From posting her positive messages and colourful illustrations on Instagram Stacie Swift has grown a devoted following as well as writing and illustrating two books all with the goal of helping you to feel good about you and your life.
In this episode we discuss:
Pressing Pause Episode 87 Taking care of yourself with Stacie Swift
Welcome to Pressing Pause. I’m Gabrielle Treanor, a mindset and positive psychology coach and writer, exploring how we can create, find and feel more calm, ease and joy in our daily lives.
Welcome to episode 87 and my guest today is the wonderful illustrator Stacie Swift. What started as posting her positive messages and illustrations on Instagram has grown into a fabulous range of products and two books – You are Positively Awesome and the Positively Awesome Journal. I’ve followed Stacie’s posts for a long time so I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity for this conversation. And I really appreciate Stacie’s honesty and practicality in how we can take care of ourselves…
[00:00:00] Gabrielle: Hi, Stacy. Thank you so much for joining me today.
[00:00:03] Stacie: Right. It’s a pleasure to be here.
[00:00:05] Gabrielle: So could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
[00:00:09] Stacie: So I’m an illustrator and an author, and I post really regularly on Instagram and share lots of things about self-care and mental wellbeing and yeah, just tips and advice and my thoughts and feelings on wellbeing and sort of keeping yourself feeling happy.
[00:00:27] Gabrielle: I feel like Instagram is a really good place to start because that’s how I know you. That’s where I first came across your work. And. yeah, your Instagram posts were absolutely gorgeous so I would straight away suggest that anybody listening, who is anywhere near their phone and Instagram to go find you, you’re @stacieswift, aren’t you?
[00:00:45] Stacie: That’s right.
[00:00:46] Gabrielle: Yeah. Yeah. Your posts are just so they’re so colourful, they’re so encouraging. There’s so much empathy and warmth and care in them. And I just wondered how did this all start? because you’ve got quite a big following now. So how did all start and how did you come to be sharing that kind of stuff online?
[00:01:02] Stacie: I started working with the Blurt foundation for awhile. I began working with other freelance projects that discussed mental health, and it was something that I began sort of translating into my own work, my personal work, and using illustration as a way to work through my own thoughts and feelings.
And it became quite sort of a journalistic process, like a cathartic experience that I would write something out and I began putting it on Instagram. And I think when I started doing that, there wasn’t the same level of people sharing mental health or self-care posts. And I think it’s really resonated with people.
And so it was, the posts were getting shared and I kind of ended up with a community of people that could recognise themselves, I think, in the things that I was posting.
[00:01:49] Gabrielle: Yeah. I mean, you struck a chord for sure because you’ve got the Instagram posts and your range of products and you’ve written a book and a journal.
[00:01:58] Stacie: Yeah.
[00:01:59] Gabrielle: So how, did that come about?
[00:02:01] Stacie: So that, um, that was really a really lovely experience. Cause it was something that was like a natural extension from the work that I was creating on Instagram. I was approached by some different publishers and eventually, sort of signed a deal to write the book and the journal. And they both have got those elements where you can fill things in yourself and, make it your own.
So as much as it’s the illustrations and the words, and my experience it’s something that you can really translate and make it work for you. Because I think that’s the bit that was, you know, you can’t necessarily do that with an Instagram post. So having it on paper, it’s really been really lovely seeing people’s reactions to the book and the journal.
[00:02:38] Gabrielle: Yeah, it does really feel like your Instagram has sort of been translated into book form. And then that interactive element that is like you say, trickier on Instagram, is much more possible in the journal.
[00:02:52] Stacie: I think as well, it’s a space that if people, you know, there are things that you don’t want to write on an Instagram post in a public forum. So it’s a very private way to maybe process some of those thoughts and feelings that you might have that aren’t quite suitable for a public internet space.
[00:03:07] Gabrielle: Some of the stuff that you talk about on Instagram, it’s quite big, isn’t it? It’s things like self-worth and self-esteem and people pleasing and burnout. So when people do share because some people are quite comfortable on that kind of medium saying what they’re feeling and what they’re going through.
How do you deal with those kind of comments so that you are taking care of yourself while still, responding to them in a way that feels good for you and could be helpful to them, but how do you, how do you navigate all of that?
[00:03:39] Stacie: Sometimes it can be tricky I think especially if it’s something that’s happening to someone that I can really empathise with, I tend to sort of look at my comments and reply to them in one go at the end of the day, rather than dipping in and out. And then that way I haven’t got my small children to look after as well so I can commit some space and brain space to it. And then sort of similarly with messages, if I can see that it’s something that needs a bit more of my time and attention, and perhaps it’s slightly bigger than general messages, I’ll wait until I’m able to properly answer before replying. But I think also I’m not a medically trained professional so often my role is to sort of offer some words of comfort and then direct people onto the organisations and other people that can help them.
