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    Category Archives: stress and wellness

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    How a vacation can help your business

    sky-people-whitespace-freedom copy


    By Diana Scully


    Most of us find ourselves dreaming about our next vacation or travel holiday but don’t book anything. Many of us follow travel accounts on Instagram, commenting on how much we’d love to visit this destination, but then don’t take any steps to get there. We want more time in life to take holidays, spend time with the family and just relax but find ourselves at the end of the year with accrued paid leave owing to us. So what’s going on?

    For many of us, taking time away from our work, whether we are in paid employment or run our own business, can feel overwhelming.  But its one view to be busy and another to confuse it with having a negative impact on your success. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt a personal change upon returning from a vacation, for the better. And for the positive impacts it has on my work, taking a vacation is no longer perceived as a luxury, but rather an essential part in the outcome of my busy work/life schedule. Here are five reasons why I make taking the time to travel each year, a necessity in my life:

    A change in perspective. Travel gives you the opportunity to get away from your usual routine, the people you meet, what you eat, how you sleep and where you work… You begin to view things differently, think outside the box and allow yourself to take on something new.

    When you travel, especially to underdeveloped nations or unknown destinations, you open yourself up to new ideas. You begin to appreciate how different life can be and you return to your own lifestyle with a fresh perspective and point of view. Consequently, the flow-on effect leads to new ideas or solutions to problems you may have been facing prior to your vacation, by allowing yourself to think in new ways.

    Take a break and recharge your batteries. Travel gives you a chance to renew your energy, find your balance and re-align yourself. Most people reach a point throughout the year when logic becomes cloudy. Productivity declines and enthusiasm wanes. Taking a break, relaxing and switching off are ways to refuel yourself and find your positive energy. This opportunity allows you to indulge in your own needs for a period of time. And when you return, improve your productivity at work with your new, positive outlook on life.

    To push your limits. Travel allows you to break a routine that at the best of times, is designed to make you work efficiently and effectively each week. But in doing so, you also build yourself a comfort zone and forget your ability to push boundaries to grow your business and work opportunities. If you’re thinking about applying for a new role, starting a new business or growing an existing one – you need to think beyond the norm. You need to push your boundaries. If you expose yourself to this way of thinking, you will teach yourself how to build the courage to do this in other areas of life, i.e. work, fitness and health.

    Find inspiration. Travel gives you the opportunity to think for yourself for uninterrupted periods of time. Taking a vacation allows you to consider and contemplate issues/topics/opportunities that have been sitting on your to-do list for some time. When you give yourself the chance to think about something else than your daily routine and work commitments, you open your mind to new possibilities.

    Network and meet new people. Travel allows you to network organically, especially if you travel independently or on your own.  Travel forces you to talk to people, ask for help, seek advice and start conversations with strangers. It also shows you your strengths and weaknesses in your ability to communicate, adapt to new situations and accommodate different cultures and customs.

    Start changing your perception about taking time off from work to travel. Reverse the logic and the tendency to perceive a vacation as an indulgence in life, but rather, focus on the benefits travel can offer you at work and your general overall happiness.

    Images by Pexels.

    Interior designer Diana Scully owns and operates her own interior design firm Spaces by Diana that’s all about designing beautiful, personalised homes to reflect the people who live in it. Diana also has her own lifestyle blog, Spaces + Places, where she regularly writes about inspiring spaces to see and visit from around the world and shares her recent travel adventures. This year she has plans to spend time abroad in the US. Follow Diana on FacebookInstagram and Pinterest.


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: business tips, my advice, stress and wellness | Comments Off
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    Self care for small business owners


    By Monica Ng

    No matter where you are on the spectrum of being a full-time small business owner or work a fulltime job alongside your small business pursuits, running your own business can seem like running the longest marathon of your life. Day in, day out, you work long hours at your day job and come home, tired but continue work for your own business. You hope to grow it into something that supports yourself and perhaps your family too. You spend every spare minute working on your sidepreneur gig. Any time that you are not working on your business, you are wracked with guilt and fear. In your mind you are constantly plagued with “what if” questions and try to rationalise your decisions for working on your business instead.

