Category Archives for Be Less Stressed

4 Things Calm Mums Know About Being Assertive

If you are overworked, overwhelmed and overwrought then I’d say that one of the reasons could be that you aren’t assertive. Or you aren’t assertive often enough.

Maybe you don’t ask for help because you think you should be able to do everything by yourself. Maybe you don’t say no to your boss in case you’re looked over for promotion or you put up with demanding customers because you worry that you won’t be able to find better ones.

Asking for what you want—and setting boundaries around what you don’t want—is a key life skill. But sometimes when we have had a tough day its easy for all the resentment to come pouring out, for us to tell our partner how we feel in a less than productive way. When that happens we end up with a partner who shuts down, gets angry or feels resentful.

Here are four tips for developing your assertiveness in a way that will actually strengthen, deepen and enrich your relationship—therefore avoiding the “alienation trap”:

Get Clear.

Being assertive starts with knowing what you are—and aren’t—willing to be, do, or have. For many of us, coming to this knowledge is a real task unto itself. Here, it may be useful to ask: “In an ideal world, what would I like to happen?” Focusing on an idea

l outcome opens our minds, prevents us from falling into passivity or “victim-thinking,” and helps us get really clear on what we want and don’t want.

Set Boundaries.

Once you know what outcome you need (or want), share it with your partner. Pay attention to the way stating your boundary feels in your body. With practice, you can actually sense when you’re hitting the “sweet spot.” It can feel really good, even exhilarating, to express your needs or desires out loud. Phrases like “such and such doesn’t work for me” are simple ways of being assertive while maintaining connection with your partner.

Make a Regular Habit of Stating Your Needs and Desires.

You can build your assertiveness the same way you build any muscle: exercise. Practice speaking up about your needs, big or small, on a daily basis. When you speak up about things that are less controversial—such as where to go to dinner, requesting help unloading the dishwasher or what TV program to watch—both you and your partner get used to your assertiveness. It becomes easier for you to practice and for your partner to hear. Also, when bigger issues come along, you and your partner will have a healthy process in place for dealing with differences in needs, and you’ll have greater confidence in the resilience of your partnership.

Give as Much as You Get.

Assertiveness is a two-way street. If you want your boundaries to be respected, you must return the courtesy to your partner. If she doesn’t want you to use the bathroom when she’s in the shower, don’t. If he asks you to give him a half an hour after work before you talk and connect, respect that. When it comes to following through on a partner’s reasonable request, actions really do speak louder than words.

If your partner isn’t respecting your boundaries even though you’ve set them clearly, it may be time for professional help for you and/or your relationship.

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Here’s Why You Must Stop Multi-Tasking!

The multi-tasking myth.

Work life balance concept

As a busy working mum I used to think that the only way I could get everything done was by multi-tasking.

Women are taught to believe that multi-tasking makes us more efficient. This is NOT true! Research has shown that multi-tasking produces sub standard work and subjects us to more stress because it drains our mental energy.


Which busy woman needs more stress? Not me and not you either I’d like to bet!! 

Multi tasking actually involves swapping quickly between tasks so the brain takes longer to switch on to the new task. Focusing 100% on one task at a time is much more efficient and less stressful.

But there is always an exception to every rule so…

Stop being a sloppy multi-tasker and start being a smart multi tasker. Some tasks need your full attention but others are things that are so routine that you are almost on auto pilot while you are doing them. This is when you should be a smart multi-tasker. For example I always listen to something informative while I’m doing the ironing. It may be the recording of a webinar that I’ve signed up for, or the latest audio book that I’ve downloaded. Likewise if I’m walking the dogs or doing some form of exercise I will always be listening to something like an educational podcast.

But the exception to the exception is those days when I’m feeling really frazzled or lacking in creativity. On those days there is nothing better than a walk along the beach WITHOUT headphones to get me feeling motivated again. I get some of my best ideas when I’m outside on my own so in a way I am still multi tasking but its SMART multi-tasking.

What can you do to stop the unproductive SLOPPY multi-tasking and start being an effective, SMART mult-tasker instead?