[00:04:26] Gabrielle: So it sounds like you’re quite boundaried actually, you’ve thought about the time of day that’s most useful for you to be replying to people and protecting your own family life so that everything’s not sort of bleeding into each other.
And so do you find that that really helps you to, to not get overwhelmed by the response and to be able to maintain your own mental wellbeing?
[00:04:49] Stacie: Yeah, I think it really helps not trying to do too many things at once and, you know, whatever it is to do with work and family. But definitely when you’re managing other people’s or you’re sort of carrying other people’s emotions and quite sensitive subjects sometimes, I think being able to do that with a fully committed time and response definitely makes it easier, I guess, for both people, it’s a two way thing.
[00:05:14] Gabrielle: I think that’s really helpful that you’ve explained that because I think, actually, that in a way is useful for us all to know, however we use social media and whether we’re using it completely, you know, as a, as a personal thing, then actually having that intention behind, when is it going to be a good time for me to give my attention to it?
I’m not just going to be dipping in and out all day. It’s not bleeding into my life. That’s really useful for all of us, to help us maintain our own mental wellbeing and just, you know, to help us not get into comparison and to keep our own calm and joy going.
[00:05:46] Stacie: Yeah, I think it’s just trying to find balance where you can. And I think that’s just one way that works quite well for me. And actually I apply it to, you know, personal WhatsApp groups and things like that. If it’s not a good time for me to enter into that conversation, I will reply when I do have time and space for it. But it’s finding where in the day is the is the best time for it. So everyone knows I do get back to them eventually, but perhaps not immediately, if something flashes up on my phone. And there’s something I have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to do.
[00:06:15] Gabrielle: Yeah, because actually that’s, that’s a really easy way for our own calm to get completely waylaid feeling like, well, we have to respond somebody else they need us to, we should do. And so reminding yourself that actually, no I’m going to do it when it feels right for me and they know I will come back to them, but it’s okay if they wait. Giving yourself that permission is really important, but can feel really hard to do.
[00:06:39] Stacie: My counsellor actually said to me the other week, it’s very important for other people as well, because they know that you do come back to them. Your relationship is secure enough, that, you know, they might, you might not respond immediately, but you are there. And it’s a good practice of boundaries practice for sort of everyone involved.
So I think that applies as we say, it sort of across the board, people might need to wait, but they can’t have that 24/7 access to you if it doesn’t suit you.
[00:07:06] Gabrielle: Yeah. And actually in a way you’re modelling that for other people. So when other people see, oh, actually Stacie takes her time to reply for when she’s ready to. And it’s okay. She can do that. The world’s not ending. I’m okay with her doing that. Therefore she can do it then actually, maybe I can, maybe it’s alright if I also reply when it suits me as opposed to thinking, I’ve got to reply. So it’s, without even that being your intention, you’re helping other people to see it too.
[00:07:34] Stacie: Hopefully I hope that’s how it, how it works, yeah, it’s a nice thought that that could be, could be the case.
[00:07:41] Gabrielle: I think when we see, you know, the way that we are in the world, other people pick up on what we do as much as what we say. And so how we go about things, we are modelling behaviour, whether that can be good behaviour or not so good behaviour, but other people pick up on it, even if it’s not necessarily a conscious thing.
And so when we are modelling good boundaries I’m sure that helps other people to see, oh, okay, I’ve seen how somebody is doing it. That seems to be working quite well. Perhaps I’m allowed to do that too.
[00:08:11] Stacie: Yeah. I think, there’s lots of things that you sort of see on social media, you do absorb so it’s nice to think, actually, some of those more positive kind of behaviours are going to be impacting people, whether you realise it or not.
[00:08:25] Gabrielle: Yeah, absolutely. So what do you see kind of keeps coming up as getting in the way of people finding and feeling calm and joy, what do you find coming up from the interaction you get from your Instagram posts?
[00:08:39] Stacie: I think a lot of people it’s like self expectation. The things that we think we should do for other people, the things we’ve added to our to do list, w e’re worried about letting people down. And so then we get overwhelmed and then maybe our boundaries aren’t quite in place. And they’re all things that seep in and kind of suck away the calm and joy that we might have in, in our routines otherwise.
I think also self-worth and a bit of self-kindness can sort of lack of those can affect people’s calm and joy too.
[00:09:09] Gabrielle: Yeah. And then we’ll pretty much tied up into each other, aren’t they?
[00:09:12] Stacie: Yeah. It’s like those dominoes where one thing goes and it can quite easily knock the other things away next to it.
[00:09:18] Gabrielle: Do you find that there are certain themes that you find yourself saying or posting most frequently because you know that those are the things that people need to hear over and over and over again for it to really sort of start sinking in.
