Overcoming Imposter Syndrome – Journaling your feelings

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome – Journaling your feelings

Last week I spoke about Imposter Syndrome, you can read about it here – What is Imposter syndrome and Do I have it?

The first step in overcoming Imposter Syndrome is to acknowledge what you’re feeling, and why. Start by keeping a journal or writing down your thoughts and feelings. Whenever you experience feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy, write them down, and explain why you’re feeling this way. Be as specific as possible about each situation.

One great way to overcome your Imposter is to write a letter to your inner child or younger self. To tell yourself that it is OK to try, to make mistakes and to learn. To try new things and to be successful. Ask her why she feels the way she does about what she has achieved… dig deep. Go back to where it all began. What made you believe that you are unworthy of greatness. Feel the emotions and write them all down to get them out, what thoughts come up?

When you are done you may want to destroy the piece of paper. Or, refer back to it to show you how far the you have come. What ever you choose to do, breathe easy. That is past. 

I have done this a few times, for me looking back at a time that was tough can be a cathartic and healing process, like journaling, it helps to get the emotions surrounding different experiences out and to process them. It helps me to put things in perspective. Having multiple diagnoses there have been times when I have really doubted myself. As a young teacher, unable to work anymore.  As a new mother struggling to care for my young child.  When diagnosis after diagnosis hit our family and I doubted that I had ‘what it takes’, sometimes crippled by fear of what lay ahead for me. 

I wrote this 4 years ago, triggered as my first child became a teenager, on his next birthday he will become a man. It is as it is. Raw and un-edited.

 

I did not know when I wrote this that I was yet to face my hardest test when my son became bed bound for a time with Myalgic encephalomyelitis. The strategies that I have learnt during my time as a mum: mastering my mindset, developing emotional intelligence and generally becoming emotionally tough, have hands down helped me to cope with these unexpected events. Reflecting back helps me to know how far that I have come and what I have achieved.  

 

Dear Younger Self

Thirteen years ago I gave birth to my first child, as he enters adolescence (and I wonder how that could be possible) I realise a lot has changed and there is much that I have had to work out for myself.  So I decided to write my 2004 pregnant self a letter sharing what I have learnt so far.

 
Dear Sarah
 

Forget birthing plans, a water birth, scented candles and nice relaxing music playing in the background, the only thing that you need to focus on when you go into labour is your breath.  It will be an ally silently holding your hand when things get tough. This may be your first baby but let your body speak to you and listen carefully as it whispers. Trust and stand up for yourself, don’t be so nice.  The nurses won’t actually believe that your labour is established because you cope so well and you labour so quickly.  There will be panic, baby will be distressed but stay clam, focus on what you need to do you will soon hold him in your arms.  And it hurts, especially with zero pain relief but one day you will understand the joy in childbirth, I promise.

Nothing will prepare you for the overwhelming love that you feel for your baby or the paralysing tiredness that you will never seem to shake.  Make the most of the first few months because after that point your body will start to fall apart. Chronic pain and fatigue will hit you like a truck and you will be weak.  Accept help and don’t be so proud.  Letting someone else cook dinner once a week does not make you a bad wife or mum, just tell someone that it is hard.

The niggly pain that you have in your foot will leave you almost incapable of walking soon and will take 9 months and a surgery to resolve.  After the operation you will wake up with a smile so broad from the relief of that pain that you actually cry.  The tests into the problem will leave you with a diagnosis of the neuromuscular disease, Charcot Marie Tooth, take time to come to terms with this, process it, grieve, don’t rush it, you need this process in order to move on.  At this point it will seem like your life starts to unravel, to be honest it does.  It steals your career and you will dislocate merely as the bed covers lightly brush across your knee, you will get to the point where walking on grass is impossible without falling and having more dislocations, life gets harder.  You will feel as if you are being stripped of your mobility, your dreams, your friends, your goals and your identity.

It gets better.  You will realise that teaching is a job, that you are replaceable and that’s OK.  Where you matter most is at home with your family.  You will learn that strength is not merely a physical pursuit it comes from within. You will develop perseverance and patience, when things are tough they will improve. You will learn to think out of the box and find solutions when problems present themselves, the rewards can be so much more when you work harder for something. You will learn to value what is dear to you and treasure it with all of your heart. And you will learn intrinsically not to judge others because you never know their story. You will become a better person.

You will also discover that what you have been doing for years is pacing your life without even realising it. Those naps every day after work before Dave gets home, 10 minutes on the sofa flicking through a magazine, takeaways a couple of times a week. You just can’t do that now that you have another individual relying on you with every inch of their being.  Fatigue will hit you, time and time again. There will be points in your life when you will not get out of bed and wash for days or weeks at a time.  Where you will physically collapse unable to actually put one foot in front of the other. Where you wonder if it will ever improve and how? It will get better, slowly. You are a warrior now. Pacing will become your friend again but it will take nearly a decade to understand its impact on your body and make it work in your new life.

