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3 ways to reduce stress around a busy schedule


3 ways to reduce stress around a busy schedule

Speaking as someone going through a second lock down, it feels like we had a flash of normality before we got catapulted back into the vacuum of screen life and home-schooling. I will put my hand up and admit that I’m finding this round a lot harder than the last. I’ve yet to bake anything, my daily wardrobe is a rotation of stretchy pants and my sense of humour often goes missing.

However, as I chat to my bestie who lives in Queensland, I’m reminded that stress is relative.

Not everyone is enduring isolation but most of us are managing the juggle in the wake of a ‘new normal’ and none of us are immune to stressful days. Learning how to support ourselves in good times and bad is an essential skill.


Self-Care is Queen

Lockdown or not, self-care is critical to how we function.

Many working women, (particularly mums) tell me they put little focus on prioritising themselves until the wheels come off. This is because the concept of `self’ and `care’ is often confused with indulgences like a day spa or tropical retreats. As fabulous as they are, for many it’s rare and for some of us it’s a genuinely a pipe dream right now!

Self-care in real terms means taking a maintenance approach to your mental and physical upkeep. If you consider your average daily schedule without throwing in the gloomy headlines and our changing world, there’s no shortage of stress triggers.

While we are built to respond to short term floods of adrenaline and cortisol, prolonged stress takes a significant toll on almost every system in your body. What may start as being snappier and more reactive, can build over time to anxiety, depression, and other physical illness.


The Magic of Micro Habits

Integrating helpful habits into your daily routine is a sustainable way to short circuit stress and soothe anxiety as it’s rising. The aim is to practice engaging our parasympathetic system which allows the body to go into rest and digest mode, enabling you to feel calm and safe.

What puts the magic into micro-habits is that they’re small and require minimal effort to slot into your schedule. Behavioural research suggest that bite sized habits are easier to maintain and like compound interest, the benefits build up.

So, what can we do to short circuit stress on the go?

If you keep it small but practice these mini – habits daily, you’ll be surprised how much better you feel.


Micro Habit # 1

Start your day tech free for minimum of 30 minutes

What?! …I hear you cry … Stay with it – because how you start your day sets the tone for the rest of your day.

Instead of activating your stress response the second you wake up with work emails and other media, commit to skip the scrolling and tv. Give yourself time to collect your thoughts and ground without screen-based diversions. You’ll be more productive, less distracted, and ready to take on the rest of your day.

On waking reserve your time to start your day being present.

Time with the family
A cuppa quietly on your own – if you can get that luxury!

If you can over time, extend your tech free window particularly on weekends.


Micro habit # 2

Practice Box Breathing

This is a fantastic breathing technique that can be used anywhere, several times a day when you can feel your anxiety levels spiking. Commonly practiced by those in high stress professions (think ER medics and navy divers) box breathing dials down the effects of an adrenaline cortisol overload, helping to calm the mind and relax the body.

If you have a big presentation coming up, you’ve had a difficult meeting, you’re feeling overloaded or you can’t sleep, practicing box breathing is an instant rescue.


Box Breathing Method

Repeat the cycle 4 – 5 times until you feel noticeably calmer. If you would like a demonstration, YouTube has plenty of examples.


Micro habit # 3

Use the S.T.O.P technique to create space for yourself

This mindfulness technique is another wonderful way to diffuse stress in the moment. It enables you to create space and pause.
It’s also a useful method if you’re in danger of reacting in the heat of the moment or if you’re feeling irritable, emotional and not at your best. In addition, it’s a powerful way to interrupt episodes of self-judgement, self-criticism and negativity we can subject ourselves to when we’re stressed.

S: Stop what you’re doing. Take a pause and acknowledge whatever you’re thinking in this moment.
T: Take a few deep breaths and gently bring yourself in to the present moment. Focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale
O: Observe what you are experiencing in that moment.
What physical sensations do you notice?
What emotions are you feeling right now?
What are thoughts doing?
What assumptions are you making about yourself?
What stories are you telling yourself?
P: Proceed gently by asking yourself:
What is the one most important thing I need to focus on right now? OR
What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?


Remembering to practice these techniques may take some getting used to, but with persistence they will become second nature and you’ll notice your stress levels dial down more quickly and easily.


RELATED: Why we need authentic connection now more than ever


Continue this conversation in our business community by becoming a She Will Shine Member today. Join the She Will Shine business network today and connect with a community of Australia-wide women business owners.


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About Maya Looker
Maya is a coach, facilitator, clinical hypnotherapist, and meditation teacher. She established Head Start Wellness after spending 20 years in the corporate sector diligently following the path to senior leadership.

It was while training as an executive coach that Maya realised putting the `Well’ into her `Being’, was inextricably linked to her sense of joy and purpose. Motivated by her real-world insights into the challenges of commercial environments, she decided to blend her business skills with a lifelong passion for health and wellness.

