From moving into The Collective Old Oak on the very first day of lockdown to finding new friends, running cacao ceremonies and presenting a tv show, we asked member Lisa what it was like to dive head first into co-living during a pandemic. She told us all about the ups and downs of this past year and shared some helpful tips on managing stress and staying motivated. As both a health and wellbeing coach and an NHS professional, she knows her stuff.
Lisa, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
I'm a life coach and hypnotherapist specialising in mindset and positive psychology. I have created a unique process incorporating coaching, hypnotherapy and meditation, with chocolate! I work to reinforce self worth, self belief and confidence.
The last few years I have travelled around the world running my Transformation Retreats in Ibiza and Guatemala; coaching big retreat groups in Thailand; and hosting my regular workshops at Glastonbury.
I had planned to start Urban Retreats and events in London but the pandemic put that on pause, so I chose to return to my old profession as an anaesthetic specialist to support the NHS.
How long have you lived at The Collective? What first drew you to it?
I’ve lived here for almost a year. My hospital actually arranged it for me as I had to relocate, which was a total synchronicity because a friend sent me a link saying it would be perfect for me days before! I absolutely love living here because community is really important to me. This community has been so strong, so supportive and caring for each other it’s been heart-warming.
My work is really challenging, I am involved in complicated critical cancer surgery, and cardiac cases so there’s a lot involved both mentally and physically. I’m running around on constant high alert for emergencies. So having somewhere like the Collective to come back to really helped me get through what has got to be the hardest year of my life. If I was living on my own, I would have just passed out on the sofa and succumbed to the exhaustion.
But with all the great events going on, I came home to workouts on the terrace, cocktail classes, masterchef cooking and sunset silent discos and actually had a pretty great summer!
You've put on all sorts of events for the community, what are the highlights?
I have loved the opportunity to share what I do and to collaborate with other members. I have to say, I have loved being a part of our TV show, Tuesday night live which we run monthly. I co-present the show with Stephen, one of our other ambassadors here. And it was never something I thought I would ever do! It’s been a great opportunity to develop new skills and improve my confidence in public speaking and presenting. I’ve loved working alongside other members most, all bringing their expertise, experience and skills - to co-create something really amazing. It was Stephen’s vision and he’s brought together a great team. From the christmassy door special to the live blind date show it’s brought a lot of positivity and laughs at a really tough time.
My events aim to forge connections and help people grow personally or professionally. I’m a Health and Wellness coach and share experiences and techniques to promote wellbeing. I’ve hosted several Cacao Ceremony workshops, which is a unique process I created using pure chocolate as a plant medicine. I spent over a year in 2012 training with a Shaman to work with it in Guatemala. I use guided visualisation techniques, meditation and coaching. I describe it as having a conscious conversation with your subconscious.
You also run Business Hivemind? Can you tell us about those sessions?
I felt inspired to set them up after realising that there is such huge potential within The Collective communities. We’re a melting pot of talent, professions and knowledge. We have a great opportunity to learn from each other. I want to create a useful network members can tap into professionally for collaborations, partnerships etc. Having moved from being a senior medical professional to starting my own business from scratch, I know how challenging and isolating it is working for yourself or from home. I think this is a really valuable service for the Old Oak community (soon to be connecting with Canary Wharf too).
As both an NHS health professional and a wellness coach, how do you deal with stress and anxiety? Can you give us some tips?
Seeing the effect of the pandemic, I felt drawn to share my workshop around managing stress and anxiety which will be available monthly to Collective members. It covers stress management techniques, but also how to release it, to promote a sense of balance and actually raise motivation and energy.
I have observed myself and colleagues at the hospital undergo huge amounts of stress, working around the clock, with very little breaks or sleep between shifts. I’ll share what got me through...
5 ways to manage stress, rise above it and stay motivated:
1- Find a good morning routine.
Don’t just fall out of bed and into work. Start your day with intention and purpose. This can be as little as 20 minutes exercise or movement in the morning - key for showing up strong in your day. Moving your body wakes your mind up, gets your blood pumping and raises your energy. Even just dancing for a few minutes is good.
2- Start your day thinking of all the things you’re grateful for.
Really allow the feeling of gratitude to shift you into a state of feeling good. Find things you’re grateful for throughout your day. You can’t feel anxious and grateful at the same time - the feeling of being grateful raises you above the feeling of stress. Try it, it really works.
3 - Meditate daily
This is mind training. Not only should we exercise our body, we should exercise our mind. If we harness control over our mind regularly, we can hold strong in any situation or event. This is really important. To be able to bring our mind back to being calm and centred. Meditation trains our mind to just be still, and free from thought, to just be more present in the moment.
Focusing your attention on your breathing, mindfully slowing it down with each breath has an immediate and powerful effect on stress or anxiety. Relaxing our breathing shifts us out of that intense, negative state by calming the body first and then the mind.
5 - Shake it out
Our body holds onto the energy of our emotions. If you don’t like how it feels when you’re stressed or frustrated, shake it out and choose how you want to respond. Animals do this when they’re stressed - watch when ducks, dogs or cats fight. They shake it out after. It can feel silly, but is actually really fun and energising!
This past year has been challenging for us all. How easy has it been to make friends and stay connected?
I have so many great memories of living here in our community. It was strange, moving down to London the day of lockdown. I was fearful of what to expect at work too - with the reality that I may have to look after COVID patients and experience a lot of deaths in my care. I believe mindset is everything, and what we allow ourselves to focus on, becomes our perceived reality.
Living here I could focus on the positive and do things that shifted my emotional state. Being able to connect with other people really kept me sane! The continued events stopped us all feeling so isolated. I have made some friends for life here and know I will connect with more great people too.
So what does co-living have in store for you next?
I am really looking forward to this next chapter of living here, with the easing of restrictions and unfolding of the potential that I can see co-living has.
Now that I am less required at the hospital, I can really focus on expanding my business. I’ll be working full time from The Collective, bringing clients here, holding events and making the huge positive impact I aim to have with my work.