Gestational Diabetes – Understanding Blood Sugar in Pregnancy

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Eden, I was handed the diagnosis of “borderline gestational diabetes” after I did the ‘sugar test’ and was told to watch my diet.

When I was pregnant with my second daughter, Jade, right from the very outset I was told to “watch my diet”.  My midwife helpfully talked about the Glyceamic Index and proteins and reducing processed foods because these are bad to our general health and thus bad for our pregnancies.  This nutritional counselling gave me a whole different outlook on my pregnancy.  Much in contrast to the stereotype of sit back and eat all the foods that you like because your body craves it, and give up exercise because you can, my body became my temple and when it came round to the gestational diabetes test, firstly I was told I had the choice whether I wanted to take it or or not, and secondly reassured that should I get the diagnosis, it didn’t really matter because I should be eating the kind of foods that were low on the Glyceamic Index anyway because high GI foods lead to higher levels of glucose in the blood and these can be passed onto baby.

Recently I came across a wristband that is soon going to be reading sugar trends in our blood.  It already reads blood pressure, which has been incredibly helpful to me because I’ve always had quite low blood pressure and suffer for it.  I realised this would be a very useful tool in pregnancy, both for blood pressure and blood sugar and could even rule out the sugar test completely, because right from the get go of your pregnancy you would be able to see how the foods you are eating are affecting your sugar level trends.

I checked in with my beautiful Midwife, Glenis Paulette, to guest blog on Gestational Diabetes from her perspective and the nutrition that can prevent it, so you can make your own minds up as to the best way for you to manage your levels of glucose in the blood.  Ultimately, the levels of glucose in your blood are what is passed on to baby.

Read on for Glenis’ Guest Blog to understand more, it was very eye opening to me.  You can read her bio and see her contact details at the bottom of the page.  She is also a great Homeopath and Acupuncturist, who has been of great support to me and my girls up to this day!

If you’re interested in learning more about the wristband to read sugar trends in the blood (non-invasively I might add!), please contact me.  You might also be interested to read my Homebirth Story with Jade and Glenis and/or learn more about Essential Mum!  If you have any questions for me or Glenis, do not hesitate to drop them in the comments below.

Much Love x x

Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis in Pregnancy

The test for Gestational Diabetes (GD) in pregnancy is often considered routine and offered to women without counselling, explanation or consent. Many women are not even aware that they can refuse it. The diagnosis of GD is made by evaluating the level of a blood result taken from the woman after she has fasted for 8 hours and then given a sugary drink. Her blood is tested one and two hours after she has been given the drink to see how well she has been able to metabolise the sugar. If the woman fails the test she is then labelled with GD and her pregnancy is treated as high risk. The levels above which the woman is considered diabetic are arbitrarily defined by different health bodies and there is little consensus throughout the world what this level should be.

Studies show that the tests are unreliable and often give significantly different readings when repeated a week apart. Women who already have a good diet with minimal sugar in it also probably have difficulty metabolising such a sugar hit when it vastly exceeds what they are used to consuming. Also the same sugar load is given to all women irrespective of her weight, meaning it is much more of a load for a 60kg woman than one who is 85+kg.

There is also little evidence to show that this classification and the resulting treatment actually prevent the supposed risks of harm or mortality to the baby. Babies of GD mothers are at risk of being larger and at slightly increased risk for shoulder dystocia, a condition where a baby’s shoulders become stuck at birth preventing their body from being born. These babies can also suffer from low blood sugar levels after birth and be more at risk of being overweight and suffering from diabetes later in life. However, if they are medically managed by a hospital diabetes team they are more likely to be induced and subjected to the resulting cascade of interventions, more often resulting in a caesarean section. The resultant stress on the mother of having a ‘high risk’ classification also impacts negatively both on her and the baby. Obesity and excessive weight gain in pregnancy are more likely to lead to adverse effects for the mother and baby than a diagnosis of GD, although the two can go hand-in-hand.

GD is in fact a mild condition, without symptoms, that develops in the last few months of pregnancy. It is not the development of a serious disease. The level of glucose in the blood may remain higher for longer in pregnant women so that the developing fetus has an adequate and stable supply of nutrients to optimize their growth and well-being.

Managing this increased demand by the fetus can be optimised by giving the same practical advice to women diagnosed with GD as to all pregnant women.

Nutritional counselling should focus on the quality of carbohydrates they consume rather than the quantity. The most useful way to rank carbohydrates is according to their glycaemic index (GI). Pregnant women would do well to avoid or reduce those foods high on the GI as their metabolism leads to higher levels of glucose in the blood. These foods include simple sugars and honey, soft drinks, many processed breakfast cereals, white rice and white bread. Chemical sweeteners are also not good for the body. Many processed foods include excessive sugar, low quality carbohydrates and oils. A healthy diet is one containing fresh whole foods and complex carbohydrates because they are digested more slowly by the body and provide a steady source of energy and also more fibre. Examples include wholemeal breads and pasta, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and breakfast cereals based on oats, barley, nuts and seeds. Adequate oils and protein are also important.

