One of the treatment rooms at my former Margaret River clinic, Stress Less Bodyworks, where, ironically, I stressed myself so much that I got very ill. This is where the motto of Less Push, More Flow for 2018 has come from. Recognising that Pushing all the time in business and life does not serve anyone.
Life is not static. Everything changes. On a physiological level, our bodies grow and change with tiny cellular changes every day. We don't seem to notice these changes. I see the changes in my clients each time they visit. Whether it is their stress levels or improvements to their movement or reduction in pain levels - I notice these changes. We witness the changes of the seasons. Landscape changes. Things we seem to accept as just the way things are.
Yet change is one of the biggest causes of stress amongst people, from what I have learned in my career as a Massage Therapist. Fear of change, sudden change and living through change seems to affect our emotions in a big way. Some people like change, others hate it. Personally, I have always embraced change (or so I thought), especially in my youth. If I was getting bored, if things started to feel stale, I'd change it up - my hair colour, jobs, friends, house, school, course - you name it I'd change it.
So it took me completely by surprise, when, in 2016, I got overwhelmed by a whole heap of change that occurred in my life. Some of it was by my control, the others, a complete random act of change.
I had been running my successful Business, Stress Less Bodyworks, in Margaret River for just over 4 years. I'd seen my business grow from a sole mobile operator to hiring staff and taking on a commercial lease and expanding my operation. During this time I also had my third (surprise!) baby, yet managed to keep business running and growing.
I was proud of all I had achieved. My business had grown so much. Between myself, and the 2 other staff members I'd hired, we were 90% fully booked across 7 days each week. I needed more space. My own space. It was time to move from the safe sublet office at the Chiropractor, where I had been for 2 years. I moved into a commercial premise across the road with 3 treatment rooms, a reception space and storage space. I set this up on a minimal budget. Keeping costs low was a priority for me.
8 weeks into the move to my new Massage Clinic, Stress Less Bodyworks was humming along so well. I was interviewing for more staff and subletting space to practitioners of complementary modalities. I was also incredibly stressed, although I didn't realise it at the time. Increased rents and overheads had me worrying about finances (even though business was meeting demands). I was working flat out. I figured that because the room was there for me, I should be seeing 20 clients a week, plus all the admin and management of the business in my after hours. I was burning the candle. I was pushing all the time and I was not sleeping well at night. Coffee in the morning, wine in the evening to help me relax with dinner prep and family life and then back onto the computer for hours in the evening. I was getting cranky.
I knew that things need to change. I had been through a huge change in my business, and I had done it all on my own. I decided it would be a good idea to engage in the services of a coach. I shopped around and found the right coach for me. I block out time in my schedule each week for coaching. On the first session, I was feeling very tired, my throat was achey and I was worried that I was getting sick. I had a history of being prone to tonsillitis and I really didn't want to go down with this again. I didn't have time for it.
After that first coaching session, where I cried and let loose my feelings of being totally overwhelmed and out of my depth with the changes, responsibility and growth my business had undertaken and the immense pressure I was feeling, I realised two things. One, was that I had been holding in so much and felt silly for not engaging or at least consulting with business professionals who could really help me through this transition. And two, I wasn't entirely sure that this was actually what I wanted. The business and it's growth had kind of taken on a life of it's own and was controlling me and pushing me to keep on pushing - to make sure the bills were paid, to make sure the staff were happy and paid well, to make sure that Stress Less Bodyworks was THE Massage Clinic that the people of Margaret River went to.
I had become obsessed with my competition in an unhealthy way. Facebook community pages and groups were no longer my friend, but a major cause of anxiety as I watched other people set up home based massage businesses at a fraction of the rates I was charging. I made decisions based in fear. I even sent emails that I cringe at now when I think about them. How had the work that I love to do, come to this? Competitive and stressful. I was worn out with Social Media.
The following day after that first coaching session, my health went down hill fast. A cough developed, along with a bad sore throat and a fever. Yet, I persevered and took a couple of Cold and Flu's and pushed through my day of 5 clients. I could barely stand up by the end of the day. I made an appointment with my GP for first thing the following morning, where I was diagnosed with Pneumonia. I couldn't believe it. Nor could I stop and allow myself to rest and be cared for. I cancelled my clients, yet continued to work in the office that day, pushing, pushing, getting sicker and sicker. It literally took becoming delirious to stop me.
My mum came down from the city to look after me and help the family. I was bed ridden for 3 days, and slept. My dreams during this time were epic. I awoke at one point, dripping in sweat, my breathing laboured and I heard or felt the words - Move back to Perth, it's time.
I knew this to be true. To move back to Perth, after nearly 10 years down south in Margaret River. I felt it in my bones, and it was the one thing that brought me peace. I had no idea how this was going to happen or when. I was only 2 months into a 2 year commercial lease.
After a week of being bed ridden, and strong enough to go back to work, I made some changes. I hired another therapist and worked a maximum of 12 clients a week. I did my admin in work time, not after hours family time and I explored the possibility of moving back to Perth with my Coach and visualising my ideal business and clients and the work that I wanted to do.
Fast forward to now, Easter 2018. We've been back in the city for 16 months. I've set myself up a nice Massage Studio in Fremantle and I am managing my ideal number of clients. It wasn't an easy road to get here, mind you. There were some more harrowing changes along the way, including the fire that destroyed our family house in November 2016 and the challenges and stress of managing Stress Less Bodyworks from the city and it's eventual closure (that's another story that I might share with you). Settling my kids and family into their new schools and jobs in 2017 whilst managing the affects of the house fire trauma and insurance claims etc was stressful to say the least.
And it caught up with me. Anxiety and mild depression, sleeplessness were all too familiar for me in 2017. I have managed it however, with a range of fantastic Holistic Tools including essential oils, journalling, meditation, crystals, counselling, Bowen Therapy, Flower Essences, tissue salts, kinesiology and of course, Massage and Bodywork.
But, you know what I really learnt throughout all of this? Acceptance. Accepting what you can Change, and letting go of the need to control what you can't.
How do you cope with Change? Do you accept it? Or do you fight it?