You might know Sarah Baxter from her awesome pet blog Twilight Bark where she showcased pet brands, shared stories and documented the adventures of her Dachshunds Ted and Millie.
Two years ago, after Millie needed surgery, Sarah began training as a business and personal coach with leading experts, Barefoot Coaching.
With her experience in the pet industry and her expertise as a coach, I thought Sarah would be perfect to chat to for a special episode on mindset to start the year.
The beginning of each year is a time to reflect on what lies ahead but after that has happened with COVID, 2021 is slightly different.
In this episode Sarah Baxter, a business and personal coach, shares how to process what happened in 2020 in a healthy way.
You can listen on the player link below or carry on reading to see the key points covered
Here is a summary of the key points in this episode and Sarah’s advice for pet business owners.
Acknowledge 2020 has been a difficult year
Sarah says the first thing to do is to accept the situation that we have just experienced but also to try not to dwell on it too much.
She said: “The important thing is to bring it all together and think about what you have achieved. There may have been things you wanted to do that weren’t possible.
“But you may have found other opportunities and learned so many things that you can take with you, and use the next part of your journey.”
When you’re feeling anxious, try the ‘Stress Container’ exercise
During her coaching training, Sarah became certified with Mental Health First Aid England and the Stress Container is one of the exercises she recommends.
She explained: “Often we keep adding and adding things to our plate and putting a lot of pressure on ourselves and this causes stress to build.
“What I would like you to do is to try and imagine a container with a tap or release valve. Now, the size of that container would depend on how often you get stressed.
“If you’re easily stressed, it will be smaller, and overflow a lot faster than it would it if you were less affected by stress.
“With this in mind, identify your sources of stress and try to take steps to minimise them. Also, look at your stress signature.
“It might be that you become snappy, or irritable. When you see this, do something to release the tap. That might be to go for a walk, spend time with your pets.
“Think about what works best for you.”
Pinpoint what you can control and what you can’t
Sarah highlights another helpful exercise called ‘Circles of Concern’ where you draw two circles inside of each other.
In the inner circle, write the things you can control and in the outer circle, the things that are out of your control or influence.
Sarah explains: “Examples of what you can’t control would be world events, lockdown, and other people’s opinions.
“Things you can control would be the time you get up, your lifestyle and the actions you take in your pet business.
“The aim of the exercise is to focus on the inner circle more which will limit your stress.”
When you feel stressed or anxious don’t try to bat it away
Sarah says it’s healthy to recognise the emotional impact of our livelihood being taken away and take time to feel that rather than bottle it up.
She recommends clients give themselves an allowed time to ‘feel’ and focus on what it is that’s causing the stress.
Sarah says: “You can set a timer, and once that buzzer goes on your alarm, think, ‘Okay. So what can I do? What what aspect can I take control of? What steps can I take to overcome this?’
“Come back to the Circles of Concern. We can’t control everything but it is helpful to stop, take a breath and think about what positive steps we can take.”
Don’t feel you have to put a brave face on for social media
Online, we often only show the highlights reel, and Sarah says if we’re feeling flat, to lean in to people we know will understand and offer support.
She says: “You don’t have to put your best face on for social media. Another exercise is a people audit.
“Who are the radiators who light you up, keep you nice and warm and support you? And who are the drains who take away your energy and leave you feeling flat?
“Try to make sure that you’ve got more radiators in your world than drains, if possible.”
Recognise the opportunities you found in the hardship and celebrate the wins
If you’re a regular reader or listener you may have heard about my ‘Win folder’ and Sarah says documenting positive things is a must!
She explains: “Dig into your e mail inbox and have a look at any positive comments and screenshot them.
“If you’re on social media, have a look any comments that have been left on your page over the last year and keep them together.
“Think of all these lovely things people have said about you as a toolkit for when you’re stressed.
“We don’t like to celebrate ourselves, or to say, ‘Oh, I’ve actually done quite well there!’ We worry people may think we’re too big for our boots.
“Actually spending some time to recognise all the amazing things big and small, can be a really good foundation to give you confidence.”
Celebrate how awesome you are to be here today!
Finally, Sarah says we need to give ourselves a break and a pat on the back as small business owners.
She said: “When you’re running your own business, there are so many pressures and different things going on all the time.
“You’ve got so many plates spinning in the air, that having some time to really reflect on what you’ve done, can really be helpful to give you confidence and resilience moving forward.
“I’d recommend sitting down or going for a walk and just really thinking about what you achieved.
“Not the ‘have nots,’ or the ‘what have I done?’ moments. And I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by by the outcome.”
Links mentioned in this post:
Sarah’s Twilight Bark website: Twilight Bark
Follow Sarah on Instagram: @Goodthoughtsgrowhere
Connect with her on LinkedIn: Sarah Baxter Linked In
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read How to take the fear out of putting up your prices with Sally Farrant or How to create content for your pet business if you’re not a confident writer.