This will change your world. Period.

One day, when I was living in Paris, a friend and I made a discovery. It turned out we both had one day every single month when we would feel sad and cry for no apparent reason. We figured out that it was always the day before our period. It was quite the revelation. This ‘sad day’ wasn’t out of the blue, it was regular as clockwork. And it was all due to hormones.

But somehow I managed to forget all about this discovery. Every month would come round. I’d have a day or two feeling really sad, blue, wondering what was wrong with me. And then the next day I’d get the answer, oh yes, I was due my period.

I loosely kept track of when my period should come. I’d note in my diary a star on the first day of my period and a question mark on the day 25 days late. Even so, I would without fail forget about the ‘sad day’.

A hormone tracker changed her world

The first time I properly considered how my menstrual cycle affects me was only a year or two ago when I read an article. The journalist had just discovered a free hormone app tracker, and it changed her world.

A very brief summary is that we have four stages of our menstrual cycle. Our hormones are doing different things during each stage. These hormones affect our mood, appetite, energy levels, desire for socialising (along with other things going on in our lives, of course).

Rising oestrogen in week one (the first day of your period and the days following) gives you a surge of positivity and good feelings (having felt fairly crap during week 4). Week 2, as oestrogen continues to rise, you’re likely to feel more upbeat, confident and resilient. Week 3 you’ll probably be feeling quite mellow and sleepy (due to rising progesterone), and week 4 it’s likely you’ll feel irritated, a bit blue, generally p*ssed off at the world as oestrogen is now dropping. (I’d advise you to read up on this, I’m no scientist).

It was amazing to finally understand why some weeks I feel confident, full of energy and good vibes, wanting to socialise every night. Then other weeks I can’t bear to be around too many other people, wanting to cancel all social engagements and just lie on the sofa watching tv.

Amongst other things it also affects productivity; some weeks I’m super motivated and on a roll, others my pep is limited.

We should cut ourselves some slack

The reason I’m sharing this is so that you can learn to cut yourself some slack. We women are good at giving ourselves a hard time. Those days when there is lots to do. Your to-do list is infinite, but you’re low on energy. You just want to sleep, you’re irritated, you’re crabby, you’re uninspired – there’s a reason. It’s probably because your hormones are doing their thing (and let’s not forget diet, sleep, exercise, personal issues etc etc all play a part too).

Give yourself a break. Sooner or later the week of your cycle will come around where you’re positive, full of energy, a can-do attitude and great ideas.

If you’re going through a career change or looking to make changes in other areas of your life, it can be tough to stay motivated and focused. There are lots of emotional issues going on. There’s quite possibly a lot of negative chatter, your brain’s way of keeping you safe and within your comfort zone. And then on top of that your mood, confidence and energy are all affected by your hormones.

Plan ahead

My advice is to read up a little on hormones, or download one of the many free hormone tracker apps out there. Build your awareness. You’ll start to figure out which week’s great for networking, contacting people, charging ahead with your plans. And which week is a good time for reflection and slowing down. You can start to make plans with this knowledge in mind.

Even with what I’ve learned, I still have to remind myself all this on a weekly or even daily basis. It’s easy to forget. Sometimes you’re feeling the way you feel, simply because of…hormones.

If you’d like to try life coaching with me, send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Jealous Weekends on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Slowing Down with Hurry Slowly

I discovered a new podcast this week which has made me very happy. Called Hurry Slowly, it’s all about ‘how you can be more productive, creative, and resilient through the simple act of slowing down.’

There’s often such a pressure to have this aggressive, ‘always on’ attitude – to be ‘killing it’, hustling. Along with all the distraction we live with – notifications, too much choice, the lure of the internet, news, Game of Thrones theories and funny videos – it’s no wonder there’s a lot of anxiety and stress around.

Just thinking about it makes me crave simplicity and calm. Cutting back on everything, slowing down. Breathing.

Back to Hurry slowly. The first episode I listened to – futurist Alex Pang on ‘Prioritizing Rest and Reflection‘ – totally backed up my philosophy of working with focus for a certain amount of time, then having a good break, rather than ploughing through for hours on end.

