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Is your body image holding you back?

How many of you have suffered from body image issues? *hands go up*

I certainly have and since starting my Sparrowlegs business, it has become apparent to me how many of us women in business have struggled with the image in the mirror.  Did you know that your body image could be holding you back in your business? Body image is what we think and feel about the way that we look and not just simply what people see. So, how can it get in the way of your greatness? In the way of you showing up and being successful (and a reminder here that you get to choose what success looks like for you, it’s not one size fits all and I really didn’t intend that pun!)

Is negative body image holding you back?

So, firstly, negative body image LIMITS you. Believing you aren’t ‘beautiful’ enough (what defines beauty anyway?!) you aren’t slim enough; your skin isn’t clear enough, to be the person you want to be. We are subjected to a constant barrage of images and inferred expectations of a construed idea of what ‘beautiful’ is and sometimes we can’t see past it. These thoughts limit you; you might not choose a certain career path or say “yes” to opportunities because you believe that isn’t a choice for people who look like you. You may not progress your business because the image you have of yourself holds you back. Sometimes we think “when I’m slimmer I’ll succeed” or “when I look better, I can work on my business” – These are just limiting beliefs.

Secondly, feeling negative about the way you appear may stop you from taking risks, and from being brave. That’s not to say that I don’t have days where I look in the mirror and struggle with what I see BUT through the work that I’m doing I’ve learned how to manage those feelings better. Your body image, if negative, can keep you in your comfort zone. It can keep you from doing your lives on social media, from sharing the photos and even from turning up to meetings. We all know though, that forming true connections is a way to build our business, being relatable and vulnerable. That all starts with showing up as our true selves.

Lastly, having a negative body image makes you more likely to compare yourself with others. You can start to believe that others are more successful because they look a certain way. That’s not the case though, those that are successful (and to reiterate – success looks different for us all,) don’t limit themselves; they take the risks, and they stay on their own path without comparing. Another person’s beauty doesn’t make us less beautiful – this we MUST remember!

What can you do about it?

So, I hear you asking, what can you do to change things?

Surround yourself with the people who like and love you for who you truly are. Talk to them and you will realise that everybody has worries and insecurities. We all struggle with negative body image at times.

Support your body image by taking care of your body. That can look different for each one of you but don’t underestimate how much self-care can make you feel good about yourself. Treat yourself with kindness, and speak to yourself kindly. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend don’t say it to yourself.

Lastly, be you! People love to see the real you. Don’t let what you look like hold you back. Some people will love you and others won’t (their loss obviously!) Just remember your purpose and the right people will surround you

Now go, shine your light and follow your dreams and passions……

My links

Facebook Group:     www.facebook.com/groups/sparrowlegs

Instagram                 www.instagram.com/miss_sparrowlegs

Website                     www.sparrowlegs.com

Email                         anupa@sparrowlegs.com

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Rise & Shine

What gets you up each morning? I recently read that the latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) show that the total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017/18 was 595,000, a prevalence rate of 1,800 per 100,000 workers. Many of them struggled to even get up in the morning.

I remember those days – where energy, calm and ease felt like they were in a foreign land. One of those episodes, many many moons ago, required setting up home with my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew. Life was a pretty bleak place to be. The call of the darkened room and no company, locking myself into the cocoon of a duvet were a place of safety and isolation.

But it often stopped me from doing the normal things – cleaning my teeth, having a shower, taking medication, or going to the shop – I would have quite happily stayed in that “pit” (quite literally) for months if I could.

But every single morning, two little faces would greet me at the bedroom door, encourage me to drink, get up, go again, take the medication, find some energy to walk them to school, tell me a joke, sing me a song, or make up silly stories.

I was hell to live with at times – I was struggling to live with myself, let alone other people having to face the wrath of anger that often came their way.

But still, every morning, those two faces would show up before they headed off to Primary School.

I look back with an element of shame on that time – because those that I loved the most in the world, so young and vulnerable themselves, were the ones pleading with me to go again. They shouldn’t have had to do that. But I am forever eternally grateful that they did.

