More Success without the Stress!

me&my health up podcast episode #31 – Transcript

Anthony Hartcher 0:00
Welcome to another insightful episode of me&my health up. I’m Anthony Hartcher, your host, I’m a clinical nutritionist and lifestyle medicine specialist. The purpose of this podcast is to enhance and enlighten the well being of others.

This episode is centred on lasting stress. With stress management guru Laura Piccardi, the founder and CEO of Uppy. Laura is a stress management, expert performance, personal performance found personal performance coach, speaker and writer.

She specialises in helping business leaders master the way they communicate with themselves so that they can take control of the way they feel and respond and accelerate them towards success in all areas of their life. So welcome, Laura. How are you today?

Laura Piccardi 0:52
Hello, I’m very well, thank you. Thanks for having me on. It’s always a pleasure to speak with you and to spread all of the things that in my brain to everyone out there.

Anthony Hartcher 1:02
That’s such a delight to have you on Laura, just really like to start with, you know, you telling us more about how you arrived today doing what you’re doing as a you know, a stress management expert.

Laura Piccardi 1:14
Yeah, well, okay, I’ll try and go the short version, because we haven’t got all day. But basically, I became stress management expert, because I experienced extreme spread stress, which I think is what makes us coaches so good, right, if we’ve been through what we’re trying to then teach others.

So I moved to Australia 10 years ago, and when I got here, I fell into the health and fitness industry. So I became a personal trainer, a whole new industry for me, me being me, though, as a very driven a type personality. So while being a personal trainer isn’t good enough, I must own my own gym.

So I worked my way up in that studio, manage that studio, and then an opportunity presented itself I found an old video store, if anyone remembers what videos were back in the day, and I converted it into my own gym. And so I realised my dream, spent a lot of time a lot of money, doing all those things. And actually, what I realised now in hindsight, is I was under a stress response for pretty much all of that period.

I had things going on with my health that I couldn’t explain, a lot of the doctors couldn’t explain. But to be honest with you, I was too busy at that time to truly try and figure out what it was.

To give you some insight, some of those things where I was extremely bloated all the time had really bad digestive issues, very erratic energy. So I was either really, really tired or really, really wired. I had hormonal issues. I had cloudy thinking I couldn’t get my thoughts, organised moments of anxiety, moments of depression. What else can I say toxicity in my body. Basically, if you go off and read a textbook about the stress response, I experienced pretty much all of it and actually ended up in adrenal fatigue in the end, which is not a place you want to get to, and burnout, which most of us are familiar with.

I carried on as I said, I was busy about eight months into operation of my gym, I got a call one afternoon, I’d gone home early to have a rest from my head trainer. And he said, Hey, Laura, there’s been a bang, and there’s some smoke. So I got back in my car went back down to my gym. And long story short, over the course of the next couple of hours, I stood and watched my entire gym burn to the ground. So as I’m sure you can probably appreciate that, it’s going to put a bit of stress on you. And as I just said, I was already under a lot of stress. So and I also said I was a driven person, right.

I didn’t actually let that stop me even though the universe is basically going stop it. You can’t keep operating like this. So I relocate to my business the next day carried ongoing for another nine months. And that’s when I really, really really hit burnout. And I was in a really horrible state behind closed doors, I was struggling to get off the couch. I was crying all the time. So I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t have to fix it. And then of course, I’d put my happy face on and go and run my business and everyone thought I was a phoenix rising from the flames.

Eventually I did shut the business down and I had to figure out what the hell was going on with my health and with my body. Again, long story short, after investing a lot of time and a lot of money in research and reading in workshops and courses and new qualifications. I finally arrived at the realisation that it was my mind driving my body and if I truly wanted to get on top of my health, but then make sure I didn’t go back to burnout.

I had to adjust certain things about the way that I thought and the way that I behaved. So for those of you out there, I’m sure you are going to resonate with some of these things. So I had to learn how to manage and overcome perfectionism, wanting to be the best all the time wanting to be liked by everyone, and please everyone, you know, having to go to extremes all the time, I was very much all or nothing.

And so once I did that, I was able to calm my body down, get out of fight or flight mode consistently, which I’d been in for years. And that’s then when my body and my health started to restore itself. And that is, when I realised, pretty much everyone is going through this same thing to some degree, you don’t have to have had your business burned down to be experiencing the stress response and the effects of stress. And so that’s when I then decided to create Uppy. And to really specialise in stress, because I realised, as I said, everyone was going through it, but I also realised that a lot of people don’t understand why it happens, and then how to manage and overcome it.