After two and a half years when your family increases, be warned, this labour will be even quicker. You do make it to the hospital, but only just, you lose a lot of blood, consciousness and go into shock.  It will take another six or seven years to learn that you have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and POTS and that they are the cause of this. The same pattern will continue after baby number two, pain and fatigue will be relentless you will visit more doctors and hospitals in the search for answers than you ever thought possible. Where you once navigated London by the night clubs and shopping hubs you will now have a mental map of the leading doctors and teaching hospitals. Some of these doctors won’t believe you, some will but will be at a loss to know where to start or how to help. When you stumble upon professor Rodney Grahame the pieces will finally start to fall into pace. Although a relief, an EDS diagnosis is only the start of the journey, you will spend the rest of your life learning how to live in harmony with these conditions, managing them, trying to be the boss. Researching and managing their impact will become a full time job. Apart from your husband no one will really see the effort involved in keeping up your normal appearance to the outside world. This new life, while different can be fantastic, just take a breath and learn to appreciate the joy in every day.

You discover the beauty of childbirth when your daughter comes into the world. A peaceful home birth surrounded by those that you love and a midwife that you trust. Breathe it in, enjoy it. She is your little miracle and will teach you even more about strength and perseverance than you ever believed possible. As your children grow you will start to realise that they have their own mix of things going on for them and pain and fatigue will sadly become a daily part of their lives too. This is the hardest part of your life and I can’t ever promise that watching them in pain and to struggle will get any easier. You are a zebra mum and you will fight for their care with every last once of your being because you love them so fiercely. You won’t believe this now but because of them and because of your passion you will have an inherent need to give back, you will be lecturing at Brunel University and helping families with your experiences from all over the world.

journal entry about overcoming imposter syndrome; overcoming obstacles and facing fears

Once your children are at school you will face some of the most challenging times of your life; trusting others with the most important people in your world and to manage their health when they are often not willing or prepared to step up. This will be the most stressful thing that you ever do.  There will be ignorance and ego’s of which you have no control. But there will also be angels disguised as teachers along this path that shine light in the darkness. Your children will amaze you every day with their achievements and will prove that they are much, much more than their illnesses and how they feel.

Learn to eat well, for you this means gluten free. Stay hydrated and exercise often even if every ounce of your body is screaming no. Teaching this to your children will be the  greatest gift that you can give to them. There will be non-believers, naysayers; people with far too much opinion about what they think is or isn’t wrong with you. There will be people that will talk about you behind your back and even to your face. Don’t let these people steal your joy.  Don’t waste your time trying to convince them what is fact, you are not responsible for their thought processes. Use your energy on the important things, wellbeing, happiness and enjoying time with your friends and family.  Live.

While at points along this journey you will feel like your life is unravelling it will actually be falling into place. As friendships fade they will be replaced by new ones, stronger ones, with people you adore and who adore you for exactly who you are. Your illness will not be an issue at all to them, you are just you and you happen to have an illness. And your David, he is just as amazing now as he was then. In fact even more so.

With love,

Sarah xox

 
Ps. On the 16/8/16 Do yourself a favour and take a picnic.  It will save you a swim in the Thames.
Pps. Remember that you can still be assertive and nice, too much nice and people take advantage.
Ppps. Whatever happens keep smiling.
 
 
Could you write to your younger self at a time in your life that was stressful, like a chronic illness diagnosis, or to your inner child? Looking back and being kind to yourself can be helpful.
 

What could you reflect back on? What made you feel unworthy of your greatness? What could you tell your younger self? What have you learnt? What new things do you want to try? 

Let me know what comes up for you? 

 

Join The Community

The Thrive Tribe is a community of women who have chronic illness or are a parent to a child who has an illness or disability.

You may feel like no-one understands what its like living with your chronic illness or worrying everyday about your kids. That you are hanging on by a thread or the future may feel a little uncertain. In The Thrive Tribe we get that.

You value life and want to be the best version of you. To manage your symptoms effectively so that you can live your best life. Or, to support your children to live theirs.

In the community we will be having real, open conversations about how you can do this. With my experience of living with multiple chronic illness’ and raising kids with CMT, EDS, PoTS and ME. I know that the struggle is real. I will be sharing guidance, challenges, my personal tips and real life stories to remind you of how this can become a reality now!

When you join the Tribe you can find your ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SELF-CARE and HANDY SELF-CARE CHECKLIST available in the files to download.

The 10 minute guide to understanding that self care is far more than having a bubble bath and lighting a scented candle. Why it is important to plan for if you have a chronic illness or are caring for someone who does and, a handy checklist to get you started with great self-care practices to support yous physical and mental health and that fit who you are!

EDS And CMT One In Twelve Million

Does it make me special? One in 12 Million... the odds of having both hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) and Charcot Marie Tooth Disease (CMT), based on current prevalence! Some days it feels pretty special, let me tell you why. I’m not going to dwell on the...

The A-Z of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS)

The A-Z of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). Simple, jargon free and real. From adrenaline highs, mast cells and slipping rib syndrome to the zebra mascot.  If you have EDS or know someone that does these thing will sound familiar. But, do you know everything there is to...

Acceptance – Why it is so important when you have a chronic illness?

Acceptance in human psychology is a person's agreement to the reality of a situation, to be able to recognise a process or condition (in this case a chronic illness or health condition) without attempting to change it or protest it.  In simple terms getting your head...

Managing Chronic Pain Without Medication In 7 Golden Steps

7 golden steps to manage your chronic pain I have lived with pain for as long as I can remember, it’s now chronic, it’s never going away. I have Charcot Marie Tooth disease, a neuromuscular disease that affects the motor and sensory nerves to my arms and legs, you can...