In the same breath, I look back on those times with fondness – experiencing unconditional love every single waking morning. I smile at the numerous talks that we had as I walked them to school, the trial and error of doing scooter tricks, or making up names for each other. We giggled in a way that still rings in my ears, warms my heart and brings a tear to my eyes even now as I write.

The reality of life’s lesson being this……

In the worst of days, I gained some of the most beautiful and treasured memories, priceless for the rest of times, ones that I will hold onto forever.

And now, some eight years on, two of those beaming faces are grown and at University, following in my footsteps of becoming a teacher . I couldn’t be prouder, not even by the university status – although that in itself is MAGICAL.

No, I am even more proud of the human beings that they have become and continue to be.

Today’s lesson is a simple one – however hard it may feel, light and love are around every corner – from a smile from a stranger, to the breeze in the trees, to the blues of the skies. Just keep going, one small step at a time.

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5 Tips to Preventing Desk Aches & Pains

Guest blog from Chloe Clark at Astral Fitness Sports Massage about preventing desk aches and pains.

Hello and welcome to my guest blog for Kirsty France.

My name is Chloe Clark, and I am the director at Astral Fitness Sports Massage based in Hinckley. You can find out more about me at www.astralfitness.co.uk .

I specialise in using the hands-on art of Sports Massage to solve desk working related acute and chronic aches and pains in your neck, shoulders, back, and hips. I often help solve issues with other muscles too.

Image shows someone working at a desk - are they preventing desk aches and pains?

Desk Ergonomics

Is your desk set up well for you to sit in an unrestricted way? Do you have one main screen set up well, and a secondary screen or laptop that you frequently look at? It is very important that you set yourself up well for both screens and have a swivel chair so that you can move your whole body to look at each screen rather than twisting your neck. Look at the guide below;

Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide – Mayo Clinic

If you can install a standing desk for your work, it will be a game changer not only for your body, but for your brain as well. Your brain operates more efficiently with a better blood flow around the whole body, which, you guessed it, happens when standing and moving about while working.

Stretching

Have you ever had a bit of a stretch at your desk and felt immediately better? But maybe you’re not sure if you’re stretching in a good way or if it’s doing any good? If it feels good- keep doing it. Stretching is a valuable tool to utilise several times a day to prevent aches and pains setting into your body and causing a longer-term issue. If you don’t stretch at your desk and want to know what to do, visit the below article by BUPA.

Desk stretches to ease aches and pains (bupa.co.uk)

Regular Movement

Regular movement is vital to having a healthy day at your desk. This could mean getting up and moving to get a drink once an hour, or simply standing and making more of your stretching time each day. If you work alone this is easy enough, and if you’re in an office you might get some stares! Start the trend of regular stretching, your colleagues will thank you for it.

Exercise

Your body needs movement for optimum health, it is not a losing battle if you’ve got eight hours a day at a desk ahead of you. Any exercise can and will go a long way to keeping you able to work and play in a healthy and pain free manner.

If you don’t exercise regularly, start with something small, five minutes a day is enough to get started.

Try Yoga With Adriene – YouTube , she has hundreds of free videos available for complete beginners as well as the more advanced yogi.  Keep a mat close to hand and fit it in during your day if you work from home.

Go for a brisk walk at lunchtime, my favourite of all exercise, and the simplest and easiest way to get started.

Self-Care

Walking in the countryside, a spa day, swimming, indulging in a hobby, getting a massage… the list is endless when it comes to self-care, but it should be something just for you, to allow you time to reset away from your desk so that you can return to it refreshed. This is also true if you run your business from your phone or tablet and often sit on a sofa!

Thank you for taking time to read my guest blog today. If you are struggling to get any of the above to work and need a little extra help, please do get in touch with me, Chloe, for an appointment at www.astralfitness.co.uk

Thank and have a great festive season!

