Dr Yvette Ankrah

How you can overcome stress and find peace

There has been a lot of chaos and stress recently, and not a great deal of clarity. You may find yourself busy juggling your day and all the things that come with it – you want to show up 100% in everything you do. However, with all the different hats you wear, you are unable to manage those roles without looking after yourself first. As women, we take care of others first and leave ourselves last or out of the equation entirely.

Stress is one of the top causes of ill-health and in a recent survey, 74% of people reported feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Other studies have shown that one of the top issues for people who run their businesses is stress and unfortunately ladies, stress affects women 50% more than it affects men. Stress impacts our health and wellbeing, productivity and decision-making.

What does chaos look like?

It’s the things that leave you feeling overwhelmed – taking on yet another project because you can’t say no, not asking for help and running yourself ragged, not having boundaries and not spending time looking after yourself.

I’ve experienced chronic stress and burnout and my patterns of behaviour were simply to have a weekend away and then I’ll go back to doing exactly what I’d done before and then wonder why a few months later I got that feeling again! Can you relate? I was completely depleted and kept on going, to the point where my body said it had had enough and I developed fibromyalgia.

I began life as a journalist before moving into the world of PR and it was in this space that I had my first experience of burnout. I was working 12-hour days, living for the weekends and thinking that a weekend away or spa day would be enough to change my health and well-being.

This was a pattern that I continued for decades and took to many other roles, including when I started working for myself as a business coach and consultant. I believed that changing my environment would have a huge impact and it wasn’t until I started deep work, changing my relationship with stress, the stories I told myself and the beliefs that I held that no longer served me, that real change happened.

I got incredibly ill before I made the change – I had a lumbar puncture I didn’t need which left me unable to walk for a month. Often it is when people are signed off sick from work that they realise that something needs to change. Deciding to completely transform my life to being symptom-free, energised and doing what I love took me just over a year.

Every day, I use a range of tools to support my clients to deal with stress, anxiety and overwhelm and to create better habits, thoughts and behaviours. These tools also help me to maintain my well-being right now and have been part of my recovery from burnout and chronic illness. The tools learnt have supported me and my clients to stay calm in the storm.

Here are three things you can try today:

Use your breath

Just by focusing on your breath, you can be present and when you are present you are not in a space of anxiety. Try Four-Four breathing:

  • You breathe in for a count of four.
  • Hold for a count of four.
  • Breathe out for a count of four.

Do this a few times, and you’ll find yourself getting settled, centred and grounded. You will be able to focus and think about what you can do next. This is a tool to use before a meeting, or when a lot is happening around you.

Reclaim your power

It can feel as if we are powerless, but we have a great deal of power. We can control our emotions, our feelings, our thoughts and how we choose to show up. Focus on what you can do, and what you have instead of what’s missing.

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Actually connect with yourself

Before you say, ‘I’m fine’, ask yourself if you are alright – connect with you. It’s ok to not be ok. Treat yourself with compassion, kindness and care. Connect with your needs and start thinking about what you want, now, and going forward.

You can find calm in chaotic times.

Recommended read: Five micro-change that you can make to improve your health and wellbeing even during lockdown

Dr Yvette Ankrah

Dr Yvette Ankrah MBE is a transformational business coach, consultant and recovering overachiever! She works with high achieving women to get success without the burnout.

Yvette has over 20 years of business experience and is an accredited NLP and Performance coach. She won a Microsoft/O2 award for business in 2013, was shortlisted for Best Coach at the Best Business Women Awards, 2015 and was awarded an MBE for her work with women in business in 2017.

In 2019 she was awarded a PhD in sociology and specialises in identity, class, race and belonging.

Head over to her website and download The Dynamic Woman’s Guide to self-care.

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