Regular exercise is also advised as this helps the body burn up glucose and increases the effectiveness of insulin.

The best thing to prevent low blood sugars in the newborn is to ensure that they are breastfed early and regularly.

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Safe Sleep for Baby

Baby sleep has always been a hot topic for me.  Baby sleeping at all eluded me with my first baby, Eden, because of her gut troubles.  In fact, she is 4.5 years now and she still isn’t sleeping through the night.  My second daughter, Jade, sleeps really well, but she is currently sleeping in the bed with me. Whoever I talk to there are always questions about baby sleep and risks too that keep us mothers up at night. I remember being perched on the end of my bed watching Eden breathe when we first brought her home from hospital after all the terrifying things I had read about SIDs.

Recently, I became aware of a big risk posed to our children and it was something I had never considered before.  I was shocked because I thought I had covered off all my bases – no sleeping on the tummy, good ventilation in the room, essential oils to help baby relax in a diffuser with a timer, room not too hot not too cold… but the danger isn’t something you can see and it is everywhere.

How many of us fall asleep with our mobile phone on the bedside table?  Who has a baby monitor running so that they can hear when baby wakes?  How many small children use night lights?  Technology is in its golden age.  We use electronic devices, gadgets, and appliances for everything and we have become so attached to our mobile phones that they’re always with us, even when we sleep. I remember when both my babies were small scrolling Facebook would be the only thing that got me through the long nights breastfeeding.

However, these devices are releasing an EMF (electromagnetic frequency) that is negatively impacting our health and it may even be the reason you haven’t thought of yet as to why baby just won’t sleep through the night. Many studies are now linking EMFs with problems sleeping, depression and cancer, and the World Health Organization is in the process of reviewing its classification of electromagnetic radiation in the midst of a growing body of evidence that shows that cell phone and wireless radiation—at even very low levels—could harm our health in a number of different ways.

How do EMFs affect us?

EMF radiation is such a massive issue. I could write so much, but I’m just going to focus on a few facts that have impacted me, which I hope will help you to decide whether you want to limit your exposure or not. Please note that the key areas below are not meant to be a comprehensive analysis of how EMF exposures may affect your baby’s health and I encourage you to do your own research.

Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress produces proliferation of free radical activity in our bodies and an environment positive for cancer and other health issues.  EMFs cause this stress in our bodies through cell proliferation of malignant cells and disruption of cell-signaling systems, which determine how a cell responds to its environment.

Brain Cancer

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization, classified microwave radiation from communication devices as a “possible carcinogen.” This is in the same category as lead, engine exhaust, DDT, and jet fuel.

The brain does not complete development until the early- to mid- twenties. This means children have an increased risk of the effects of EMF exposure and deserve an additional level of precaution. Small influences on the developing brain can result in large impacts later in life.

Studies in Europe show that people who used cell phones heavily for over ten years have a doubled risk of brain cancer, and those who begin using cell phones as teenagers have between four to five times more brain tumors by their late twenties.

Digital dementia

Scientists in Korea have reported increasing prevalence of digital dementia in children. They reported that children who are heavy technology users have brains that are underdeveloped on the right side. This has been characterized by memory loss, attention disorders, lack of eye contact, lack of empathy, and difficulty feeling or showing emotions.  As a result, the Korean government is instituting programs to reduce uses and exposures, especially to young children.

Baby’s Sleep

EMFs from manmade devices have a higher rate of oscillation (vibrate at a higher number of cycles) than the natural electromagnetic fields of our body at rest. The electrical current in your home is generally between 50-60 Hz. In contrast, the ideal frequency in your brain in sleep drops to as low as 2 Hz.1

This discrepancy can prevent you from falling asleep and pull you out of deep sleep, if you do manage to get there. This is because your brain tends to entrain itself to the frequency in the electricity and keeps oscillating at the higher rate of the electricity, which prevents sleep.

Wireless devices are even more powerful in their ability to affect our sleep. They emit a microwave radiation—that oscillates at a much higher frequency. And this can really keep you awake.  The thing about WiFi is that it is on all the time and is the main contributor to the electromagnetic radiation in our homes.

EMFs also suppress the production of melatonin. Melatonin, a hormone produced by our pineal gland, regulates our circadian rhythm and helps us sleep. It is also responsible for killing free radicals and for supporting the immune system.