He also suggests walking and taking time to digest, letting your mind flow, seeing which ideas or solutions appear. Sleeping on a problem and finding that it’s magically resolved in your mind the next day. Basically – being aware of how you use your focus and energy, and figuring out what actually works for you.

“Real relaxation doesn’t come from doing nothing at all if you’re a busy person but from doing something different — an alternative outlook, a change of atmosphere, a diversion of effort is essential.” Alex Pang

Another guest, author and designer Debbie Millman, talks about how anything worthwhile takes time. There’s such pressure to succeed and to achieve things quickly. With all the social media and other content outlets it’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Seeing what other people have achieved by your age and feeling inferior. I love that the message here is to take your time and experiment.

 “Most of the things that I’ve done have taken me quite a long time to realize any sense of real visibility in doing them. That’s just always been the arc of my life in anything that I was doing. I didn’t really get any traction with my career for about the first decade. I now look back and call that first decade experiments in rejection and failure.” Debbie Millman

The last episode I’ll mention is dedicated to something I’m as obsessed with as the host – walking. Sounds simple, maybe even boring to some. But I’ll never stop banging on about the virtues of walking. It really is like therapy. It’s meditative, it gets the blood and circulation flowing, it takes you out of slump or crappy mood. A good walk cheers me up no end.

So there we go, if you’re inspired to discover more there are plenty of episodes to uncover here.

Enjoy the reminder that slowing down is a good thing.

If there’s something in your life you need help with changing, feel free to contact me for a coaching session. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com and we’ll find a time to speak.

 

Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash

The Ultimate Lifestyle Edit – 3 tips

Will I ever tire of reading stuff to do with decluttering and simplifying your life? Probably not.

A few years back when I was feeling pretty lost in my career, I spent a whole Christmas holiday on my parent’s sofa, obsessively reading the Becoming Minimalist blog. Reading about paring down, simplifying, and getting rid of clutter, made me feel better. It was soothing. It did something to my mind, relaxed me, maybe released some of the mental tension I’d been holding.

The thought of shedding things I didn’t really want or need, things that were weighing me down, and paring down to the things I truly loved, felt like I’d be freeing myself somehow.

When you’re feeling a little out of control – with me it was in regards to my career – decluttering can be a sort of antidote. It’s one area of your life you can control. You can declutter and then limit what physical items come into your life. It’s the ultimate lifestyle edit. It helps calm the mind.

Since then whenever I feel a little bit out of control, overwhelmed, with too much going on in my head, I turn to thoughts of simplifying and decluttering.

1. Physical decluttering

Physically decluttering, having a good old sort out, then keeping things organised, makes your day-to-day life better. You know where to find things, and it’s pleasing to the eye.

I’m calmer if my home is clean and tidy and not a disorganised mess, with things to catch my eye and annoy me, and take my concentration.

2. Digital decluttering

It’s not only physical items. Now digital decluttering is more important than ever. There’s so much being thrown at us all the time, not only what’s going on in our own monkey minds but also the relentless influx of digital content; different platforms on which to view content, interesting articles, things to look into, to follow up on, to download, to read, to try out, to buy, to consider…

It’s amazing because there’s so much inspiration out there and there’s so much to do. But there’s no stop button.

So the only way is to streamline. Strip back to the basics and focus. Decluttering and reassessing processes is one way to do that.

I try to be aware of getting lost in the jumble of information overload.

There’s something really liberating about going through your phone and deleting unused apps and contacts. Closing down open webpages and deleting bookmarked items. All those things that take up space and time and attention, and really don’t need to be there. Maybe they’re out of date, or you just don’t use them.

Unfollowing people that add nothing to your life. Unsubscribing.

Just today a friend looked at my laptop for me as it wasn’t working properly. When he handed it back he’d tidied all the out of control shortcuts and screenshots into a neat little file for me to review and (ideally) delete. My homepage looks so appealing now – and I feel a little wash of calm when I look at it. Simple.

