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231: How stress is affecting your biz (& what to do about it) with Joeli Kelley

Chronic stress can have disastrous effects on your life. And when you run a creative business, these effects can spill into affecting your business too! Learn more about how to balance out the stress we all feel at TaraSwiger.com/podcast231

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Do you always seem to be coming down with some cold or bug? Do you feel exhausted all the time? When you sit down to work, do you find it difficult to focus and get distracted by Facebook and social media? Do you find yourself struggling to get motivated to send your newsletter or record that video? Well, stay tuned, because today we are going to talk about the one factor that might be the reason for all of those things.

I'm Joeli Kelly, and I'm filling in for Tara this episode

Today I want to touch on something I've been severely affected by and see affecting my friends on a pretty much daily basis: stress.

Firstly, let's define what stress is: Stress is an extra physiological demand on your body. It can be physical, environmental, or emotional and it can be painful or pleasurable. Basically, stress is anything that disrupts our current state of being.

Next, we need to talk about our nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system maintains normal functions when we are not under stress. It keeps the heart rate at a reasonable pace, supports healthy digestion and relaxes our muscles. But when we are under stress, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in and starts responding to that stress so that we stay alive. One of the ways the body reacts to stress is by releasing stress hormones. When we experience a stressor, the adrenal glands get a message to release noradrenaline, adrenaline, and/or cortisol depending on the situation and the perceived threat. When the stress is gone, everything is supposed to go back to normal.

These hormones affect more than the areas we might think they do. For example, we all have probably experienced a moment of stress that sent our heart rate soaring, made our breathing get shallow, and our palms get sweaty. But there are other effects that are less obvious. The hormone cortisol regulates the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbs. It gets released because in times of stress the body wants us to start using up the fastest available energy first. So cortisol instructs our bodies to release a flood of glucose and then it also inhibits insulin production, so the glucose is used and not stored. This is good if the stress is short-term like during a workout, but pretty bad if we are experiencing chronic stress.

What are some examples of chronic stress? Not sleeping enough. Not eating a nutritious diet. Being in a job with a lot of pressure or high demands (even if these high demands only come from ourselves). Going through times of uncertainty or significant change or very emotional times like grief and loss. Dealing with worry about money and finances.

Long-term stress (either chronic or too many periods of acute stress like overexercising) starts to affect our physical well being. It can cause headaches & muscle pain, and fatigue. Stress affects the absorption of nutrients, raises levels of stomach acid (causing heartburn and stomach upset), and can cause inflammation in the intestines – there is a significant link between IBS and stress. It can also cause sleep problems and a lowered immune system. So if you're getting sick all the time, you're most likely under too much stress. It also affects our mood due to its effect on other hormones in our body which causes us to feel anxiety, unmotivated, unfocused, overwhelmed, irritable, and depressed. I don't want to get into too many details here, but you can research further how stress affects serotonin levels for example (which it's been shown that low levels lead to anger control issues, depression, migraines and IBS.) The main point is that stress affects our body physically by raising certain hormone levels and affects our emotional well being by lowering the levels of other hormones, and long-term this can be very damaging.

Now stress is normal, and in the short term can even be good (for example our muscles grow and get stronger by first being stressed through exercise), and we are never going to eliminate all stress. That's absolutely not the goal. The goal is to balance things out. We all know that after we exercise we should stretch and rest. The same is true for other areas of our life. If we have a stressful job, then we need to balance that out with something that brings the scale back to the center.

There is a chemical our brain makes called GABA which is an inhibitor – basically, it lowers the activity of other cells, particularly those that cause anxiety – which in turn helps us relax and balances our mood. If we don't have enough of it, it leads to anxiety disorders. (Many drugs that are anti-depressants work by interacting with GABA and its receptors.) One of the things we can do to balance periods of stress is to get our body producing more of this chemical and others, like serotonin that we mentioned earlier.

There are many ways to achieve this balance, but I'm going to touch on six that I think are easy enough for everyone to do.

The first way is exercise. Yes, too much exercise actually raises our stress levels, but you should be moving your body in some way every day. Exercise releases serotonin and dopamine and helps burn off some of the excess energy that our body creates as a response to stress. Doing gentle exercise like walking and yoga is an excellent option if you don't want to do anything too strenuous.

The next way is getting enough sleep. You need a minimum of 7 hours, with 8-9 being the ideal. The importance of getting good quality, restful sleep really can't be emphasized enough. It's a time for our body to rest and reset.

Third, diet and hydration. I know this is a bit boring. But poor nutrition and dehydration add stress to the body. So drink water, eat your fruit and veg, get your B12, Vitamin D, Omegas and maybe add a probiotic if gut health is a concern. Of course, a doctor or qualified nutritionist should be consulted if you need specific advice in this area.

Fourth, meditation. Meditation has been shown to increase levels of GABA and reduce levels of cortisol and noradrenaline. Studies show that 20 minutes a day is ideal, but honestly, 5-10 minutes is going to do you wonders. Even one minute of focused breathing can help calm down our stress responses.

