How do I carve out some 'Me-Time' in my busy schedule?

[tm_pb_section admin_label="section"][tm_pb_row admin_label="row"][tm_pb_column type="4_4"][tm_pb_image admin_label="Image" src="" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="off" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="left" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/tm_pb_image][tm_pb_text admin_label="Text" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]   Are you struggling to find time for yourself, to do what you enjoy? You're feeling overwhelmed and like you're beholden to your calendar appointments and schedule. It's got to a point where you now feel exhausted, frustrated and depleted because everyone else seems to be getting the best of you but you're left with nothing for yourself. Or maybe you feel guilty about taking some time out and not spending it with the kids. Well remember, that having 'me time' isn't you being selfish; it's about making your 'self-full'. So, before you run yourself into the ground, here are some quick things you can do to carve out some 'me time'.  

Step 1: Schedule 'Me-Time'!

The same way you entered all of those outside commitments into your calendar, is the same way you need to make time for yourself and your inner needs. Most women want to feel happier, more fulfilled, relaxed and focused because they know they’re much more pleasant women, wives, friends, colleagues and mothers, when they are meeting their own needs first. When your own cup is filled, you are happy to share some of the overflow with others. When it's not filled with self-love, attention and nurturing, you'll resent those people and activities which want to drink from your cup, because you already feel limited in what you can give. Remember, what you value, gets done. So if you value yourself, then enjoy your own company and schedule some 'me time'.  

Step 2: Clarify what it is you want to feel and how you’ll benefit from it.

Saying you want ‘me-time' sometimes isn’t enough. I've seen women get some time to themselves and then have absolutely no idea what to do with it and they end up spending 2 hours going down a social media wormhole and not feeling restored, nourished, loved or content, at the end of it. It's important to clarify what you need from today's or this week's me time, so you can choose an activity which is appropriate to fulfilling that need. For eg, if you feel like you want to escape from the every day doldrums, routine and monotony and you want to feel some excitement and variety because it'll give you some inspiration and get up and go again, you might go and see a movie for a bit of escapism or try a brand new class, which is different to your routine. Or if you feel like you need to relax, you might plan a luxurious bath, with music and candles or book in a massage, so that your body can unwind, rest and restore itself and you once again feel grounded and whole. This would be very different 'me time' to someone who wants to jump start their body after a week of lazing around and they want to regain their zest for life and their energy, so they can be more driven and productive, and they decide to go for a scenic run, a challenging hike or join a salsa class. Clarify the emotional state you want to feel and then choose an activity appropriate to creating that state. Do you want the time to play a team sport every week, go to the gym, read a book in a quiet space, socialise and have coffee with friends? Write down what you want to have more of and why you want it or need it. My focus this year is to be more grounded at home and spend time enjoying my home and garden with family and friends. This decision came about after a year of ongoing travel, neglecting the house, not enjoying time in our space and not seeing friends as much, because we were on the road most weekends. We've now scheduled in social visits, play dates, gardening days, reno days and time to just chill out and relax in our home. We're all the better for it.  

Step 3: Get Support

If you have the support and encouragement of your family, organising 'me time' becomes 10x easier. I know I’ve got the support of my family, which I need, in order to juggle tasks, duties, work, kids etc. Hubby and I have set nights for our own hobbies and interests, whilst the other is home with the kids. When we plan dates, the grandparents, aunt and friends are on call. The reality is that you may need some help and support to go and do what you want to do, so ask for it. You're not being selfish or imposing or annoying, in doing this for yourself. In fact, if you constantly see it as being selfish, are you stuck in a 'victim' mindset? Are you enabling the situation by creating a 'woe is me' scenario, 'no-one will help me' belief, which allows you to become a bit of a Mama Martyr? This is 'victim' based thinking and you will struggle to create any change in your life from this level of thinking. Families weren't meant to be raised in isolation of everyone else around them, so use your village for support. You know that creating moments and a space where you can fulfil your own needs and do other things outside of the family, that make you happy, will result in a much happier and calmer mum and more settled, fulfilled and content family, home and work environment. Your energy flows on to others.   Remember, things won’t change unless you do! Value your own needs and make time to meet them accordingly. Ask for help, voice what you desire and why you need it. There are countless benefits to you and your family, in you making time for your own interests and pursuits. The more you say yes to what you need and show yourself respect and value your time, the more others will respect the boundaries you are creating and will respect your needs too. Sometimes all it takes is to start small and create one change. This week think about how you can make ‘me time' a priority and do something just for you, that will bring a smile to your face.  