8 Ways That Imposter Syndrome Shows Up When Have A Chronic Illness Or Disability

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Like any second now your friends or work mates will discover that you are a fraud? Do you ever think that your successes are attributed to luck, rather than your own skills or qualifications? Or, do you try to keep more and...

How I Fake My Chronic Illness Symptoms

I fake my EDS symptoms all the time. Every day. For as long as I can remember. It is second nature, it's why I am so good at it.   Now I don't mean I'm faking the symptoms of my condition, making them up, exaggerating them, they are very real to me and they are...

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome – Journaling your feelings

Last week I spoke about Imposter Syndrome, you can read about it here - What is Imposter syndrome and Do I have it? The first step in overcoming Imposter Syndrome is to acknowledge what you're feeling, and why. Start by keeping a journal or writing down your thoughts...

What Is Imposter Syndrome And Do I have it?

What Is Imposter Syndrome Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Like any second now your friends or work mates will discover that you are a fraud? Do you ever think that your successes are attributed to luck, rather than our own skills or qualifications? Or, do...

Home Schooling During The COVID Lockdown – Top Tips To Survive!

Let's face it, for all parents in the UK this January plans will have changed. The further restrictions placed on us all by the latest COVID lockdown means the nation once again will be faced with our children accessing learning from home. Some of you will have...

How Self Compassion Helps To Combat Loneliness

I have written this article after being asked to share my thoughts on how self compassion can help with loneliness for the Podcast 'How To Be...' by the amazing Suswati Basu.   What self compassion means to me Self compassion, put simply, is the ability to have self...
What Is Imposter Syndrome And Do I have it?

What Is Imposter Syndrome And Do I have it?

What Is Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Like any second now your friends or work mates will discover that you are a fraud? Do you ever think that your successes are attributed to luck, rather than our own skills or qualifications? Or, do you try to keep more and more balls juggling in the air; always trying to maintain impossibly high standards, and with each success you achieve the greater the feeling that you aren’t enough?

If so, you’ve probably experienced imposter syndrome, right along with an estimated 70% of the population.

It was first described back in the late 70’s by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes who recognised that this imposter phenomenon was particularly prevalent amongst a select group of high achieving women. But, it is known to affect all kinds of people from all walks of life, men, women, medical students and managers.

Even international superstars are not immune to it’s effects. Emma Watson, star of the Harry Potter movies told Rookie magazine, in an interview (2013), “It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, ‘Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved.”

More and more imposter syndrome is being seen in marginalised groups and shows up regularly in the disabled and chronic illness communities. It makes perfect sense that your feelings of self doubt and fraud are more likely to show up if you have grown up belonging to a group that was historically believed to be less capable.

Sonia Sotomayor was the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice, she spent her whole life growing up in the Bronx and never really thought of herself as a candidate for law school. “I have spent my years since Princeton, while at law school and in my various professional jobs, not feeling completely a part of the worlds I inhabit. I am always looking over my shoulder wondering if I measure up.”

 

The 5 Imposter Archetypes

Expert on the subject, Dr. Valerie Young, has categorised imposter syndrome into five subgroups: the Perfectionist, the Superhero, the Expert, the Soloist, and the Natural Genius. In her book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, Dr. Young builds on decades of research addressing the reasons why so many accomplished women suffer from this crippling self doubt.

Perfectionist

Perfectionism and Imposter syndrome go hand in hand. These people set impossibly high standards for themselves not wanting to let things go until they are perfect because of the fear that they won’t be good enough. When they inevitably don’t match up to their self imposed bar, the self doubt and feelings of not being enough are reinforced again. Fear may also paralyse them into not producing any work at all because they do not want to fail, and anything short of just perfect would be just that – a failure. Even with success comes the feeling of ‘I could have done better’.

Superhero

These people are convinced they are phonies amongst their work colleagues or the group they are in and often work super hard so that they measure up. Over preparing, taking on extra jobs and even working weekends. This is less about their skills and capabilities but has everything to do with their own insecurities. These people need the external validation that comes from the feedback of working hard. They are often over achievers and the fear of failure can sabotage their own success.

Expert

Experts base their competence on how much they know, they strongly believe that they will never ‘know’ enough. They expect to know everything that there is to know and even a minor lack of knowledge denotes failure and shame to the expert. Because, if they were truly competent then they wouldn’t have had to work so hard to acquire the knowledge in the first place.

In a similar way to the perfectionist they set their internal bar incredibly high. An expert, even with all the qualifications in their field, genuinely feels inexperienced or lacking knowledge. When they seek to learn more all the time they are actually feeding their procrastinist tendencies.

Natural Genius

The natural genius judges themselves based on how easily and quickly a skill can be mastered. Therefore if they have to work hard to learn something new or simply don’t pick it up the first time they feel shame. Like perfectionists the bar is set impossibly high and the Natural Genius will believe that if they have to work hard at something, then they must not be very good at it.

They find that setbacks completely throw them and they avoid taking risks in case they fail.

Soloist

Soloists see asking for help as a sign of failure and weakness and believe that to show competence in a task it must be completed unassisted.

