Stress… how the ladies measure up!
In this month’s Blokes About Town we asked the lads how they deal with stress, so we thought it only fair to get the ladies’ take on what spikes their stress levels and what they do to keep it in check.
It’s probably safe to say that when us ladies are feeling a little stressed out we tend to do what we do best – talk! Whereas our male counterparts are more likely to withdraw and retreat into their man cave, sound familiar? While this is not always the case, and in some relationships the opposite is true, research suggests that while men tend to react to stressful situations with a “fight or flight” response, women “tend and befriend”. To discover more I decided to have a chat to the ladies over a delicious lunch at Elixiba Herbal Alchemy about how they react to stressful situations and the mechanisms they use to cope. What I discovered was although there are certainly differences between the genders, when it comes to stress, no one is exempt, it’s how you deal with it that matters most. Joining me for lunch was Vicki Cooper, owner of Star Property Noosa; Helen McNally, owner of All’ Antica Italian Restaurant Buddina; Toni Desbrow, owner of Missing Pieces counselling service; Nita Childs, CEO of What the Fox Creative and Kara de Schot, general manager at Profile Magazine.
profile: How would you rate your current stress levels from one to 10?
helen: It varies, but at the moment I’m about an eight. Generally though I’m much lower! Our functions have doubled this year and although we love it of course, with that comes a certain level of stress. Running a small business can be stressful. You really don’t ever switch off.
vicki: Mine constantly runs at about 10. When you are in small business you are responsible for the premises and the staff, as a real estate agent I am also responsible for everyone’s property – getting it sold, getting the right price, there are a million things going on in your head at one time. Then you are looking for new listings, it’s a constant. You have to be very well organised and you have to like doing it. You work six days a week and it’s hard to shut down. I’m reorganising things a little differently this year so everyone in the office, including me, can have a break.
nita: I would say about an eight also. Mind you if you asked my partner Jay to give you my score – actually please don’t! It depends on the time of year. Before we close the office at the end of the year we are looking forward to that precious time off but as we get closer to it I’m all about trying to meet deadlines and ensuring clients are happy and we can hit the ground running the next year. As a small business owner, you are not just thinking about your business and your life but maintaining all these different families as well. I’m always thinking, do I have enough work for everyone or am I overloading anyone? It’s that delicate balance of being busy but not too busy. I have shifted back from a 10 and I’m hoping this year I’ll sit around a six. We have hired an operations manager so that has taken a massive load off me. My team has grown a huge amount in the past year. Every time the team grows my stress goes down a bit, then as it goes up it means I need more staff!
toni: I’m a bit lucky at the moment, my stress levels are pretty low. Since we got out of our own retail business, which we had for 10 years, my stress levels went from a 10 to a five. I do get stressed but when I do I try to remind myself life is about living and I will try to continue to do that in my new venture. My aim is to maintain a fairly constant level. I’m lucky that I can tend to stay pretty calm.
kara: I’m sitting at about four or five. I had a big turning point in my life last year because usually I do operate at a 10 at work and then go home and work at a 10. When winter came last year I got sick and my body must have been on reserves and I went down big time, I was out of work for two months. This year my resolution is to have more me time. I am operating at the same level and I can achieve just as much but I don’t work overtime, I take lunch, I take time out.
profile: What are some of the strategies you put in place to cope with stress?
toni: During my counselling training I have learned to think before I speak and assess before I jump in. I tend to be able to process it a bit first. It taught me a lot about myself and how to approach things.
vicki: I exercise a lot, I go to the gym.
nita: I do yoga nidra which is the relaxation part of yoga. I find it easier than meditation because there’s that mind body connection.