Alex Ridley


PS: Do you need to carve out some 'me-time' for self-reflection and to rediscover the amazing woman within (Remember her? The lady who has been in hibernation since you had kids?) Then get my FREE guide here, which will walk you through the self-discovery process. [/tm_pb_text][/tm_pb_column][/tm_pb_row][/tm_pb_section][tm_pb_section admin_label="Section" fullwidth="off" specialty="off"][tm_pb_row admin_label="Row"][/tm_pb_row][/tm_pb_section]

How to stop setting Resolutions and start creating Revolutions in your life

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Hands up if you’ve set yourself a goal to achieve this year, and you've already given up on it?

  What is it about a new season or year that has us all scrambling for our To-Do lists, creating Bucket Lists and re-evaluating our current life situations?   We embrace each new season with optimism and fresh energy because it provides a sense of a new beginning. We get to ‘have another go’ or create something new that will help fulfil us. Most people sit down in January and begin creating resolutions and goals for the months to follow. You go into the planning process with enthusiasm and inspiration, excited at what lies ahead. You buy your new planner, create an inspiring vision board with your face stuck on a model’s body or a picture of that holiday you’ve been wanting to take for 10 years or words that are supposed to give you motivation, like ‘courage’, ‘be brave’ and ‘You can do it!’ You feel great. You’re on course. You’ve spelt out exactly what you want to experience, feel and have for the year. This is it! This year you’re really going to do it.   Then...(crickets chirping)...nothing.... What happened? Is this you? Have you just decided to give up on a dream or goal because it's too hard? You're too busy? You can't do it? What's the point?   For many women, dreams remain unfulfilled, as your habits and the reality of daily life consume your time. The fantasy seems so far off now and what once inspired you, is probably now frustrating you, as you stress over how you’re actually going to achieve it. The vision begins to get foggy until it’s a distant memory, the months pass, nothing has changed and it’s only remembered when you find your crumpled vision board gathering dust behind your shelf. Understanding your motivations in making these resolutions and knowing what is important to you, will help determine your success, as will taking the right course of action.   In order to reach your goals this year, you may need less resolutions and more revolutions. A Revolution in your Thoughts. A Revolution in your Habits. A Revolution in your Beliefs and what you think is possible for you. A Revolution in your Resources and levels of Resourcefulness. A Revolution in Action. If you want to experience, feel and have something drastically different this year, you’re going to have to think drastically different, act drastically differently and be drastically different. That’s the reality.   But…it’s this reality which people don’t prepare for when setting goals and which can undermine your efforts.   Your daily habits will 100% determine your success. If you don’t change your habits, don’t focus on what needs to be done, don’t take action on the things that will bring you results, you will not see results. You will not feel the way you want to feel. You will not create the life you want for yourself. You will not feel that sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a goal and realising a dream.   There are many reasons why you don’t achieve the results you want each year. These include:
  • not knowing what you really want and need
  • living according to others’ expectations
  • making vague resolutions with no specific action plan to achieve it
  • or having a plan which is too specific and allows no margin for growth, change or flexibility (so when things don’t ‘go to plan’ it’s a great excuse to throw your hands in the air and give up)
  • not being consistent and persistent in your new behaviour.
  • a fear of failure (or success) which can manifest itself as perfectionism or procrastination, both resulting in inactivity.
     So, how do you move from creating resolutions to creating a Revolution and getting Results?
  1. First and foremost you have to address any perceptions, thoughts, beliefs or behaviours which are holding you back or where you see yourself repeating old patterns. Otherwise, you'll get the same failed outcome.
  2. You need to be honest and ask yourself some self-discovery questions. Check out my FB video here, where I pose some questions to you.
  3. Rather than getting too specific, set yourself a theme for the next 90 days. What is the emotional state you most want to feel? Then work out how you can create opportunities to regularly experience this state in your every day life. Enjoy the journey and value the process, not just the end result.
  The most important thing to remember is that every day is a new opportunity for you. Don’t wait until New Year’s Day, or a major event, to make changes in your life that could lead to more happiness, fun, success, fulfilment and adventure. The benefits are there for the taking each and every day. Are you grabbing them?  

