloom when bad things happen – try thinking ‘what lesson does the universe have in store for me’ or ‘what am I going to learn through this new experience’. Changing your mindset doesn’t happen overnight (I am still learning myself), but I can say that each time it gets easier and really changes the way you respond to situations.

I believe that health & healing needs to be a holistic approach – and optimal gut health is the foundation! Your gut lining & intestinal tract is your last line of defence between the outside world (bacteria, yeasts, infections) and you (your blood stream, organs etc). So you can imagine that any permeability in the gut can allow these externals aggressors to enter your bloodstream where they can cause some serious damage.

Signs you may need to improve your gut health:  

-        Bloating after meals
-        Constipation, diarrhea  
-        Discomfort in the lady areas, prone to thrush, Bacterial Vaginosis etc.
-        Bad Skin – dermatitis, acne, break outs etc.
-        Brain fog – struggle to think straight, mixing up sentences & words.
-        Constantly tired, lethargic, lacking energy
-        Sugar cravings
-        Anxiety
-        You have been on antibiotics, or the pill for an extended period of time

If any of the symptoms above sound familiar, chances are you are experiencing an imbalance of bacteria in your gut, potentially even gut permeability. No need to stress, I have listed below some easy steps you can introduce into your daily routine to help improve your gut health!

Simple tips:

1.     Clean up your diet – This is a critical step in healing your gut. Think lean, green & clean! Remember – you are feeding a disease or fighting it! Eating a diet high in sugar, gluten & dairy creates a perfect breading ground for bad bacteria such as candida!

2.     Take a Probiotic – This is a non-negotiable piece of advice from me! Every woman should be taking one every day (I like to take mine at night so some serious healing can happen over night). There are so many factors that kill our good bacteria in our gut, so we need to ensure we are replacing it daily! 

3.     Detoxify your body – Simple detoxification methods such as having a spoonful of bentonite clay every day can help eliminate toxins. When you go through a transitional period changing your diet, your body is eliminating so many toxins that your liver needs a little help!

4.     Rest up – Did you know that resting your body can be just as beneficial for your body as going to the gym? Without rest, your body cannot complete the essential healing that it needs to do. Also, try to minimise the stress in your life, stress has massive implications on our gut flora! My tip – hit the sheets before 10pm, as this is when the most healing occurs.

5.     Supplements – I am a strong believer in using food as medicine, but when it comes to nutrients that are hard to attain through your diet – supplements are the way to go! My recommendations for gut health, Spirulina tablets (Hawaiian Pacifica is the cleanest & my fave), Apple Cider Vinegar, Iron, L-Glutamine…

6.     Fall in love with the coco - Coconut that is! Coconut in all its forms has amazing benefits for our bodies. I like to have a spoonful of coconut oil a day either by itself, in a tea or smoothie! It has amazing antibacterial properties & supports good gut flora.

7.     Gelatin – This is my secret weapon for healing my gut! I’m not talking about the clear gelatin that your granny used to make jellies – this is pure, food grade gelatin, bought from your health food store. Gelatin helps repair the gut & intestinal tract lining, it also absorbs excessive water & fluid in your body… Bye bye bloating & fluid retention!

Calamari & Raw Veggie Salad Recipe
Simple is best when it comes to busy ladies preparing healthy meals! This meal is ready in under 10 mins & is jam packed with raw veggies to fuel your body! Did you know your diet should consist of 50% raw vegetables? This is so we don’t loose a lot of the nutrients through various cooking processes. So check out this super easy recipe below & I would love to see your creations by tagging @keep.it.simple.shani & #keepitsimpleshani!

Generously serves 2- GF – DF – YF - SF

Simple Recipe:

-        ½ cup of quinoa, cooked as per packet instructions
-        1 carrot, zoodled
-        1 zucchini, zoodled
-        Small bag of rocket, washed
-        1 spring onion, finely chopped
-        1/2 lime juiced & 2 wedges for serving
-        2 large handfuls of calamari
-        1 birds eye chili, chopped finely
-        Dash of tamari, coconut aminos or Braggs all purpose soy
-        Olive oil for dressing

Calamari Salad 2 .jpg

Simple Method:

1. Season your calamari with olive oil, salt & pepper.
2. Heat chosen oil in a pan (Coconut oil is best for cooking at these high temperatures, but olive oil works fine too).
3. Add calamari to your hot pan, cook until it started to brown! Remove from heat once cooked.
4. Add all salad ingredients & quinoa to a large mixing bowl, add your dressing (lime juice, tamari & olive oil) and using tongs, mix thoroughly.
5. Separate salad mixture into separate bowls, top with the calamari, lime wedge & chili to taste!