I wasn’t okay with that, I do not want anyone to go to where I was. And if they do get there, I want them to get out of it as quickly as possible. And so I created Uppy, I’ve created a framework and all sorts of things to go with it to really help people not go to where I did, or at least get out of it as quick as possible. That was the quick version, by the way.

Anthony Hartcher 6:26
A long version in your book is read the book, we’ll get to the book later. But thanks for sharing, Laura, a couple of points you really touched on and what I see a lot with, I guess, stressed, you know, Taipei females is that, you know that perfectionism and also that wanting to please and need to please. So what did you do to overcome that sense of perfectionism and this always pleasing others to really help you.

Laura Piccardi 7:00
The key, the key really well, I’ll just get straight to it. Let’s not dance around it, the key really is to get comfortable with being yourself. And that’s what I found. For me, that’s what I find for everyone I work with even everyone I know, is that we are constantly trying to prove ourselves, you know, the reason for that will come from many different places, you know, it’s all these beliefs systems that we have. And these thoughts and behaviour patterns come from what we’ve kind of built up from a very young age.

So we need to kind of unpack that and just understand the origin so that we can do something about it in the present moment. But that’s essentially what it all comes down to, is when we can operate as ourselves without restrictions when we know who we are what’s important to us. And we’ve got the confidence to stay true to that.

That’s when we can start to let go of this need to prove ourselves this need to please everyone, you know, the need to be the best and needs to be perfect. All the thoughts and worries that come along with that, we’re able to let that go. Now, it’s important for me to point out, it doesn’t mean these thoughts and worries are all going to stop. I don’t believe that’s possible. But we’re able to deal with them better, we’re able to choose how we respond to them.

That’s something that’s really important for everyone that’s watching or listening this is trying to fight with these thoughts, trying to make them go away is futile. It just kind of makes them stronger and gives them more power. And you can’t necessarily control them because they’re coming from your subconscious. But what you can control always is the way that you respond to it.

So that’s really the goal that we always want to be striving for is being in control of how we respond to whatever happens around us because we can’t take away the stress. We can’t take away the deadlines, the kids, the all that stuff. But we can always control the way that we respond to it.

Anthony Hartcher 8:55
Is there any magic behind you know that those negative thoughts or thoughts or self thought, self doubt that feeds into our mind that, if we focus on it obviously becomes a lot bigger and worse, if you’ve got some tips you can share as to what we can do when a negative thought gets in our minds.

Laura Piccardi 9:14
Yeah, so it’s kind of, this is probably an English reference. Actually, it might not work for Australia, but we used to have this game in England called Top Trumps. And you would basically just try and have something better than the other person had on their cards and Trump and so it’s kind of like that with our thoughts.

So like you just said, If we focus on the negative thoughts, then they’re going to grow. So we want to kind of find something that will top Trump that so we want to focus on the on the good stuff on the stuff. And by the way, I’m not talking about always thinking positively. I don’t like that we don’t always have to think positively. We just have to think proactively, and focus on whatever it is we need to do at that moment to move us in the right direction and away from that negativity.

Some of the ways that we can top Trump these thoughts are to, as I said, get closer to who we are. So focusing on our core values is a great place to start, literally everyone that I do core values work with says that it’s kind of life changing. It’s so simple, but it’s just something we’re never taught. And we don’t necessarily think about unless we go out to search for it.

Now, when I say your core values, it can be all sorts of different things. Yes, we’ve got those big things like integrity, and honesty, respect all these kinds of things. But they can also be simple things like having fun, or, you know, developing yourself or growth or family, you know, all these kinds of things, if we can really drill down into what they are five or six key things, and then constantly live our lives and make decisions according to them.

That’s going to mean we’re operating as we are, because we’re operating according to what’s important to us. And that’s going to help us to be on a more steady, calm level naturally. So then when these negative thoughts come, you know, when the stress has come, we’re not going to be in fight or flight mode already. So then we’re able to respond to it better. Does that make sense?

Anthony Hartcher 11:16
It does. Now, it makes total sense. Yeah, I really liked that thing of capturing the, that self sabotaging or that negative thought, and really, going back to what really drives you, what’s your purpose, what’s your underlying core values, and, you know, and responding in a congruent way to those core values that are going to serve you and take you towards your, I guess, your life’s ambitions.