    “What if I were to skip this (insert social occasion) and spend time doing X, Y and Z instead? I have an endless To-do list! There’ll always be next time…”

    If you do take time out, you’re constantly thinking about or worried about your business. You’re glued to your phone, monitoring and updating your business. You’re not fully present. You feel inadequate and question whether you have the drive to really “make it.” Maybe you view this way of working like a badge of honour? Sacrificing things now for a better future? But really, if this is the mentality you’ve adopted, it can be all too easy to burn out. Your ability to be effective and efficient becomes diminished. You stop producing your best creative work. You’re stuck in a vicious cycle. Lose direction. Panic! Feel paralysed. Which is why the most vital thing for you to do for your business is to look after your number 1 and best asset: you.

    This has been something I have always struggled with, especially most recently. Together with deadlines for my jewellery studies, last minute organization for my holiday (who gets stressed from organising a holiday, right?!) and tying up loose ends at home before flying overseas for said holiday – I felt completely deflated, unenthusiastic and a bit directionless about my business. But after being reminded that self-care as a small business owner is the most important thing I can do for myself and my business, here’s my top 5 action tips you can do too to look after yourself and your business.

    Celebrate all your wins (whether small or big)

    You’ve worked hard to achieve your goal – whether it’s big, like gaining a new client you’ve signed up or something ‘smaller’ – every achievement should be viewed as a win in your eyes and you should do something to celebrate these milestones! Whether its a nice meal out with loved ones, a candle lit bubble bath, or some time walking along the beach with your dog – take the time out to celebrate your achievement – because you worked hard to achieve it!

    Look after your body

    When you’re busy, it’s easy to forget that our bodies need regular exercise, nutritious food and plenty of sleep to be productive! Take the time to schedule into your calendar, regular times to do some exercise – whether it be an early morning walk with your pet, a midday yoga class or cycling around your neighbourhood, whatever activity you enjoy, make the time to do it! Life is too short to feel sluggish, be unfit and neglect your health. Not only will you feel better after exercising (hello endorphins!) but you’ll be so much more alert and energised to do the best work that you can.

    The same goes for the food you eat too! Too often, we reach for the easiest and most convenient food options, which usually contains too much salt, fat or processed sugar. If you continue down this path of unhealthy eating, it’s no wonder you won’t feel at your best. If your schedule is busy, why not spend time planning your meals for the week, take a few hours and batch cooking some food and freezing it for the remainder of the week? You’ll be surprised how easy it can be to eat some nutritious home cooked meals when you put a little planning into the process.

    Get enough sleep. Simple advice but often the first thing that gets sacrificed.

    Go on a digital detox and recharge

    Give yourself time to get away from the online world and reconnect with the natural world around you. Yes – this means disconnecting from all forms of social media, your blog, your online shop, forums etc etc.

    Being constantly connected to the online world can be draining and counterproductive. Sometimes it may be best to just disconnect completely for a while, whether it is a few days, a week, a month or maybe more and spend time doing other things. Not only may this help you find new sources of inspiration, but also help you recharge so that when you do return to the online world – you’ll feel refreshed and ready to kick some butt again!

    Allow yourself time to rest, catch up with friends and family and general “me time”

    Give yourself permission to read a book and soak in the sun’s warm afternoon rays over a flat white, take a holiday (and don’t take work with you!) or do an activity you enjoy and don’t feel guilty about it!

    For those that operate their small business from home, where this may mean a spare room, bedroom or kitchen is the “office”, the lines between work and play can be difficult to differentiate. Remember that for your business to be successful in the long-term, you need to draw some boundaries – just like you would if you worked a day job. Don’t fall into the mindset that you need every minute to work on your business to make it a success and that if you don’t do this, it means you’re not dedicated enough to your business. You’re not a failure for resting and relaxing! Our minds and bodies were not built to work 24/7. We need rest to recharge and you’ll be happier and healthier for it.

    Remember why you decided to become a small business owner!

    Think back to why you started your small business in the beginning. Did you start it up to gain financial freedom? To gain freedom away from the usual 9-5, operate during the hours you work best and pursue your passion? Whatever your reason may be – don’t forget it!

    Sure there may be some late nights and early mornings – to grow a small business into a successful operation, it takes some serious hustling. But remember, that hustling means working efficiently, effectively, with excitement.

    Now – don’t mind if I kickstart my own digital detox, recharge by immersing myself in Taiwan’s glorious luscious natural and urban landscapes and enjoy my holiday in Taipei!

    Monica Ng left her accounting career at the end of 2013 to run Geometric Skies, her Etsy jewellery business, alongside her jewellery and object design studies at the Design Centre in Sydney. Find Monica at her blog or on Instagram @geometric_skies.


