• Michael Edward Stephens

Creating Space for myself - as a teacher, trainer, or therapist.

Updated: May 20

When your job is to support the health and wellbeing of other people, how easy is it to find time for yourself and maintain work life balance?


When your profession is also your passion it's sometimes hard to find that work life balance. It's even harder if your job involves caring for others. And harder again if you are self-employed, free-lance, or own your own business. And who's looking after the kids and the rest of the family? Oh and then there's that global pandemic too. Whether you're a teacher, trainer, a therapist, or anyone who is dedicating time and energy to other people - you probably have a lot going on right now.


Your personal needs may have been put to the back of the queue, and switching off from work feels like a distant dream, but it's now more important than ever to create space for yourself. How? We hope to offer some help and guidance.

As part of our ongoing Create Space, Repeat series, we’ve asked a select group of health professionals, wellbeing experts and creative business entrepreneurs about their new or updated self-care routine at this challenging time.


This is intended to demonstrate the diversity of ways people are coping, and perhaps highlight some similarities.


In a changing landscape where space and time are sometimes limited, we’re hoping to bring you some useful ways to help take care of yourself at home. So that, in turn, you'll be able to take better care of your clients, famliy and your business. We'll be looking at ways to safe-guard our personal safe space, connect with what’s important, maintain our enthusiasm for life, as well as continue to have new inspiration and creative ideas.



Elizabeth Flynn

Artist, yoga teacher, mama and founder of WILD WMN.

How are you staying CREATIVE?

Creativity is a sacred pillar of humanity, the central wellspring within us all. It’s the act of doing, the transference of soul energy outward and a state of freedom. We’ve all recently had our sense of freeness challenged but it’s here, with us. I like to squeeze creative moments into the day; writing, movement, yoga, dance. There’s a sense of freedom in the stillness and the space to create, we have the opportunity to create anew. 

How do you find SPACE? 

Space is the moments in between; breath, hands in Earth, a brief Savasana at the end of movement practice. I live in the California mountains and whilst the trails are closed I find huge peace in looking at the trees, there’s a space in that because it distracts from all the negative news. Connecting to others at this time is so important. Technology has the ability to bring us together and I’m grateful to be able to gather online. 

When and where do you RETREAT?

I’m grateful to have a tiny little yoga studio on my property. I like heating it in the morning and then escaping from family life to move and work. Getting into flow is challenging, especially with a young child and two adults working from home but we’ve managed to carve out slower mornings and drawn-out evenings. I value walks on my own and the spring flowers, looking at clocks less, being in my car less, those are great gifts!
@elizabethaliceroseflynn @wearethewildwmn wildwmn.com


George Pearse

Personal trainer, counsellor and owner of Fresh Fit London.


How are you staying CREATIVE?

When lockdown was announced, my face to face business – personal training and psychotherapy - evaporated. I had to get creative to stay afloat. I’m offering daily fitness classes via Instagram, which isn’t work I had ever envisaged doing. I’ve also begun working with therapy clients online. It’s made me question why I never explored these exciting realms beforehand.

How do you find SPACE?

I’ve used lockdown to think about the tools and methods I have available to navigate stress and anxiety. Whether it be exercising, reading, cooking – I think ‘space’ looks different to all of us. The importance of communication with family and friendly has also been underscored. Even just sharing a link to a song or a good meme can show someone that you're holding them in mind.

When and where do you RETREAT?

If we see retreat as a form of relaxation – physical and mental - my bicycle has taken on even more importance of late. Using my daily exercise allowance to get some fresh air usually lift my spirits, whilst also giving me time to check in. I’ve also made inroads into the vast back catalogue of podcasts I’ve been neglecting. Desert islands discs rarely misses! 
@freshfit freshfitlondon.com

Melissa Kuman

Nutritionist, Certified Health Coach and NLP Practitioner.


How are you staying CREATIVE?

Well I’m trying to stay creative by tie-dying clothes, doing meal plans for clients and decorating cakes. I'm also creating ideas for my YouTube channel and have been reaching out to other chefs, influencers and videographers. I’ve also been watching Spring develop - it's a sign of newness and hope. I'm doing different meditations too. My favourite is the sky meditation - you look into the sky and observe the clouds like thoughts floating by in your mind.