[00:09:33] Stacie: Most of what I post is very much connected to what I need to hear. So it’s usually a very personal experience or something I’ve been thinking and feeling. And one of the themes, that I think throughout the whole year and actually the theme of my calendar next year is you matter. And it’s something that came up in the journal and the Positively Awesome journal, the end paragraph, and the introduction is you matter.
So I think reminding yourself that you are important too, and that you are deserving of your own time, space, kindness, understanding actually feeds into all those other things. Then once you commit to your own value, then that really helps you give space to everything else around it.
[00:10:13] Gabrielle: And like you say the fact that it’s that domino effect and so understanding and believing that you matter in the first place is the foundation of all the other stuff. Because if you are rocky on that, then when somebody asks you something you are going to feel like you have to say, yes, you do have to reply straight away because what they need matters more than what you need.
And so understanding from the start that actually what you need, what you want really matters, just, yeah, it could just change everything, can’t it?
[00:10:43] Stacie: And I think it’s something that I need to tell myself all the time. I said, I’ve got a young family, so I automatically have to give a lot of myself to everyone else in the house in order to, you know, they depend on me to do that cause they are six, four and two, so, it’s a must. But sometimes I give too much of myself to my children, to, you know, the other roles that I have, to my work and forget that I can’t do any of those things properly until I’m really looking after myself and when that starts sliding, I really noticed it. And that’s why I have to keep bringing it back to myself that no you’re allowed to stop, you matter enough to give yourself a break.
It’s kind of a constant internal battle to cling onto that work I think.
[00:11:24] Gabrielle: I think the fact that what you share comes from what you need yourself is really powerful because it’s that sharing of, there’s a common struggle here. This is what I’m struggling with. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. That’s why I thought I’d post it on here because other people do too.
Oh, lo and behold, I can see actually lots of people are feeling the same way. And so we’re all in it together. We all know that we’re not alone in how we’re feeling and that’s, that’s huge. Isn’t it?
[00:11:52] Stacie: Yeah, Yeah. And I think that’s one of the things that I think has resonated most in my work is that it comes from truth and a personal experience. It’s not a quote I called off Pinterest or something that, you know, just looks pretty. There’s always kind of depth behind it. And I think even if you’re not in the same situation, there are elements that quite often we can all feel s o yeah, I think that that commonality is something that draws people in.
[00:12:23] Gabrielle: Yeah, absolutely. so what is it that helps you to find calm? You’ve got three young children, you know, you’re working, you’ve got a lot going on, there’s p lenty of stuff happening in your life. How do you find calm?
[00:12:38] Stacie: I’m someone that keeps adding things in and I’ll always want to do more. And I, I am a people pleaser, so I think finding time and forcing myself to stop and just accept that not doing something is okay. And giving myself time to just be creative for the sake of being creative or enjoying a cup of coffee and not feeling guilty for the fact that I’m not hoovering or just trying to do one thing at once, enjoying what I’m doing and letting myself just exist in that moment is, is where I really find calm butit doesn’t necessarily come easy to me.
[00:13:16] Gabrielle: Yeah, because there can be that voice that says, no, you should be doing this. No you should be doing that. There’s all these things waiting for you. Do you have an internal conversation with that voice? Or do you just sort of push aside or?
[00:13:27] Stacie: It depends. Sometimes I, if I ignore it, then that’s when I know that I’ll reach sort of burnout stage and there’s too much to juggle and I start getting snappy and irritable. And so hopefully I try and catch myself before that point. But I think it’s just learning to listen to what my body’s telling me.
I think knowing when I’m starting to feel a bit tired and a bit grumpy, and I know that I’ve taken on a bit too much or I’m getting a bit short-tempered and snappy with everyone in my house. And that’s a really clear sign that there’s not been enough calm or enough time to recover for me in the week.
[00:14:00] Gabrielle: Right. It’s having that awareness, isn’t it? So rather than just sort of motoring on and thinking, well, I’m snappy, but that’s because it’s everybody else’s fault, rrr, and charging onwards. Then hang on, why am I snapping? Oh, maybe it’s because I’ve got 47 things on my to do list.
[00:14:15] Stacie: A funny story the other night, it was like one o’clock in the morning and we’d stayed up late watching something on Netflix. And then my husband hadn’t loaded the dishwasher. And that seemed like the worst thing in the world at one o’clock in the morning, because I just wanted to go to bed. And then I started thinking about that and there was spiralling, I think, you know, and I’ve got to do all these other things and this and that.