Researchers have found that EMFs hinder the production of melatonin as well as prevent the absorption of the melatonin that is produced because of cell disruption.

Continual cell phone use can also decrease the pineal gland’s production of melatonin.

I am still learning about this area of concern for our babies and children. I have started using a device called Biozen that alters the electromagnetic waves emitted from electromagnetic devices so that oxidative stress and mutagenic effects where the strands of our DNA break and are unable to repair does not happen. Effectively the altered waves work on a biological level to do the opposite of EMFs, helping to repair the DNA as the natural process of our cells would do in an optimum environment.

I still feel it’s important to turn electronic devices off and keep them away from babies while they sleep.  This includes unplugging all electronics and appliances in baby’s bedroom and making sure we limit the use of phones and other screen time before bedtime.

Alarm clocks, electric blankets, baby monitors, lights, ipads and laptops are also among the many gadgets and appliances in our bedrooms that can cause serious health effects and sleep loss. Baby Monitors is an extremely tough one.  We use them to protect our babies and support us to know if something is wrong.  Biozen is a great alternative if you don’t want to stop using your baby monitor.  So far we have Biozen on our phones, laptop, tablet and the WiFi router!  Biozen is the only medically certified and scientifically proven to work (with the testing also certified.)

I hope this blog has been helpful in understanding what EMFs are and their effects, so you can keep baby’s bedroom (and yours!) radiation-free.  Experiment with removing devices from baby’s room or using the Biozen to see if it helps with baby’s sleeping.  I’d love to hear your feedback!  I have become fully committed to helping people understand the seriousness of the situation we are in with EMF radiation and collectively detoxifying our environment of dangerous electrosmog.  If you feel passionate too, or would like to learn more, please join me in my group on Facebook, Safe Wave Warriors!

What’s in a tantrum?

Before you read this, I want you to know that I am not a psychologist, I am just a mum and a life coach with a deep curiosity into the human mind and emotions.  I believe that if we can understand ourselves better and our children better life is going to be easier all round.

Last night in my newsletter and I talked about how Sir Isaac Newton says that energy is neither lost nor destroyed, it is merely transferred from one to another.

Everything we are is energy.  We are vibrational beings interacting in a vibrational universe. Everything we feel is energy. Anxiety, insecurity, fear, sadness.  These are all bad energy, but what I didn’t say in my newsletter last night is that just because it is bad energy we don’t need to feel it, just like we experience the good!  Only by truly allowing ourselves to feel the bad energy can those vibrations, your e-motions surface and release.

Have you ever watched a toddler laugh away at something carefree, only to stub their toe a minute later and drown in tears, but once they’ve cried them they are back to laughing again? If you let this flow of emotions run its natural course.  If we allow them to feel the emotion as they go through it, allowing each one to surface and release, they come out the other side OK.  It’s so easy to rush in and try and fix whatever has made them cry or, like I do without compassionate sometimes because it’s the tenth time the tears have come, try to dismiss the emotion to make it go away.  Children will be taught quickly enough by us adults and society to unlearn their natural response to an emotion and replace it by the expectation to “get over it” and move on.  Even if we don’t mean to teach them this the screens, the pressure to hurry from one thing to the next, the pressure from school and friends, will teach them to be less mindful.  And in this loss of mindfulness is the time their bodies need to be in their emotions and work them out.

When a child takes a razor blade to their veins and cuts they are forcing themselves to feel something.  As the blood leaves the vein the feeling releases. They are not releasing the problem, but to them the relief of releasing something is enough.Could it be as simple as a general lack of mindfulness in our society is leading our children to this?  I don’t know, but as a teenager who took a pair of scissors to her arm way back when and knowing what I know now about myself that kind of makes sense.

As a mum I have already talked about how we expect way too much of ourselves in the time that is available to us, so this inevitably leads to punishing feelings of guilt and failure and makes us stressed and feel overwhelmed.

And then it’s terribly hard to be mindful when you are a mum. In my Design Your Life blog series I talk about how we are constantly rushing and multitasking, which means that we are not allowing ourselves to be present in any moment because we are constantly rushing on to the next. What do you think this does to the bad energy that accumulates from the guilt, the failure, the stress and overwhelm?  Where do you think it goes?  How do you think it gets released? Well, it doesn’t.

It manifests.  If you ever feel overcome by guilt and anxiety for what seems like no reason, that is a good sign of accumulating negative energy.  One of the things I noticed in my journey with anxiety was that it would be at its worst first thing in the morning.  Really before I had even opened my eyes!  I could never figure out what that was about.  I realise now in retrospect that there was nothing else to busy my mind at that time, so the negative energy got its chance to start surfacing.  And when it surfaces we feel it all over again, but when we have felt it, we can release it.  Instead of feel because it was painful I got up and quickly busied myself again.