Have you got that “Fed up” feeling?

We all have days from time to time when we feel a bit fed up. Feeling down occasionally  is entirely normal. What you do about that fed upfeeling though can have a big impact on your life. Your life is your responsibility, you can choose to stay fed up or you can choose to fix it.


Here are some of my favourite quick fixes…

(If you would prefer to watch a video just scroll to the end of the post)

1 | Call a friend

Although you might just want to pull the covers over your head, feeling down is the perfect time to reach out for support. Get hold of your sister, a friend, or even your dad to talk about how you are both doing. Go ahead and pick up the phone, it’s okay to tell someone you’re feeling down. A simple chat will give your spirits a lift.

2 | Ask yourself, “why do I feel like this?”

One of my “Upgrade Your Life” Principles” is to ask yourself better questions. Once you understand the trigger for your mood, you might be able to do something about it. Approach solutions with an open mind, if you’re fed up because you can’t afford a night out at the end of the month then sit down and do a budget. It may be too late this month but you can stop the same thing happening next month and you will feel good at having achieved something . But, if you can’t figure out what’s causing your low mood, that’s ok too. We might not like it if our partner implies that we are hormonal but lets face it there is a very good chance that we could be (Take a look at  this site if you think your hormones are to blame

3 | Make a feel good list

Make yourself a “feel good” list. Make it special by writing it in different colours and surrrounding it with your favourite quotes, draw pictures or turn it into a visual list with pictures of things or activities that make you feel good. Being creative will lift your mood and then you can keep the list handy for next time you’re feeling fed up. You could add things like reading a book written by your favorite mystery author. Perhaps you always feel happier after a 10 minute meditation or you could include watching your favourite funny film

4 | Go for a walk

It may well be the last thing you feel like doing but If you can just get yourself moving  your body will release endorphin’s,  the “feel good” hormones which are guaranteed to lift your spirits.

5 | Write it down

What are you really feeling? Label it. Why are you feeling this way? Describe it. How long have you felt these feelings? Jot it down. What can you do to feel better? Develop a plan and put it on paper. Writing helps you get your thoughts out of you head and to make sense of them.

6 | Give yourself a time limit

With a time limit on how long you’re allowing yourself to be in this mood, you might work harder to figure out the issue and tap into your personal power to feel better.


I’ve just given you 6 quick fixes but if low mood is an ongoing problem consider calling a professional. There is a big difference between depression and low mood so if low mood is an ongoing problem which you can’t shake, consider contacting your Doctor or a Counselor. If however you’re fed up and feeling stuck, confused, overwhelmed, lacking confidence or just want to achieve your goals as quickly and effectively as possible a life coach will be able to help.

Prefer to watch a video:

I love Marie Forleo and EFT!

Marie Forleo and EFT image

Have you heard of Marie Forleo?Marie Forleo and EFT image

If you haven’t I urge you to take a look at her website (after you have read my article of course)  MarieForleo.Com I think she is an absolute inspiration!

Everybody, man, woman, parent, non parent could learn something from Marie but if you are a woman interested in personal development in general or you want to learn more about marketing or growing a business then take a look.

Marie shares some fantastic content on things like overcoming a fear of public speaking, how to balance being a working mum with growing a business, how too overcome fear and self doubt etc, etc

Every Tuesday she does Marie TV which is a video blog. If you sign up to receive Marie’s emails you will receive her latest episode. Marie TV is a must watch. I always take something away and her love of life and her positivity is infectious.

But it was her latest episode of Marie TV that made me want to write this blog post…

A few years ago when I was still employed I was really suffering with stress and anxiety. I tried lots of traditional and complementary techniques to “feel better”

I also read A LOT while I was looking for a magic cure. One of the things I kept reading about was EFT (emotional freedom technique) It is sometimes called tapping and it’s like acupuncture without the needles. Although I’d read lots of great stuff about how it was being used to treat PTSD amongst many other things I was still sceptical. It all sounded a bit “woo woo” to me!

