Being stressed and overwhelmed seems almost an accepted normality at the moment. Like its just part of modern life to be exhausted and overextended.
I don’t think that it is just part of normal modern western society, we do not need to go live on a desert island and withdraw from modern life to feel at ease. It’s about stepping back from the expectations set out by others. It sounds so simple but it isn’t easy.
In my coaching work, I have had so many conversations with women saying:
“Relaxing feels impossible”.
“I feel like I am barely coping”.
“Nothing ever gets my full attention”.
“I’m so inadequate”.
One woman, I spoke to during my recent research described trying to hold back a tsunami of people and their expectations. The effect of living this way is often more than just being tired. It affects mental and physical health and it sucks all the joy and ease of life. It encourages low self-esteem and eradicates self-love. We feel less, not enough and inadequate. When we feel this way like there are expectations we just cannot meet. When we believe we should be doing something and we are not we start to think it’s our fault. We turn the blame inward.l We think we are lacking or inadequate. We question ourselves rather than the standards that are being set out for us.
If you think about it we get a lot of messages about what is expected of us. What to wear, how to behave, how our bodies should look, how to raise our children, how to treat our partners. How should we act at work, what our priorities should be? these opinions, ideas and attitudes all affect our experience as a woman. they shape our ideals, expectations and values.
In a single day, we can read magazines telling us how to drop a few pounds before Summer but also, how to make that amazing family dinner everyone will love. later on this same day, we will see articles on our social media advising us how to organise our day and 10 ten mistakes we are making that stop us being productive. Keep scrolling and you’ll find a post about how you need to make more time for yourself. Let’s not forget well-meaning family or friends advising us how we should deal with our children, or be surprised at the amount of childcare we use.
There are so many rules, so much advice and instruction, on what other people and society as a whole think about what we should and shouldn’t be doing. It is hard not to feel the pressure to conform and the guilt at not measuring up but at the same time, so much of this advice contradicts. It’s literally impossible to be everything to everyone. How on earth do you be the most amazing employee with a dazzling career, the most supportive and loving parent and partner? All the while, give yourself and your family and friends the time they all need, while being organised, thin and photoshop pretty but also healthy and also grounded, centred and calm while doing it all? Is your head spinning yet?
It is impossible, unrealistic and even unkind to try to be something you are not. Afterall, these standards are not our own. they are not the rules or goals we set out for ourselves. It seems so wrong to try to fit into a box that someone else created for us. Trying to tick boxes, standards for success our passing and failing as a woman. We as individuals and re diverse and unique. one size does not fit all.
We need to ditch the rules and expectations, literally. I know what I want for myself and my life. Society sometimes clouds that judgement. Advertising tells me I want that product or to look like that girl in the ad but in reality, I don’t. All I want is to be loved and accepted. That starts by loving me myself and accepting who I am.
It is hard to stand out and carve our own standards. We want to fit in and be accepted by others. We want to feel happy, secure and loved. The people we admire tend to be the ones who create their own path and live it with confidence. The more I learn about life, the more I realise the way to become one of those people comes from within me more than it does from anything or anyone external.
So if we are ditching the expectations set out for us that leave us in the very scary place of not knowing where to get our rules from. What are we expected to do, who are we and what is our place? What we need to do is get in touch with our own inner guidance, our conscience, our instinct and intuition. Whatever you want to call it. The point is you get your rule from there you measure yourself from standards you set for yourself not the magazines, your partner or colleagues. Knowing within yourself what your values are and what your boundaries are is what matters. You are not needing any validation from anyone or anything else. There is a lot less pressure when you are living up to your own standard.
Set your own standards for yourself, what is good enough to you? How you want to show up in the world, how you want to treat others. Focus on what you value Look inward for guidance, create your own values and beliefs. Try living by your own rule book rather than the one society gave you.