How do you find SPACE?

Books are great for my escapism. And meditation apps. But daily routines have been really life saving for me. I have plugged-in check-points - like having a meal plan andgoing for a run at the same time each day. In the evening, lighting candles and running a bath with essential oils is a treat that always makes me feel good. I'm also making sure to have quality time with my family. This is a hard and difficult situation for us all. We need to try and remember that it's ok to share our concerns with others whom we trust. And doing so may help them too.

When and where do you RETREAT?

I take walks in the woods to get away from the four walls of my house. Outside on my decking I do a beach visualision with waves playing in the background. I imagine walking along a beach and seeing a cold ice water to quench my thirst. I’m certainly valuing family time much more and the local environment as we can’t currently travel.
@thedeliciousnutritionist thedeliciousnutritionist.com

Nathan Morse

Teacher, coach and consultant.


How are you staying CREATIVE?

Creativity lives at and within the core of us all. Another direction into answering this question might be ‘how is creativity being allowed’ — this is the access point for me. The sudden removal of all the human ‘doing’ that has been so common place for many of us allows the opportunity for a major realisation...that creativity is an inherently human experience and as such is available to us, all the time. It’s likely that we’ve become expert in distracting away from this as a lived reality. The ‘artist-in-residence’ is the key to unlocking the human ‘being’ within. So some other questions that are being asked over here are — ‘how am I filling this ‘Rona- created-space? What are the qualities with the things I am choosing to spend this time engaged in?’ Over-indulgence (of food, Netflix, Zoom etc) is a false-friend. Picking up a pencil and sketching, trying a new way of moving, playing with a different way of thinking are all things that are current in this location. Fundamentals, if nothing else — walk, outside as much as you are allowed, and BREATHE!!

How do you find SPACE?

For me, it’s less about finding space, and more about realising it. How is it realised? In meditation. 60 minutes, every damn day, as soon as waking up happens. Regardless of how much the ego is saying ‘ahhh not today, so boring’ or whatever script it’s running to pull the routine of sitting off- rhythm — this vital ingredient happens. Network is a very sprawling affair, family (friends are included in this expression of love) from and in every continent. Less about support as such, and more about unabashed love and joy. Lucky me. That said, Mum and Dad (in the UK) are my bedrock. They get a FaceTime most days from me here in Sydney.

When and where do you RETREAT?

My apartment is a sanctuary. It’s clean, bright and cosy - space for me to work, write, swing some kettlebells or practice some yoga, read or nap. I coach with clients globally via Zoom - I make sure to schedule specific hours so I have some form of flow to my day. Also observed are key spots for what type of call I am on or what type of work I am doing, almost like ‘zoning’: This allows me to find focus in some parts or relax in others. The intention is to wind the tech down by 8PM in service of getting a decent night’s rest, however sometimes I’ve been on the phone til late — we will label this as a work in progress.
@thisisnathanmorse nathan-morse.com  

James Dowler

Breathwork instructor.


How are you staying CREATIVE?

The difficulty has been shifting my work online and teaching students from there, but it has been amazing to see how many people I've been able to reach through doing so. And the amount of people that are now benefiting from Breathwork.

How do you find SPACE?

It varies everyday, but I’m constantly tuning into my body and reflecting on “how I feel, and what I need”. Generally speaking though, my personal practice is very holistic– as well as Breathwork, I’m looking after my nutrition, sleep, light exposure, EMF exposure and movement. 

When and where do you RETREAT?

I always try and be in a headspace whereby I can internally retreat whenever necessary. I like Thich Nich Hanh’s phrase, “I have arrived, I am home”. Rather than relying on an external environment to retreat to, how about cultivating an internal landscape that’s blissful to return to...
@breathewithjames breathewithjames.co.uk


Georges Hann

Artist, performer and dance teacher.


How are you staying CREATIVE?