With a penchant for a good strategy on a page and a lot of empathy, she now packages practical ways to supercharge your wellbeing. HSW offers programs for teams and busy professionals who want to design balance and be effective, with less stress, more joy.

To discover more visit Head Start Wellness.


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Because it needs to be said


I try to send positive vibes out across socials. It might put a smile on your dial, or maybe warm your heart just a little, or for those few seconds, simply take your mind off everything else. But I’m feeling for working mums right now. It’s been a hot topic in our She Will Shine weekly meet-ups and our online support group, and I think this is a conversation that needs to be had.

Because I’ve been seeing more and more of our members suffering from increased stress and anxiety. Not only are they trying to keep their own businesses afloat in these challenging times, they are also looking after kids 24/7 and in charge of all things home learning, plus so much more. Mental load has increased ten-fold.


If you’re a mum you already were at capacity before you even knew what COVID-19 was, so how are you coping now?


Yes, these are unprecedented times but systematically the extra load continues to fall to women.

Which brings me to this big question… Why is it that when a male works from home, it’s “expected” that he just moves his laptop to the spare room and shuts the door behind him? And when it happens to women, the laptop comes out onto the dining table, plus breakfast, lunch, dinner, the never-ending snacks, the boredum-busting, school communication, home learning, general logistics and up-keep of the house… Did I mention that she has also has work and clients to attend to. And don’t forget, “Kids! Keep the noise down so we don’t disturb dad in the back room.”


So where does the blame fall? Surely there is someone who can solve all our problems and fix this.


Is it the partner? Shouldn’t he see what’s happening in his own home and help out. The partner’s employer? Surely they understand parental care falls 50% on the shoulders of each parent. How about society? The topic of gender equality isn’t a new one. Or even ourselves? We did structure our lives this way. Is now the time to ask, or even demand, more help?

It’s such a huge issue and it needs to be looked at holistically as we all have a role to play in changing the status quo. But it’s a big one and I fear it will take longer than any pay-gap to fix. So in the meantime Ladies I beg you, please take care of you somewhere in that non-stop day of yours. Where technology was once frowned upon, now it may just be the saviour you need to fit in a few deep breaths and a hot cup of tea.


And if you need someone to talk to, the She Will Shine community are here for you.

You don’t even need to explain it to us. We get it.


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network-for-women-in-businessAbout Danielle Price
With over 10 years small business experience, Danielle Price has created an Australia-wide network of female small business owners at She Will Shine. An expert networker and elevator of female business owners, Danielle facilitates connection and support between like-minded women in working towards a common goal of creating a successful business around personal responsibilities and life. Danielle’s passion is sharing and giving a voice to the real stories of Australian women in small business. Learn more about Danielle here.

Supporting you to grow your business on your terms.


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Where Do You Really Want To Go?


The Small Business JourneyBusiness. Planning. Two words that can be both exciting and daunting all at the same time. Raising such questions as, what do I foresee in my future? What can I do to help me get there? And the big one, where do I REALLY want me and my business to go?

While it can conjure up many emotions, it really is a critical tool to ensure the ongoing progress and development of your business. And now is the perfect time to take some action in order to be prepared for the year ahead.

So how do you get started? Here are the first five steps you need to take in order to make it less scary, and more of a new beginning to an exciting adventure. Your adventure.

1. Take some time out to recharge the batteries.
As a business owner your business can be on your brain every minute of every day, so it’s a good idea to give yourself a break to clear the mind. You do not want to be holding onto the stress and challenges of last year moving forward. You need to make way for new ideas and new possibilities. And the new year is a great opportunity to head to the beach or go for a walk, just get out and immerse yourself in the great outdoors. There really is nothing like it to get those creative juices flowing.

2. Ignore the hype.
It’s easy to want to rush into the planning without taking the oh-so important “time out”. You jump onto Social Media and there are so many posts from those who have finished their planning and ready to conquer the world. Don’t worry, a few days of R&R will not hinder your planning. It will do the exact opposite. Turn off the outside noise (including your smart phone and tablet) and tune into your own inner thoughts and hopes for the future.

3. Close off your year.
If you haven’t already, create a list of all that you achieved this year. It can be surprising to see what you have actually been able to accomplish in the previous 12 months. This is the perfect time to reflect and pat yourself on the back. Even if things didn’t always go according to plan, the results will help you envision what will work in the future. You never can be sure if something will work or not until you try it, and it’s all very valuable research on the journey to bigger and better.

4. Get yourself a planner.
Personally, I’ve never been one for the multi page, goes on and on, business plan. It may be my creative background, but I much prefer something that will hold my hand me step by step. There are loads of Business Planner tools on the market but you do need to find out that suits you and the way you like to work. This year, I’ve opted for the Daily Greatness Business Planner, but have heard amazing things about Leonie Dawson’s Planners too.

5. Just start.
You’ve procrastinated for long enough. Now is the time to take some action. Instead of spending the next 12 months reacting to what happens around you, spend it being proactive, and armed with a plan to make next year your best one yet. Dare to dream big and you never know, you might even surprise yourself.