Another common time for people to experience this overwhelming onset of guilt and anxiety about what they can’t quite put their finger on is at night; having difficulty sleeping.  I have previously recommended highly sedative essential oils to people and they just haven’t worked because the problem is in the mind.  Essential oils to calm the mind and the anxiety then help, but the cure is in releasing the negative energy for good.

In a child stagnant bad energy might manifest as them being especially cranky and irritable.  Whether we like to believe it or not our children experience stresses.  As we begin to understand our children’s personality profiles we can better understand exactly what stresses them out.  For example, Eden needs a lot of structure and routine and likes the detail of things, so my being completely the opposite can naturally stress her out.  She’s also dealt with a lot in her short years – her bad health and my anxiety and depression.  I am learning to give her better expectation of the day in front of her, more routine and have more patience in order to help her feel less stressed now, but maybe I need to work on helping her release the stagnant bad energy of the past.

When we are under stress our emotions react differently.  Eden has always had very high emotions.  It doesn’t take much for her to “tip”.  However, hubby and I have noticed that her emotions have got much, much worse over the last few months and this morning it suddenly dawned on me that she is probably holding onto a lot of negative energy.  Maybe she has even entered into a constant “fight or flight”.  There seems to be no balance in her emotions at all.  She is snapping at the slightest things, her fuse with her sister is short, she’s irritated far too easily and Craig and I have been struggling to know how to respond.  I have realised that we have undoubtedly been handling the situation all wrong.  Instead of disciplining the “bad behaviour” (time out, “don’t hit your sister”, taking away the toys as they fight, we should be supporting her to release the trapped energy.  Maybe through expression, creativity, music and movement; all the thing she likes. I found some really great ideas on pinterest that I am going to try.

And you know, similar applies to us as adults.  We can help ourselves to feel our emotions and move through them quickly.  And we can help our children to do the same; let them be in their emotions and then do something to help them surface and release.

Did you ever see a dog physically shake after a shock?  They shiver and shake for a while.  This is them physically shifting their negative energy out.  We can learn a lot from this.  Next time you notice a negative emotion, do just that, notice it, feel it, experience it. Do the same with our children, allow them to experience the emotion.  Then do something to help the emotion surface and release.  Move, grab a pen and write about what’s going on, talk to a friend, get straight out in the fresh air and walk, jump on the trampoline with the kids, maybe even physically shake or make yourself laugh so hard that emotion is going to bounce right out!  Just don’t let it sit and sink.

Much Love x x

Full Circle Wellness

I’ve come full circle. I feel like a flower that is blossoming with Spring. I feel like the motherhood I have experienced thus far has been a journey that is now evolving into something else entirely, at whole new level of life, of financial freedom and opportunity.

The challenges with Eden’s health, my battles with my own demons and my decision to believe that my dreams are not beyond me have all lead to the place I stand now; welcoming a new opportunity to impact others in their wellness; to come full circle like I have.

What does this mean for Essential Mum?

I am going to be making some changes to this site. It will still be your place to go for coaching and essential oils. I am committed to getting back to blogging more frequently now I have freed some time up in my life. In the interim I am going to be putting some time into building a new website and coaching mums to Design Your Life; my ultimate 8 week experience to transform your life into one that brings you happiness every day.

Design Your Life isn’t for everyone, because not everyone has reached a comfortable place with the idea that it’s OK to put ourselves first as mums and live a life that brings us happiness every day.  Getting to that point is itself a journey and one I can help you with! (Join my free opt-in at the pop up here).

There seems to be this deep stereotype that I hadn’t noticed until recently around  #beingmum that makes it OK to get to the end of every day feeling like a complete failure, as long as you can grab a wine or lose yourself in the bottom of a pack of Maltesers. It’s OK because everyone else is going through it too right? Tomorrow is another day, another chance to do what you’ve always done and feel frustrated that nothing changes. I know I sound harsh writing this,  but 713 comments under the post of a popular mum blogger led me to this conclusion. The post had 12k likes!

What she said was fundamentally right.  I had a lot of respect for her observations:

1. We are too hard on ourselves as mums

2. The years are short and we will miss these challenges once they are passed

3. There is always a wine or a box of chocolates at the end of the day to set the day right.

What broke my heart was how this post was received.  Like an invitation to believe this is the only way it can be.  The repeated stories in the comments of deep struggle and belief that a box of chocolates really is the only answer broke my heart. One lady in particular deeply impacted me; she basically said she feels like a failure every day, that every day she feels like she could have done better, so I offered her a chance to look at Design Your Life, but she didn’t.

 

 

I get it.  You know that I was in that place of  struggle.  I shared that recently in my article in the Natural Parent Magazine, Why No One Should Survive Parenthood (read it here).