But I was desperate to feel “normal” whatever that means so I was willing to try anything. My inbuilt quest for knowledge meant that I didn’t want to just visit an EFT Practitioner, I actually wanted to be one.  Sounds a bit silly in hindsight when I knew very little about it and had no experience of it working. But anyway I did the  EFT level 1 course and I was really impressed by what I saw and experienced. EFT became a big part of my recovery from stress, depression and anxiety and I went on to do the EFT level  2 course. I didn’t however do the paperwork or case studies to actually qualify as an EFT practitioner so I don’t currently use it with clients although I still use tapping on myself when necessary.  Marie’s blog has made me realise though that I am doing clients a disservice by not at least having this resource in my “coaching toolkit”.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t think it is a magic cure or that it works for everyone. But I know many people who have been very sceptical,who have found EFT to be beneficial. It can help deal with physical or emotional pain so it is worth a go. If you are curious watch Maries blog. She interviews Nick Ortner who gives a fab explanation of tapping and a demonstration that you can follow along to, go on I dare you, who cares if you look silly! Just come back here and let me know how you got on.

So this blog is me coming out of the EFT fan closet and making a public declaration that before the end of 2013 I will be a qualified EFT Practitioner!

7 Choices that Calm Mums make CONSISTENTLY

Working mums have more to juggle than ever before…

Life is more stressful than ever but choices that you make day in and day out affect whether you stay stressed and feeling guilty or you start taking small steps towards a calmer, more balanced life.


#1 Choose to slow down when you are feeling frazzled. Those feelings are telling you something so listen to your body

#2 Choose to look for the lesson in everything that doesn’t go to plan. If you didn’t get that job, instead of thinking “I’m not good enough” think about what you can do next time to make yourself even more awesome

#3 Choose to ask for help. Feeling overwhelmed? Ask for physical and / or emotional support, it is a sign of strength and courage not weakness

#4 Choose not to compare yourself or your children to others. Your child may well be the last to be potty trained, so what! Stressing about it doesn’t help you or your child

#5 Choose not to feel guilty, Guilt is a wasted emotion and is often linked to comparing ourselves to others so STOP IT!

#6 Choose to see the positive in every situation. If your mother in law offers to do some housework for you SAY YES! See it as a gift not as a criticism that you aren’t a good mum.

#7 Choose to focus on small steps in the right direction. Pick one of the choices above and make it a habit!

What do you choose to do differently? leave a comment below, I’d love to know.


How To Stay In Control When The Kids Are Driving You Mad

Are your kids driving you mad?shouty300

Are you sick of hearing things like:

“That’s not fair Connor goes to bed whenever he likes”

or “It’s not my fault I got detention, my French teacher hates me”

I heard both of those recently from my 12 year old and I know it’s easy to get stressed and fall back into the habit of communicating with them by shouting.

In a previous blog I gave you an ABC of staying calm and today I want to tweak that ever so slightly to use in this kind of situation.

Of course an ABC may seem too simplistic but I encourage clients to think of the ABC system when they can feel a situation becoming stressful at the office or feel a temptation to shout at home because its easy to remember. Start to think of those feelings as a trigger to stop. Then think “what does ABC stand for?” This means you have interrupted a pattern of behavior and you will be retraining your automatic response to be more effective at handling this sort of situation.

STOP – press pause

Put simply it is like pressing pause on the situation so you can work out what to do. Once you have paused follow this ABC:

Think ABC

A is for Affirmation:

Drown out any inner unproductive voice screaming out things like:

“Aaaaaarrrggghhhh why does nobody ever listen to me”

“just give in, its easier”

“what did I do wrong?”  

