“It’s about the process” With Dr. William Seeds & Aniesa Blore

It’s about the process — not the product. Perfect is so overrated. How you get to a certain point or junction is way more important, satisfying, fulfilling and gratifying, than the actual outcome. As a part of my series about the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, […]

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It’s about the process — not the product. Perfect is so overrated. How you get to a certain point or junction is way more important, satisfying, fulfilling and gratifying, than the actual outcome.

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 Aniesa Blore.

Aniesa is a leading Paediatric Occupational Therapist, founder of Sensational Kids Therapy in London. She currently provides occupational therapy to children who have a range of emotional, physical, learning, sensory and social difficulties. Aniesa is passionate about raising understanding and awareness for their families, as well as teaching staff, focusing on their own emotional well-being in the process.

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?

Igrew up in a really poor town in South Africa and was the first in my family to go to university. I always knew I wanted to help people be their best, which motivated my studies in Occupational Therapy. I started working with kids in 1999, as soon as I graduated, and quite honestly, I have never looked back.

Shortly after I finished school I moved to London, where I worked mainly in mental health. But, when my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s, it was very apparent that I needed more flexibility to be around for his appointments. Managing my own practice seemed like the best of both worlds: I could get to do what I love (working with kids and families) while being able to work around the times when my kids would need me.

The learning curve was hard though — I found that parents really weren’t getting the support they needed and that there was plenty of work to be done. And, as I was one of those parents, I felt in a privileged position to help. I could really tailor my therapy, based on my own experiences, not to be not just for the kids’ skills and independence, but also for the parents, and their well-being.

Starting my own business when I only had one client confirmed was daunting but also the best decision I’ve made. I love the diversity of the clients I work with — not just in terms of their diagnoses but also their socio-economic backgrounds, and general life values. I found that parents really just want their kids to be happy and independent. And I discovered a passion for working with parents and educators to increase their understanding and awareness of the kids, but also to help them manage their own anxieties and worries.

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

Working with kids and their families mean every single day is different. I feel like the guy from the Lego movie, shouting “Everything is awesome!”. I think the most interesting for me has been a complete shift in my mindset — before my son struggled at school I didn’t quite see the two sides of autism — how kids can be completely different in different environments, and how they need particular support in order to be able to adapt to where they are and what’s expected of them

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

Some simple strategies I insist my employees and colleagues do include

  1. Getting outside. I cannot stress the importance of fresh air and vitamin D enough. Even when it’s a grey rainy day in England, I get outside — the change of scenery is fantastic for our mental health and well-being. I take my dog to the clinic with me, and often I will insist that we have ‘walking meetings’. Or I simply ask them to take Buster out. They always come back smiling and refreshed.
  2. DO NOT TAKE WORK HOME! When one of my team emails me after 6 pm, my reply is always ‘WHY ARE YOU WORKING LATE?” If they cannot get their work done in their usual hours, then that is my problem to solve, as their employer. Even if they ‘choose to’ I challenge them — you must have a work-life balance. For this very reason, I do not open the clinic for regular sessions on a Saturday. Weekends are for regrouping. For seeing friends. For breathing. And for finding some inner calm.
  3. Ask for help. You are not alone. And there is absolutely no shame in saying ‘I’m struggling’, or ‘Hey, can you help me out?’. Asking for help shows strength and resilience.
  4. Do not book back to back clients — you need time to debrief in between and to shift your mindfully from one client to the next. It is fair to both clients and to yourself.
  5. Take a break — eat lunch, have some coffee, meditate. Or simply chat with colleagues.

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

Be open and honest. When I was struggling with depression and I started medication and some therapy, I wrote an email to everyone at the clinic. Their support was fantastic. They saw me as a person, and not just ‘the boss’. It humanized me. And it allowed them to be much more open with me. We have a great connection.

Work as hard as the rest of your team — don’t send the message that some jobs are beneath you.

Follow by example — if your colleagues see you not adhere to your own recommendations, they lose trust in you. When I sent emails late at night, I didn’t expect a reply. But they perceived their lack of an immediate response as a possible negative on their part. Once I knew this, I would compose emails at night, and then send them in the morning.

Ask for everyone’s opinions — don’t make decisions without your team’s input. Trust them — you hired them for a reason.

Be flexible — I am possibly too flexible sometimes. I have no qualms with anyone going to a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day or come in early to leave early. If one of my team’s kids is ill, they know they can work from home, or just take the day off, as the family comes first.

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 is something about Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth” that just gets me every time. The story of survival, hardships, families, their hope and dreams — always resonates with me. My childhood was tumultuous and fraught with violence and sacrifice. I love the story of connection and togetherness.

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. When faced with a crisis, it is easy to freeze. Have a moment to panic, but then move on. It is so easy to spiral and let your reptile brain (the amygdala) take over. We go into this absolute blind panic and only think the worst. And quite frankly, as humans, we need to have this moment of panic. But only let it be a moment. Then move on. Breathe and move on. You must pause, be aware of what is worrying you, and then put it aside. Worry and panic do not serve us.
  2. Self-care is more important than ever. We try to do so much and give so much, that we forget about ourselves. As therapists, we are in this line of work to support others — families, children, teachers. If we cannot look after ourselves, then we cannot look after others. Self-care can be as simple as turning your phone on airplane mode for 30 minutes so you can enjoy some silence and solitude without any interruptions.
  3. Practice gratitude — you have so much to be grateful and thankful for. Sometimes when I’m particularly stressed, I will start with a letter of the alphabet and list everything I am grateful for in alphabetical order. So say I start with the letter p — pulse — I have a pulse. Q — quirky clients. R — relationships I have. S — sunshine. T — time. And so on. It is a very powerful exercise.
  4. Don’t listen to the news — I check the news a maximum of twice a day. I check in with my friends several times a day.
  5. Check your surroundings — keep your environment calm and organized. Keep your desk clear, keep to-do lists which are specific so it doesn’t take up space in your brain. Watch the company you keep — surround yourself with people who are calm and positive, and who place more value on health and well-being than the competition and winning.

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?

  1. Let them know you’re there — I always tell people that when I ask how they are, I mean “How are you? What can I do?”.
  2. Be calm yourself — even if you’re worried, they need to see, and experience calm around them.
  3. Help them see the positives — I often say “This too shall pass”
  4. Remind them that they always have options and people around them who love them.
  5. Listen. Without interrupting. Without judging. Just listen and acknowledge their feelings. Then ask what you can do to help. Sincerely.

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

Practice breathing — I teach anxious teenagers the 5-finger breathing method or lazy 8 breathing. It’s concrete and allows them to shift their thoughts.

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

‘Courage over Confidence’ is a motto I try to live by — take a risk, live a little. Like leaving your job to start your own private practice when you have only 1 client. Just do it.

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. 🙂

It’s about the process — not the product. Perfect is so overrated. How you get to a certain point or junction is way more important, satisfying, fulfilling and gratifying, than the actual outcome.

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

They can find me on LinkedIn

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

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