However, I also know that just a simple shift in expectations and a bit of time management can make a massive shift in how we cope with #beingmum, and that this is just the start of what is possible! I understand that it is only a select few who are able to see passed the crowd to a life that is easier and more enjoyable. To let go of the belief it’s OK to just survive parenthood and believe it’s OK to want to thrive because the years are short and we should make the most of them instead of struggle through. We deserve to feel fulfilled in our roles as mothers, we deserve to feel we are doing a good job, not just #beingmum, but as strong, empowered, independent women with our goals and dreams ahead of us.

So I will continue to work on with those of you who come to me open and inspired to change.  And I will begin my new chapter of Full Circle Wellness where I will share even more ways to feel wellness across your whole life!  Mind, body, wealth and more…drop me a line if you are interested in details or watch this space for my launch!

Much Love in motherhood and now, beyond x x x

7 Signs You Could Use a Life Coach

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again & expecting different results…  The difference between getting some life coaching and not is being limited or empowered.

I have NO doubt in my mind, that life coaching has been the vehicle for the single biggest, most fundamental change in me and how I live my life.

The thing is, I picked up the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff to get coaching, rather than being proactive and seeking it out. The cost of this was that I spent a long period of time feeling deeply unfilled and unhappy, in which time I lost control of my basic emotions – got angry easily, felt down repeatedly and suffered anxious feelings regularly.  I lost precious moments with my children in an unrelenting busyness and beat myself up constantly that my intention was completely the opposite; I wanted to be the best and most present mum I could possibly be.  I was riddled with #momguilt for not achieving that.

At the heart of not having made that change sooner was a cluster of limiting beliefs and negative thoughts that were residing in my psyche and holding me back.

I am mum. Everybody else must come first. I will get onto me when the girls don’t need me anymore. I have to be everything they need me to be and be the best at it too.

And yet, if I had have been a 35 year career woman in a challenging job I would have had no qualms using the services of a life coach to manage those challenges. So why not #beingmum, one of the most challenging jobs there is?

Here are some signs that you could benefit from a life coach, so that you don’t get picked up by the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff! Because the fall isn’t pretty…

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What might you get if you decide to engage a Life Coach?

For a start it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll see you’ve got way more in you than you realise and that you have dreams like any other person, even though you are a mum, and those dreams are not beyond you. And you’ll get full permission to live the life you want to design.

Across my own 12 week coaching journey I peeled back the onion layers of who I am and what I want. Coaching gave me a blank slate where all possibilities were valid options. My coaching space was one where nothing was holding me back from being or trying anything. It was liberating to cut the legs out from under the beliefs holding me back from true happiness and fulfilment. And with that I reclaimed my enthusiasm and energy to recreate my life.

Over 12 weeks I experienced at least 12 transformational results:

  • I shifted quickly out of overwhelm
  • I completely redesigned my schedule
  • I decluttered my whole house
  • I learned powerful prioritising
  • I gained the ability to let go; of the stuff that didn’t serve me and of limiting beliefs, which gave me freedom
  • I started purposefully working towards something outside of #beingmum
  • I rediscovered living in the moment
  • I got complete clarity over what matters to me; my values
  • I became friends with my fears, so I could work on them rather than ignore them
  • I understood myself for possibly the first time ever
  • I designed a life for myself that fit with my values and my goals
  • I started living on purpose instead of on autopilot.

The bulk of this happened across just 8 weeks. It just took creating space and giving my complete commitment to working on the areas of my life that were not serving me. The weight that was lifted following those 8 weeks was almost as transformational as the coaching itself! I was floating on air. I finally started to enjoy my children and reconnect with my husband and do the the things that made me happy, which made me better able to look after everyone else.

Thinking ‘I’ll have me some of that?!’

The good news is that I am a Life Coach working to empower open and inspired women with more balance, freedom, fulfilment and happiness in their lives.

If you are overwhelmed, stuck or simply shelving YOU right now let me help you find out whether life coaching can help.

If you feel lost in the demands of #beingmum or are just ready for some ‘pzazz’ in your life right now, let me help you find the space and time to find true alignment between what you want and what you have in your life.

My role as a life coach is to ensure that you start unearthing your true desires.  To enable you to re-discover the aligned, healthy, happy and self-compassionate inner-you.

You can thrive for yourself, within the demands of your family life and within the time you have. You just have to give yourself the permission to work on yourself and commit to following through.

My mission is to help mums feeling overwhelmed, unsure and unfulfilled to find balance, focus and happiness. I don’t see it as a luxury to be this way, I see it as our responsibility as mums because if our cups aren’t full we can’t fill the cups of those around us to our best ability. Plus, our children model their behavior on how we treat ourselves, so if we can’t put ourselves first when we need to we can’t expect them to ever do so either.

