How to create and maintain healthy boundaries

I’m not sure if it’s because Scorpio season is upon us and things are getting intense or I’m noticing it more by being the observer, but people are pushing boundaries right now. Whether it’s clients contacting me for advice or friends and family needing a shoulder, I’m aware of multiple pulls on my time, energy and resources. Now you may say ‘that’s life’ and I would agree, to some extent it is. What I’ve learnt after 25 years of personal development work is that maintaining healthy boundaries is about dropping in to observer mode, rather than gearing up for firefighting.

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When you jump right in and begin putting out everyone elses fires (read dramas) you neglect yourself and your own priorities. Yes it may make you feel good helping everyone else but is it actually enabling behaviour? I ask because thats been a big learning for me over the years. Due to people pleasing tendencies I spent years overgiving. The result? Burnout. Stress. Chronic Fatigue. Plus I wasn’t putting any energy into my hopes, dreams and desires. Why? I told myself I didn’t have the resources. I was spent, its true. Yet it was no one elses responsibilty but mine.

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I hated saying no. It felt selfish. I consistently put myself at the bottom of the list. After my daughter, my job, my home, my family and friends. Inevitably there was nothing left. Certainly not for fun, adventute and romance. Yet I kept on working part time as a self employed yoga teacher, healer, life coach and feng shui consultant. I’m so glad I did as I learnt so much and healed by applying all my learnings to myself and my daughter. This has led to a much healthier and more enjoyable life. One where I can feel stress, overwhelm and other emotions before they become a problem and deal with them head on. So I’m in awareness that the people around me are needing more and looking to me to supply it. With that awareness I can check in with where I’m at. What am I able to give? How full is my tank? What are my priorities?

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Now I know when life feels stressful it can seem tough to prioritise. What is the best choice to make? So my advice is to get quiet. Maybe you meditate, or have an app that guides you. Great. If not just start with five minutes a day at a set time. Turn all electronics off. Sit somewhere comfy and close your eyes. As you do notice your breathe as it enters and leaves the body. No need to change it. Just notice. You may want to have a pen and paper next to you. The goal is to allow yourself five monutes a day to do nothing. When you have a thought just say hello to it and let it float away. After five minutes you may want to write down any priorities that came up. Maybe at first it’ll be mundane tasks or something for someone else. Just notice that. Set aside that time regularly. Set an alarm for five mintues so you can really relax and switch off. In the silence away from external stimulation it will allow the quiet voice of your intuition to be heard. Maybe not at first but keep going. To build a habit you need to continue for three weeks. I like meditating in the morning before I’ve switched my phone on. That way I start the day on my terms rather than the outside worlds demands pulling at me and scattering my energy.

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When you practise centering yourself through meditation you aren’t as easily pulled and stretched in every direction. Prioritising yourself for five minutes a day is a message to yourself and others in how much you value yourself and your time. If others throw their toys out of the pram let them. Ok so if you have am actual baby or toddler than I get finding five minuites seems impossibe sometimes. I chose meditation over ironing when my daughter was that age. I think that was a great investment of my time as it paid me back with stronger inner resources 1000 times over, which helped me have way more patience as a mother too. Of course this is just one way to create and maintain healthy boundaries. Do you have ways that work for you? I’d love to hear them.

How to create more balance in your life

Today marks the Equinox, the balance of light and dark, where day and night are of equal length. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere it is the beginning of Autumn and time to reap the harvest of what we have been creating, ready to take us through the winter months. For those in the Southern Hemisphere it marks the beginning of the Spring, the emergence from Winter and the start of new creations. For all of us it coincides with a New Moon in Libra (the sign of balance) and a time to refine what we are taking forward into this new season.

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Yet how do we create a more balance when modern life can feel so overwhelming and out of control?

As a life coach a tool I use to help with this is called the Wheel of Life. It is a way to see where your life is out of balance and where to put more of your energy. It is a great way to bring awareness to different ares of your life, such as Work, Family, Fun, Hobbies, Personal development or Home. However, if you’re comparing yourself to others and trying to be perfect it’s only going to cause more stress. The best way to use it is to notice where life is really out of balance (you probably already know) and then focus on that one area. To do this means deciding on small goals that will help you reach your bigger goal. Like going to the gym because you want to be more toned. If thats a goal start there and keep going with that for three weeks before you decide to add anything more.

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Do you keep putting yourself at the bottom of the list? Make sure you are your number one priority. Yes even if you are a parent! You’re their role model so you following your dreams, taking care of yourself and having healthy boundaries is how you teach that to them.

So now it’s a new season take it as an opportunity to look at your diet, your schedule, your hopes and dreams and lifestyle choices.