Chloe Clark

Astral Fitness Sports Massage

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Listen to your Heart

Listen to your heart - Tracey Hutchinson guest blog header

Listening to my Heart is my life’s ‘work’ and it totally lights me up. You see, we all have an inner guidance system. Call it what you like – intuition, gut feeling, inner being, source – I know that this resonates with you. You know you have it. You’ve had that absolute knowing about whether something is right for you. You’ve felt that calling and known what the right thing was to do.

We all have it, we all know about it, but we’re not all deliberately connected to it. Because life gets in the way. And as a youngster we were actually trained away from it by [well-meaning] teachers, parents etc who wanted us to do as we were told by them. In life we encounter all the shoulds; all the advice and feedback from others; all the concerns about what others will think of our life, decisions and actions.

Connecting to my inner guidance and listening to my heart has led to so much ease and joy in my life. I love encouraging my daughters to listen to their own hearts. They won’t always have me to guide them, but they will always have their own inner guidance. And no one knows us better than we know ourselves, right!?

5 ways to connect to your own inner guidance system and leverage the energy that creates everything you desire in life:

1. Meditate daily for 20 minutes.

This is the absolute cornerstone of connecting to your own inner guidance system. Meditating allows you to quieten your mind and connect to the power within you. Consistent daily meditation is so powerful – you won’t recognise yourself after 30 days! I am currently running a 30-day meditation challenge in my Facebook parenting group (an inspired action straight from the heart of course!). Join us if you feel inspired (link below).

2. Be present.

Being present in the moment and focusing on the Now is super powerful – after all, the Now is all we ever have. By doing this we are able to enjoy each moment for what it is. Focusing on the past creates depression; focusing on the future creates anxiety. Why wouldn’t you choose to live in the present?

3. Calibrate negative emotions.

Everything you need is already within you. But from those lower vibration emotions (depression, fear, anger, doubt, blame) you are unable to tap into it. Soothing those feelings enable you to move forward in Love, Joy, Peace, Ease and Satisfaction (those delicious high vibration emotions) – and thus connect to your own inner guidance system where you will be able to see things from a higher perspective and literally manifest the right people, ideas and experiences. This is the work I do with people as a Clarity Coach.

4. Unfocus regularly throughout the day.

Taking 2-5 minutes throughout the day to close your eyes and breathe deeply allows you to unfocus and reconnect to your inner guidance system.

5. Flow activities.

Find a ‘flow activity’ that suits you. Flow activities are those which take you away from your mind and require you to put your focus solely on what you are doing. For example, running, colouring, crafts. What do you enjoy doing that helps you to unfocus from the world around you?

About the Author

Tracey Hutchinson lives in Leicestershire, UK and is a wife and an Unschooling Mum to 2 incredible girls – 10 and 1. She loves nothing more than to support Mums to go beyond traditional parenting, into the realms of parenting in the present moment with Joy, Ease, Love and Connection. As a Clarity Coach, she works with clients to release negative feelings, thoughts and beliefs around a particular topic and come into alignment with their own inner guidance system.

Facebook profile – https://www.facebook.com/traceyhutchinsoncoaching

Facebook parenting group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/abeparentingbeyondparenting

You Tube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC01Ce3yOr4JsZArWbY6df9w

Book a Clarity Coaching session with Tracey – https://bookclaritycoachingbytraceyhutchinson.as.me/

Tracey Hutchinson
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I need a wedding cake but where do I start ….. ???

Guest blog from Toni Adam at Red Velvet Bakery, wedding cake maker extraordinaire!

Ordering your wedding cake is definitely one of the fun parts of organising a wedding but it can feel like a minefield. There is more to think about than just “cake”.

As bizarre as it may sound, choosing your wedding cake is just as integral part of organising your wedding day as invites and venue hire. All your guests will want to take photos of you both during the day, but the cutting of the cake photo is the one everyone wants to capture. It’s the one your mum is likely to put in a photo frame and it will definitely make the wedding album.

Where to start?