To coach with me is simple.

Just:

1. Contact me to enquire about coaching

2. Book a 30 minute Discovery Session with me, either for coaching or my Design Your Life Experience

3. Decide if we’re an awesome fit and then get started!

I look forward to connecting with you and sharing a journey together.

Much love, Clare X X

How To Let Go Of Stress

The Design Your Life blog series has been about how, as Mums we are notoriously busy, often with few pauses or chances to catch our breath, and how this affects us.
Read on for a Guest post by Kirsty Salisbury, Wellness Coach about how we can let go of stress.  And why we should!
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It can often seem like a never ending mission to ensure that everyone else is going OK.  That the kids are still breathing, there’s food in the fridge, lunch boxes in bags, and that everyone has at least one matching pair of socks to wear…  Throw in trying to look presentable, have a job, while keeping the house semi hygienic, and that juggling act is almost certain to fall apart. Whether it does or not, I can guarantee that stress is never far away.
Perhaps you’ve felt like you’re on a constant roller coaster with stress, up and down, up and around.  It’s the ride you never realised you had tickets for, yet here you are – swooshing up and down, side to side and flying loop de loop.  Just when you think that things must be about to even out, that gut curdling dip and rush of cortisol hits again.  I can totally relate.  There was a time not so long ago when my doctor actually diagnosed me as being ‘addicted to stress’.  Yep, I had become so familiar with those roller coaster rides, that I had unknowingly started creating drama and stress just to feel the exhilaration of the roller coaster ride.  A little confusing to say the least.  On one hand I hated what it was doing to me, and on the other, I needed that rush to feel like I was doing what I should be, trying hard enough, and achieving enough.  I was pretty much living on caffeine and chocolate and I was a mess.  My gut was in tatters, my emotions all over the place, I barely slept, and I shocked myself each time I burst into tears with simply no explanation.  On one hand I was addicted to the drama, and on the other hand I just wanted to scream “Let me off!!!”
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Stress is a good thing, but ONLY in the right circumstances.  Like when we need superhuman powers to run from a wild beast chasing us, or to escape an attack or before an exam/presentation, or escaping a life threatening situation.  But ongoing or frequent high stress brings no value into our worlds.  In fact, it can have very serious effects to our health and wellbeing.  Ever heard the term ‘worry yourself sick’?  Well, there’s a reason this saying exists… because when we let stress take over, the rise in health risks can also take over.  Research suggests that stress increases the risk of heart disease by 40%, heart attack by 40%, and stroke by a whopping 60%!  Not to mention inflammation, ulcers, hair loss, sleep deprivation and depression.  It’s believed that in some areas that 3 out of 4 doctors visits are stress related – yes 75%!*
But what can we do about this?  Well… we can start to look out for ourselves for a start.  Begin taking time for ourselves, and doing something that serves no purpose for anyone else.  It’s amazing how this can help us to refocus, let go of the stress, and to see things in a positive light.  Things like getting out in the sunshine, going for a walk, joining up for a short course, coffee with the girls, or that dance class you’ve always wanted to try out.  Meditating, yoga, breathing and relaxation techniques can do absolute wonders too. Anything that is going to start to refresh our thought patterns.  Next, is to be aware of how we fill our time.  The people we hang out with, the TV shows we watch, what we look at on social media, and the amount of things we try to fit into our days. Spending just 15 minutes a day doing something truly relaxing can make all the difference to how we see the world.
My 7 year old daughter is learning about filling her cup at school at the moment.  It’s beautiful.  The teacher has literally helped them to decorate cups with their names on them, and they have all been stuck to the wall.  At any point, a child can write a nice word, or draw a picture, and pop it into one of the named cups.  They are also learning how their activities can fill or empty their cups, and how the people they spend time with do that too. She now knows what types of things give her energy and happiness.  Something us adults need to know too.  The other day, things had gotten her down, and I was met with a truly sobbing child at the school gate (yes, the kind of sobbing where snot goes everywhere).  Once in my arms all she had to say was  “my cup is empty” and in an instant I got it.   She felt empty, and needed some love, and best of all – we didn’t need to navigate the other 100+ questions to try before getting to the bottom of her emotions.
So why as Mums, are we not doing more for ourselves?  Allowing ourselves to get off that stress roller coaster and to do more to fill our own cups?  When our cup is full, we can offer a lot more to the world, and everything seems to have so much more perspective.  They don’t need to be big things.  But things that give us charge.  Now is the time to go and do these things.  A little time each week to make sure that our cups are getting filled as well.  It will feel great to switch out the cortisol for some endorphins.  Overall, if we can reduce our sources of stress, we can connect better with ourselves and experience more joy.  This makes us feel better, look better and actually be nicer people in this world.  My challenge to us all is this:
Do one thing each day, (no matter how small) to love our inner selves.  Even deep breathes are like little love notes to ourselves.
A recap of Kirsty’s ideas to let go of stress!
  • Get out in the sunshine, go for a walk
  • Join up for a short course
  • Have a coffee with the girls
  • Take that dance class you’ve always wanted to try out
  • Meditate, try yoga
  • Use breathing and relaxation techniques
  • Try anything that is going to start to refresh our thought patterns.
  • Be aware of how we fill our time – the people we hang out with, the TV shows we watch, what we look at on social media, and the amount of things we try to fit into our days.
  • Spend just 15 minutes a day doing something truly relaxing to make all the difference to how we see the world.