Alex Ridley


PS: If you want to find out how you can start to shift your thinking through strategic questioning, then flick me an email and I'll show you how.  [/tm_pb_text][/tm_pb_column][/tm_pb_row][/tm_pb_section]

How do I stop judging myself and just let go of Mama Guilt?

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As children, we often have a clear notion of what is right and wrong. Things are conveyed to us in black and white, yes or no and life is very much about 'doing the right thing.' What happens when you grow up and life is filled with lots of grey, fuzzy areas and everyone's emotions, values and beliefs are like a rainbow kaleidoscope and difficult to pigeon-hole into 'right, wrong or appropriate' behaviour?

Take for example, what it means to be a mum. These days if you try to define motherhood, your list would look like one of those medieval parchment scrolls, that just unwind and roll away at your feet. It's just become ridiculous. Who on Earth could meet these expectations and all the demands put on mothers today?

No-one, because we may be able to do anything we want but we can't do 'everything' we want, at the same time, without losing something in the process. Unfortunately, the first thing that gets dropped off that list is a woman's time for herself (and then often her patience, identity and sanity).

Why? Well because when you do decide to make some choices for your own benefit, or your family's, you feel the judgement of others' on you.

Do you choose to work and use child care? Judged by someone.

Do you stay at home with your kids? Judged by someone.

Are you still carrying baby weight, even though your kids are in school? Judged by someone.

Do you go out three times a week for your own hobbies, and leave your kids at home with Dad? Judged by someone.

Do you get a cleaner to come in and help once a month? Judged by someone.

Do you go out for a regular girls night and go crazy, have fun or get tipsy? Judged by someone.

The judgement of others won't go away any time soon. It's only our attitude towards this judgement that can change. If you're a people pleaser or one who seeks validation of self, through others' approval, then you will be more susceptible to the impact of others' words towards you. You'll also be less forgiving of yourself and what's worse than the constant judging eye of others? The internal judgement you place on yourself.

I noticed that the more I tried to meet societal expectations of how to act and behave as a mum, the more my anxiety grew. I judged myself more and when I felt I hadn't met the mark, I was harsh in the way I criticised myself. The inner dialogue was negative, I believed I was constantly disappointing my children and in turn, I then put even more time and effort and pressure on myself into trying to meet others' expectations of motherhood.

It was exhausting, time-consuming and mentally unforgiving, as I struggled with being who I was as a person and not being the mum I really wanted to be. I was sick and tired of hearing everyone else saying, 'You should do this...' 'Have you thought about....' 'If they were my kids, I'd...'

Yes, of course I've freakin' tried other things, asked for help, read the books and been to that seminar. I didn't need the judgement of others in these times of doubt (I was already judging myself enough). What I needed was my family, my friends and other mums to just say, 'You're doing the best you can right now' or 'Remember all these amazing things you are doing....' or just to keep quiet, listen and just give me a hug, while I vented. I just needed compassion.

I realised that in order to stop being Ms Judgy Judge and to let the Mama Guilt go, compassion had to start with me. First I had to start with self-compassion because I realised that the more I felt judged and was criticising myself, the more I was quick to judge others too.

So, if you're in a position of self-judgement, if you're constantly feeling Mama Guilt because you're not meeting others' expectations, your own or you feel like you're disappointing those around you, here are three ways I got rid of Mama Guilt and stopped being so harsh on myself. Think about each of these 3 things and how they apply to you.