I’ve done yoga on and off all my adult life but I went through a period a few years ago where I became addicted to bikram yoga and I found all I was doing was replacing that cortisol addiction and moving it physically. Yoga is quite yin because it’s slow movements like Tai Chi.
helen: I go to the gym three or four times a week and we have just started to see a naturopath/nutritionist to keep our weight in check.
toni: You have to have that me time, if nothing else I go and have a massage. For the last 10 years I have managed to go for a massage once a month followed by a Himalayan salt bath. No one talks to me until I am out of the bath!
nita: As women and mums and businesswomen we are used to giving and giving and almost thrive in that martyr mentality. We keep overcommitting but if we take a little time out for ourselves we are doing an even bigger service to the people around us. On a recent trip with my family to Byron Bay I escaped for an hour and went down the road to a restaurant, ordered some oysters and a glass of wine and read my book, it was bliss. Since then I have done a few things like that for me and it makes such a difference. It’s such a tiny part of your day but so worth it for your relationships and your stress levels.
tanya: To be honest I don’t really stress much. I really enjoy my work and we have good family times. We spend a lot of time at the beach together. The way I start my day really helps too. I always go for a walk with the dog on the beach. The only time of day I feel stressed is getting the kids to school on time. I’m not really a morning person, I would love it if people didn’t talk to me for an hour in the morning.
kara: I have started meditation and I love it because I have a very busy brain and it’s nice to stop and think about nothing. The funny thing is, often when I am meditating that is when my brain has time to stop and think and it’s more creative! I was very interested to discover that positive stress releases the same amount of cortisol as negative stress, so your body doesn’t know the difference. Even if you have really good things happen, you still have to have your down time.
profile: How does stress affect your personality?
kara: At work I am quite unflappable (I think anyway!), but at home I can be more easily stressed in the day to day dealings with a three-year-old (they just aren’t very rational sometimes!). It can make me grumpy and irritable and I have to remember to step back and take a moment to breathe and wind down if it has been a busy or stressful day, so I don’t carry any stress with me to the next day as that really doesn’t help anyone.
nita: I tend to snap at those closest to me when I’m really busy. It’s not that I blame them but I behave like I do. It’s all just me not being disciplined enough to take time out.
toni: Yes I agree when we get stressed and have high levels of anxiety we tend to take that out on the ones we love because we know it’s safe but we just need to take more time out for us.
profile: Who stresses more in your relationship?
tanya: My husband does but I don’t. He’s a worrier about things I don’t even think about. I worry when something happens not before. It’s probably good one of us is worried though! He surfs which helps him to relax but that is just the way he is. If I get stressed I tend to just go quiet. We are the complete opposite, but it just works.
helen: In our relationship I am definitely the one who stresses more and I need to stress before it happens because I am the planner. We are complete opposites too but it just works!
kara: My husband Paul. I’m a bigger picture person while he is a details person. I’m sure he would say me though.
vicki: Definitely me, my husband is retired!
Elixiba Herbal Alchemy
Elixiba Herbal Alchemy is one of those restaurants you really need to experience first hand to fully understand and appreciate just how unique it is.
My recent lunchtime visit was a first for me and I was blown away by the stunning decor, decadent food and exotic smells – Elixiba truly is a feast for the senses.
Located on Ocean Street, Maroochydore, Elixiba is an experience your mind and body will thank you for. Serving exquisite food and drinks infused with a variety of rare and wonderful active botanicals, it’s hard to believe that food so delicious can also be so good for you.
From the entree of warm herbal olives to every delicious morsel that followed, Elixiba exceeded all of my expectations. Every dish was beautifully presented and made with love and attention to detail.
Owners Kitty Ukkola and Niall Fahy are passionate about delivering something special to their diners and they certainly deliver.
Some of the dishes we sampled on the day included coconut “calamari” made from coconut flesh with herbal aioli (amazing!); tea smoked mushrooms topped with nasturtium pesto, raw napolitana sauce, vitality rolls with a high protein brazil nut and rainbow vegetable filling with a lemongrass and lime dipping sauce and my favourite, raw herbal falafel with energised hummus and goji tomato salsa. Dessert was equally as delicious and almost guilt free – crunchy herbal chocolate samosa filled with caramelised sweet potato and banana served with chocolate sauce and coconut cream.
We also enjoyed a couple of Elixiba’s unique cocktails made with exotic ingredients and deliciously scented with essential oils, they were some of the best I have sampled.
3/11-13 Ocean Street, Maroochydore
Phone: 5443 9880