Enjoy! #keepitsimpleshani

**DISCLAIMER: These views are my opinion & represent my experiences**

Managing Stress & Anxiety Whilst Running Your Own Business

By Amanda Cavallaro

‘Stress should be a powerful driving force, not an obstacle’ – Bill Phillips

Business, can be both an empowering experience and a battle of stress and uncertainty all at the same time. The stress of growing your business and the day to day tasks that come with it, the ongoing uncertainties of ‘will I make enough money’, balancing work/life commitments whilst maintaining your own health and self-care. Stress is common amongst entrepreneur’s and surprisingly the right amount in short bursts CAN be healthy for a business, it can help you stay more alert and improve performance levels! Unfortunately, when stress turns into anxiety is when it can become a detriment to your health, emotional wellbeing and business.

There is no doubt that running your own business can be a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, fears and stresses. The key to stress is not only learning how to handle it but also learning how to channel that stress and anxiety into a positive driving force and energy to fuel creativity, passion and innovation throughout your business. There are several challenges that come with running your own business such as, workload, staff and customer management, maintaining a Healthy Balance (Home/Work), financial Stressors and a change of conditions (Product demand, Environmental and External factors). These challenges can often result in prolonged stress and anxiety which can appear in both physical and non-physical ways in the body. Here are some common (although not restricted to) signs to look out for..

  • Feelings of Overwhelm

  • Frustration

  • Irritability

  • Fatigue

  • Loss or change in appetite

  • Problems sleeping

  • Headaches, muscle tension

  • Decrease in Immune System (find yourself getting sick more often)

  • Nausea

  • Constipation/Diarrhea

  • Racing heart

  • Feelings of Unhappiness

  • Feelings of Guilt

  • Constant Negative Thinking

  • Memory Loss

Symptoms differ from person to person, I guess it’s fair to say that we all deal with pressure, stress and anxiety so differently. Each individual will notice they experience those symptoms with different intensities and frequencies. So, what do I do if I am feeling this way I hear you ask??? Below I have included some of my Top Tips to help you better manage your stress and anxiety whilst running your business and improve your performance.

1. Have realistic expectations of yourself and the business.
As we all know we are so hard on ourselves! Ensuring you set realistic expectations of yourself as well as the performance of your business will minimize guilt and disappointment. The key here is to set goals or have expectations that are realistic and within the capabilities of you and your business. Be specific when setting goals this allows them to be more measurable and as a result more achievable.      

2. Celebrate your Wins
We are so quick to mourn our losses or focus on our stressors that we often forget to celebrate our wins. It is so important to be mindful of this rather than being caught up in the moment and automatically placing your focus on the next task. Your wins big or small are just as important to fuss over as your ‘losses’, it can be motivating and a great way to remind you to focus on the positive elements rather than the negative. This can be something simple you do for yourself and or your staff (such as going for lunch).

3. Sleep and Eating
The importance of good Sleep is underrated in our go-getter society. Sleep is not only crucial for our day to day functioning and health, but also our bodies way of having some time out to heal and re focus. Lack of sleep not only heightens your anxiety, impairs your judgement and affects your memory but also lowers your immune system. A good balanced diet is also another essential to your health, wellbeing and performance. It can be very easy to skip meals and survive on caffeine when busy with work. It’s sometimes so much more convienent to just reach for the easy option... or even at times nothing at all! Food preparation is great for those busy days, having easy on hand snacks to munch on (such as fruit, healthy dips and vegie sticks, prepared salads etc.). H2O is also another important one, keep a bottle at your desk as a reminder and be creative by adding fruit and fresh herbs such as mint to your water to make it more tasty and exciting!

4. Communication is Key!
If you have staff working with you in your business, communication is key! Discuss an open communication channel to allow everyone to be free to discuss concerns or worries they may have or you may want to bring up in relation to their work. Being open with each other reduces the anxiety and apprehension that sometimes comes along with dealing with disagreements or not seeing eye to eye. As a business owner, it is also very beneficial to have someone to regularly talk to such as a close friend or relative or even a business coach, psychologist or counsellor.

5. Maintain a healthy Work Life Balance
The temptation to give up all your time and energy and place it in to your business when it’s your own is very common amongst business owners. You want to do the best you can and give it your all. This can result in long work hours at the sacrifice of your family and heath. It is super important to set healthy boundaries in order to maintain a good balance between work and home life to prevent burnout, especially when working from home. Some of these boundaries may include setting specific work hours (9am-5pm) and then no work-related calls or emails after that time or setting aside allocated time to work on answering emails etc. out of those hours. One of those boundaries may include having weekends off to spend with friends and family or just time for you to unwind and re energise for the week ahead. Be sure to look out for warning signs and act accordingly.