A soloist always turns down help to prove themselves as an individual, needing help would evoke feelings of shame. They value this independence over and above their own needs, when they get stuck it leads to procrastination, just to avoid admitting defeat.

 

Which Imposter Archetype are you?

Which imposter archetype do you relate to? Are you the expert, the superhero? Do you overwork to prove your worth? Do you withhold your talents and opinions or never finish important projects?

Perhaps you strongly relate to just one archetype, or perhaps you see bits of your self in all five?

 

How to stop Imposter feelings?

To move past your imposter feelings requires you to work on the deep held beliefs that you may have about yourself, which may be hard as you may not even realise that you have them. The work on self-sabotage, negative thoughts, assessing your long held beliefs about you abilities and building your confidence will not be quick fixes and may require regular work.

The power overcoming feeling that you are an imposter lies with you stopping thinking like an imposter. To do that you will have to re-write your internal narrative.

 

Before you go  

There is much more coming over the coming weeks on imposter syndrome. How it shows up in the chronic illness and disability communities and some Top Tips to help you to overcome your imposter, whichever archetype you resonate with!

You can sign up here to get these posts straight to you inbox.

I would love to hear what you think, let me know in the comments.

Join The Community

The Thrive Tribe is a community of women who have chronic illness or are a parent to a child who has an illness or disability.

You may feel like no-one understands what its like living with your chronic illness or worrying everyday about your kids. That you are hanging on by a thread or the future may feel a little uncertain. In The Thrive Tribe we get that.

You value life and want to be the best version of you. To manage your symptoms effectively so that you can live your best life. Or, to support your children to live theirs.

In the community we will be having real, open conversations about how you can do this. With my experience of living with multiple chronic illness’ and raising kids with CMT, EDS, PoTS and ME. I know that the struggle is real. I will be sharing guidance, challenges, my personal tips and real life stories to remind you of how this can become a reality now!

When you join the Tribe you can find your ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SELF-CARE and HANDY SELF-CARE CHECKLIST available in the files to download.

The 10 minute guide to understanding that self care is far more than having a bubble bath and lighting a scented candle. Why it is important to plan for if you have a chronic illness or are caring for someone who does and, a handy checklist to get you started with great self-care practices to support yous physical and mental health and that fit who you are!

 

The Top 10 Surprising Health Benefits Of A Cup of Tea

The great British cup of tea… I have to admit as I sit here cup in hand, I am slightly addicted.  Meeting up with my with my girl friends at the local coffee shop on a Friday morning wouldn’t be right for me without my nice cup of tea.  In recent years coffee has made...

Acceptance – Why it is so important when you have a chronic illness?

Acceptance in human psychology is a person's agreement to the reality of a situation, to be able to recognise a process or condition (in this case a chronic illness or health condition) without attempting to change it or protest it.  In simple terms getting your head...

Rare Conditions – The Importance Of Supporting Mental Well-being

Now more than ever before it is important to support both mental and physical well-being in people with a rare disease diagnosis. Rare diseases affect approximately 3.5 million people in the UK (Rare disease UK), a condition is considered to be rare if less that 5 in...

No Ones Life is As Perfect As Their Social Media Feed

No ones life is as perfect an their social media feed The explosion of social media over the last 15 years has opened doors for people in many ways;  It has the power to connect like minded people all over the world, at any time and it gives instant feedback and it...

Home Schooling During The COVID Lockdown – Top Tips To Survive!

Let's face it, for all parents in the UK this January plans will have changed. The further restrictions placed on us all by the latest COVID lockdown means the nation once again will be faced with our children accessing learning from home. Some of you will have...
No Ones Life is As Perfect As Their Social Media Feed

No Ones Life is As Perfect As Their Social Media Feed

No ones life is as perfect an their social media feed

The explosion of social media over the last 15 years has opened doors for people in many ways;  It has the power to connect like minded people all over the world, at any time and it gives instant feedback and it increases your visibility. In the world of chronic illness it has given people the power to educate themselves about their conditions, to share and learn from each other’s expertise, allowing them to become truly empowered in their own health and wellness so that they can work with health professionals to manage their conditions long term. Personally, I have learnt so much online, instant access to information fuels my desire to know more, I have connected with some truly amazing people from all over the world that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do otherwise and it has opened doors for me to raise awareness about living with chronic illness in schools, hospitals and universities.

However, we must be mindful that this virtual world is just a snapshot of reality. People can be who they want to be.  The shiny pictures of your friends new house hide the crippling mortgage repayments that they struggle to meet each month.  The beautiful smiling family photos mask the fact that their marriage is being held together by a thread.  Make up and a smile can be a beautiful mask for depression, grief, chronic illness or pain.

Let me show you what I mean

I’m going to show you a peek into our lives to highlight that what you see on my social media feed is not always all that it seems.

I took some lovely family photos on a trip to London’s South Bank a couple of years ago. We look like everybody else, minding our own business and enjoying the sights. What those smiley photos of my family don’t show you is that the reason for our day out in London was another road trip to one of the city’s many specialist hospitals. An attempt to make a ‘day of it’ once we had travelled into town.

They don’t let you know about the conversations with my husband deciding if we should hire a wheelchair for the day for my son or if he could manage a few hours out with us without it. You don’t see that my daughter used her wheelchair for most of the day, but hopped out for the photo opportunities with her brothers.