When the time comes to plan your wedding cake, the obvious place to start looking for ideas are apps like Pinterest or Instagram. These sites are great and offer a fabulous range of styles and ideas, but sometimes too much choice can feel overwhelming.  A great place to start is by choosing your colour scheme. This will help narrow your search and start steering you in the right direction. You may come across a lot of styles and finishes that you do not like and that’s ok. Not every wedding is the same nor should it be. Your wedding and your wedding cake should reflect who you are as a couple. Create a mood board if that helps. You’ll soon discover your favourite style.

Choosing the right cake maker is just as important as choosing your cake style. Shop around, do some research and read reviews. Find “your person”. There will always be someone who fits within your budget but do remember that you get what you pay for!  Visit wedding fayres, meet suppliers and choose someone you feel comfortable with.

Talking to your cake maker

Remember your cake maker is the expert so ask lots of questions, such as:-

How much cake will I need for the number of guests at my wedding?

Do you offer a design and consultation service?

What about a cake tasting?

Ask about deposits, final payment and refunds

Does the price quoted include delivery to your venue or is that extra?

Discuss personalised cake toppers and cake stands

Can they accommodate special diets, i.e. gluten free

What flavours do they offer?

How much will your wedding cake cost?

So how much does a wedding cake cost?  Each supplier has their own rates and will charge you accordingly so expect to pay in the region of £350 upwards for a 3 tier cake. Obviously the bigger and more elaborate the cake, the more expensive it will be. Remember you are not just paying for a cake, you are paying for the personal touch. You are paying for their time from your initial consultation to delivery. You are paying for the freshly baked-to-order yumminess and love that goes into each tier, the quality ingredients and the attention to the details that make your cake unique to you. Be honest with your chosen your cake maker and tell them your budget up front. This will help them create a design that you can afford and save any disappointment on your part with not being able to have what you really want due to the cost.

And most of all, just have fun. It is your wedding day after all!

Kirsty’s note

Toni is an utterly brilliant wedding cake maker (and generally ace human) making wedding and celebration cakes in Derbyshire.

You can find out more about the Red Velvet Bakery by visiting their website: www.redvelvetbakery.co.uk

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Can what you eat build Resilience?

Guest blog from Sue Wappett - can what you eat build resilience?

What is Resilience?

Resilience is defined as:

“the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”

The past 18 months have given most people more than their fair share of difficulties.

Those lacking resilience can become easily overwhelmed.

These feelings can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Self-comfort rather than self-care.

Resilience gives us the strength to protect ourselves.

It protects us from mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression and helps us maintain a healthy balance.

How to build Resilience

We build resilience by becoming self-aware and prioritising self-care.

Self-care doesn’t have to involve a bubble bath and candles. It’s about being mindful of your needs, checking in with your feelings and making your needs a high priority.

This can be easier said than done. The good news is that resilience is a characteristic you can build.

Some ideas:

  • Make connections – Accept help and support from those who care about you.
  • Learn to relax
  • Practice thought awareness
  • Maintain perspective – accept that change is part of living
  • Take decisive action – face a situation rather than avoiding it.
  • What are your goals? – Do one little thing towards them every day, if possible, get this done first as it will add to your feeling of accomplishment.
  • Develop a positive outlook – use positive daily affirmations that resonate with you.

Here’s an example:

You’ve had a shit day where nothing seemed to go right. You meet a friend for a chat and you moan and laugh. When you leave you feel recharged. You’ve seen things from another perspective or made a plan of action to make tomorrow easier…

Your connection to someone you care about has built resilience to overcome your bad day.

Building good, positive relationships is an important part of our resilience.

Nutrition for resilience

Good nutrition is part of self-care.

It is within our control and can have a positive effect quickly.

Good nutrition will make your body resilient to disease. A healthy body is less stressed, anxious and depressed. It can also help reduce the effects of:

  • Sleep issues
  • Inflammation
  • Excess weight

Fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains supply our body with essential vitamins and minerals which improve our body’s function and reduce cellular damage, which contributes to disease and the ageing process.