In my last post I wrote about how feelings, thoughts and behaviour all affect each other so start to manage you thoughts with an affirmation like:

“I love my kids and they love me” I am calm, it’s just his hormones”

“I am calm, I can handle this”

“I can handle this, a good mum sets boundaries”  

B is for breathing:

Don’t miss this one out thinking “of course I’m breathing” because when the pressure is on your breathing changes and although you aren’t even aware of the changes they affect stress hormones in your body and how you feel about the situation which then influences how you behave so remember to take big, deep, slow breathes in and out while repeating an affirmation to yourself

C is for communication:

In a work environment I often encourage clients to think C is for circulation because like breathing, getting up and about, stretching and taking a break helps us manage our responses to a stressful situation or too much pressure. However when it comes to dealing with stroppy kids (or partners) always think C is for communication. Communication is a BIG subject though, so think about what you said last time you had a “heated conversation” with your child:

What could you have said instead? If someone at work had spoken to you in that tone of voice what would you have said? It’s unlikely that you would have responded by shouting in a work environment.

Some quick tips for better communication are:

  • Let them know you understand their point of view then explain your point of view. Let them know the reason for your decision.
  • Stand firm and repeat the same thing,up to 3 times if they keep arguing then refuse to discuss the matter further
  • don’t use the “but” word.  Use “and” instead, “but” negates anything you said before it.


For example:

  • “I know you don’t want to go to bed, but it’s tough you’re going anyway”


  • “I understand you don’t think its fair that you have to go to bed at this time when some of your friends are allowed to stay up and I still want you to go to bed nowbecause you won’t be able to concentrate as well at school unless you have had enough sleep”

Review and Revise

If this doesn’t work the first time don’t give up and don’t beat yourself up about it,  just review and revise!

  • What went well?
  • What can you do differently next time.
  • If you didn’t handle the situation well and you believed there was “no failure only feedback” what would that feedback be?

Leave a comment and share your favorite tip for staying in control in the comments box at the bottom of the page!

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Feeling Stressed? Remember ABC

An ABC of stress management

thoughts feelings behaviour

Stress is unavoidable, it is a fact or life and although I believe it can and should be managed, short term stress is not always a bad thing.

Sometimes it is what motivates and drives us to get things done. That old saying “no pain, no gain” is true If we want to grow and develop and be successful it is necessary to stretch our comfort zone and that can cause us feelings of stress.

However when we feel stressed it is easy to just let our emotions take over and to start to listen to that little voice in your head that is saying

  • “you can’t do that”
  • “you’re a bad mum for wanting that”
  • “who is going to listen to you”

What we think affects how we feel which affects how we behave so if you think you can’t do something you will feel like you can’t do it. Once you feel like you can’t do something, that in turn affects your behavior so maybe you don’t even try or maybe you just don’t do as good a job as you could have done if you were better prepared both mentally and physically.

Next time you are in the middle of or coming up to a stressful situation remember this easy ABC to keep the stress manageable:

A is for Affirmation

It is important to drown out your inner critic.  We all have one, it might be your voice that you hear or  it might be a parents or ex partners voice. It might be loud or it might be just a whisper. Next time you are aware of that inner critic have an affirmation at the ready to drown it out and to help you stay focused. An example is:

“I am calm, I can do this”

Just repeat this silently to yourself over and over and eventually you will start to believe it and feel it.


small_2405124325B is for Breathing

When we get stressed our breathing changes and we start to take fewer, shallower breaths. Doing this heightens the stress and keeps you on edge. Taking deeper breathes sends oxygen to your vital organs and releases toxins, including those caused by stress. It also calms the nervous system and settles those negative thoughts which helps you to cope with anxiety and improve your mental clarity


C is for circulation

I’m sure you know that sitting at a desk all day isn’t great for stress management but when the pressure is on and deadlines are approaching you probably think you haven’t always got time for a break. Personally I think if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed a 5 minute break and a cup of tea (not coffee) will make you more productive. But if you really can’t take a break then find ways to get your circulation going. Sit up straight, shoulders back, stretch every now and then. Encourage stand up meetings in your office, people will pay attention more and the meetings will not last as long so its a win-win.  Start to stand up when you make a telephone call and roll up and down on the balls of your feet

There are lots of ways to manage stress but I’ve given you an ABC of ideas that you can try that take seconds and that you can do even in the middle of a busy office.

Whats your favorite way to manage stress leave a comment below or for more tips for busy working mums sign up to receive my free ebook by clicking the link below and you will also receive my newsletter every 2 weeks


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photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc