“Don’t Give Up.” With Dr. William Seeds & Karen Botha

The message I’d give to anyone regardless of industry is to take time for yourself and if you have a partner/ family, carve that time out with a fierce aggression. Do not be bullied into giving it up. As a part of my series about the things we can do to develop serenity and support […]

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The message I’d give to anyone regardless of industry is to take time for yourself and if you have a partner/ family, carve that time out with a fierce aggression. Do not be bullied into giving it up.

As a part of my series about the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karen Botha.

Karen runs a successful London based therapy business with her husband. Together the specialize in using traditional, well known therapies, such as massage and reflexology to help people with common issues such as anxiety, fertility and high blood pressure.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Both my husband and I were working in ‘proper’ jobs. I say this, because although we pay our mortgage from our therapy business, it isn’t something that ever feels like work. However, the situation was very different when we decided to start something on our own. We were working a ton of hours for the benefit of someone else and had little or no freedom depending on the whim of someone else.

Everything came to a head when my husband’s hours were cut at the same time that my CEO had cut back the amount of vacation I could take to attend my brother’s wedding in Norway. That was the crunch point that pushed us into making the decision we’d been toying with for months, but never really being too serious about.

We landed on therapy because by this point, we both needed it ourselves. And it was so difficult to ever get an appointment that fitted in with our crazy lives. This is why we will always offer our client’s appointments 7 days a week and from 7am to 10pm at night. Understanding our client’s lifestyles has created a point of difference for us whilst allowing us the freedom to live our lives, together, around our client’s needs.

We are never booked 100% of the time that would defeat everything that we are trying to achieve. So, we have point throughout the day when we have down time to spend together, and then when clients need an appointment, we’re ready for them.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

  1. We have found so many people who we would never ordinarily have had deep conversations with. Working in the way we do now has given me time to write books as well. The first line of the first book I wrote was, ‘It’s amazing what people tell you when they’re naked,’ and it is so true.
  2. We have learned that there are many people out there with double lives. Literally, the stories you read in books like mine do actually happen. Naked Truths is a mish mash of all these stories. For sure, I’ve melded it into one shocking tale, but the snippets in there are all inspired by my client’s lives.
  3. Another point that I never knew, and I’m keen to get out there is the damaging effect of stress on our health. When I was working, I was under a lot of pressure. My hair would come out in the shower. On some base line level, I knew that this was because of the stress, but I never made the conscious connection.
  4. Now, as a result of my training and continual reading on the subject, I am horrified that we allow ourselves to be put under such duress on a daily basis, all in the pursuit of success. I guess my opinion of success has changed from salary level and status, to happiness. That’s a big turnaround for someone who was so driven her friends thought she was nuts to be going into a healing profession because she was the least emphatic person out there. It turns out there’s a lot under the surface that we hide because we don’t have the emotional space to deal with it.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

The message I’d give to anyone regardless of industry is to take time for yourself and if you have a partner/ family, carve that time out with a fierce aggression. Do not be bullied into giving it up.

Here’s what I’ve learned from being in the therapy industry though.

You don’t need to give yourself hours that you don’t have. Tying in your time with a therapy such as reflexology or massage turbo charges the effectiveness of this downtime. An hour can feel like an entire afternoon, and the effects can last a week, or more if you have regular sessions.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

After running a large team across the UK and Europe, I would always say try and understand. This is something that I could well have done better at learning earlier in my life, but prioritizing home v’s work leads to better, work. And a less tense workforce.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

There wasn’t a book that helped. But for me it was about learning to be me. Perhaps this process would have been faster if I had read something like

Perhaps I should write one! 😊

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The upcoming fears of an impending coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

  1. Take a breath. Everything is transitory. Research shows that physiologically an emotion only lasts 90 seconds. Max. So, whatever happens, breath into the space wherever the tightening is occurring and keep inhaling until you absolutely can’t take in another ounce of air.
  2. Feel how the tightness expands as you breath in and hold your breath for the same number of beats as it took you to inhale.
  3. Breathe out and as you do, imagine all that tightness, the tension that you’ve been holding onto just floating off into the atmosphere. Sometimes it helps to imagine this being gathered into a balloon above your head.
  4. Hold your breath at the bottom again, for the same amount of beats.
  5. Continue to repeat these steps until you have calmed down.

This process of box breathing physiologically is the only way for us to calm our fight or flight response. Combining this technique with the knowledge any emotion that we experience for more than 90 seconds gives us the power to let things go and gain back a control of our lives. Ultimately, it’s the lack of control that creates the tension.

And what’s best about this is that you can do it as often as you need to. And you can do it wherever you are. If it’s the supermarket queue that is driving you crazy then no-one will have a clue that you’re calming yourself down with a spot of box breathing. Likewise, if you’re in the middle of a meeting and panic is rising, you can do this. And if the government is being just plain ludicrous, know that this can never last forever and breath into your space as it is now. In this moment.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Traditionally we may have said provide a sympathetic ear, but I think that research is changing this approach.

Sure, we need to be compassionate, but at the same time give people the tools to help themselves. There are so many free tools out there that are wonderful, I would suggest finding something that you think helps and sitting and listening to some wisdom talks. For instance, with my clients I will often tune into Inner Dimension TV and listen to a podcast from either Travis Eliot or Lauren Eckstrom. They speak so much sense on so many levels, why would I try and do myself what they already do so well. By listening to them, it frees my mind to continue to give a fully focused reflexology session without distraction and clients come out rejuvenated and uplifted.

Other than that, buy them a Swedish massage which has so many great health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and anxiety. In this state of pandemic, it’s also good to know that Swedish massage also improves your white blood cells which improves your body’s ability to cope with infections. Sometimes people suffering with anxiety will struggle to go to something like this alone, so go with them. Make a trip of it.

You could take up yoga, and mix and match the type according to mood. There are a bunch of free classes on YouTube but personally I’d recommend Travis Eliot. If you’d like to sign up to his online classes, drop me a line on [email protected] and I can get you a free trial and so you could pass this on to them so they have a no pressure taste of what’s available from a professional outift.

And finally, number five. Just be there. If something isn’t a stress for you, it’s easy to dismiss a person’s concerns as being overdramatic. But being there when someone needs to talk, or when they just need to be with someone rather than alone is a huge deal. That intrinsic support is one of the most important things that we can offer someone.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

As above, I’d find someone that works for you and make this a regular part of your week in order to keep you constantly grounded. Consistency of peace is as important as understanding the theory so make sure that you find someone who produces new content on a regular basis.

If you’re going to have a massage, choose an ITEC registered one, like we are at Essential Feeling. This means you’re in secure hands and their qualification was not only extensive, but is internationally recognized.

I also swear by the guys at Inner Dimension TV as I’ve already said, so don’t forget to drop me an email if you want that free trial.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“You can never control everyone around you, but you can control how you respond.”

I work this into my life every single day. And I constantly chat about it with my clients. In terms of the craziness going on at the moment with Coronavirus, we can’t control other people. We can’t make them self-isolate if they don’t want to. But, we can make sure that we follow all the advice down to the last letter and in so doing give ourselves the confidence that we’re covered. We’re not going out into public unnecessarily. I’m not taking clients who have a cough when normally I’m pretty confident in my immune system so this wouldn’t bother me. I always wash my hands, it’s the nature of my job and has become second nature, but now I’m being more aware of how long I wash them and we’re now disinfecting everything our client’s may touch right the way down to handles on doors before our next client arrives.

Let the world go on around you and only be affected by what you can control. The rest will happen anyway.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’d have everyone take one hour for a holistic therapy such as massage and reflexology once a week. Just that one hour will help to lower blood pressure, relief anxiety and stress and improve overall mood. Who knows where the sky is the limit if we are all happy!

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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