What if you are struggling with stress, anxiety or depression and the thought of spending hours in the kitchen preparing healthy meals just adds to the overwhelm?

You don’t have to be a kitchen goddess.

If you don’t want to cook grab a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket along with a bag of veg to steam and a packet of rice or a jacket potato. This will give you a balanced meal that will nourish you more than something fried or overly processed.

This is not a time to go on a diet. Learn to listen to your body and honour its needs. This is how I start teaching intuitive eating.

What next?

Start small.

Make small changes to your habits that can set you on the right path.

Once you start taking care of yourself consistently you will soon gain momentum and see the effects.

I highly recommend a book I read a few years ago, How full is your bucket? There is also a children’s book called, Have you filled a bucket today: A guide to daily happiness for kids.

If you would like to chat further about this subject or anything else to do with creating a healthy balanced lifestyle book a virtual cuppa and a chat and we can discuss your individual needs further.

About the author

https://linktr.ee/suewappett

www.instagram.com/nutritionnaturallyforever

www.facebook.com/nutritionnaturallyforever

I am a nutritional therapist, helping women to stop dieting, learn to trust themselves around food and treat the cause of symptoms such as hormonal imbalance, weight gain and lack of energy.

I do this through my 1-1 coaching and online courses, teaching intuitive eating and living and learning how to tune into the ebb and flow of your own natural cycles and build habits that support your individual lifestyle.

If you’d like to know more about Sue and the services she offers, you can find her online here:

https://linktr.ee/suewappett

www.instagram.com/nutritionnaturallyforever

www.facebook.com/nutritionnaturallyforever

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How you can refresh your wardrobe post lockdown

Hello August!  How can we be in August already?  It only seems five minutes ago we were in our duvet coats sitting in each other’s garden under a blanket to try and keep warm.  What a memory that was, desperate for some normality.   And now things are slowly getting back to normal.  I have mixed feelings about this, about going back into the ‘real’ world.  How about you – are you ready for it and excited to have your life back or are you nervous and don’t feel ready?  There’s not a right answer to this.  I guess we just need to prepare ourselves when we do feel 100% comfortable.

So it got me thinking – Is my wardrobe ready ?

So much has changed over the last year that I am using this time to CLEANSE my wardrobe.  I know work has changed as many of us are now working from home, therefore many of our wardrobe pieces no longer serves us.  Long gone are the suits we needed, instead we are opting for more comfy attire.  Not only is this comfortable to wear all day, but also helps with the extra pounds or three we have gained during lockdown.  Or is it just me?!

 There is nothing more satisfying than cleansing your wardrobe and having a good declutter.  August is a great month for this as we start to transition our wardrobe back to Autumn.

Not only is it good for your mental wellbeing (tidy house, tidy mind) but when you open it you won’t have that dreaded feeling of, ‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’ 

So my top tips are ….

  1. Remove everything out from your wardrobe and look at each item. 
  2. Ask yourself, Does it spark joy ?  Does it still fit? When will I wear it?
  3. Organise your clothes based on these 3 questions in to 3 separate piles

a KEEP pile, a DONATE (to friends or charity) pile  AND a  SELL pile.

  • Be ruthless, as a tidy wardrobe with items you love, is better than a crammed wardrobe you struggle to find anything in.
  • Think about your change of lifestyle and how this may have changed.  If you no longer require wearing suits consider selling them or donating them to a charity close to your heart.
  • When you put everything back in your wardrobe, anything hanging up place the hanger the opposite way.  When you wear a particular piece hang it back the correct way.  In 3-6 months you can see the clothes you wear lots as they will be hung correctly and the ones still hanging the other way you don’t wear often…maybe it’s time for a another cleanse in 6 months?

Now your wardrobe is looking less decluttered (and hopefully not too empty), it’s time to start dressing to make YOU happy.