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Kirsty is a Wellness Coach and Speaker.  She inspires others to reach their full potential, no matter their circumstances or restrictions. Personal crisis is inevitable, but it’s how we deal with it that she believes matters most.  She is the host of her podcast ‘Let’s Talk Life Design’ (www.letstalklifedesign.com), and loves enabling others to share their incredible stories along with practical strategies to living a life filled with purpose.
Find her at:

Facebook: @kirstysalisburyofficial
instagram: @kirstysalis

Happy Mum Happy Child

Happy mum happy child, that’s such a powerful statement.  I was curious, as I explore the idea that at the centre of designing a life you love, which brings you happiness every day, is yourself (read more about designing your life here.)  Specifically a version of yourself where you spend time filling your cup.

My  third guest blogger is Maria, a mum of two, creator of website / Facebook page Happy Mum Happy Child, which is dedicated to helping parents feel less alone in this parenting journey.   Having started in 2014, HMHC is now the top parenting blog in New Zealand.

I know firsthand that within the most beautiful picture perfect surroundings of family can lie our greatest struggles.  I know that we bring these tiny, helpless bodies into the world and from us they expect nothing, but love, but from ourselves we expect everything and we give everything, until often there is nothing left in our cup.  I wanted to hear directly from Maria how she maintains self care as a priority to stay happy and what happy mum happy child means to her

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– What has been your greatest challenge as a mum?

I find a lot of things challenging about being a Mum, but the biggest challenge for me was coming to terms with the fact that my life would never be the same as it was before I had children. I’m more used to it now, and I wouldn’t change it for the world – but it was a very difficult for me when my daughter was first born – I think it triggered my post natal depression somewhat.

– What has been your greatest learning as a mum?

That I am in fact capable of so much more than I could have ever imagined – the love I have for my children, the patience I have, the ability to clean up so much poo – honestly so much I have learned about myself

– How much of a priority is your own self-care in your life?

It’s more of a priority now than it was when I first became a Mum.

– How do you keep it a priority?

I think it’s important to have at least one moment a week where you have no children around you (if at all possible). Whether the other half takes the kids to do the grocery shopping, or they go to the grandparents for the morning. Just a moment alone can do wonders for the soul.

– What happens when that priority slips

Thankfully for me my husband is an amazing friend and supporter – if I am struggling then I communicate with him and he helps out where he can.

– What stresses you out?

My children. Lol – honestly though, just the challenges of being a parent stresses me out. Kids fighting, being demanding, etc it all gets overwhelming.

– How do you avoid overwhelm?

I try and be honest with myself and my family if I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m also not afraid to put the TV on and say to myself “hey I just can’t do it in this moment, so the TV is going to help me out”

– What brought you to inspiring mums as your work?

When I started talking about my journey with postnatal depression, so many wonderful mum’s confided in me with their own struggles and told me it was so nice to hear someone talking about it. I don’t necessarily think I’m inspiring anyone, but just working together with everyone so that we all know we’re not alone.

– How do your personal challenges and how you overcome them influence your work?

90% of my work is off-the-cuff – so it really is dictated by how I feel each day. If I’m having a bad day, then I’ll share it with my followers. Not only to possibly make others feel like they’re less alone, but also for me to feel like I’m not alone. Even for me I can get stuck thinking I’m the only one going through something.

– What blogs do you read and who do you look up to in your industry?
I don’t get a lot of time to read other blogs, but do focus on a couple. Here in New Zealand, my wonderful friend Lisa runs No Filter Mum and it’s a wonderful page for me. She is open and honest about her own journey as a Mother, and she’s become a wonderful friend to me outside of the internet.

Internationally I love Tova Leigh – she predominantly does videos, but also has a blog and I love her and what she talks about.

– What does Happy Mum Happy Child mean to you?

Happy Mum Happy Child ultimately means if Mum is happy, then the child is happy. So it’s important to focus on yourself as a parent.