If its Autumn and getting colder and darker swap salad for soup. Be sure to get sunlight whenever you can as this is essential for mood, sleep and energy. Limit blue light from screens with Flux or Iris software, blue blocking glasses and no screens  1-2 hours before bed. Notice that as the days get shorter it is natural to want to be less active, less sociable and get more rest. Its important to go with the natural cycles for optimum health and happiness.

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If its Spring for you then its time to shed the Winter and begin a new routine that allows you to be more active and birth the creations you’ve been mulling over and refining. Consider a detox. Nothing extreme, unless you’re working with a professional, but a few days of fruit and vegetables and lots of water will help wake up your system. Start creating new connections, visting new places (or old favourites). Its just as important to limit screens and get out in natural daylight as any season. Balance in Spring may mean not overdoing it and coming back to your goals and priorities, rather than get distracted by every new opportunity and idea and spreading yourself too thinly.

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Work with the seasons rather than against them. Modern life allows us to live a 24 hour lifestyle due to lights, screens, the internet and even shops and pubs. Theres nothing standing between you and lack of sleep, eyestrain, low mood, overeating comfort foods and overdoing the alcohol whilst socialising, except your decision to make healthier choices. Why not take this Equinox and the shift in gear to look at your daily habits? Where are they out of balance? What can you do to get yourself back on track? What one small change are you going to commit to for the next three weeks?

Back to School anxiety

After the long, often lazy, summer break it can be daunting planning and waiting for the new academic year to begin. Whether as a parent, child, young adult or teacher the year ahead starts in September. Anxieties can begin to mount as the date nears. Some may look forward to friends they’ve missed, more independence, routine and learning. Whilst others may already be thinking about the expectations that they, and others, will want of them. This may be real or imagined but our brains and bodies can’t tell the difference.

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When stressed we go into flight, fight or flop mode. We’ve heard of the first two but the third came into my awareness reading an article on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or ME). Having suffered from it myself, many years ago now, I was intrigued by what I read. Imagine you’re a defenceless creature who cannot possibly out run or fight a tiger. What do you do? Play dead of course. You flop. It’s a defence mechanism, which often works. So whilst we may see our teen lying in bed and think they’re so laid back, it’s worth checking in with them. Are they actually avoiding their feelings through oversleeping? It’s possible.

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Another issue is sleep and the likelihood of everyone being out of a routine. Firstly screens have become a common part of modern life for every age group and overuse is detrimental to our health. You may have heard that blue light disrupts the sleep hormone Melatonin, but do you know it also affects Mitochondria? So not only does this explain why it’s hard to get to sleep at night, as you’re tired but wired. It also explains the lack of energy throughout the day. We need sunlight, not blue light.

Some great ways to hack this issue is to download Iris (or f.lux) onto your computer and phone. The settings that are built in are not enough. Plus get some blue light blocking glasses to wear a couple of hours before bed. Even LED light affects our brain at night.

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If your child is starting a new school they might be anxious about making new friends. Even going back to the same friendship group can be tricky if they haven’t had contact over the summer months, or there’s been any tension, arguments and even bullying. Ask your child open ended questions like ‘what friends are you looking forward to seeing?’ or ‘have you spoken to anyone in your class over summer?’. Observe their response so you notice body language and not just words.

For young adults starting university they could join online groups to make new friends on their course before they arrive. The unknown is the scary part, so the more they can imagine themselves there the better. Do you know the new teacher? Young children usually love their teachers and you could talk about all the fun possibilites of a fresh start. New books, pencils, uniform. Let them choose what they can themselves, whatever their age. Sometimes as parents its hard to let go and see your child becoming more independent and pulling away from you. Remind yourself what a good thing that is and take a deep breath, as it’s only going to continue. You could even talk about a time you overcame your nerves when you started something new or unknown. What did you do to calm yourself?

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Some great ways to create calm (for the whole family) are deep breathing, tapping (EFT or TFT), hypnotherapy, meditation, protein rich foods, water (inside and out), essential oils, yoga and other forms of exercise, a good nights sleep and getting into a routine nice and gently. Get favourite breakfast foods in. Plan clothes and pack bags the night before. Visualise a great day in the life of you and your next steps!

How to create more flow in your life

‘Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water’ – Lao-Tzu

When modern life seems to overwhelm us and we have the urge to push through, that is the time to stop and let go. We have been taught that to be successful and achieve our goals we must always be doing. That is the yang nature of modern life, it’s what we’ve been programmed to do. Our yin energy is rarely given the space and respect it needs. So many people in the western world are stressed and enroute to burnout because of this. It is the epidemic of our 21st Century, 24-hour lifestyle. Whether it is insomnia, depression, anxiety, addictions, phobias, ADHD, cancer or any of the other myriad conditions we are suffering from.