    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: business tips, my advice, stress and wellness | Comments Off
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    The year that was: Stress & Wellness

    {Throughout January, we’re looking back at all the posts our awesome columnists wrote for us in 2012, before our team of some new and some returning contributors start blogging in February.}

    Amongst the hustle-bustle of creative life, which so often comprises many projects ‘on the go’, it’s nice to be reminded to take a moment to look after our minds and bodies (after all, they are quite important tools of one’s creative output!). Each month in 2012 Emily reminded us to stop and recognise what makes us stressed or unwell, and take steps to live and work in a healthier way. Perfectly timed and always helpful, Emily’s posts were a breath of fresh air to the blog ;). Thanks, Emily! x tess

    Harnessing the Power of the Breath for increased creativity

    It may sound odd to be starting the year talking about something as simple as breathing…after all it’s a function that happens automatically and we generally don’t pay much attention to it unless there’s a problem. Read more…


    We sit but do we stretch?

    There are times I feel like the only muscle I’m exercising is the spreading mass covering the desk chair I sit in. Hours can go by without a postural flinch and I know I’m not alone. Equally there are tasks and professions that require the same repetitive movement. Read more…


    Understanding Stress – Real or Imaginary?

    Some years ago a doctor told me I had the equivalent stress of five sabre-toothed tigers chasing after me. Read more…


    Putting the Brakes on Stress

    There’s a great line about stress being like dark chocolate – while a few squares can be good for you, too much can tip you over the edge… Read more…


    Winter Wellness

    There’s a chill in the air that reminds us that Winter is well on the way, if not here already… Read more…


    Creativity through Meditation (Part 1)

    Call it meditation, mindfulness, being still, present or quiet time – this ancient method of bringing balance and connection is making a modern day resurgence. Read more…


    Creativity through Meditation (Part 2)

    Mary Caia is an intuitive painter who has been allowing the internal expression and creativity shown to her through meditation, relaxation and dreams to transfer externally to the canvas. Read more…


    Putting a Spring in your step

    As the daffodils start to bloom and snippets of sunshine begin to peak through there’s a chirp in the air that can only mean springtime is around the corner. Read more…


    Tips for a well workspace

    With spring time comes the phrase ‘spring clean’ …where we turf out wardrobes, dust off exercise equipment and create space for all the exciting projects and ideas ahead. Read more…


    Surviving the Silly Season

    This is the sort of post I thought I’d be writing for December in the run up to the peak of festivities…but it seems like everything is creeping forward and next month is already “too busy.”  Not to mention there’s a little spring racing fever sweeping through race tracks, wardrobes and champagne bottles at the moment. Read more…


    Art as Therapy

    As we round out the end of this year’s column exploring all things wellness and creativity, it seems fitting to look at an area which encompasses both of these – art as therapy (or perhaps more accurately – exploring personal growth and empowerment through creativity). Read more…

    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: stress and wellness, the year that was | Comments Off
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    Stress & Wellness: Art as Therapy

    By Emily Harrison

    As we round out the end of this year’s column exploring all things wellness and creativity, it seems fitting to look at an area which encompasses both of these – art as therapy (or perhaps more accurately – exploring personal growth and empowerment through creativity).

     “All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” ~ Pablo Picasso

    For me, the ability to paint and draw peaked early…at around aged five…and that’s about where it stayed. Creativity instead has come to me through words and other forms…but I do wonder what would happen if I picked up a paint brush.  This seed thought led me to investigate further the area of Art Therapy, and I was intrigued to discover it goes far beyond the paint brush.  I interviewed Melbourne-based Creative Arts Therapist and Artist, Jennifer Berlingieri, to find out more about this modality and how she balances her own artistic pursuits while working in a creative field…

    Hi Jennifer, tell us a little about Creative Arts Therapy?
    In Creative Arts Therapy sessions, we use creative therapy and counselling to support and encourage self-exploration and personal development.  It is appropriate for anyone who is interested in deeper self-awareness and personal growth, and no previous arts experience is necessary.

    What’s the difference between Art Therapy and Creative Arts Therapy?
    The main difference is that Art Therapy only uses visual art, like drawing, painting and clay, for creative expression and personal growth.  In Creative Arts Therapy we use Art Therapy, as well as other creative modalities, like Dance-Movement Therapy, writing, symbols, mindfulness, sand tray, music and more as therapeutic tools to assist and empower people in their personal exploration.