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Is There Such A Thing As Maternity Leave When Running Your Own Business?


Maternity Leave in Small BusinessA gentle reminder as I aimlessly drive the streets around our daycare centre after dropping off my number two baby for the first time – no matter how ‘experienced’ we are, those first steps towards returning to work are extremely difficult. I’m checking my phone every minute, expecting a call any second, desperately wanting it to ring so they can tell me she can’t cope without me!

Clearly it is me that can’t cope well without her along with the reality that it is time to get back to work. I’ve been quite comfortable playing mummy at home, working on my business when time allows and keeping up enough activity to keep things rolling along. I’m noticing clear differences between returning to my ‘regular’ job and running my own business. The fear is still there. The awesome thing about returning to your own business is you know exactly why you are doing this (even if the how and where is still a little vague).

To all the fabulous She Will Shine Members out there I want to share with you some of my tips for taking parental leave in your own business. I trust this will spark more conversation between our fabulous Mammas to provide even more insight and advice on this topic!

Stepping away from your business to give that new bundle of joy some mamma time:

Start preparing early
I know this sounds completely logical but those first three to four months of your pregnancy can be full of ups and downs, ins and outs and mixed emotions all whilst keeping your poker face to the general public.  You then make all of your announcements and a couple of months fly by blissfully enjoying the wonderful conversations and changed interactions with your clients. Then reality hits – you will be officially ‘on leave’ soon!

Consistently communicate with your clients throughout your pregnancy about your pregnancy
Yes it is perfectly appropriate to share this news with your clients, especially if your clients don’t see you in person regularly. Time flies and your pregnancy is not top of their thoughts, being prepared and communicating regularly with your clients will ensure they are prepared for your leave.

Know that it is ok to change your mind
Again communication is critical, your clients will understand if you need to pull back on the reins. Make sure you have them covered with a solution for continued service (see my first and last points).

Start outsourcing
This was the biggest long-term benefit for me (whilst I did this later than I would suggest for others). Review how you actually spend your time in and on your business and prioritise your time and duties. Treat your business like any other company and ensure key resources are being used effectively. Get your outsourcing relationships in place well before you go on leave to ensure everything is running smoothly and you are happy with how the work is flowing.

Plan for your return
Who knows if your return will go according to plan, knowing you have a plan and utilising your time in the best possible way will give you peace of mind.

These are my top tips for a return:
• Be adaptable. Golden rule of parenting and returning to work!
• Don’t assume your baby can/can’t attend networking events. Simply ask the organiser and respect their answer.
• Don’t hide your baby. Respect your client and let them know your baby will be with you.
• If you plan to use childcare put these arrangements in place very early. Again be adaptable!
• Create good rituals that you maintain. Having a bath and washing your hair the night before you work or network is not only relaxing and refreshing it is critical to your time management the following morning!
• Go shopping. Yes you are likely to need new clothes that accommodate the changes in your body and circumstances (especially if you plan to breastfeed in public).
• Go easy on yourself. Don’t forget to take time out to relax.

Don’t underestimate the power of your network. My network community were extremely supportive, continually keeping in touch, offering practical support such as meals, driving, and a shoulder to laugh or cry on. As a Mum and a woman in business – thank you to my community for supporting my return to work!

Charma Voller is a return to work coaching expert (but not perfectionist). Find out more on her website charmavoller.com.au


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4 Ways You Can Become The Macgyver Of Fear


Fear can push us to do extraordinary things. If you had said to me three years ago that I would be running a pretty amazing women in business community I would have laughed in your face… And look at me now!

Each hurdle that’s been in front of me on my personal journey has pushed me further and by stepping outside my comfort zone and tackling each one head-on my confidence is soaring. And there’s still more to come so watch out world!

Here are 4 ways you too can become the Macgyver of Fear!

1. Know that we’ve ALL been there. Putting yourself out there is scary but you know what, you’re pretty awesome. You have the courage to start your own business and the determination to make it a success. And if you surround yourself with the right type of people, they completely understand. Women are so supportive of each other in the business world. Enjoy it.

2. You’ve done the research. You’ve got a great product/service that people need and you KNOW you’re onto a good thing… Chances are you ARE onto a good thing. Have the belief in yourself to have your voice heard and shout it from the rooftops. You will feel pretty amazing afterwards.

3. If it’s a fear around something deep inset or you just know that “something” is stopping you from doing your best, there are experts out there to help. Mindset is a huge thing to tackle and you don’t have to do so on your own. This one took me a while.

4. Reward yourself at each little stepping stone. Without the luxury of being told “job well done” by the boss, personally celebrate what you have achieved. You ARE the boss and you know you deserve it.

I’ll see YOU on the other side of your next hurdle.


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5 SIMPLE STEPS TO HELP YOU EMPLOY STAFF Is it time you employed staff in your small business? Here are 5 simple steps to help you do it right and recruit the right skill set for your business needs.

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