Fifth, connecting with friends. A lot of times when our anxiety is high, or our mood is really low we withdraw from our friends and social situations. This is actually really counterproductive. Studies have shown that when we spend time with friends our cortisol levels go down and endorphins are released. Basically spending time with friends, having fun, and talking about our problems is vital for balancing out our stress.

Lastly, having a hobby. Having something that is fun and we can look forward to can be really helpful for managing stress. Hobbies might bring us into social situations, or it might be something we do alone. But if it's fun and feels relaxing, then it's worth doing. (Note: mindlessly watching TV that we don't really enjoy doesn't count nor does binge-watching Netflix for long periods of time.)

Now we can carry on for months and months in our high-stress lives, and not think of anything of it until something happens which forces us to rest. When that illness or burnout hits, we might turn to things like mediation and healthy eating to help us get back on track. But then when we start feeling better, our healthy habits start to slip away again, and we go back to the grind. Please don't do this. Please don't wait for things in your life to slow down before you rest, or say “well I just get through this launch and then I'll rest.” Because you know and I know, that you most likely won't rest. You'll find something else to throw yourself into. And meanwhile, the stress builds and builds in your body.

Start getting yourself back in balance today.

Now, we all are aware that knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different things.

If you:

  • need help identifying the habits that would make the most significant difference to your life
  • want to design an action plan that you're actually excited about
  • would like to understand your motivation style so you can actually get stuff done
  • and want to be held accountable along the way, so you actually follow through with it all
  • then you might want to work with a coach.

You can google “wellness life coach” to find people trained in this area, or you can get in touch with me! I've been helping women create lives they love for the past few years, and nothing would make me happier than to see all women reduce a bit of the stress in their lives. (After all, we can't smash the patriarchy if we're all burnt out!) I offer a free 20-minute introductory chat so we can talk more — you can email me hello@joelicreates.com or find me on Instagram (I'm @joelicreates there) if you would like to chat more. And be sure to let me know you heard me on Tara's podcast!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

225: Post-summer Renewal FREE WORKSHEET!

Getting back to work after a break is never as easy as we’d like it to be. Learn how to kickstart your work and business after a summer break, and get your FREE worksheet at TaraSwiger.com/podcast225

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Are you ready to dive back into your business after a summer break? Did you take time off for the summer? Or did you just feel less productive because of the nice weather, the travel, the kids home from school? Whether you took a proper break or not, a lot of you asked me: How do I get back to work?

  1. Take a fresh look at your goals.

It's possible your life shifted over the summer – maybe your kids entered school or maybe you entered a new relationship or maybe your had a great moment in your business (like a big show or wholesale account?) that's shifted how you think about your business.

It's normal for what you wanted then to not be what you want NOW. So pull out your most recent goals (you do write them down each quarter in Map Your Business, right?) and ask yourself: Do I still want this? How do I want to go about moving towards it?

  1. Take a fresh look at your days. What worked before might not work now.

When do you have time to work? When do you want to work? When are you most focused? When is the best time to do each task? Would you rather batch types of work on certain days? Or in certain hours?

  1. Take a fresh look at your expectations.

How much do you expect to get done in a day? In a week?

How are you feeling about your productivity? Do you need to lower your expectations? Do you need to shift your productivity towards a more impactful work?

  1. Give yourself grace.

It takes a while to get back in the flow of things. If you are working more now than you have been, you may need to ramp up slowly. Coming back after a break NEVER goes how you plan, so get comfortable with that.

What do you need to be gentle with yourself about?

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Your questions answered: email list growth, self-publishing and what I’d do differently

Get YOUR questions answered: self-publishing a book, growing your email list, and advice on building your crafty biz!

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Today I'm answering questions from my Instagram followers (to get your questions answered, be sure you're following me!). In fact, I received so many questions, I split them into two podcasts!  You can find the first Q&A post here.   Today we'll cover:

  • Email List Growth
  • Self-Publishing
  • What I'd do differently

 

Resources:

Check out these awesome handmade businesses:

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

Your questions answered: Coming back after illness, finding time for everything, and handling discouragement

Q&A for your creative biz: How to get back to your crafty biz after a break, time management for makers, and handling discouragement!

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Today I'm answering questions from my Instagram followers (to get your questions answered, be sure you're following me!). In fact, I received so many questions, I split them into two podcasts! Today we'll cover:

    • Coming back after illness
    • Finding time for everything
    • Handling discouragement

Resources:

Check out these awesome handmade businesses:

 

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

 

Apps + Tools for the International Business Lady

Here are apps and tools I used to be offline for two weeks and still keep my business going. We'll talk about my business-specific tools (how I post consistently to social media, without opening my computer) and the travel-specific apps that helped me keep track of a handful of flights, train tickets, and find the cheapest place to live next Ediburgh castle!