Laura Piccardi 11:44
Absolutely. And if I just explain a little bit further about the stress response, because this helps to make this more tangible as one of the things I personally found. And I know a lot of people I work with do, as you know, we talk about core values, and all this kind of stuff, and it’s kind of out there, we can’t touch it, we can’t feel it. But if we can relate it to what’s physically going on in our bodies, and it’s helpful.

So it’s important to note that when we are busy when we’re stressed, as I said, before we go into fight or flight mode. So our body is releasing all these chemicals, or these hormones that literally help us to fight or run away. Now our brain doesn’t know the difference between real danger and perceived danger. So of course, if there’s real danger present, if there is, you know, someone cuts us up in their car, or there’s a maniac running towards us with a knife, we need that we need to fight or run away. So that’s fine.

But quite often, the dangers that our brains are perceiving are things like, you know, getting the kids T ready or dinner ready. You know, meeting a deadline, or the emails in our inboxes, if someone is is happy with our work. And so, as I said, the brain doesn’t know that that’s not a real danger. So it responds in the same way. So as I’m sure you can all appreciate, we’ve constantly got these thoughts, these dangers going on in our minds all day, every day.

We’re constantly releasing these chemicals releasing these hormones, and they’re not getting used because we’re not facing or running away. And that’s when they start to cause all sorts of issues, many of which I mentioned at the beginning. So if we know that this stress response happens as a result of our brain thinking we’re in danger, the way we can overcome it, manage it, top trumpet is to constantly communicate safety to our brains.

What I spoke about a moment ago, in terms of core values, in terms of doing the things that are aligned with who we are and what we want, and always being ourselves, that allows us to communicate safety to our brain. So if we’re doing something that makes us feel good, our brain naturally goes, Ah, well, clearly, there’s no danger present. Otherwise, you know, you’d be anxious and you know, fighting and running away and trying to get the hell out of there.

So tell you what, I’m just going to calm the hell down and let you carry on business as usual. So that is the physical result, I suppose of doing things like being aligned with your core values, doing things that are important to you doing things you love, and doing physical things as well.

You know, working with someone like Anthony to get natural supplementation, you know, breathing, meditation, yoga, all those things, all combined together, what they’re all doing is communicating safety to your brain. So that you are managing and overcoming the stress response and therefore, living a calmer, more energised, happier, fulfilled all those words that we’re all searching for life.

Anthony Hartcher 14:39
Yeah, I made some terrific points there in terms of you know, the different ways in which we can look after ourselves and better manage our stress. What do you find the most effective ways you know when you’re working with your clients? What are the top three, say the top three stress management tips that you give your clients

Laura Piccardi 15:01
So number one, which is sort of an overarching one, so I might not even call it a number one is, it’s really important to remember, slow and steady wins the race, and the key is inconsistency. So all the strategies that I ever recommend, they’re so simple, you think, Laura, that’s not going to do anything. And in isolation, it won’t.

But if you keep doing it consistently, it will. Because our brains are all wired to these thoughts. And to these behaviours, we have all the neurons that fuse together to create neural pathways. They’re like a map in our brains. Now, the way that they all fuse together and create that map is by us consistently doing something. So we weren’t born thinking that we’re not good enough, or we need to prove ourselves, somewhere along the line, our brain decided that and it kept thinking that and so that’s how our brain decided to fuse together. So as I was saying before, the way to top trumpet is to do something different.

So if we keep thinking about it, we’re actually strengthening those pathways. So if we then find something else, those pathways are going to kind of die off, if we don’t use them, we lose them. And they’re going to start to form these new pathways for the new thought pattern, the new behaviour pattern, and the only way we do that is to do it consistently. So it’s the same as if we want to get, you know, a six pack at the gym, we can’t just go to the gym once do a few situps. And then expect to have a six pack, we have to go consistently, we have to do the same exercises consistently, as well as some you know, other things, nutrition and all that kind of stuff.

And eventually, we then get the result we want. So it’s important for you to remember that it’s exactly the same for our brains. So the key, as I said, is to pick something simple, do it consistently, when you’re doing that naturally, that by the way, that means your brain started to fuse into new pathways, when it becomes natural, then you can start to add something else on.