6. Keep Active
Physical exercise is not only good for our physical wellbeing but also our emotional and mental wellbeing. It produces all those happy hormones we LOVE and gives us more energy. It is important to keep active especially if you are stuck behind a desk or computer all day. Get in the habit of scheduling time in your week for a walk, jog or even a class of your choice to get those muscles moving!  

7. Take a Break
We are working harder than ever and unfortunately it is at the cost of our physical and mental health! Just because it is YOUR business and there is no one there telling you to go and have some lunch or take a simple break, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it – be sure to take a lunch break and schedule time throughout your day even if it is 10 min time slots to stretch or go for a quick walk. We all know the feeling of a mind block, sometimes a quick change in environment gets those creative juices flowing again and gives you the recharge you need to keep powering through!

Many of us go by the concept that if our business is not the TOP priority in our lives we are not doing everything we can to make it successful. That we are in a sense ‘neglecting’ something that could be ‘better’ or ‘more’ amazing than we could ever imagine. The matter really isn’t that at all, the reality is that by making our selves the top priority in our lives, our business as a result will flourish.  

Amanda Cavallaro is a Anxiety Coach, Mum and face behind The Anxiety Wellness Queen. She is passionate about reducing the stigma associated with mental health and making a difference in the management and approach to treating anxiety. Amanda loves to travel and cook, she find it very relaxing and therapeutic. In the last 2 years her business has moved solely online and now works with clients all over Australia via phone and skype to manage their anxieties. Amanda has recently started a blog to share her knowledge and passion with the world.  You can find her on Facebook or Instagram.

Photo by Verena Yunita Yapi on Unsplash

How To Keep Your Business Thriving During The First 3 Months Of Motherhood

By Stephanie Skryzowski

If you’re a highly ambitious, Type A, make-it-happen entrepreneur, who’s passionate about growing your business, AND you’re about to have a baby, you must read this.

You are excited for your little one to arrive. You’ve probably meticulously planned his or her nursery (and of course you know the gender, because TYPE A!) and have all the little clothes hung neatly in the closet, arranged by size. You know where you’ll deliver and maybe even have some meals socked away in the freezer for after his or her arrival.

You are also a busy entrepreneur. You’re hustling daily (and you love it) and your business is growing, maybe faster than you’d anticipated. Your days are filled with client work, hosting webinars, and creating content for your audience. When you left your 9-5, you didn’t imagine it would all work out so well and you are energized and on fire (as much as can be for a pregnant woman).

Does this sound like you?

Then keep reading and let’s talk about what it’s like to be a new mom and an entrepreneur. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not at all like what you think it will be.

If anyone could do it all, it was me. The Queen of Efficiency and Productivity, I remember my husband remarking at my Master’s degree graduation celebration that he couldn’t believe I was even in grad school plus working full time plus commuting four hours a day because I just had it all together.

So naturally, I thought that having a baby would be similar. I’d give birth and be able to keep all of my client work going, hopping on the computer after a feeding or when the baby was sleeping. I knew I’d be tired, but it wouldn’t be that bad. I could do it all.

Turns out, even the Queen of Efficiency and Productivity needs help.

I am sharing my Five Proven Tactics to help you be fully present as a mom, which is critical in those first few weeks and months, AND continue to help your business (your first baby!) thrive.

1. Prepare financially in advance. You are your own boss and nobody is handing you any paid maternity leave, right?! As an entrepreneur you should be accustomed to saving in advance for business investments like a conference or a new computer, and maternity leave is no different. Figure out what your monthly number is then begin setting aside funds in advance. I had set aside three months’ worth of income, just in case all of my clients disappeared while I had the baby (they didn’t!) and it gave me a huge peace of mind. Voila! Paid maternity leave!

2. Tell your clients. I was super nervous about telling my clients that I was pregnant and would likely need to step away for a little while. What if they all left me and I was left with no job, no money, and no prospects? Turns out, that was ridiculous thinking. My amazing clients were not only understanding, but incredibly supportive (they even sent me thoughtful baby gifts!) and they managed to keep the lights on without me. You will feel a huge sense of relief once you tell your clients and come up with an agreement as to how long you’ll be unavailable and when you’ll dive into work again. 