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Today I'm sharing what apps and tools I used to be offline for two weeks and still keep my business going. We'll talk about my business-specific tools (how I post consistently to social media, without opening my computer) and the travel-specific apps that helped me keep track of a handful of flights, train tickets, and find the cheapest place to live next Edinburgh castle!

Here are the links to everything I mention:

Note: When available I used affiliate links – which means I may make a tiny percentage of the sale or save money on my own account if you purchase through my link (on Later you get 10 free posts!). I am only linking to  tools I use every day, whether they have affiliate links or not!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

When you need to take a break from your business

You’re going to need a break in your business. It’s unavoidable. It’s part of being a human being, in a fallible body. You’ll need to step back or scale down when you’re sick, when your family is sick, or worse. But when you need to take a break, when something important happens in your life that needs all your focus, it’s easy to take the short term view, instead of looking at the long view of your life and career. The short view is: This thing came up, I need to deal with it- I'll put everything in my biz on hold.And look, I get it. When something sideswipes you, you go into short-term problem solving. And that makes sense for extracurricular activities. Maybe you quit book club or you stop teaching Sunday school. Maybe you cut back on expenses like stash enhancement or kit clubs or eating out. But if you're serious about your biz- then it is not an expense to cut or an extracurricular. It's a part of your income and your mental health. It's the thing that brings you joy or peace or a sense of self-reliance. It probably challenges you & pushes you, but if you want to have it in the future, you gotta take the long view. Listen in at TaraSwiger.com/podcast132/

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You’re going to need a break in your business. It’s unavoidable. It’s part of being a human being, in a fallible body. You’ll need to step back or scale down when you’re sick, when your family is sick, or worse.

But when you need to take a break, when something important happens in your life that needs all your focus, it’s easy to take the short term view, instead of looking at the long view of your life and career.

The short view is: This thing came up, I need to deal with it- I'll put everything in my biz on hold.And look, I get it. When something sideswipes you, you go into short-term problem solving. And that makes sense for extracurricular activities. Maybe you quit book club or you stop teaching Sunday school. Maybe you cut back on expenses like stash enhancement or kit clubs or eating out.

But if you're serious about your biz- then it is not an expense to cut or an extracurricular. It's a part of your income and your mental health. It's the thing that brings you joy or peace or a sense of self-reliance. It probably challenges you & pushes you, but if you want to have it in the future, you gotta take the long view.

Links Mentioned:

Are you serious about YOUR biz? Click here to learn about the workbook I've put together with Stacey Trock of FreshStitches, to help you plan to take a break in your biz!

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

 

Listening in

I've been quiet. Not just on the blog, but on the Explorer Lessons, the Twitter, and even on Instagram. It started out unconsciously…I just didn't have anything to say. I wanted to read all day. Dye yarn. Do quiet-ish things.

Plotting with beet/carrot/ginger juice. #unpluggedadventureday

But then Thursday, I purposely took break from the constant stream of feedback. I didn't check email, twitter replies, or even likes on Instagram. Instead, I drove to Asheville, explored, wrote. I didn't really know why I avoided all feedback until I was driving home at the end. And then it hit me.

I spend a lot of time (maybe most of it) listening. When I'm answering questions on the Starship or taking part of a Twitter chat or just reading blogs, I may be talking, but I'm also listening for the connection. I'm watching for the chords that tie it all together, for the deeper question people are really thinking about. (This book opened my eyes to my system-spotting + building – it's part of my personality type!)

Once I spot the connection, I dive into it. I write a blog post, shoot a video answer or, if it's a deep and twisty question, I create a class. For example, In December I got an email from a Captain about how she'd had a banner year…but paid herself nothing. Then I saw a few comments on Twitter saying “I invest everything back into the business.” I spot the connection right away: People don't know how to measure (and improve)  their profit. So I wrote, asked questions and taught a class about doing just that. It might not be my favorite thing, but it's undeniably vital to every business…and no one else seemed to be talking about the equations that I use…so I did it. (That's another part of listening – watching for great resources I can recommend – and making sure I'm not spending my time creating something that already exists in way that my people can absorb.)

I LOVE this deep listening and connection-spotting. It's the way I process the world and my brain does it even when I'm not working. But, if I'm not careful, all that listening can result in only thinking about things other people need…instead of creating what I need and want to create. So when I finish a period of intense listening and responding, it's time to stop in and listen to myself again.

It's  just like I'm always saying about finding and listening to your Right People. If you listen in, you'll definitely make what they want.

But that's only one part of the equation. The other half is YOU. You have to spend some time listening to yourself, learning what your skills are, and expressing (or trying to express) what you need to create in this world.

So I took the week to listen in quietly to myself..and I got a whopp of insight (at 7pm while washing the dishes) about how to clarify my message (see the Start Here page for the changes) and what I need to work on next (opening the Starship for the quarter and a BIG exciting project).

When was the last time you took a break from your listening stations and tuned into your internal frequency?