3. Mental decluttering

I constantly remind myself to keep things simple. My home, packing for a trip, social plans, a work project, my desktop – everything.  It helps me to manage the barrage of things to do and think about.

I love writing lists and also splurging whatever’s going on in my head onto paper. Mentally decluttering, getting it out there rather than letting things whirl around in my head, or trying to remember too much.

What can you simplify in your life? What can you get rid of?

If you need help with making a change in your life, contact me for a coaching session. Send me an email at: joaopoku@gmail.com and I’ll get in touch.

 

Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Burnout and turning it around

I read something in Emma Gannon’s the Multi-Hyphen Method yesterday (which I’m loving) about ‘How to Spot Burnout’. Five main points were:

  • Noticing that you’re being cynical about everyone and everything
  • Becoming apathetic, not caring that much about the outcome of a project
  • Tasks that were once easy become difficult or overwhelming
  • Physical symptoms such as illness, aches and pains, immune issues
  • Isolating yourself and feeling a huge loss of energy

It hit a nerve. I’d always considered that I might have suffered burnout at one stage in my life but it sounded quite a grand way of describing what I’d seen as ‘a bit of a murky period’.

But the truth is, those five points describe how I was feeling. The thought of calling a potentially intimidating client bought me to tears – and I actually felt I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pick up the phone to him.

I had no interest in work.

I’d go straight home and cry every day.

I developed a tick in my left eye that stayed with me for MONTHS.

And I didn’t want to socialise. I lost all sense of reality in terms of confidence and how good I was at my job. Everything felt too much, work, social life, everything.

So I left my job. Which I’d previously thought was something you just don’t do. But it reached the point where it felt like my only option.

I’m glad I did it. I turned things around. I took myself out of an environment that wasn’t doing me any good and I gave myself breathing space. It took time but I’m now in a much, much happier situation.

Sometimes you have to be brave, sometimes you have to take a risk. Sometimes you have to listen to your gut and do what you know deep down will be best for you.

Even if it seems crazy and risky and a massive mistake. Who knows? No one can predict the future.

But the worst is not taking action, and settling. Letting yourself get dragged deeper and deeper into despair or worse – indifference. Losing any zest you once had for your wonderful beautiful life.

***

I’ve you’d like to try a life coaching session with me, contact me here.

 

Photo by Roman Bozhko on Unsplash

Fear of Being Seen

I have a massive fear of being seen and being heard. Of being ‘caught out’. Of being mocked – what’s she doing? Fear of not being good enough. Scared of doing something wrong.

Related: Imposter Syndrome

Where on earth does the fear of being seen come from?

Some childhood experience that taught me that I’m not good enough? Early ridicule? Did I make a massive mistake that I’ve never recovered from? No.

Is it a collective female thing? Something we’re born with? Something society has thrust upon us? Maybe.

Does it help in any way? Perhaps it makes me careful, conscientious, thoughtful…but mainly – NO it doesn’t help. Rather, it holds me back. It stops me from going for opportunities and cripples my proactivity. It gives me a worry in the pit of my stomach that bothers me.

So what can I do about this?

Fight it. Push it down. Know that I can be seen and heard. People want to see and hear from me. My friends and family do – some strangers do. People aren’t going to openly mock me. When has that actually ever happened? When have I actually done something wrong? Like – really wrong? More than a small mistake or oversight?

Er – never.

Am I ever going to move on in my life if I’m holding myself back from self-created negative outcomes, imaginings, worries? No.

Do I need to get on with it, stop caring what other people think, relish in the fact that some people might not ‘get me’ or like me or appreciate me and my work, and that it doesn’t matter? Yes!

Do I need to be ‘seen’ as every other female in the world needs to be? Yes! Do I have an interesting point of view, thoughts, feelings, offerings? Yes.

Well then. From now on. No more BS. Excuses. Fear.

Do you agree? What are you going to do?

And, if you’d like to book a coaching session with me, do so here.

Photo by Olesya Yemets on Unsplash