Normally my main source of creativity is through dance. A daily search for new movement, exploring connection between mind and body, constantly researching and resetting. I’m not currently entering the studio or theatre and being faced with the restrictions that those spaces have. It’s meant my awareness has expanded, encouraging me to source inspiration in other spaces. I’ve been joining online talks, taking on new projects outside of the ‘dancer’ boundaries and in general researching the world surrounding dance. Eyes wide open. Dance itself has taken on new impulses and it arrives into my body at different times. I often find myself during a walk or while out in nature, needing to dance. And I’ve loved it. The need to move and be creative overwhelms the sense of public embarrassment. Dance surfaces because I need it to, not because it’s my 9 to 5.

How do you find SPACE?

I’m currently living and working in Germany. Physically, I’m far away from family and close friends, and yet in some ways we’ve connected stronger than before. Through a fad app, teaching or frequent 5 minute phone calls, my pace of communication has really shifted and I feel more conscious of supporting others. Finding things to work towards has been vital for me to continue staying creative. Establishing a weekly online improvisation workshop has connected me to a new creative community, and given me something to look forward to each Saturday morning. In general, I feel lucky that dance is so healing. It is communication, endorphins, gentle, creative, brain food, centring, sharing.

When and where do you RETREAT?

I always find I reset best through exercise and exploring nature. If I can do both together, even better. I’m enjoying discovering places that normally I would never have found. Taking time to map out my surroundings makes me feel more grounded and connected to my present. It’s taken me a few weeks but I now understand I have to have complete rest days. Nothing work related, no quick emails, no researching. I’m still working on my connection to my phone. Some days I wish I had a Nokia 3310.
@georgesjhann georgeshann.co.uk


Sarah Hirigoyen

Counsellor and psychotherapist.


How are you staying CREATIVE?

I really value creativity, so it is essential I make space for it. It can be difficult when there are pressing other things to do, especially during the week days, but the week end is all about letting go of my work hat and entering a space of creativity, music, space and freedom or gardening: that has become a bit of an obsession lately. During the week it is a little bit harder to do that, because I am working. Although one morning a week I try and take my Inner Child on a date, like Julia Cameron suggests in The Artist’s Way. That is a lovely commitment, where you try and be different from week to week and it has to be fun. The other day, I tried to draw the figure of a horse drinking from a lake, and I never achieved an end result, only some preliminary sketches for what could be a painting one day. But the fun was in the letting myself have the time to get my art tools out. When lockdown wasn’t around, I would take myself places like art galleries etc. Now it’s more time in the garden. The challenges are that I share my space with my two wonderful daughters.

How do you find SPACE?

My self-care routine is to run in the mornings. If I do that, I feel I have sharpened my mind for the day and looked after myself exercise wise. I also unwind with lovely baths, nice music and films to totally distract me from everything. I also meditate for 15 mins every morning and evening (mostly) and I love that space. I am determined to improve the quality of my life by really understanding how to control my mind’s energies. I believe it’s true what they say ‘the only way out is in’. My support network is family and friends - I zoom with my family every Sunday, and speak to various friends every day.

When and where do you RETREAT?

I suppose I have found a few calm places to rest and reset. One is the jog in the park in the morning, one is sitting on the meditation cushion placed in full early sun if possible, one is spending time loving my cat, or the bird song in my garden, another is bed of course with a lovely candle on. It is important to rest more I think in this lockdown period because we have a chance to understand what is the value of the ‘retreat’ (whichever shape it comes in). But also because the retreat is the sacred space that you can go and take a plunge into your ‘mind palace’ as Sherlock Holmes calls it.
sarahhirigoyen.com


Kemo Marriott

Online Strength, Calisthenics and Nutrition Coach.


How are you staying CREATIVE?

Given that I’m not training clients at the moment, I’ve actually been creating a lot more digital content for my marketing channels. I'm now taking all my own photography, so I’ve been trying to work more on my compositions in my self portraits. I’ve also created an ebook, which I’m very pleased with and I’ve been experimenting with some simple graphics overlays and videos. Creating all of this has kept me focused and given me some structure during this period.

How do you find SPACE?

I’m distancing myself from technology and distractions as much as possible. I have rules for Instagram: never watch stories, delete the app as soon as I post. These help me stay present and focused. I schedule key tasks that I need to get done each day: content creation, editing and learning Thai. This allows me the space to think and free up mental energy.

When and where do you RETREAT?

