by Sharon Wee

Recently, I’ve noticed something that seems to be a common factor in our industry. I think it’s always been around but somehow in recent years, platforms like social media have just intensified it. I also think that I’ve only really started to understand how much we are all alike since teaching the Business of Baking on Tour course with Michelle Green.

One of the biggest things I hear from our students that they feel like all they do every day is chase their own tail and they hardly have enough time to go to the toilet and breathe, let alone sit down and work on a marketing strategy, accounting, post on Facebook and reply to emails. Don’t even get started on the kids, pets, laundry and husbands!

I’ve been there too (and some days I feel like I go back to that place) – where you feel like you have to be everything to everyone and the pressure and work is just piling up. So much that you feel exhausted and just want to throw in the towel. But in digging deeper I have come to realise that a lot of the pressure we place on ourselves is self-inflicted.

For some reason as women, we can’t help but to compare ourselves to others and tend to place pressure on ourselves to be that perfect person. You know, the one who has her act together? So we compare and we feel like by not doing and being everything we are somehow a failure. We somehow think that it is our responsibility to run the universe. Why? I honestly don’t know.

But I can tell you what I do know. I have come to learn that everything is not my responsibility and I really need to be kinder to myself. I have also learnt that by giving myself a break once in awhile the whole universe was not going to fall apart and in fact I actually come back from the break in a much better headspace.

So here are 5 things that I have personally relied on in my life to avoid pressure, stress and burnout. Hopefully you will find them useful. Feel free to contribute some of your own in the comments below.

1. Find an industry bestie

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My industry bestie Michelle Green!

Friends and family are great at being super supportive and loving but there is only so much they can really understand and empathize with your situation. When times are really tough, you need someone who really gets it or maybe has been through it before. They need to help lift you up too, so avoid those who drag you down or live in a cloud of negative thoughts (we all know someone like that)! So how when you work alone all day do you find an industry bestie?! Read this article on how to make friends by Michelle Green and it will give you a really good start.

2. Book out some time for you and only you

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Late last year I took a watercolour painting class because I’ve always wanted to learn from a professional artist.

Too often when we spend all day running around and have kids, husbands, employees and everyone in between asking us for stuff we get pulled in all different directions. Sadly, we become last on the list of priorities and when we run out of time, we tend to just ignore our own well being. So take the time now to book out some time in your diary that will just be for you.

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I can also be found indulging in cafe food 🙂

It can be as small as 10 minutes or as long as a weekend away. But make sure when that time comes around you commit to it. Go ahead and book a whole bunch of them in your diary while you are at it too. So what should you do with that time? It can be as simple as taking a nap, reading a book, taking yourself out for coffee, treating yourself to a massage, booking a hotel and hiding away, cooking a dish you’ve always wanted to try, joining a dance class… the options are endless. You can do anything you want as long as it’s self-indulgent!

3. Find a hobby and learn something new

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Earlier this year I learnt the art of paper clay flowers with DK Designs.

Learning something new tends to snap you out of your stress bubble. By pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you force yourself to go back to a time where there is no pressure and where it is ok to make mistakes. You just sit and learn and appreciate the moment.

This was a clay throwing class from late last year :)
This was a clay throwing class from late last year 🙂

Plus when you learn something new it also gives you a sense of achievement and reminds you of how far you have come with everything else in your life.

4. Exercise

Earlier this year I talked about all the excuses I made before I started exercising but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I forced on to myself.

Apparently when you exercise, your body releases a whole bunch of chemicals which make you happier and more energetic. I can tell you from experience that it is true, but the hardest part is actually starting. By exercise I’m not talking marathons or hardcore gym sessions. I just mean some sort of activity that gets you up and out of your chair or out of your cake room. Take a walk around your neighborhood, walk somewhere instead of driving, do some yoga or pilates or really break a sweat with a more intense workout. You’ll find yourself more refreshed and able to focus better.

By the way kneading and rolling fondant does not count!

5. Take a trip down memory lane – remind yourself of your purpose and why you got into business in the first place

Sometimes when we get so overwhelmed or lost we forget how far we’ve come. Take a short time out to reflect on your past year. Maybe just quickly write down 5 – 10 things that you have achieved in the last year (no matter how small) or look back at old cake photos and appreciate how far you have come.

My very first wedding cake. I remember I had to cover the bottom tier 3 times!
My very first wedding cake. I remember I had to cover the bottom tier 3 times!

Ask yourself why you went into business in the first place. Was it so that you could spend more time with your kids? Maybe it’s time to evaluate and remove or change parts of your business that is not helping you achieve that.

Was it because you wanted the freedom to be your own boss? Maybe then go look at some job ads to remind yourself why you left the corporate world in the first place (I personally do this once in awhile!).

I've come a long way :) This cake design is also available as a downloadable tutorial from my online store.
I’ve come a long way 🙂 This Wedding Orchids cake design is also available as a downloadable tutorial from my online store here.

Perhaps it’s because you enjoy baking and creating cakes to make people happy. Then maybe you can spend some time in the kitchen indulging yourself. Try a new recipe and then create a small cake for someone who is not expecting it. I am sure their gratitude will remind you what it is all about.

I hope that you have found the above useful. The next time you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, refer to this list remind yourself that the whole universe is not going to collapse just because you take some time out for yourself.

Feel free to contribute some of your own in the comments below.

Some of Sharon's favourite tools

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