One of the fundamental values of my coaching practices is accessibility. It is important to me that anyone who is interested in my work can try out the tools easily. Not everyone wants or can afford a one to one coach. Sometimes you want to try things out and explore them before you make a purchase. Others may not need a personal coach but want to access some of the tools as part of their personal development. It is important to me to offer to share my work as well as sell it. I really love what I do and want to share it with as many people as possible. That is why I create free offerings when I can. I create recordings, worksheets and videos to share the tools that I think are useful. I have been doing this on my blog and social media.
I had all of these offerings scattered around my site and throughout my social media channels but I wanted to make things easier to find. This is how I came up with the idea to create a resource library. Every freebie I create will be stored in this library. You can come back whenever you like and download anything that feels really useful. There is no need to trawl through my blog looking for that download you saw and thought you would download when you had time. Everything is stored in the library!
The resource library is a great way to access all of my freebies and offerings in a handy collection. I have included some snippets from my popular e-course, The 14-day Refresh as well as a link to my recent video challenge on youtube. You will also find any free worksheets or printables from my blog too.
“Do not judge a story by the chapter you walk in on”
I think we are all guilty of judging others We compare what they do or say to our own actions and values. As a mum, this can be so divisive because the focus is on where we are different. It focuses on who is passing and failing, who is good and who is bad. These comparisons include who has an easier life and who has it harder. Who deserves sympathy and who does not.
The problem with these judgements is that it is all very cut and dry. it assumes we know exactly what is going on in other peoples lives. Just because something looks effortless to those around us it does not mean that how it feels to us on the inside.
I created this video of my youtube channel all about this topic. It has been inspired by my recent research with other mums about their experiences of motherhood, their careers and managing their lives. I was struck by how many of us feel like other mothers have an easier life than. What we don’t realise is that this is unintentionally judging other mums. We are making assumptions about how other people feel about their lives. We look at people from our own perspective and assume they have life sorted.
Every parent faces challenges even though what we struggle with may differ on our situation. Not one of us gets an easy ride, there are all days when we are up against the wall. I think that is really important that we recognise this. By doing so we can support one and other through this crazy journey called motherhood.
Recently, I have been talking with my business coach about my message and my ideal clients. To anyone who is not a coach or entrepreneur this basically means that I am working on what I want to say through my work and to whom. It is who I want to help and what subject I want to coach them on.
I had several experiences from my own life that felt like important influences but it has been hard to pinpoint my exact message. My experiences as a stay at home mum, with burn out and depression. My time as the partner or an offshore worker and later a working parent and as well as a foreigner all seemed relevant. They all seemed linked to the people that I want to work with but I couldn’t connect the dots. My coach suggested that I talk to other mums about their experiences so that I could distinguish where I really wanted to focus.
To date, I have spoken with 12 women about their experiences of motherhood, working, juggling responsibilities. I have been lucky enough to talk with women from different cultures, some are raising their children in a culture different to their own. Others have lived in the same area all of their lives. Some women that I talked to had returned to work straight after having children while others had become a stay at home parents. There were stepparents who were living as a blended family and women who were part of a nuclear family. Some were part-time workers, entrepreneurs or women working from a home office.
With such a diversity of backgrounds in experiences, I really gathered a wealth of varied information. The funny thing was that many of these stories had similar themes and experiences. I have grouped together the common themes to show you the similarities.
Every woman I talked to highlighted support as a key concern for them. We all need support in doing our paid work, domestic labour, and child rearing. Without that support, life feels difficult, draining and busy. Many talked about not having enough support with childcare, work, or household chores. Many felt that having trying to either do or coordinate these tasks without support was difficult. There were many different sources of support that were highlighted in my discussions were supportive family members living nearby, affordable childcare, having a supportive partner and family-friendly legislation.
For example, I spoke to one woman who had made huge changes to her circumstances so that she could have more of a partnership in the domestic chores. She had also managed to find reasonable, flexible childcare. This allowed her to have time to work as well as child-free time to spend with her partner or with friends. This support gave her a new level of freedom that meant she no longer argued with her partner about who was more tired and who needed a break most. She had downtime for herself as well as for getting tasks done. She said the levels of partnership and support in her life helped her feel happier and more at ease.