3. Give yourself a maternity leave. I am serious about this. I know you love your business and will want to get back to feeling “normal”, and a true leave might feel hard. You don’t have to disconnect for a year but you must give yourself some space for a minimum of two weeks. I made the mistake of not putting an out of office message on so I felt obligated to answer emails. I even took a client call at just 7 days postpartum, where my mind was so foggy, it was almost an out-of-body experience. I looked back at my notes several weeks later and they were completely unintelligible, so I wonder how I sounded to the client! Trust me that your clients will wait (remember how long they took to finally sign your contract?!) and that you will feel much better after a break.

4. Ease in slowly. So maybe after two weeks you start answering emails, then another couple weeks you take sales calls, then a few weeks later dig into the actual heavier client work. I thought I’d have no problem handling bigger, strategic thinking type projects but I truly needed that time to let my brain begin to function normally after the hormone surge/drop and sleep deprivation.

5. Enlist help. It’s okay if sometimes that help comes in the form of car seat naps and a coffee shop. I can’t tell you how much work I got done in three hour increments while my daughter slept in her car seat. I felt like a normal human by getting dressed and out of the house, she got a solid nap (when she likely wouldn’t have slept at home anyway), and my client work got done. In fact, there was a point in time where we were frequenting Starbucks so much that her car seat began to take on the aroma of coffee beans. And, are you part of any neighborhood or community organization that uses a meal train? Get humble and SIGN YOURSELF UP. I felt weird about it at first (like, I can’t handle feeding myself?) but when that friendly woman showed up on my doorstep with a bag full of chili, artisan bread, and brownies, a smile, and then left, I couldn’t have been more grateful.

Being a mom and an entrepreneur isn’t easy. I landed myself back in the hospital at three days postpartum with an infection, and spending the night in the emergency room with your tiny newborn isn’t all that fun. But these tips will help you get through those first weeks, focusing on your baby and yourself, and give you the confidence that your business will be there as soon as you’re ready.

And I promise you that your clients won’t run away.

Happy Mom-ing, Boss Lady!

(Disclaimer: Every mom's birth and postpartum experience is different, and these tips are based on my experience alone. Sending lots of love and respect to all the new parents out there.)

Stephanie is the Owner of 100 Degrees Consulting, which provides financial leadership to help nonprofits and entrepreneurs change the world. Having spent nearly a decade in Afghanistan, Nepal, Malawi, and other far-flung locales, Stephanie has vast on-the-ground experience crunching the numbers to help organizations make better strategic decisions for their business. Stephanie brings energy and passion to all things in life. She loves her work as a CFO, running marathons (7 to date!), hiking, and traveling off the beaten path. She is a new mama and currently lives in the US with her husband, dog, and five-month-old daughter, Kyla.

Why Self-care Needs To Be In Your Business Plan

By Kit Cronk,

Self-care, mental health, treat yo self, me-time, chilling out …

We throw these buzz words around at each other when we’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and desperately need a break.

Unfortunately, the concept of self-care (my preferred buzz word) is too often used when talking about some reactionary, last minute decision to stop everything and give yourself some chill time.

Spoiler alert: This doesn’t actually WORK. Not in the long term, anyway.

Self-care is all about taking care of yourself (surprise!), which means you need a plan of attack. You don’t accept the responsibility of caring for something, like a pet, without planning when you’ll walk it, getting things ready to feed and house it, and being prepared to dedicate some time to the task!

Especially if you’re running a business, which usually means you are doing #allthethings, you cannot afford to push aside self-care for when you “have time” (ha!) or really need it.

Here are some truth bombs that you need to hear:

1. If you don’t take care of yourself, you WILL burn out. You’ll get physically ill, have a mental breakdown, or just loose the will to work. You’re no good to ANYONE if that happens!

Taking care of yourself NOW ensures that you’ll be able to keep going LATER. It’s an investment.

SIDE NOTE: I learnt this lesson the hard way, when I went overboard working crazy hours to meet some deadlines… At the end of it, my body was so run down that I didn’t recover to full health for six weeks. None of us can afford to be out of commission for that long! ESPECIALLY when you’re running / building a business!

2. It’s possible to burn out even if you LOVE your work. Busyness is still stress, even if you enjoy the tasks. Lack of sleep, exercise, human interaction, eating well, are all going to end up with you in a bad place.

3. Women aged 20 – 40 are suffering from more mental health issues than any other time in history. You’d be hard pressed to find ANYONE these days who doesn’t have anxiety / depression or know someone close to them who does. Self-care is one whopping big weapon in our arsenal to manage mental health.