Here are my  top tips to help make you look fabulous:

  1. Wear a pop of colour to lift your mood – wear a bright scarf, colourful Tee or a splash of a bright lipstick
  2. Update an older outfit with a statement necklace or a pair of statement earrings – remember jewellery always fits!
  3. Wear blazers for a smart yet casual look (don’t just save them for best!)  Team them with jeans or your favourite comfy trousers for an updated look.  Have a look at my collection of magic pants on my website – once you own a pair you will never look back!
  4. If you’d like your legs to appear longer and slimmer, wear heels!  I’m not sure I am ready for this challenge yet!  I am living in trainers at the moment!

Clothing should always make you look great, make you feel fabulous and give you confidence no matter the occasion, and I love helping woman achieve just that! 

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog and if I can help with any styling queries, style tips or help you find the perfect pieces for your wardrobe I’d love to hear from you.  I own a ladies online fashion boutique offering stylish and affordable clothing and accessories for the real woman.  I’d love you to be part of my facebook style community for the latest style drops, collections and offers – https://www.facebook.com/groups/lisalovesstylecommunity/

I can be contacted here too.

www.lisalovesstyle.com

hello@lisalovesstyle.com

FB – lisa.loves.style

IG lisa.loves.style

Thanks so much for reading this,

Stay Stylish,

Lisa x

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Top tips to help you identify and enforce strong and healthy boundaries

Many of us set up our own businesses so we can have more freedom and autonomy.  So we can dictate when and how we work, who we work for, how much money we earn and where we sped our time.  All this extra time we will have when there’s no boss dictating to us. 

Fast forward to being in the thick of running your own business and you wonder how you could have been so naïve!  Instead of just having your main role to do, you are now wearing ALL of the hats for your business – Accountant, Social Media Manager, Admin, Content Creator, Salesperson, Marketer to name just a few – leaving you with little very little of the headspace or freedom that you once imagined was part and parcel of being self employed. 

So how do you change that? 

One of the main ways is to get some clear boundaries in place.  Women tend to be people pleasers.  Most of my clients don’t want to let people down so take on too much and do everything for everyone else and actually let themselves down in the process. 

There’s lots of talk about setting healthy boundaries but what actually is a boundary? A boundary is an imaginary line that separates you from others and vice versa.  When you think of a physical boundary, it’s the image of a fence around a property to keep you safe inside and others from coming in.  But there is always a gate that swings both ways to allow ease and flow. 

These physical boundaries are clear for all to see but when we talk about emotional boundaries, they are much more difficult to recognise and enforce. 

But how do you go about recognising and setting boundaries when everything feels like it has a competing priority? 

Here are my top tips to identifying and enforcing strong and healthy boundaries 

  1. First of all, you need to identify what your boundaries are.  Boundaries are very unique to you as an individual so yours might be very different to your best friends’.  Spend some time (ideally a month so you can track it against your hormone cycle) noticing when someone has crossed your boundaries.  Blaming yourself, feelings of shame and guilt, justifying your behaviour, sensing that something is “off, using words like “should” are all signs that your boundaries are being crossed.  Make a note of when these situations occur, who you are with, time of day etc… It’s important not to judge these observations.  You are just collecting data to analyse. 
  2. When you have tracked these observations, take a look at what you have captured and look for any patterns.  Is there a certain day of the week or a particular activity you are carrying out or a certain person you are with etc… that triggers these uncomfortable feelings? 
  3. Name the emotion that you feel – angry, sad, frustrated.  When you do this, it detaches you from that emotion so that the feeling isn’t part of your identity, it is a feeling that will pass. 
  4. When you have identified any patterns and feelings that arise, explore what this means for you.  If it always happens with a certain client, is this someone you want to continue working with?  If it always happens at a certain time of the month, do you need to block time out of your calendar at that time in hour cycle for more self-nourishment?  
  5. When it comes to emotional boundaries, you need to make sure you communicate them.  This can be as simple as stating in your email signature or sending an automatic out of office that stipulates your working hours.  Make sure you stick to those hours.  If you have said you only respond between 9am – 5pm, be consistent with that message.  If you are catching up on work late at night, make sure you delay the delivery of your emails to the following morning at 9am so that people don’t expect you to be working late into the night. 
  6. For boundary setting on a more personal note, this can feel really vulnerable and scary so my advice is to start small.  Begin by communicating your boundarires to someone you know really well and feel comfortable with so it’s a safe space.  Eg this could be to your partner.  Let him or her know that they may see a change in your behaviour because you have realised that you need to set boundaries to protect your time / energy and health.  You don’t have to elaborate or explain further than that.  Just be clear that they will notice a change in you and invite them to help you stick to your new boundaries so it’s collaborative. 
  7. Invite and respect other people’s boundaries.  When collaborating, ask the other party what their boundaries are such as their working hours, what method of communication they prefer, what their non-negotiables are and share yours too from the outset.  This role models healthy boundaries for others too. 
  8. This will take practice so continually be on the look out for when boundaries are crossed as in point one above.  Be consistent and tweak your boundaries as they evolve.  They will change in new situations and different times in your life so make sure you make it a regular practice to notice and enforce healthy boundaries.  You will notice a positive change in your mental and physical wellbeing as a result and although tricky at first, will result in healthier relationships with less resentment and guilt. 