The smiles hide the fact that my daughter is feeling poorly with a sore throat and by the end of the day she said her heart hurts just because she has stood up out of her chair.

You don’t know that the reason we had a few little sit downs along by the river was not the soak up the sights of the South Bank but to pace and rest on the way to our destination. Due to my son coming over unwell and clammy or because I just had to take the weight off my feet for a minute.

It doesn’t show in the photos that the motivational speech by the Lego artist at the start of the exhibition really hit a chord with me. As he talked so eloquently about his inspiration for the exhibition and that everyone is a superhero and can overcome life’s adversities. He could have been talking just to me.

My smile and make up mask the fact that every step I took was excruciating as my knee is finally falling apart and is bone on bone in the joint as I walk. And by the time we had looked around the exhibition the toes on one of my feet literally felt like they were on fire and cramping all at the same time.

The photos don’t show you that when we stopped for food the first thing that we ordered was tap water so three of could top up on our pain meds.

They do not show you that the next morning my daughter was on the sofa under a blanket with HR monitor on her finger and it kept jumping to the high 140’s as she was still feeling poorly and her autonomic system was just out of whack. Or that our son did not really surface for a few days as the inevitable pay off for our day pursued.

You see this is the reality of living with a chronic illness that social media rarely shows. I love the fact that we can share in life’s triumphs, that I can read positive things on people news feeds, smiling children, happy couples. Lord knows we need to celebrate those things more than most but we need to remember that an afternoon out doesn’t mean that we are cured, that we aren’t tired or hurting or going to pay terribly for it later.

A smiling face, great lighting, a photo filter, just like a shiny new car often masks the truth and that is never more true than in the world of social media. It is important not to feel threatened by or envious of the false reality that we see everyday.

Comparing yourself to others

We typically compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others. We are all too unique to typically compare ourselves fairly to another. Other than never really knowing the full picture about someone else life, you must remember that you are unique, your talents, successes and value in this world are unique solely to you. How can that ever be compared fairly to someone else?

At the end of the day when you waste your time focusing on comparing yourself to someone else you are concentrating on the wrong thing. There is only one life that you have control over at the end of the day and that’s yours.

It is important to remind yourself that no-ones life is as perfect as their social media reels and no one is living an untroublesome life, weather you are close enough to know about it or not.

Finding inspiration and learning from others is wise, humans are amazing and there is so much knowledge that we can acquire from each other, but there is a fine line between this and self comparison. If you find that comparison keeps showing up in your life, a good place to start is notice the effects that this is having on you. Intentionally remove those thoughts from the inside out by reframing them in to the positive.

Work on comparing yourself with yourself. Spend your time and energy on being the very best version of you. Commit to looking after yourself physically, emotionally and to grow a little more each day. Learn to celebrate your wins without comparing them to someone’s shiny life on the internet.

Remember, no ones life is as perfect as their social media feed.

You may also like LESSONS I’VE LEARNT TO HELP ME LIVE WITH MY CHRONIC ILLNESS  or HOW TO SET GOALS WHEN YOU HAVE A CHRONIC ILLNESS 

Want to start with looking after yourself, but are not sure where to start? Join The Thrive Tribe on Facebook and download your free copy of my ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SELF CARE and HANDY CHECKLIST, details below.

girl pretending to be superman her wheelchair is out of shot. Social media does not show everything!
mum and daughter smiling and having a cuddle. Social media does not show the full picture, that they have just dosed up on pain meds
girl taking popcorn from a lego joker, what social media doesn't show is that her wheelchair is just out of shot.

Join The Community

The Thrive Tribe is a community of women who have chronic illness or are a parent to a child who has an illness or disability.

You may feel like no-one understands what its like living with your chronic illness or worrying everyday about your kids. That you are hanging on by a thread or the future may feel a little uncertain. In The Thrive Tribe we get that.

You value life and want to be the best version of you. To manage your symptoms effectively so that you can live your best life. Or, to support your children to live theirs.

In the community we will be having real, open conversations about how you can do this. With my experience of living with multiple chronic illness’ and raising kids with CMT, EDS, PoTS and ME. I know that the struggle is real. I will be sharing guidance, challenges, my personal tips and real life stories to remind you of how this can become a reality now!

When you join the Tribe you can find your ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SELF-CARE and HANDY SELF-CARE CHECKLIST available in the files to download.

A 10 minute guide to understanding that self care is far more than having a bubble bath and lighting a scented candle. Why it is important to plan for if you have a chronic illness or are caring for someone who does and, a handy checklist to get you started with great self-care practices to support yous physical and mental health and that fit who you are!

 

Home Schooling During The COVID Lockdown – Top Tips To Survive!

Home Schooling During The COVID Lockdown – Top Tips To Survive!

Let’s face it, for all parents in the UK this January plans will have changed. The further restrictions placed on us all by the latest COVID lockdown means the nation once again will be faced with our children accessing learning from home.

Some of you will have started with your kids in school. Some will have known they were home for a little while but were planning to have them back in school within a couple of weeks. Others may have made the decision themselves to keep them home anyway.

Whatever your situation we are all facing the prospect of home schooling our children till at least February half term and unlike the first lockdown the weather is not on our side.