If you’d like to read more from Maria, visit her Facebook page

Or, Instagram

Of find her on Snapchat: happymumnz

Visit her website here

 

Motherhood, Muddles and Mindfulness

As I get close to launching my ultimate 8 week experience, Design Your Life, I drilled down into what it takes to design a life you love, which brings you happiness every day.  At the centre of it I found myself.  Specifically a version of myself where I spend time filling my cup.  So I decided to use my next few blog posts to explore this by inviting other enlightened mums.  Those who have been the stressed mum, the overwhelmed mum, the unhappy mum, but have come out of the other side.  I wanted to hear from them how they got there and what the benefits have been.

Meet my second guest blogger, Debbie.  She is a Spiritual Alchemist with over 20yrs experience in the mindbody field.  I spoke to Debbie because I have experienced that it is terribly hard to be mindful when you are a mum.  We are pulled in so many different directions that I reckon our brains actually rewire to always thinking about the next thing we have to get done, instead of enjoying being in the moment.

In this blog Debbie shares her experience and a 1 minute meditation you can do anywhere at any time.

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Mindfulness is a term bandied about frequently these days. But what is it?

It is consciously putting full focus and attention on what you are doing or engaging in.   Being present in the moment.

With its roots in meditative practices, Buddhist teachings see mindfulness as a path to enlightenment as one discovers that our mind is the cause of all our suffering. One then works to master the mind through being present and the noticing of the Monkey Mind or the mind‘s need and desire to be attached – to outcomes, behaviours, beliefs, thoughts, perceptions, and stories.

There are many studies that confirm the positive impact of mindfulness on our well-being and our worrisome minds. Sounds like a panacea for today’s world and the holy grail of calm huh?

It certainly is, but how does that fit for a mum who is struggling to juggle motherhood, business, finance, relationships, while still making sure the washing’s done and dry, dinner’s nutritious, cooked and eaten, the kids are happy, well and confident, and the house is not sinking under a foot of dust and grime?

How does it fit, when we feel like we have nothing left to give? And don’t know where to turn?

Less stress and topping up the tank

Taking a minute or two can more ‘space’ to breathe and be more of the mum you want to be – an empowered mum with more love to share. It helps our mind settle. Read – Less stress hormones = Happier mum → Happier children → Happier family → Happier community → Happier world!

We all know of the truth of making sure we top up our tank first as mothers, but it can be incredibly hard to do so. Our instinctive, unconscious actions are to attend to children/family first.

But remember the adage of the oxygen mask in a plane crash? We are no help to our children (or anyone else), if we have no oxygen and die. Implementing mindfulness practices are one way to support ourselves – giving our souls oxygen if you like, so we can support those we love in the chaos, muddle and joy of motherhood.

To help meet the challenge of everyday pressure combined with the overlay of motherhood try my micro-meditation here. This meditation is one way to top up your tank and your soul. It is easy to implement, short – under a minute, and with the exception of driving a vehicle, can be done pretty much anywhere, anytime!

Expand time, create space; take a moment

By putting our full attention on what is directly in front of us, we potentially create more space and time. I know it doesn’t make sense, but bear with me.

Think back to a time where instead of finishing a task and then giving your children attention, you did it the other way around. I remember trying to complete some university papers when my son was one or two, and saying hang on, hang on as he vied for my attention. The times I stopped what I was doing and sat with him (and Thomas the tank engine!) for 10 – 15mins then gave me a full half an hour (magic!) to get my words in place for submission. You may have had a similar experience of giving your children full attention for ten or fifteen minutes which then freed up half an hour for you to get those accounts done or phone calls made.

As a mother taking a moment whenever you can, to be present, creates an opportunity to come back to centre. And sometimes we need to take it whenever and wherever we can. I remember taking an extra moment or two in the toilet to sit and centre as sometimes this was the only time I had any space when my kids were younger!

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What might mindfulness look like for an Empowered Mum?

  • Planning time to be fully present when the kids come home from school or kindy so their well is filled with your compassion and attention (even 5 – 10 minutes each child will work wonders)
  • I have found one of the keys to mindfulness is to surrender. Surrendering the shoulds, musts and need to’s
  • Exploring your ability to expand time by intentionally focusing on and enjoying the task at hand – yes even the dishes, cleaning the shower!
  • Try my one minute micro meditation to bring yourself back into centre regularly throughout the day

Further resources you might find useful:

Jon Kabat-Zinn and Eckhart Tolle are well-known proponents of the power of now and being present and are the authors of many books.

Sarah Napthali has written several books on Buddhism and motherhood which may also be of help.

Mindfulness is a growing movement and there are many mindfulness/meditative groups worldwide. Check out the web for something close to you.

See more of Debbie at her Facebook page!