So the easiest, the cheapest, the most accessible thing that we can do, to start managing stress and calm the body down, is to breathe. See, I told you it was simple, but breathe properly. So nowadays, we don’t breathe properly, we breathe in our chest a lot. And that’s the stress response in action. So we need to focus on filling up our entire torso, front, back and sides from the pit of our bellies up to our chest, nice and slow. Even just 10 breaths. That’s why I always get my clients to start with, quite often I get them to go and do it in the toilet, because they’re guaranteed not to get disturbed when they’re in the loo.

Because again, that’s pure safety being communicated to your brain because your brain as I said, if it thinks there’s danger present, that’s when it wants you to breathe shallow and deep because you’re literally ready to fight or run away. So if you’re breathing slow, if you’re breathing deep, your brain then assumes there’s no danger present. So it doesn’t trigger the stress response. So that’s number one super easy. You can do anytime, anywhere.

And the second one is doing something you love. So again, this comes back to your core values. And please don’t make it complex. Of course, there’s complex stuff like going travelling, which of course we can’t do with COVID at the moment. But it doesn’t mean you have to go and meditate on a rock by the ocean every day. Well, that’s lovely, it’s not always accessible. So it could be something really simple like rocking out to your favourite tune, while you’re getting ready in the morning to go to work or while you’re in the car.

You know, that’s my favourite time to just sing my butt off. But again, it’s something that makes you feel good right down in the depths of your court. So your brain assumes there’s no danger present. You know, it could be something like watching puppy videos on YouTube, maybe it’s looking at photos of your kids. You know, as I keep saying, it doesn’t have to be complex, it just has to be consistent. So that’s breathing, that’s doing something you love.

And then if we want a third one, just getting things out of your brain. So if you’ve got someone that you’re comfortable to talk with, that’s great, you know, it doesn’t have to be a big session, you can just literally vomit whatever’s in your brain out into the room, or if you’re not comfortable doing that, and maybe you are sometimes and others not writing things down. So when we get them out of our brain, it stops them from kind of growing into these big monsters, which is what happens if we leave them in there.

And it also means that we can get perspective on a situation and then we get our control back because we can decide what to do. So when we write, we’re using our logical parts of the brain. When we’re stressed when we’re emotional, we are in that emotional part of our brain. So by doing something logical like writing, it forces us to be logical and therefore we can be proactive about how we manage the situation and create a game plan and action steps to move ourselves out of it.

Anthony Hartcher 19:53
Fantastic and what are some of your favourite personal self care strategies that you apply? Regular, consistent basis.

Laura Piccardi 20:01
I mean, I think I just mentioned a couple of my rocking out to anything that I can sing to usually cheesy 90s music, love that scuba diving, for me is my happy place, I’m always calm when I’m scuba diving, which is weird to some people mucking around with my little dog, he makes me really happy watching comedy, to see what I mean, it’s not difficult. But any of those things, you know, I’ll do them consistently.

But if I need an extra boost, if something is particularly stressful in my life, I’ll just supersize, I’ll turn up the dial on all of those things, you know, and then more consistently, things are looking after my health, you know, that’s a massive value.

For me, personal development is a massive value for me. So as long as I’m looking after my health, I’m growing, and I’m having fun, really, that’s that’s what keeps me and under control, my husband might have something different to say about that.

Anthony Hartcher 20:57
So it really is having those clear, clearly defined values, and then working consistently in those areas on a regular basis that really helps you proactively manage stress.

And then in time, in times of stress, you can anchor yourself back to those core values, those stress management techniques, like you mentioned around self care, breathing exercises, and connection, you know, talking to others unloading, journaling. So, yeah, I really like, you know, because it’s what you’re telling the listeners, it’s really simple to apply. And a lot of what you mentioned cost nothing, you know, like sharing with others connecting with a friends unless you’re shouting them a coffee or something that you’re sharing them a bit.

And there’s a cost associated but you know, and self care strategies, you know, like you mentioned, laughing and singing and all those sorts of things. I mean, you can do them anytime, anywhere.

Laura Piccardi 22:02
Absolutely. And what that does, as well, as well as communicate safety to our brains, it allows us to get back in tune with ourselves, our bodies are incredibly wise, and they tell us what we need to know, we just don’t hear it most of the time nowadays, because we’re so busy and preoccupied with everything?