I’ve been able to go to a friends rooftop to make my films. It's a very expansive space and has amazing views of Bangkok yet no one goes up there apart from me. I love it. It’s a place where I’m able to create, reflect and feel a huge sense of gratitude. Not to mention, a great place to enjoy the sunshine!
kemomarriott.com @kemomarriott


Rochelle Gray

Art therapist.


How are you staying CREATIVE?

As an art psychotherapist, I'm mindful that I now work from home and have no physical or psychological boundaries to differentiate work life from home life - which at times has been hard with a husband and a 2 year old daughter in lockdown. But I'm keeping a daily doodle journal - to help me externalise thoughts and feelings, which helps me to regulate and try to make sense of what’s happening around me. As well as visually documenting life in lockdown with my 2 year old.

How do you find SPACE?

My self-care varies, depending on whats’ going on and how I am feeling. These range from yoga, meditation, listening to Podcasts, going for a run or drawing / painting. Our skin is a physical boundary to external life, so I have a facial routine and then use some delicious smelling face creams. This often prompts me to get a book with a candle, which helps me to relax and prepare my mind for rest. I also find space to check in with my support network; from best friends, to work colleagues, to family. We are mainly Zooming, using Face-time, or back-to-basic phone calls! It can get a bit much though at times using so much technology.

When and where do you RETREAT?

I believe that having a space to retreat to and from which to heal is critical. Our body and mind need to regroup and process these fast changes happening around us. I'm grateful for this new slow pace of life; to think, reflect and create safely at home. Getting back to roots and grounding by spending time in outdoor spaces, which are allfinding their way into my art work.
Linkedin

Angus Stephens

Chef and co-founder of Create Space Retreats


How are you staying CREATIVE?

Well, with cancelled wellness retreats, zero chef gigs, no house rentals and no surfing permitted - I had to think creatively at the beginning of the shutdown. I’ve actually been getting all those little jobs done around the house; as well as planting vegetable gardens and fruit trees, landscaping anew bio-pool, as well as designing and creating some furniture. By slowing down from the regular fast pace of daily living and taking time to breathe, reflect and immerse myself in my family, nature and home, I feel truly blessed for everything that I have and it inspires me to be more creative, but from a completely different perspective. It is almost impossible to do even the most basic everyday task now, without seeing it from a new perspective.There appears to be a new ‘normal’ and I feel that, from a creativity point of view.

How do you find SPACE? 

First of all, these days I try to lie in for an extra hour and cuddle with the wife and kittens, before getting up to make the coffee. I take 45 minutes to stretch and adjust, before going on a long hike withthe dogs in the beautiful mountains where we live. I buy fresh produce from the local farmers and markets and swim in the refreshing mountain river. Ironically, by 'self isolating', I feel even more connected to our local community, my friends and family than ever before. Cooking and eating has always played a large part in my life, and the kitchen is my ’space'. We are just now even more conscious of our diet, what we eat, where it comes from and the impact that it has on the environment. We do of course miss cooking and sharing with our friends and family, but it is nice to see how many people are being inspired and creative in the kitchen, during these times.

When and where do you RETREAT?

I used to working and travelling all year round hosting wellness retreats across the world. I spend a lot of my time cooking for or looking after our wonderful guests. So my retreat is actually when we're at home with our cats and dogs, in the ocean on our surfboards and amongst our friends and family. It's ironic how working in the retreat industry, with wellness professionals and being continuously immersed in beautiful and natural surroundings, you can often forget how to switch off to take care of yourself and your own mental and physical health. Definitely taking more time for myself, away from the computer, phone and other unnecessary distractions, so that I can fully appreciate and embrace the amazing life that I have, will from now on be a priority.
createspaceretreats.com

A big thank you to all those who contributed to this piece. Stay safe.

Are you looking to host your own bespoke retreat?


We take away the stress by organising everything for you and your group - from location scouting, to transport, logistics, paymentscatering and activities. We've got it covered.


Get in touch to request a full retreat brochure with pricing examples, arrange a call with one of our team, or receive an initial quote within 24 hours. 


Bring your idea to life.



#WellnessRetreat #SelfCare #Wellness #CareForTheCarers #Creative #Balance #MentalHealth #PhysicalHealth #PositiveEnergy #Retreat #Healthymind #Mentalwellbeing