Every woman also highlighted situations where they felt misunderstood or judged. I spoke to stay at home parents who felt like no one understood what they did all day. I also heard from women who felt like their families didn’t understand why their homes were not spotlessly clean.(it’s worth noting that the complaints were being addressed to the adult females within the home).
One woman told me about the partner who didn’t understand why his wife NEEDED to work for her own sense of self. I spoke to other women who felt misunderstood by their employers for needing to take time off as a parent and were then being labelled as not committed to their career. In another interview, I heard a woman talk of her resentment at the assumption that she would take the responsibility for any compromises that were to be made. When a child was sick or childcare fell through. It seemed an assumed part of her culture that she would take time off and do any juggling.
Without understanding from those around us we unsupported, alone and judged. We are less likely to reach out for help or be honest about how we really feel.
Many talked of the competitiveness of other women of the judgements we place on each other. The woman doing the school run in her pj’s was lazy and lacking. The women who appear in full makeup and the latest fashions, however, were judged to having it all or being bitchy. Every woman I spoke to claimed that there was another group of women who had it easier. I spoke to the stay at home parent who told me it was easier for the parents that worked to have time for themselves. Later that same day I spoke to a working mum who claimed that the stay at home parents had so much more time to indulge themselves and their children. It appears that we all feel like the grass is greener on the other side
Almost everyone I spoke with talked of how they resented or envied the women who had it all together, the ones who appeared to make it look easy, the “Pinterest mums” as many described them. The ones who had time for their children to do amazing creative projects and organise the house using clever tips who also had read all the articles on being more organised and productive. The ones with an amazing appearance and children who also were well turned out.
Many felt lacking in comparison to this stereotype and others had given up trying to compete. There were even a few women I spoke to who doubted it was even possible to be that person, however, each woman I interviewed could clearly identify another life situation where others had a better deal whether it be to having supportive families living nearby, those with better childcare, those who stayed at home or those who worked.
A few of the women talked about feeling like they were struggling and drowning in their lives. They felt that they were just one step away from making a mistake or failing. Two women talked about personal struggles with their health or personal problems while also trying to keep all the regular tasks going too. They talked of feeling swamped and pressured by everything they needed to do. They also spoke about guilt and sadness about the things that they were extra difficult or impossible due to their personal situation.
I spoke to a working mum who felt like her kids suffered because of her work. She felt guilty about never making enough time for them. Another said she felt like going part-time would mean she missed opportunities for promotion or new projects. There was also the stay at home mum who struggles the juggling of daily tasks and caring for her family. She found it hard to get everything done while not forgetting anything or letting something slide. There was also one mum who felt guilty that her health prevents her from playing with her daughter. There were some who clearly said it was impossible to juggle everything without something having to let go of some of your expectations.
Some women talked of a feeling of being behind and never quite making the grade. They describe a feeling of being overwhelmed by responsibilities and expectations. One woman called it a “tsunami” of people and what they expected of her. Another spoke of this same sentiment, of being so busy and stressed. She said felt like no-one ever got the attention they deserved whether it be personally or professionally.
These 12 women have a lot more in common than their connection with me. They all expressed a desire for support, understanding, they felt pressure to one extent or another over expectations and competition. They all struggled to meet time and emotional pressures and expectations. I am so very grateful to each of them for there honesty and their willingness to help. Some sent me articles that related to their experiences and some offered to discuss things further. So if you are one of these women and you are reading this post, thank you!
I have learned so much over this last few weeks. It seems that every one of us is juggling and striving to get everything done. We all find that challenging and stressful. In this way, we are not alone!
Next time I see a mum who is exhausted, maybe I can let her know that I get it. Hopefully, my own experiences of winging it and failing are more than disastrous and funny. Sharing my story of the day that I put pepper in my coffee or when I took my daughter to the wrong gymnastics class hopefully remind her she is not alone.
I think it is important to be open and honest about our experiences without the guilt. This is a legitimate part of being a mum today. Not one of us has it all together or figured out! I think that we can laugh and find comfort when someone says me too and understands. We have all been there and likely will be again!