It can feel a bit like groundhog day.

The hardest things to deal with during times of uncertainty can be the unknown and the lack of control over the whole situation.

Four years ago my oldest son got sick with myalgic encephalomyelitis on top of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.

Since that point he has been home schooled or has had access to online learning as he isn’t well enough to attend school in a physical school building. His GCSE’s were planned to be taken from home long before the pandemic took hold. Lockdown has been going on in this house far before COVID.

I’d like to share what I have learnt over the last four years of having a child in lockdown so that you can survive homeschooling and to use the time to make the bond between you and your kids stronger than ever.

 

Communicate

Keep talking and listening to each other, even messaging your teenage kids throughout the day. Making time each day to be present with each of your children.

There is definitely a place for Disney + or bingeing on Netflix, if you have an important work call to take, or are trying to get dinner ready – you are not superhuman. At the very least ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ has inspired a love of chess in our house. But, ask yourself at the end of every day ‘How long have I truly been present with my children today?’ Listened without distraction, laughed, hugged?

When my children were little they used to love to do the ‘key jar’ activities at meal times, a jar full of random questions to get everyone talking and listening to each others point of view.

We still all have meal times together and I make sure that I spend time with each of them every day to chat doing something different – right now that’s playing cards, painting, completing physio exercises or checking on the chickens together.

However, when our son was first sick and bed bound with ME it would just laying with him while he slept so he knew that we were there. There are no right and wrong things to do, whatever works for your family.

 

Have fun

Right now it is really important to provide lots of light relief, all work and no play is no fun for anyone, especially children. There has to be a balance between the work you want them to do and opportunities to have fun.

Your child may have been sent home work to complete independently (or with your help) as opposed to online with face to face teaching support. The teachers will be providing worksheets and tasks to make your life as easy as possible but the activities may not be the most stimulating for your child. Remember right now most of this work will be revision, so don’t stress about it.

Inject some fun into the tasks that have been set. You know your child best so are best placed to tap into what they love and make the whole homeschool experience more interesting.  If they are learning WW2 how about researching the German officers with the best moustaches and write about them. If they are learning money in maths and have a slime obsession (if you are a parent to an under 10 you will understand), ask them to work out how much it would cost to make enough slime for their whole class. Extend them by asking them if they could they sell it for a profit? This can be applied to anything that they are learning.

It also involves having fun outside of whatever learning has been set. Playing games, having movie nights, holding a disco with a playlist of everyone’s favourite music, having an indoor picnic (or outside if you are brave enough), building a den, going for walks. Ask your children what they would like to do for fun with you, I bet that they have loads of ideas.

 

Be calm

Stay calm especially if your child isn’t. Your child may be feeling all different emotions such as highs and lows, anger, blame, sadness etc. Allow them their feelings and to talk them through but don’t force it. They may be a little unsure of the expectations on them at the moment, depending on their age they may be stressed out over exams or missed school trips. Stress and anxiety will show its self in different ways.

They may also not do exactly what you want them to do exactly when you want them to. Here it is important to be calm and step back and be aware of your own feelings before responding, you will be much more likely to respond with calmness and purpose. Good communication and setting clear boundries will really help.

 

Work together

This will help to get everyone on the same page and get clear on those expectations and boundries without setting strict rules. By creating action plans and timetables for their work it will help them be more independent and stay on track.

Is their a project at home your kids would like to do with you throughout this time? When my son was poorly with ME we made a vivarium for his lizard.  My husband built it, with our son offering support mainly in a supervisory capacity! Then our son designed his vision for the vivarium and together we built it. It took much longer than we initially planned because he wasn’t well enough to do much in one go but it got us together, it involved lots of problem solving and gave him a purpose. He was really pleased with the end result.

During this lockdown our middle son has built perches and roost ramps for our chickens and is learning how to wire electrical circuits to support his latest science module at school. These types of activities are great for problem solving and solution focussed outcomes. Whatever they do make sure that you celebrate their achievements.

 

Be the anchor

In times of change this is really important that you are the constant in their lives, so much of what they are experiencing now is different – they can’t go to school, the clubs they attended are all closed, they can’t see their friends or even their grandparents. Their home has suddenly turned into a place of work. They need you to be your normal funny, annoying, kind, (insert you own adjectives here) selves. They don’t need to see you stressed out by the latest news bulletin or yelling at the TV when the education secretary starts talking about schools.

Keep your routines as normal as possible and aim to keep things familiar. When our son was sick some days he would make it downstairs and promptly fall fast asleep on the living room carpet, he was 12 and as big as me at this point so any attempts to carry him back to bed were long gone. Life carried on around him mostly. His brother in and out from the garden shouting. I even have an image of his little sister dancing round him watching a DVD of his performance in a street dance show the year before and copying all his moves. I clearly remember laughing at the irony. But, life had to go on for everyone else, and those routines and normality were even more important during our time of uncertainty.

 

Boy asleep on carpet with his dog, he has been home schooled long before the COVID lockdown due to ME

Choose health

You know your child best and what makes them tick and now more than ever this is going to be important. Think about how much sleep do they need? If they are teenagers and don’t have live lessons first thing in the morning, would they function better with an extra hour in bed? Are they better with an early night and are most productive in the mornings? Understanding when they work best and getting to grips with exactly what they need to do can revolutionise the way they spend their time and increase their productivity. Leaving them more time to have fun.

