The BWG Women’s+ Group held its first session of 2020 on Thursday evening at the library, reflecting on the year past, and discussing ways to deal with stress and anxiety.
Guest speakers, Karen Hicks and Sue Carr, shared the podium to share their strategies in dealing with the overwhelming demands that women face on a daily basis.
BWG Women’s+ Group’s, Jennifer Llyod, welcomed the group the session and thanked everyone for their continued support as they head into their second year as a group, providing workshops for the women of Bradford.
Hicks, who is a wellness facilitator in Bradford, was the speaker for the first ever BWG Women’s+ Group session last January, where she had the group write letters to themselves, reflecting on the year past and setting goals for 2019.
Some of the women in attendance had brought the letters they had written a year ago, to open, read and reflect on the changes over the past year.
“Today we just kind of wanted to reflect back on that, and get into a forward motion,” she explained.
To kick of the 2020 year, she asked a series of reflective questions to the women about their key learnings and accomplishments over the past year, which they wrote down and shared amongst each other.
She then led the group of ladies in a visualization exercise to reflect on their core intentions for 2020 where they closed their eyes and then wrote down the word(s) they felt during the exercise.
Next year, the women will bring back those written words and see how they showed up in their world throughout 2020.
“We just get lost in the doing,” she said of the stress and expectations many women experience on a day to day basis.
She added that there is a notion that women, especially parents, need to sacrifice.
“Women are so busy taking care of their families, that we don’t think about what is it that I want,” she said. “We’re so busy doing, we forget about being.”
She added that the workshops presented by the BWG Women’s+ Group are a great way for women to come together and give themselves the opportunity to connect and learn.
“It’s providing an opportunity for women to come in and have conversations that they might not usually have, or have space to have.”
President and CEO of Community Health Care Consulting in Barrie, spoke to the group about the signs and symptoms of stress and the dangers of not dealing with it appropriately.
She emphasized how stressed most people, and in particular women, are in today’s society; from parenting, to full time jobs and taking care of elderly parents, there is a lot on their plate.
But she noted how “Not all stress is bad” as it is part of instict in keeping safe. But it’s being in the stressed state for long periods of time, in the constant “fight or flight” mode that is not good for physical and emotional health.
She shared with the group a 10 second breathing exercise to use whenever they find themselves in high stress situations.
She had two handouts for the group, one of a picture of a plate on a placemat, where the women were asked to write down the list of things “on their plate” in a typical week such as laundry, cooking, work, dropping off kids at school, and then to write down the things they liked to do to de-stress on the edge of the plate, and things they used to enjoy on the placemat.
After the exercise, she encouraged everyone to look at their ‘plates’ to see how it could be reframed for a more balanced lifestyle, making more time for activities that bring joy or spark energy.
“It takes a bit of work,” she said, “but it can change.”
She handed out a list of ways people typically experience stress, from physical symptoms to behaviours and feelings, and asked them to circle the ones that applied to each of them.
“We are really good at ignoring the body’s messages,” Carr noted.
She advised the group to take the list home or to work, and share it with those closest to them, in order to help recognize the triggers of a stress inducing situation before escalating.
To close off the session, Carr reminded the group to practice gratitude, everyday.
“Our brains are wired to focus on every bad thing that happens to us,” she explained. But encouraged everyone to focus on the positive as much as they can. She suggested writing in a journal everyday, writing down even the simplest things that they are grateful for each day.
“There’s lots you can be grateful for and it doesn’t have to be big,” she explained.
She ended off with a reference to the Dalai Lama and his philosophy on replacing every negative with a positive, and how by doing so, we can change the world.
The BWG Women’s+ Group will be hosting their one year anniversary celebration later next month, and will be hosting their next workshop on Thursday Feb. 20. Follow their Facebook page to keep up to date on their upcoming events and workshops.