About Ellie

I’m a strengths & leadership coach based in South Manchester.  I’m a mum of 3 little hurricanes, wife, recovering perfectionist and introvert.

I was a coach before I even realised it.  People used to say how natural I was at developing others but didn’t really understand what that meant.  It turns out I have made a career out of it in various guises throughout my 15 years of leadership within large organisations.

I have combined my coaching skills with my passion for helping people thrive in their working life by setting up Elevate with Ellie in January 2021 where I specialise in helping small business owners get the best out of their people.

Here is where you can find out more about me:

www.elevatewithellie.co.uk

https://www.instagram.com/elevatewithellie

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ellie-lloyd-jones-leadershipcoach

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Fight, Flight or Watch the Flames – A Mindful Approach to Stress

Guest blog from Jo Round about mindfulness and stress

Hi, I’m Jo Round, Mindfulness Teacher and guest blogger.  It’s taken me ages to decide on the subject area for this blog.  That’s not because I’m indecisive (at least I don’t think I am 😀) but because mindfulness is so far reaching, I could have gone down any one of many different paths.

In the end I chose stress because it’s something we can all relate to so I hope this blog will be helpful.  Also, if I look back to what I believe was the very start of my mindfulness journey, it would be an appointment with my GP when he told me I was stressed and his advice was to take my foot off the gas for a little while!  Hmmm!  Ironically, that sent me into an even greater tailspin.  But here I am writing a blog about it as a fully qualified Mindfulness Teacher, so I guess it all worked out in the end.

Let’s talk about stress!

Feeling stress is normal. It’s the body’s way of preparing us to deal with threatening situations (whether real or perceived).  You may have heard of the fight, flight or freeze response.  This is where the body detects a threat and releases hormones so we can either stand up and fight, run away or be still until the threat has gone, at which time the body stops pumping the hormones and returns to its resting state.

Our stress can come from many sources – the workplace, family issues, financial difficulties.  A little stress can be beneficial to get us through a challenging situation – a job interview, that presentation you’ve been working so hard on, even trying to buy your dream home.  It’s when the stress becomes so great, persistent and left unchecked, where our body doesn’t adequately return to its resting state, that stress becomes a problem.

Spotting the dangers

Most of us recognise the types of stress highlighted in the examples above.  But in the modern world, perhaps the greatest stressor is psychological – coming from our own thoughts and beliefs but so subtle that we don’t realise the negative impact on our wellbeing. Maybe we wish things were different to the way they are or the way we think they should be.  Our thoughts and projections about a situation can often cause us more stress than the actual situation itself.  We start to believe the negative thoughts in our head “I’m not good enough”, “what will people think”, “I don’t like this”, “why does this always happen to me?” – trust me, these thoughts are not you and they are not reality. Yet this type of stress can be constant, like being on a hamster wheel going round and round and preventing our body from returning to the resting state.  The stress continues to build until we start to feel it physically as well as mentally and simple tasks become too much to deal with.