1. Know what it means to be self-compassionate. Having compassion means having an understanding of and empathising with another's pain or misfortune. In action it can mean that you want to alleviate someone's pain or suffering. Notice that nowhere does it say that compassion is about 'helping' someone, 'giving advice', 'solving their problem', 'taking away their pain' or 'telling them what to do'. Nor is there any critiquing, judgement or putting down of self. It's about being kind, listening, accepting and being sensitive to one's experience. So, the next time, you judge yourself and think 'I let my kids down because I didn't make them a Martha Stewart Easter Hat for the school parade and I got a $2 one from the shop-I'm pathetic!', maybe instead say 'I understand that I've been really busy lately and I accept that I couldn't devote hours to an original hat design, but my kids were still able to participate in the parade experience and still feel a sense of belonging with their peers and have fun with their class, which is the most important thing for them.' Let go of expectations and stay clear on what your intention is and what you want the outcome to be.

2. Be Mindful and in the Present Moment: The key to being compassionate and not judgemental, is to stay in the present moment. Don't talk about the past and 'how great you solved this before' or compare yourself or others to past achievements. This can make you feel more inadequate, if you're already feeling down. The circumstances and people were different then. Stay connected to the current situation and moment. Don't get into the 'when this happened to me' zone either, as this moment isn't about you but about the other person. There's no need to go into your own stories, as it often doesn't help and can hurt them. They can only speak to their experience and just want someone to hear them out.  When listening to someone else talk, be compassionate in action. Give them all of your attention, listen quietly, comfort them, make eye contact and nod in acknowledgement of their feelings. If you want to support them use words like, 'I understand....', 'I'm aware how you feel....' and if you want to offer to help ask 'How can I ...', and don't start with 'Do this now!'

3. Be Curious: In order to learn more about yourself, ask yourself why you feel like you're disappointing others; why you need others' approval and where this need came from; why you judge yourself harshly; why you feel guilty or selfish as a mum; why you always jump in to solve people's problems; who told you that you should follow the status quo and do what others' expect or who belittled you and made you feel bad for standing outside the box and how is that impacting your life today or the ability to be yourself? It's important that you get curious about yourself in these moments. Self-reflection is key, as is stopping to think about the motives behind your actions or thoughts. The more you understand how these beliefs came to be, the less power they have over you and the more power you have to change and become the compassionate person you need to be.

Remember that the reason you seek the approval of others is because you don't approve of yourself. As you become more conscious of the times, situations and ways that you condemn or judge yourself, and you learn to be more compassionate, understanding and forgiving of your own mistakes, you will rely far less on the opinions of others for self-validation.

You need to acknowledge your own feelings and thoughts and comfort yourself, in order to stop turning to others for an approving 'I'm ok or I matter'. You're in control of how you speak to and treat yourself and how you do this, will say a lot to others about how they can treat you too. When you are compassionate and embrace all the foibles of being a mum, forgive yourself for stuff ups, when you value yourself and others, there is no room for judgement and no place for guilt. There is a lot more room for grace, love and kindness.

That is definitely a big enough reason to kick  judgement and guilty feelings, to the curb.

Alex Ridley


PS: If you're ready to start letting go of the guilt and judgement, come along to my next 'From Frantic to Free' Live workshop where you'll learn how to get out of the emotional overwhelm zone and back to owning your time, thoughts and outcomes. Find the next session here.   [/tm_pb_text][/tm_pb_column][tm_pb_column type="1_3"][/tm_pb_column][/tm_pb_row][/tm_pb_section]

Can't focus? Overwhelmed? Have you got Scrambled Brain Effect?