Do they need lots of snacks? Are the the type of kid that needs space? Do they thrive on the company of others? Do they need to run off steam outside? All three of my children are very different and they all have very different needs, partly due to their different ages but mostly because they are very different people.

Are their any fitness challenges that they would enjoy? Would they like to try a new sport at home? Could you get them moving by setting challenges within a sport they already love? Could you get them involved in the kitchen?

 

To Sum up 

Learning is way down the list of priorities during lockdown. I am sure that all of my children will get done what they need to however I see the six things that I have listed above as far more important. I know that if they are in place learning will happen easily.

When my son was first sick an I was in survival mode and I didn’t always get it right. When I relaxed and focussed on what was important – him! It made all the difference to his health – mentally and physically and to his learning.

I would love to hear the ways that you have thought of to have fun and work together with your kids throughout the COVID lockdowns. Share your ideas you never know you may see them and be inspired by you.

 

 

Would you like to know how to get the best out of having the kids home during another COVID lockdown

Having  your child or children home without the time to properly plan for this change may feel overwhelming.

Getting a schedule together, keeping everyone motivated, managing all the things you usually have to do and God forbid actually trying to work from home.

If your child has a health condition or disability there will be another level to all of this. Missed hospital appointments or tests causing stress and now the responsibility of physio, occupational therapy or speech and language therapy may now fall solely on your shoulders. Which, let’s face it, is likely to make you feel stressed, overwhelmed and alone.

Imagine having a best friend by your side, who has been through all the things that you are experiencing, feeling all the raw emotions and has the answers?

Together we will will focus on the areas where you feel that you need support and create a plan to support you. So, are you ready to start achieving the best outcomes for you and your child during lockdown?

Join The Community

The Thrive Tribe is a community of women who have chronic illness or are a parent to a child who has an illness or disability.

You may feel like no-one understands what its like living with your chronic illness or worrying everyday about your kids. That you are hanging on by a thread or the future may feel a little uncertain. In The Thrive Tribe we get that.

You value life and want to be the best version of you. To manage your symptoms effectively so that you can live your best life. Or, to support your children to live theirs.

In the community we will be having real, open conversations about how you can do this. With my experience of living with multiple chronic illness’ and raising kids with CMT, EDS, PoTS and ME. I know that the struggle is real. I will be sharing guidance, challenges, my personal tips and real life stories to remind you of how this can become a reality now!

 

How To Set Goals You Will Achieve When You Have A Chronic Illness

How To Set Goals You Will Achieve When You Have A Chronic Illness

Learn to be flexible and adaptable

Lets be honest, none of us will feel confident proclaiming that 2021 will be the best year ever. If 2020 has taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected. To set goals and achieve them adaptability is going to be more important now than ever. 

Having multiple chronic illnesses teaches you to be resilient. You never quite know how things will be; if you will wake up with a dislocation, get a migraine attack or even have to sit down in the middle of The Co-op because you are going to pass out. It teaches you flexibility but it also teaches you to grasp life’s opportunities when then come your way.

To think at the beginning of 2019 we had no idea that we would move out of London and by the end of the year we would be living a new life in the country. It had been a dream for us for years and 2019 was the year we made it our reality.

At the beginning of 2020 I had absolutely no plans to become a certified life coach and NLP Master practitioner. The COVID pandemic absolutely gave me the opportunity for that to happen by freeing up the time, taking all training online (meaning no travelling to London or Bristol) and meaning that the kids were safely looked after at home while I qualified from the sanctuary of our home office. I am so thankful that I took the opportunity and stepped out of my comfort zone and into the world of coaching so that I can support people like me with chronic illness.

None of us know what is around the corner for us in the year ahead. To set goals that stick it is important to be flexible and adaptable during these uncertain times.

 

To set great goals you will need to be clear on the vision for your life?

Even with the unpredictability of the world in which we live right now you can absolutely think ahead with a clear plan about where you want to go. To have a clear vision for your life and set intentions for yourself that fit with what you think and feel. It gives you the motivation to keep moving forward if things get tough and is the force that will fuel your motivation.

I will not be proclaiming intentions for the year ahead that I will have forgotten about in a few weeks time instead I will be looking at my life as a whole, where I am now and where I want to go. Then I will set myself goals that fit with my overarching vision. It’s amazing how motivated you are to achieve your goals when they connect with the overall plan for your life and who you are. I will be doing things every single day that really fit with who I am creating new habits that lead me to the place that I want to be.

If I carry on doing the same things every day that I do now, nothing will change. I need to create new habits and retrain my brain to do things in a different way if I want change to be lasting.

 

To achieve your goals keep moving forwards even if its baby steps

I’m also a realist. I know that things may change along the way that will be out of my control and I may have to adjust my sails a little. Living with unpredictable chronic illnesses has taught me that my life and my health has a habit of throwing me a curve ball. It’s like my condition enjoys putting me in my place from time to time and showing me who is the boss. If things don’t work out I may have to pause for a while or find another way. I may also find that I may have to learn new things or ask for help to get me to where I need to be.