And I stopped myself because I was like this ridiculous and I was like, what’s going to help you. So at one o’clock in the morning, I booked myself a spar morning for a couple of weeks time. The problem isn’t the dishwasher. The problem is you feel like you’re doing too much and you’ve not got any time to relax and you haven’t had any break from work or children for a really long time because of everything’s been happening with COVID and people at home and in and out of the house.
So I booked a spa morning, which I’m going to in a couple of weeks and I’m really proud of myself for doing it.
[00:15:02] Gabrielle: I love that you did that because you’re so right. You can easily just think it is a dishwasher. It is the husband. It’s the to do list. it’s all the stuff. And actually stopping and going well, hang on a minute. What is it? Yes, it’s all those things that I’ve been thinking I have to do when actually what I need to do is take a break. I need to look after myself a bit. It’s only natural I feel like this because of everything that’s been going on and it’s yeah, it’s that awareness means that you can then think, all right, well, what’s going to help me here and it might be booking a spa morning. It might be saying, you know what, I’m staying an extra half an hour in bed.
It might be I’m just going to go sit in this room and shut the door. Do not disturb me for 10 minutes. It might be whatever. But just being able to recognise that is so powerful. And it, puts kind of the power back in your hands because when you’re feeling like everything is against you and everything’s hard and there’s too much to do, it feels like everything’s out of your power. But when you stop and you go, hang on a second, I can see what’s going on here. What is going to help me? Suddenly you’re back in control again, aren’t you?
[00:16:01] Stacie: Yeah. And I think you’re right. It’s that thing when you realise it’s not actually, other people aren’t the problem, it’s me not giving myself what I need. And so, a spa morning is quite an elaborate kind of fancy way to solve that problem. It seems like the right idea at the time. But I think, going for a walk or committing some time to just go and spend it with friends or go for a coffee, those are the things that are going to press that reset button I think. So, yeah, it’s knowing when to push that and not be angry at everything else happening around you and feeling like you can’t control everything.
[00:16:31] Gabrielle: Yeah. It’s a little reset, like you say, it can be, it could be anything. It doesn’t have to be anything big or even it takes a little bit of time or is expensive. So if you were going to write yourself a joy prescription, you know, you’re thinking, okay, I’ve got to this point, actually, what I need is some joy in my life, what would that look like? What would you do?
[00:16:49] Stacie: Spending time with friends, laughter and time for creativity and probably just a bit of peace and quiet. So a mix of those three things and finding a way to do that without any guilt, that would be on my prescription. So consume freely without worry.
[00:17:09] Gabrielle: That’s a really important bit. Isn’t it? Without the guilt of oh I should be, oh, oh, but I oughtn’t not to be. Yeah. It’s all of that thinking to take that away so you can just enjoy being with your friends and whatever you’re doing.
[00:17:21] Stacie: Yeah.
[00:17:22] Gabrielle: So my final question for you is what are you going to do today to give yourself a moment of joy?
[00:17:28] Stacie: I booked my children into after school club today, and I’m going to use that time just to sit down and have a cup of coffee. It’s something really simple. I might even read a magazine as well. And I’ve still got my littlest at home, but we’re going to have a nice time together and just relax and ignore any other chaos and any other demands around us.
So, yeah, that’s my plan.
[00:17:50] Gabrielle: That sounds lovely. Really simple, like you say, but also really, really lovely.
[00:17:56] Stacie: And I know I’ll feel better for just spending that 10, 15 minutes, just chilling out and doing something that I’d like to do rather than something I have to do.
[00:18:05] Gabrielle: Yeah. So where can listeners find and connect with you, Stacie?
[00:18:09] Stacie: So I’m on Instagram as @stacieswift and the same on Facebook. And then, my books, You Are Positively Awesome, and the Positively Awesome journal are available in all good bookshops and Amazon and all the lovely places you’d usually buy books from.
[00:18:24] Gabrielle: Wonderful. Thank you so much for talking with me today, Stacy.
[00:18:32] Stacie: Thank you.
It was such a joy to talk with Stacie and I really hope you took something from our conversation. You’ll find show notes and the transcript at gabrielletreanor.com/podcast. If you enjoyed this episode 87 please do share it and if you enjoy this Pressing Pause podcast it would be really, really brilliant if you could leave a review on iTunes. It doesn’t take long and it helps this podcast be found by new listeners.
And don’t forget to check out all the goodies I share to help you feel more calm and joy on my website including the make your own mental health first aid kit guide which is in my free resource library. So head on over to gabrielletreanor.com/free and take a look.
Thanks for listening, until next time, lovely people.
Throughout this website and my work when I refer to women I include people identifying as women.
If you have, or think you may have, a mental health problem that requires professional diagnosis or treatment, please consult a mental health care professional and your GP.
You can also talk to the people at Mind on 0300 123 3393 or SANE on 0300 304 7000 or Samaritans on 116 123.
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