I also think that we could help each other by being a little more forgiving. It seems none of us has it easier regardless of our situation. No one is exempt from these stresses and pressure. I want to try to be mindful of judging the mum who has loads of family nearby to help out or labelling someone else as having it all together. We are all doing the same hard work no matter how it looks from the outside.
With regards my work, I am feeling much clearer now in terms of who I want to help. I want to focus my work on helping those women who feel like they are struggling against a tsunami. The women who dealing with burn out. The ones who feel like they are lacking and never quite making the grade. I want help the tell them that life doesn’t have to feel like that. You are doing your best and that is making the grade. I want to help that feeling where you are trying to hold back the tide and it feels impossible. To help them find space to slow down both physically and mentally. I want to be able to share how the coaching tools I have learned can help them.
To date, I have always focused on helping women to take care of themselves and show themselves more love. I am realising that is only part of the story. When you feel like all that you do is rushed, pressured or inadequate, making room for self-care feels impossible. I know from experience that living a life like this leads to burn out and even depression.
The work I do as a coach can help you work out your priorities. Coaching can help you look at things in new ways so you can work out what you want to let go of. It can help you regain that spark and joy and working out ways to end a life of feeling exhausted, pressured or inadequate.
Pressure seems to be a part of modern life. There is the pressure to be successful in our relationships, careers and finances. There is the pressure to do the right thing and act the right way. Let’s not forget the pressure to look great while you are being successful. Much of our pressure comes from the society we live in. We receive messages about what is expected from the media, institutions and those around us but how much pressure do you pile onto yourself every day?
Have you ever noticed you telling yourself what you should and shouldn’t be doing? Maybe you told yourself that you should pull yourself together or shouldn’t let things get to you? These are the types of should or shouldn’t statements add pressure. They are a reflection of a judgement or a value we are placing on something. In my experience, the judgement is a critical one about how I should be more than I am. Do you feel the pressure like a hard lump in your throat that you struggle to swallow?
I often talk to clients who tell me who they should and shouldn’t be something other than they are. They should be stronger, braver, more grateful and work harder or faster. They shouldn’t care so much, let things get on top of them, take things to heart, or complain.
It can be pretty gut-wrenching when we first notice the pressure we put on ourselves. Most of us would never ask anyone else to be more than they are and pile on the pressure in the same way. Why do we do it to ourselves?
Should and shouldn’t statements are often based on values and ideals which on its own isn’t a bad thing. What is bad is the judgement that we attached to it. When we judge how we are doing things and use it as a method of self-criticism. We use the words should and shouldn’t to imply that we are not doing something we are supposed to be. It adds a layer of pressure, of guilt and
We add a layer of pressure, of guilt and potentially shame as we internalise these ideas and what it means about us. For example, when I am behind on my writing and I tell myself that I should have written more, I feel guilty and lacking in my work (guilt) I could go even further by telling myself I am a bad writer (shame).
Can you notice the next time you are using should and shouldn’t to criticise yourself?
Are you putting too much pressure on yourself?
Should and shouldn’t statements can but are a powerful weapon used by our inner critic can you imagine how life would feel if you could stop craving to be different than you are. If you could believe that you do not need to be fixed.
You should not be any different to how you are. What you do is enough what you are is always enough.
The 14-Day Refresh is an email Programme that explores what self-care means to you. This course has been designed so you can make time for yourself in a way that suits you. You cannot be behind or late. There are no deadlines or targets. You set the pace for yourself. This is an opportunity for you to make some time for yourself and feel good about it!
You will receive a daily email for 14-days, each one is filled with exercises, inspiration, encouragement and activities designed to help you reconnect with what inspires and replenishes you. The 14-Day refresh will help you create a “self-care armoury” of activities, tools and techniques to help you combat feelings of stress and overwhelm.
The 14-Day refresh will help you create a “self-care armoury” of activities, tools and techniques to help you combat feelings of stress and overwhelm.
This course is yours forever, keep the emails so you can take this course whenever you feel the need to refresh!