Whatever this year brings I know that it will be important to keep moving forward, even if it’s baby steps, because if I take one step each day I will be in a very different place by the end of the year.

If your goals are truly connected to who you are and your deep rooted values staying on track when the going gets tough and staying committed to your vision will be so much easier.

 

When it comes to achieving your goals the devil is in the detail

The key to setting goals that stick is to get specific. Often the people set vague intentions without a plan to get there, to be ‘happier’ or ‘richer’ is just like setting your Sat Nav to ‘somewhere nice’ and the brain doesn’t know what to do with that information.

That’s why after you have carefully considered your overall vision it can be helpful to break your goals down into the different areas of your life so you can get specific. When you drill down on exactly what you are going to do, when you are going to do it and the exact steps you need to take it is like putting the exact destination into your Sat Nav and your brain knows what to do with that information.

 

Key takeaways to set goals that you will achieve this year, chronic illness or not

Goals have to fit with where you are, who you are and where you want to go in life. To stay 100% committed and on track you have to be really connected to why you have set the goal for yourself in the first place.

You have to understand that action produces results, and if you want results, you must take action. No matter how small, you just have to start.

We all appreciate now that life has a habit of trying to get in the way, but it will be up to you not to use those set backs as an excuse to give up on your hopes and your dreams, see it as a way to learn and do better next time.

The bottom line is incorporating even the smallest goals and making them habits will transform your life in some way. You can pick and choose which best suit your needs but the key to success is consistency. Turning your goals into habits will transform your overall wellbeing in ways you’d never imagined and you’ll feel unstoppable.

 

Ideas for goals in the different areas of your life to improve your overall well-being

Here are some ideas to set goals in the different areas of your life to get you started.. be specific and connect to why you want to make the change in the first place.

Money/ Finances

  • Decide how much you want to earn in 2021 and work out a plan to make that happen (for example – how many clients/orders/treatments etc that works out at per month)
  • Look at your finances work out a plan to save money each month – where can the savings come from? How much can you save?

Home Environment

  • Decorate a tired bedroom by the spring
  • Move home to a new area
  • Get a cleaner
  • De-clutter
  • Improve the light

Career/ Personal Growth

  • Read a book a week or 20 pages a day
  • Sign up to learn something new
  • Start selling something that you make
  • Write a book (perhaps break it down to a chapter each month)
  • Apply for a promotion
  • Enhance your networking skills
  • Improve your public speaking skills by signing up to a course or reading a book

Physical Activity

  • Get 15 minutes of fresh air every day
  • Spend 20 minutes outside in nature every day
  • Dedicate 10 minutes a day to stretching
  • Go for a 15-minute walk before work 5 days per week
  • Aim for 10,000 steps 5 days each week
  • Engage in moderate intensity physical activities 5 days per week for 30 minutes
  • Take a 5-minute walking break every hour during the workday
  • Use an activity reminder app to help you sit less at work
  • Stand for phone calls
  • Walk as you talk

Healthy Eating

  • Prep healthy lunches for the week every Sunday
  • Pack a healthy lunch three days per week
  • Create a meal plan once per week
  • Start your day with a healthy breakfast each day
  • Add an extra serving of fruits or vegetables with lunch and dinner
  • Eat two servings of dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale, romaine, etc., three days each week.
  • Avoid added sugars in foods two days each week
  • Go vegetarian one day per week
  • Pack a healthy lunch for work or school three days each week
  • Drink a glass of water before each meal

Stress Management

  • Maintain a calendar to help you manage your time
  • Develop a morning or evening routine
  • Write out and prioritize your tasks each week
  • Create a daily meditation routine
  • Keep a gratitude journal and write about all of the things that you are grateful for every day
  • Go electronics-free three evenings per week
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Engage in relaxing hobbies such as gardening, reading, dancing, or other fun activities

Fun and Recreation

  • Plan a trip to take once we can travel freely again
  • Look for a new class to join and dedicate time each week to it
  • What do you love to do? music, art, craft? Set aside an hour a week to do something that you love
  • Have a regular date night with you partner or games night with the kids

 

 

Join The Community

The Thrive Tribe is a safe place for women with long term, chronic illness or disability (or those who are carers of kids with chronic illness). It is a space to be you, to be honest that you want more than this, to be honest about not knowing how to start. A place where we can lift each other up and support each other. Where you can share your story and where we can inspire each other with our wins.  It’s about understanding that life can be tough but also that we can do hard things. About recognising your own unique superpowers! To feel like you belong in a community that has your back.

 

Goal Setting Sessions

Join me this for 2 x goal setting sessions and set intentions this year that fit who you are, light you up and that you will actually stick to! Let me teach you how to adjust your sails when things change in your life so that you can keep moving in the right direction.
Want to know more about what makes this different? Check out the link to the January goal setting sessions here Slots filling up fast, limited spaces available ❤

 

DOWNLOAD YOUR IMPOSTER SYNDROME GUIDE AND HACKS TO START RE-WRITING YOUR INNER RULE BOOK TODAY!

Your guide is on its way to your inbox!

Pin It on Pinterest

DOWNLOAD YOUR IMPOSTER SYNDROME GUIDE AND HACKS TO START RE-WRITING YOUR INNER RULE BOOK TODAY!

Your guide is on its way to your inbox!

Pin It on Pinterest