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Category Archives: stressmanagement

S.O.A.R. Beyond the Stress! An ode to working parents

I was delighted to have my article (below) published on A Lust ForLife this week. See:


It’s hard being a working parent -being a parent full stop. The working part adds another dimension of chaos. While mid- term was a great break, I am looking forward to settling back into the school routine. However, the harsh reality is that we are merely two days in and already it feels like a few months and life is hostage to activities such as (do these sound familiar to you?):

  • The school and crèche drop offs
  • Managing the demands of work
  • Racing home
  • Afterschool Activities
  • Dinner
  • Prepare for the next day

Of course, this does not include laundry, groceries, homework. Neither does it include quality time with my children, my hubby, friends or myself.

But how can you do it all when there are just not enough hours in the day??!!

Think  S.O.A.R.

We all know that life is a whirlwind and goes by in a blink. In the midst of all the coming and going that are the tasks of being a working parent, it’s important to know that life is how you see it. You get to choose the view! It’s not about resisting the activities on this list above or creating another list to manage it (!!) Rather, it’s about :

  • STOP – when you feel overwhelmed or stressed, purposely, take 5, have a cuppa / sit still and take a moment to yourself. When you’re truly still, you leave yourself open to thinking with a clear head, allowing you to reframe or think differently (and sometimes this is all you need to feel at ease!)
  • Own your choices – at some point, this path was our ‘game-plan’. We hoped for a family and all the joy that children bring. Some of us also made a decision to work in parallel with raising our children. This is the path we’re on and we can choose for it to be ‘stressful ‘ or ‘joyful’. Actually, it’s more than a choice, it’s a way of life and sometimes, we do need to work at taking the joy from our day to day …And I’m sure you don’t have to look too far!
  • Accept– It is a busy time! It can be hard and sometimes draining but this is what we signed up for! If your schedule is too hectic, make changes or ask for help. At very least, try to find a way to make peace with your ‘here and now’. Resisting or stressing will not change a thing- it will only make life harder.
  • Reaffirm and Reassure –Choose to take the joy. It isn’t always easy but know that you choose how you experience your life! You have the power!

So, next time that you’re running from the school gate to work or, in work rushing from a meeting to the canteen, think “S.O.A.R”.  At the very least, STOP. Breathe. Reframe.  To summarise, enjoy your little ones, enjoy being a working mom/ dad and take joy in the activities that ‘need doing’! Choose to embrace the path you’re on and by making this mental shift, the real joy will come!

Gillian McGrath is a Cork based Life and Business Coach and Master Trainer. For more information, contact her directly at


Building Resilience

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I have wanted to write a blog on ‘Resilience’ for a few months now. I threw the topic “out there” with friends and colleagues and what became apparent is that this is a subject matter that seems to attract lots of different viewpoints and opinions.

I asked, “WHY do we need resilience?” Again, the response was varied as we all face and experience different stressors in our day to day, but it did come down to one thing: survival.

  • How do we survive our day to day without feeling overwhelmed?
  • How do we survive the chaos that is being a working parent?
  • How do we handle rejection? (this could be the job seeking process or a child who no longer wants your help!)
  • How do we manage tricky relationships (personal or professional) or even some challenging behaviours?
  • How do we deal with bad news?

There is no doubt that reminding ourselves on how we can build resilience will benefit us all.


Developing resilience involves 5 key areas:

  1. A mental shift in attitude and outlook. Changing how we think about a challenging task or situation can optimise our resilience- perhaps you’ve come across the saying “it’s not the issue but how we view the issue that can be the problem.” So, instead of sighing “why does this always happen to me”, reframe with “this is not personal, I can move on from this…”


  1. Adapting to your environment and being flexible. Consider a bamboo tree- even in the strongest wind, it will bend but not break. It’s deeply rooted but flexible enough to deal with adverse weather conditions. Being able to “go with the flow” while facing life’s challenges is important in building resilience.


  1. Sometimes, resilience is all about the recovery– how do we recover when we fall off track? Resilience comes from our ability to learn from “the fall”, restore ourselves and renew. Growth is the core message in recovery. Empower yourself. Ask yourself- what is your healthy way of coping? Make a list and review when needed!


  1. Ask for help!! Having awareness around when to ask for help is important in building resilience. “A problem shared is a problem halved”- who is the person that you turn to? Is it a friend? A sibling? A Partner? Maybe it’s your Life Coach or GP?


  1. Healthy body = healthy mind. A good diet and exercise will help to build your resilience. Patrick Holfords book “The Feel Good Factor” offers a useful breakdown of food groups and how they can benefit us. Of course exercise feeds both the body and mind, so try to get that blood flowing- there no excuse now that there is a stretch in the evening!


The 5 key areas listed above are my tips but I’m sure it’s not definitive, get in touch and let me know what boosting resilience means for you! Let’s share the message and stay strong for ourselves and each other!


Gillian McGrath is a Life and Business Coach and Trainer and founder of who resides in Cork. For more information, please contact her on

How do you manage your time?

It’s coming to that time of the year again isn’t it? There’s a sense of urgency with “getting those boxes ticked” or “having your ducks lined up in a row” . Ever feel that there’s just not enough hours in the day? This can trigger stress and a general sense of feeling overwhelmed for a lot of people so- what can we do differently?

Sociologist, Dr Edward Banfield encouraged a positive attitude towards time and time management stating that this attitude has a significant impact on behavior and choices in the here and now. He commented on how those who take a long range view of their lives tend to make better choices in the short term. Long term thinking encourages us to evaluate our current activities and if a particular action/ decision serves us or not. That insight is empowering, but how do we manage in the short term?

Well, to achieve anything, we need to have focus because whatever you focus on, you move towards.

By focusing on what’s practical and meaningful, i.e. what you really want, the tendency is towards increased ownership and motivation in order to achieve it. In my view, there are 4 main categories that help us to create and maintain focus, it’s normal to have a preference for one or two:
Mental: Make time and space for thinking. 10 concentrated minutes, is often more fruitful than ad hoc lists of lists! Prioritise ideas. Explore the boundaries of both personal and professional needs and ask yourself; if I’m saying ‘yes’ to this, then, what am I saying ‘no’ to?
Environmental: Remove distractions (eg a mobile phone) and keep items of focus in front of you- this could be a mood board, a mission statement (or even a Christmas shopping list!)
Practical: Commit to the action required. Delegate jobs/ tasks/ activities. Focus on those which appeal to your strengths.
Emotional: Concentrate and visualise on how you will feel once you reach your goal.

Make this time of year more manageable for you and good luck with it!
Gillian McGrath is a Life and Business Coach. For more details, contact her at