I wanted to create something flexible and accessible for everyone, whether you are super busy or on a tight budget. taking care of yourself is important no matter how your life looks right now.
I used to spend so much of my time taking care of everybody else in my life. The thing is that I believed I didn’t have time to look after myself. It seemed like replenishing my energy levels or treating myself to the things I enjoyed was frivolous and a waste of time. Whenever I took time out, I spent so much of that time feeling guilty about not being productive.
Taking my self-care seriously has made a massive difference in my daily life. It changed how I approach that never-ending to do list and how I feel every day. I wanted to create a self-care course so that you can save yourself from all the exhaustion, guilt and pressure and cut straight to having fun and feeling good!
The 14-Day refresh is great is you want to:
The total investment for the 14- Day refresh is $20. A PayPal invoice will be sent out upon sign up.
The first e-mail will be arriving into inboxes on 15th September 2017. Sign up now and save your space on this great course.
If you have any questions about this course please get in touch or have a look at my FAQ’s
I want to share my work with as many people as possible and one of the ways to do that is to create free items. This way I can show you all why I am so passionate about what I do.
How do you feel about your life at the moment? Do you feel satisfied, motivated and happy?
Do you feel satisfied, motivated and happy or unsatisfied and drained?
How much time do you spend doing the things that matter most to you?
What uses up all your energy?
You can explore all of these questions with my free worksheet. The worksheet is designed to start a conversation with yourself about how you spend your time and where you can create balance. Click on the link below so you can access my balance worksheet which is part of my FREE resource library.
Feel free to share this page on social media with anyone you think may enjoy it.
If you enjoy this free worksheet then check out my latest coaching package, A Spa Day for the Soul. Press pause on your busy life. Revive, re-energise and rediscover how to make room for more fun and freedom in your life.
What does your inner voice tell you? Is the voice kind and encouraging or critical and harsh, or maybe somewhere in between? When you make a mistake or face a tough challenge what do you tell yourself? We often do not realise how we treat ourselves through self-criticism. Many of us are acting as our own harshest critic rather than our own personal cheerleader
Self-criticism can be viewed as being motivating, a way to push us into action. According to Kristen Neff, PhD studies show that self-criticism can contribute towards low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. In modern western society, we are often encouraged to think of being self-deprecating as a positive attribute which is preferred to being over confident, boastful or arrogant. I believe that showing yourself compassion breeds confidence, combats fear and anxiety and helps you face challenges.
We all deserve kindness.
I believe it is easier to face challenges when we are cheering ourselves on. There is nothing wrong with a bit of motivation, but how we motivate ourselves and what we tell ourselves is important. We often face challenges with a black and white outlook; the things we do are either good or bad, right or wrong, we pass or we fail. This outlook is pretty unrealistic and unachievable and it adds to the criticism we give ourselves. This is not motivating it is spirit crushing.
Imagine facing doing something you dread, for me, it would be anything involving public speaking. If I stand in front of the people that I want to talk to while telling myself that “I can do this” and that “I am going to do the best I can” then I think giving that presentation is going to be much easier than if I am telling myself “you’re going to mess this up” and “you are rubbish at public speaking”
A difficult situation feels easier to handle if you encourage and support yourself through it.
How to show yourself more compassion
Think of how it would feel to face life’s challenges with an encouraging inner voice rather than a critical one. Imagine the potential. What could you do if you were supporting and reassuring yourself along the way?
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Maybe you give up on the idea altogether. Did you promise yourself to start cutting out junk food but still eating Christmas chocolates on the 16th January? Tell me that wasn’t just me!
Making New Year’s resolutions can seem pointless when they hardly ever seem to last. Despite this, I am not really willing to give them up. I love the feeling of making a fresh start on something and I love how it feels to achieve what I want, whether that be to set up a new business or committing to spend more time reading something from that ever-growing book list.
So, yes, I am actually going to talk to you about making resolutions, when it is nearly February! I’m talking about it now because I don’t see why we can’t make resolutions any time. Why can’t we make resolutions in February or even June? Why not re-make the ones you have previously broken? I don’t believe that resolutions are pointless. I think the concept needs a little updating. After all, a resolution is simply a goal, intention or wish. Even if you have tried and failed before, why shouldn’t you try again?