[tm_pb_section admin_label="section"][tm_pb_row admin_label="row"][tm_pb_column type="4_4"][tm_pb_image admin_label="Scrambled Brain Header" src="" show_in_lightbox="off" url_new_window="on" use_overlay="off" animation="left" sticky="off" align="center" force_fullwidth="off" always_center_on_mobile="on" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"] [/tm_pb_image][tm_pb_text admin_label="Text" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]   You’re juggling everything and you can’t stop for a second because you're trying to pay attention to work, kids, chores, your health, appointments, relationships, study, finances….and everything else…is constantly swirling through your brain. Until one day, you collapse in exhaustion. Or maybe you pick a fight. Do you break down in tears? Do you curl up in bed? Or do you down that bottle of wine? Before you get sucked into this emotional vortex though, it’s important to understand:

  1. why you feel this way
  2. why it’s a problem for you
  3. and what you can do to get out of it
  What is Scrambled Brain Effect? Scrambled brain happens when you feel confused, flustered, disconnected, anxious and stressed. You can’t respond to simple everyday things the way you want to or know you can.   Why do I feel this way? In times of stress, the hormone cortisol is released into your system. Too much cortisol can damage and kill cells in the hippocampus, which monitors your memories and ordered thought. It also raises blood pressure, you sweat, you get the stomach churning and your senses are on alert. So yeah, stress makes you forget stuff and screw up commitments and hinders how effectively you can do things. (Check out my FB video story here, where I talk about scrambled brain effect, how the body reacts to it and what happened to me when my toddler put himself in danger and by brain scrambled.)   Why can’t I just manage my stress? Well, you can but maybe you’re not heeding the warning signals. Are you so busy running around being ‘busy’ that you rarely take time out to reflect, to reconnect and to rebalance your thoughts and body? If you’re living in a constant state of emotional burden and mental overwhelm, it will start interfering with the simple things you need to do. So if this is your life right now, read on to get my 5 Tips to Combat Scrambled Brain Syndrome     Important Note: If you feel like life is just too much to handle right now and you can’t cope alone, see your Doctor, call a friend or call Lifeline asap. Get the support you need. Please have courage and have faith in yourself. If you feel like you can change your situation yourself, here are 5 things to work on now. These helped me create a sense of freedom in my life and got me out of stressed, scrambled brain syndrome.   What can I do now?
  1. Start saying No! No to things you don’t want to do, people you don’t want to see, projects you have no interest in, commitments which will overwhelm you, events that will overflow your calendar, actions that don’t align with your values. If you can’t say no or change things, then change your attitude towards it.
  2. Nurture your body. The moment I stopped eating so much crap and junk food, my mood elevated immediately (after the initial ‘give me a chocolate or I’ll punch you phase’). Everything you put into your body is impacting it physically and you, mentally and emotionally. Think about the food fuels you put into your body. Also, nurture your body and increase levels of brain-boosting chemicals by getting physical exercise. Whatever you choose, make it fun and just move.
  3. Have a daily time out. Time out means a period of quiet, stillness, no distractions or ‘doing’ things. Even just 5 mins a day, where you can be mindful and observe your surroundings, meditate, pray, breathe deeply, think about the things you’re grateful for or remembering a happy memory, will help you reset.
  4. Express love. Love will shoot happy endorphins through your body. Say thank you to someone you appreciate, send a card or letter, have a cuddle, hold hands, kiss your partner for at least 10 seconds, play with your kids, tell yourself 10 reasons you’re awesome and just create a connection.
  5. Early to bed. It’s during sleep that the brain consolidates memories, grows new cells and it’s when your body can restore itself and rest. Switch off. Don’t sacrifice sleep for alone time, watching TV or folding the laundry.
  Stress and scrambled brain effect may seem like they’re part of your life now but they don’t have to be. Look after yourself, ask for help, give and receive love and compassion, take time out, sleep and nurture your body. It’s time to rebalance your life and get some stability, energy and focus back. Let me know which of the 5 tips you’ll start doing this week.

Alex Ridley


PS: Has family life consumed your time and energy and part of your stress comes from the fact that you don’t even know who you are anymore or what you want? Then grab my FREE guide ‘5 Ways to Rediscover Who You Were (before marriage and kids)’ here [/tm_pb_text][/tm_pb_column][/tm_pb_row][/tm_pb_section]