I’m here to say that you cannot push your boat upstream and if you try it will wear you out. Taking time to slow down, focus on your breath and turn your boat around are some of the most nourishing and productive actions you can take. Or lets call them non-actions or non-doing.

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Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment – Thich Nhat Hanh

In my practise I look at the whole body and energy system of my clients. Through healing, yoga, meditation and feng shui I help people create more flow in their body, mind, home, work, and life as a whole.

Stress, tension, trauma and drama can all contribute to constriction, blocks, limiting beliefs and potential ill health. Whether that’s eating food that disrupts our digestion or fearful thoughts that restrict our breathing. These have consequences when left unchecked over long periods of time, and can result in serious conditions manifesting.

Notice right now where you are tensing up in the body. Is it the shoulders, the jaw, the breath? Or the mind? Notice is it racing on to the next thing or are you fully present reading this? Are you looking forward to your day, week, life or are you living someone elses dream? It can feel soul destroying. I know. I used to be in middle management stuck behind a computer all day. It was my idea of a nightmare and it made me sick!

How about your home or office? Is it disorganised? Is it bland or does it reflect your personality? Are you surrounded by things that you don’t use or that are broken?

How are your family and/or team relationships going? Is the communication flowing well or are there issues festering and you’re secretly (or obviously) seething about something unspoken. Maybe you feel the atmosphere is off but you’re not sure why.

Every part of our life has a knock on effect. When you exercise your body it elevates your mood. When you declutter your home the chi (energy) flows better. When you do what lights up your soul you have more enthusiasm. When you breathe deeply your mind relaxes and its easier to sleep.

So if you’re feeling like your life is stuck or stagnant. If its moving too fast or too slow. Take an inventory. Slow down. Taking the time to get to know yourself at each new stage in your life, by listening to your inner guidance, will help you decide where you really want to go. Are you just following the herd or are you tapped in to your intuition?

I work with my clients through guided visualisations and meditation to clear limiting beliefs, blocks, programming and any areas of stuckness in their body and energy fields. This results in more energy, shifts of perspectives, guided actions and a connection with the deepest, most authentic part of who they are.

Ways you can allow the bodys energy to flow better is daily exercise, whether its yoga, walking, swimming or anything that allows you to be fully present.

For women menstrual cycle awareness and seed cycling are great tools to support your energy. On the first day of bleeding it is our most yin and receptive time. A time for quiet reflection. At ovulation this is our most outgoing time, so socialising and networking are more suited. I use the app Period Tracker to chart my cycle and block off at least a day before my first bleed and the day my period begins. These are my ‘rest’ days where I stop all the giving and allow myself to receive. Whether that’s more support (incuding asking for help) or putting down some of the balls I’m juggling (so I’ve got a spare hand for the raw chocolate).

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Most importantly for everyone is the breath. Notice it now. Is it high up in your chest or down in the belly? Is it slow or fast? The breath is your constant source of flow. When we’re stressed it becomes constricted. Slowing down and taking time to notice it throughout the day will help you become more mindful as to what’s going on inside. Your emotions are messages trying to get your attention. If you don’t listen they start shouting!

Many people don’t consider their souls needs. I see the soul like an inner child as it loves meditation, fun, joy, and the pursuit of childhood dreams and goals, creativity and  nature. When did you last acknowledge your inner child within? Are you following your passions?

For home and business to feel balanced one of the feng shui tools I use is the bagua. When placed over a map of our environment it helps you see what areas may need attention. Stand in the centre of your home/office and as you look around now what areas are cluttered or uninspiring? What could you do to change that?

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Choose one new habit and do it regularly. Notice how it makes you feel before you add another or try something new.

Allow the boat to move downstream. Don’t fight against it. If you feel like you’re bashing your head against a brick wall or you’ve lost your passion, stop and turn your boat around. Maybe its stuck on the bank and you need to ask for help to get a push off the side. Use your oars when you want more yang action and direction, but not needlessly. Just to navigate your direction, so you reach your goals, while allowing life to support you.

The more you come back to yourself by regularly switching off from technology, the media, others demands and agendas and your to do list, the more in flow you’ll be. Through mindfulness and breath awareness notice and acknowledge your flow state. Notice any blocks or old emotions and where your energy levels are at.

Flow with your cycle, the weather and the seasons. Allow nature, loved ones and your team to support you. Everyone needs an inner circle, but you know yourself best, and if that doesn’t ring true for you what can you do to make it so? You are in charge of your own life. So let go of what (and who) you can’t control and focus on your inner state as a priority. Acknowledge the needs of your mind, body and soul. In the silence you’ll hear the messages they have for you and then you really will know what inspired action to take.