I want the resolutions that I make to be flexible. I’m going to make mistakes and slip up. There are times that I will set the bar too high or underestimate myself. I want to be able to change my goals as I learn and grow. Setting a flexible goal is about learning and adapting to find what is right for you. Promising myself that I will walk 5km every day, no matter how busy I am or how cold it is outside is just too rigid. I will never achieve that and ultimately, I don’t really want to do it.
I want to make achievable promises to myself. There is no point in me setting a goal that is so strict or unrealistic that I give up on the challenge. It is not me being weak, it is simply that my heart isn’t in it. If the goal is so difficult and hard to reach, I am setting myself up for failure. What is achievable to me is making promises that feel do-able and realistic. If I want to learn to run a marathon, I can’t just start running 42.195 kilometres straight away. I have to train my body and work towards the marathon by creating smaller, more achievable goals.
I want my goals for myself to be kind. The whole point of a resolution is to make a positive change that will benefit me, to make me feel good. If it doesn’t feel very kind, then my goal probably isn’t flexible or achievable enough for me.
Kindness is about reaching our goals in a way that feels good as often as possible. If you want to write a book for example, then setting a pace of one sentence a day will take a long time but it will still result in a finished book. Forcing yourself to complete entire chapters every day, regardless of how we feel, without a break will get the book finished a lot faster. This example uses extremes but which method do you think is going to be the most enjoyable process? When our resolutions don’t work out we often become unmotivated and feel guilty or we lose faith in our ability.
I have broken resolutions before and I am sure that will not change, what I want to change is not giving up on them completely. It is important to me to be able to remake my resolutions to myself. I want to keep trying till I find an achievable process that feels good while working towards my goal.
Have you any resolutions that you want to revamp? How does a kind, flexible achievable resolution look to you? I’d love to hear what you think.
The ideas discussed in this post were inspired by the work of Martha Beck, and her book Finding Your Own North Star: How to claim the life you were meant to live
If you told me five years ago that I would become a life coach, I don’t think I would have believed you. I used to try to be superwoman. I was always busy, rushing around doing two or three things at once. My to-do list was permanently massive. My biggest fear was things falling off that list, forgetting appointments, bills or deadlines. I motivated myself to just get past the next challenge, then I could relax, but there always seemed to be another challenge meeting me on the other side of the last.
I was completely exhausted and so sick of “adulting” but what choice did I have? Being busy all the time is just life, right? The was little time to consider my needs because I was so busy ensuring my family were achieving everything they wanted. I focused on ensuring those around me were happy and supported. I didn’t realise that I had accidentally given up on my own happiness and was prioritising other people’s needs before my own.
A few years back I became pretty low, I was diagnosed with depression. At first, I remember thinking that I didn’t have time to be depressed. My husband worked abroad, I had two young children, I had to get my sh*t together! It took me a long time to realise that the pressure I was putting on myself was making me miserable. It sounds weird to say it now but I am so so grateful that I became depressed. Don’t get me wrong, depression sucks and I have no desire to feel so horrible and empty ever again, but becoming depressed forced me to change things.
I am so proud of the journey I have made since and it’s made me happier and stronger. I still have days when I am rushed off my feet, I still have a long to-do list. That list, however, has more of the fun things that I need are thrown in alongside the “adulting”. During my recovery, I worked with a life coach, it was a lot of hard work but it really helped me to think of things in a different way. It helped me to feel ok about taking time out for myself. I realised that I prefer to pacing myself when I tackle the to-do list. (everything does not need to be done yesterday!)
So here I am with my own coaching business, specialising in helping people who find themselves overloaded, endlessly tired and overwhelmed. I want to work with my clients to create a sense of freedom and calm. I also hope that my work supports people to create time and space for themselves within their daily lives.
My coaching practice is inspired by the lessons I learned over the last few years. These lessons make up something I am going to call my manifesto for the exhausted.