And so the more in tune we are with ourselves, the more we can understand ourselves, the more we can then choose the path that we go on, I believe it’s important to understand how and why we’ve arrived at where we are today, we don’t want to dwell in the past, but I find in order to create change, it’s helpful to have that understanding.

So by employing these strategies that we’ve spoken about now, getting yourself in a greater level of calm or consistently, you’re then more able to understand whatever it is that you need to understand, to then create those changes long term.

Anthony Hartcher 22:58
Makes total sense. And as you mentioned, that number one or your umbrella was all around that consistency. And you know, and applying it regularly and as you said, then it becomes habit, it becomes wired into your brain.

So just on I guess a bit of a side track is on to your newly released or it’s probably not new anymore, but it’s it’s been out in the market a while Unfaked, really keen to get some insight for the listeners and viewers on that book that you released.

Laura Piccardi 23:33
Yeah, so Unfaked is actually a story very much based on fact, as you will find out if you ever read it. So it’s a story of a woman who is an executive woman, she’s worked her butt off for years trying to achieve success, she gets to the pinnacle of her career, and she’s not happy, she’s actually really tired. You know, she’s burning out, essentially, she just doesn’t realise it.

She feels kind of empty everything she just kind of same, same stuff, different day, basically. So in the first part of the book, we watch her trying to make herself feel good with all the classic things that we do, you know, different diet, different exercise, you know, falling out with her husband worrying about what people think affections and all that kind of stuff. And then she hits burnout.

And then we start to see how she comes out of it. So she goes through all of these things and talking about she works out her core values, understands her limiting beliefs, employs these simple strategies, and really learns how to then manage and overcome the stress response going forward. So I wanted to write it as a story because I hate telling people what to do.

I want people to be able to, you know, take the information and do with it, whatever they need to do. And so a story, it’s actually been great. It’s been resonating with people really well and everyone that reads it, particularly the women they’re like oh, Oh my god, I’m depth did you write this about me. And that’s exactly what I was going for. Because I want the readers to know that you’re not crazy, you’re not broken, you don’t need to be fixed, we are all going through the same stuff, we’re all thinking the same things, doing the same things.

It’s just that we’re not talking about it. And so therefore, we then think that we’re a failure, we’re no good. And we kind of hold it all in, and we don’t want people to know. Whereas it actually, by getting it out in the open, then we’re able to deal with the things we’re able to get perspective.

And we’re able to, as I keep saying, take these proactive steps in order to move away from wherever we’re at. So that’s my book.

Anthony Hartcher 25:43
Sounds excellent. And where can viewers and listeners purchase this book?

Laura Piccardi 25:48
Pretty much anywhere on the internet that you know, Amazon, Booktopia, I also did the audible or the audiobook version, I shouldn’t say what books it’s available on Apple and all that as well, because everyone’s busy and I don’t have time to sit down and physically read a book. So it’s available in paperback, ebook, audio, you name it, it’s available.

Anthony Hartcher 26:11
How can listeners viewers best get in contact with you?

Laura Piccardi 26:18
Through my website, you can get everything you need at You’ll find social media links, you know, my contact details. If I’ve said anything you want to know more about, or you want to discuss, please feel free to reach out. That’s why I exist in the world is to help people. So more than happy to hear from you.

Anthony Hartcher 26:37
Fantastic. I love that attitude of, you know, the willingness for you to give and I guess, nurture and support others to avoid mistakes that you may have made or certainly helped them, you know, enhance their journey and get more success without the stress so to speak. Yeah. Yeah. Any closing points you’d like to share?

Laura Piccardi 27:03
I think just, I just react, reiterate, what I’ve said is, is just remembering, constantly communicate safety to your brain, the best way to do that is to figure out who you are, and figure out how you can be that person without restrictions as often as humanly possible. And that really is the foundation for achieving whatever it is that you want to achieve.

Anthony Hartcher 27:28
Wonderful. That’s very sound advice. And I really appreciate your time, Laura, the wisdom, the experience that you’ve shared with our listeners today. For listeners, if you like the episode, please like and share and help as many people are others.

So you might may know of these individuals out there that Laura has been mentioning about that these type A people that could really do with some wisdom from Laura, or could, you know, potentially get a good introduction into her book by listening to this podcast or watching the YouTube and stay tuned for more insightful episodes of me&my health up. Thank you. Thank you

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