How mindfulness can help

Like I said, stress is normal and we can’t make it go away – life just isn’t like that. But practicing mindfulness helps us to learn how to deal with stress so that it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing.  Imagine stress as a fire and every time we have a negative thought or wish things were different or get too caught up in our thinking, we’re adding fuel to the fire and it grows, burns and consumes until we’re quite literally burnt out.  In mindfulness we learn to spot the signs, we learn to step back and we learn to watch the fire, as though we were watching it on a TV.  We don’t get involved or pass any judgement or think too much about it, and in doing this, the fire dies down on its own and eventually it goes out.  Mindfulness isn’t about changing things; it’s about accepting things as they are.  When we can do this, things no longer take a hold and we can live our lives with much more calm, clarity and contentment.

If you’d like to find out more about mindfulness, courses or working with me, do pop along to my website www.likeacircle.co.uk or drop me a message through the contact form on the website.

And finally, thank you so much to Kirsty for allowing me to be a featured blog.

Stay mindful

Jo x

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Why I love being a VA

Guest blog from my VA Ann Hunt

You love what you do, and you are happiest at work doing all those things you love, but how much time is all the admin that comes with it taking? Is it leaving you drained and robbing you of your weekends and evenings that you’d really like to spend with family or friends and have a break from the job? Worse still, is it keeping you awake at night?

Apart from the fact that most of us have to earn a living to keep a roof over our heads, everyone is driven with different goals and dreams, to earn a certain amount, to have that dream house, to move to a certain area, buy that nice car, or to be able to travel are just a few. How lucky you are to be able to do that doing what you love to do.

Why I got started

After a health scare and a wakeup call, I am driven by time. I know just how precious time is and no amount of money can buy it.

This is where I get the passion to do the role I do. Taking away all the time-consuming admin jobs from my clients gives them back time to use more productively and frees up time so they can enjoy the weekend and evening as they wish. By achieving work life balance, they will feel more in control and less stressed and enjoy life and enjoy the success they have worked so hard to achieve.

Why you might need a VA

Outsourcing to a VA is not easy to do, your business is your baby, and no one else can do it as well as you can, damn right they can’t – but is your business doing the admin?

  • Cash flow is the most important thing in your business, when you can see clearly where you stand, what monies are coming in and what monies are going out, then business/cash flow improves.
  • Sending invoices out in time and chasing up late payments is the first thing that improves your cash flow, yet the longer you put this off the more overwhelming it gets = bad for cash flow.
  • If you are too busy to check your emails and you miss all important orders and enquiries, then again this will affect your cash flow as you will not have invoices to send, so no cash flow.

A good VA can be your accountability buddy, someone that wants to see you succeed, and will do everything they can to help you achieve your goals. She is not a competitor. She is someone who you can bounce ideas off and someone who will make suggestions, she is totally on your side.

It may take a little while to find that “right VA” for you, just as every business is different and has different needs, so is every VA. 

Why I love my work

I love working with my clients. Once we have done a bit of brainstorming, have systems in place that work for them and have everything organised, they feel that they’re back in control. Having gained their trust they know that all the admin behind the scenes is in safe hands, that is when I see their business thriving. The client is less stressed, so much happier and enjoying their business. When they have their evening and weekends free to do as they wish then I know that I am doing my role well and that I have achieved what I want from my job.

How nice to be able to kick off your shoes, sit back and relax knowing that all those boring admin chores are being sorted. One happy you and one happy VA.

Kirsty’s note

Ann is a brilliant VA (I can personally recommend her). If you think you might need some support, you can get in touch with Ann here:

Email: ann@ahsupport.co.uk

Website:    http://www.ahsupport.co.uk

 fb.me/annhuntadminassistant 

www.linkedin.com/in/adminann