    How did you become interested in this as a modality?
    My interest in Art Therapy evolved from a combination of factors. Years ago, I left my first career in New York in Fashion to go off travelling.  I ended up travelling for a number of years, settled in Australia and was in transition between careers.  I was living out bush in NSW and dedicated a lot of my time to finally exploring art making.  I gave myself permission to buy art materials for the first time and had a go at drawing, painting, collage, 3D sculpture, whatever I could, and not only did I absolutely love it, but I realised that the art making was helping me process whatever emotional experiences I was going through at the time.  In combination with my old favourites of journalling and dancing, art making was a new kind of personal language that really helped me express myself to myself, feel validated and figure some things out. It was a very powerful experience.

    Eventually I questioned, “Are other people doing this?”  So after some research I discovered Creative Arts Therapy was a formal therapeutic modality, not just some odd thing that I was doing!

    Can and do artists or people in creative fields need/use art therapy?
    Absolutely, artists can and do benefit from Creative Arts Therapy!  I often find that people who are artistically inclined might have to move away a bit from their expectation that their creative work has to be of a certain aesthetic, or that it needs to be “good”.  That’s a lot of pressure!  Using creativity as a therapeutic modality is a completely different context to using it as fine art or for commercial means.  The emphasis is not on the finished product, but on the meaning one finds in their work and what one can learn about one self from the process.  So what matters is that the work is authentic, honest, and heartfelt.  What it looks like doesn’t matter at all!

    The feedback I get from people in creative fields is that Creative Arts Therapy helps them move away from their expectations, loosen up, experiment and return to the sense of play that’s often lost when creativity is taken “too seriously”.  This can be a very powerful way of moving through creative blocks.  On a deeper level however, it helps them to therapeutically explore the personal issues and questions that are important in their lives, and this can lead to long-term life changes and benefits.

    The clients and groups you work with must be incredibly diverse – is it necessary for people to come with a reason, purpose or outcome in mind?
    The people I work with are extremely diverse.  It’s not at all necessary for people to come with a reason or purpose in mind.  Participants only need to be open to the process and whatever evolves out of that.  Like any therapy, what arises is unpredictable.  Very often I’ll have someone attend a private session or workshop with one specific issue in mind, and ultimately they’ll get to a whole deeper level, which often surprises them.  For example, someone might originally attend in order to explore a career change or a relationship issue, but eventually they might go deeper to find they are looking into their core values or their overall behaviour patterns in relationships.

    The benefits I see in people are also diverse, and often surprising.  It’s a privilege to work with people who are willing to be open and experimental, and who value their own personal development and self-knowing.  To see people change or have a little epiphany before my eyes is amazing, and to see them feel empowered because they got to an important realisation in their own way is the most rewarding thing I think.

    How do you make sure you create time and space for your own artistic/creative pursuits?
    This is an ongoing challenge for me, as it is for many people who want to have a creative life as well as a professional one.  One thing that works for me is having a group of like-minded peers that I get together with every month or so, to do debriefing and artwork.  It helps enormously to have the structure and support of the group to make sure that I don’t neglect my own creative expression altogether.

    Another thing I do to stay connected to my creativity is to keep a visual journal, and make just a quick drawing or write a short journal entry early in the morning before I start my day. I don’t do this every day, but even just once a week or once a month is better than nothing. These quick dips into my journal keep me connected to myself and to my own creative expression.  Having said that, I’ve just had a baby a few months ago, so all that is out the window at the moment!

    For those interested in the training or experience to become a Creative Arts Therapist?
    To become a Creative Arts Therapist, you have to do Post Graduate study, either a Graduate Diploma, Master’s or Doctorate.  The course work is experiential, so you’re learning CAT techniques by doing them, rather than hearing about them.  Therefore, the study involves the willingness to do in depth personal development of your own.  The professional experiences of a CAT are endless, as creative therapy techniques can be used to work with very diverse people.

    Many thanks to Jennifer Berlingieri from Creative Arts Therapy for sharing her experience and expertise. 

    Emily Harrison is a writer and yoga teacher with a passion for understanding our unlimited potential. This is her last post for the CWC and she’s enjoyed writing and sharing on all things wellness for the CWC audience this year. In 2013 she will be delving more into her own writing and creative pursuits. Do keep intouch over at iamem.com, @emyogawrite. Wishing you the best of health and boundless creativity.

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    Posted by: Emily Harrison
    Categories: business tips, regular columns, stress and wellness | Comments Off