4. It’s up to you. You are the only person who can take responsibility for your self care. It helps if you have people around you who’ll prod you when you look like you need a day off, but you are ultimately the only one who knows what’s going on in your head. Don’t wait for other people to give you permission to take time for yourself.

There are plenty of different ways to integrate self-care into your business life… I’m going to break down some ideas by “level” for beginners to experts! Pick a few and start implementing them THIS WEEK!

LEVEL 1: NO TIME FOR SELF CARE
You’re tired all the time and just want another day in the week. You’ve got a bajillion things going on and there’s no way you can just up and leave for the holiday you desperately need.

Never fear! There are super simple ways to start your self-care that will leave you feeling more refreshed.

GET. ENOUGH. SLEEP.
I can’t emphasise this enough! The very FIRST thing we all need to do is consistently get 7-8 hours sleep. If that means going to bed at 8pm and letting the washing go un-folded for a few days, that’s OK.

HYDRATE
Get yourself a water bottle and make sure you drink it all 3 times each day (or whatever the equivalent of 2 – 3 litres is). If you can manage it, try to have one less cup of coffee. It dehydrates you and makes your heart race.

UNSUBSCRIBE
Go on an unsubscribing rampage. Every email newsletter you don’t read, page that is clogging up your Facebook feed, and person whose constant selfies are driving you crazy on Instagram. You’d be surprised how much some digital “spring cleaning” can help your stress levels!

CELEBRATE
Pop some mini-champagne every time you get something done. Taking the time to congratulate ourselves and dwell on an achievement / success works wonders for your brain! Keep on filling your mind with positive reminders of what you’ve done – You can even keep a list somewhere you’ll see it regularly.

LEVEL 2: I COULD BE BETTER
You’re not constantly exhausted, yay! You might be getting by, but you know you could take better care of yourself. It’d be nice to feel like your brain doesn’t have too many tabs open.

TIME OFF
Plan a non-work day every week. Even if you’re side hustling, you can choose a night of the week that is purely to rest. Don’t even try to read blogs or just do one social media update. This is totally guilt-free time to NOT spend on your business.

FOOD SWAP
As a hot chips addict, I do not say this lightly. You need to look at what food you eat and consider if you can improve it. Swap out your 3pm chocolate bar for some crackers and cheese. It doesn’t have to be an all-out diet, but you can try some substituting a few things.

READ
Getting your head out of reality and diving into a good book will do wonders for your mental health. Research has found heaps of benefits to reading regularly – not the least of which is giving your brain a break from constant screen use. Try starting with a book every 2 weeks!

STRETCH
Set aside 10 minutes a day for stretching. Preferably away from your desk. Really focus on deep breathing and stretching SLOWLY. Your body will thank you for it, and there are plenty of youtube videos that will take you through a little set if you’re not sure what to do!

LEVEL 3: FEELING LIKE A TOTAL BOSS
Not that you’d brag about it, but you’re doing pretty well. Some days you don’t even NEED coffee, and you’re good at switching off your “work brain” when you need to. This is the big leagues now.

GET A HOBBY
Wait, what? Start doing ANOTHER thing? Yes. Find a fun hobby you can get stuck into. Personally, I love knitting. It really relaxes me and is a great little skill to have. Working on a creative project OUTSIDE of your business is a great way to keep your brain active, but still taking a break from the every day.

EXERCISE
We all knew this one was coming. Regular exercise is proven to have a positive effect on both the mind and body. It doesn’t have to be strenuous – You could do Pilates, go for a slow walk, or take a stretch class. Experts recommend 30 – 60min a day… But there’s no shame in starting smaller than that! It will get easier to increase and form a habit over time.

UNPLUG
Try to go totally technology free for a while. If you can manage it, do at least half a day each week or maybe a completely unplugged holiday for a few days! I promise you that all the latest news will still be on your Facebook feed when you get back to it.

TREAT YO SELF
Do you plan treats for yourself when you hit milestones? Maybe it’s a financial goal, you finished a project, finalised a collaboration, or just survived another quarter. Set a date and treat yourself. Go see a movie, get a facial (my personal favourite!), or schedule a weekend getaway!

Kit Cronk is a freelance graphic designer and letterer. Her retail line, Ruby & Pearl Press, is full of funny cards, cute stationery, and inspirational quotes. When this Brisbane girl isn’t working, you can usually find her watching re-runs of 90’s sitcoms or reading another fantasy novel with iced mocha in hand. Follow Kit’s work on Instagram or browse all the awesomeness on her website.

Image: Camille Styles