Tell us about yourself Helen?
I was born in Hong Kong and spent my formative years there before moving to London to go to Chelsea College of Art and Design. I returned to Hong Kong not longer after graduating and ended up starting and running several businesses including a creative agency, a comic book series, a cafe, a publishing business and several lifestyle websites. My husband and I moved to London around 2.5 years ago, when I was six months pregnant. It’s been an eventful couple of years – becoming a mum, getting used to living in a new place and working on setting up my practice as a Kinesiologist here.
What led you to quit your job and start your own venture?
I worked in a couple of different jobs in London and Hong Kong but felt like being an employee was too restrictive and slow. I was really frustrated with the lack of autonomy and the idea of having to ‘work my way up the ladder’ by doing work that felt unchallenging and meaningless. After working freelance for a while, I set up a creative agency with my then-boyfriend (now husband). We sold this business a few years ago to a very large consulting services firm. Almost nine years ago, I decided to study Kinesiology as it had had such a profoundly positive impact on my stress levels, belief systems and mental health.This is such a different business and approach to work, but I’m truly passionate about it and love what I do.
Any advice for anyone thinking about becoming an entrepreneur?
Make sure that the business that you are going into is something you are truly passionate about, has a purpose that is important to you, and choose your partners and investors carefully. It’s easy to get on when you’re starting something new and exciting, but a few years down the road or when things aren’t going so well, is when issues often come to the surface and you might realise that you have very different ethics, or ideas about business direction and exit strategy. If you’re in a relationship, it’s also vital to get your partner on board with what you’re doing, as it definitely will not be like a 9-5 job, where you can leave your work at the office.
How important is to find a work life balance while working in stressful environments?
It’s hugely important, I see so many people who have for so long either burnt the candle at both ends or have let work completely take over their lives and ended up either in burnout, breakdown or with very serious health issues. Often I find that people are more stressed out then they realise, and don’t recognise the signs of stress until their body makes it very clear to them, at which point, it’s a lot of work to get back to a state of optimum health and wellbeing. What are some of these signs? Feeling anxious or fearful, constantly overwhelmed, getting angry very easily, finding it hard to concentrate or make decisions, frequent headaches, not sleeping properly, constantly feeling tired, eating badly.
Do you have any advice on how to better deal with stress?
I tell my clients that it’s vital to build in activities and habits into your day and life that are stress-releasing or calming, and schedule them in just as you would a meeting or any other work activity. By taking this time out, you’ll actually end up being more productive, creative and able to handle stress much more effectively, plus you’ll be sick less often. I strongly recommend reducing use of devices, especially at night, and also while eating.
Don’t have your phone in your room at night, as this can really affect your sleep, plus you’ll be much more tempted to pick it up whenever you think about something you haven’t done or need to check. Buy an alarm clock and have a pen and paper by your bed instead. If you really have to have it in your room, then move it far away from your bed and set it up so you have a red colour filter on it to reduce your exposure to blue light.
I love apps like Calm or Headspace, as they have meditations for whatever period of time you have available, and a huge variety of topics such as anxiety, focus, sleep, emotions, relationships and general stress.
What type of wellbeing work do you do?
I practice Kinesiology, a holistic therapy that integrates Western knowledge of anatomy and physiology with Eastern medical systems, and identifies unresolved stresses in the nervous system, and the conscious and subconscious mind. I use muscle response testing to find information on past stressful experiences and help release their emotional intensity. This means the effects of these past experiences and stresses no longer need to be reflected in present day life, where they may have manifested as anything from anxiety, depression, digestive, immune or reproductive system issues, to physical pain. The idea is to let the body self-heal and return to optimal health and well-being.
What does it take mentally and emotional to scale your own business with a small one and how do you find the balance between a busy job and personal life?
For me it’s a constant struggle and I only work part time, so I’m in awe of those mamas who are juggling a full-time or full on job with kids, and a personal life. I think the most important thing is having boundaries, something I’ve not been great with if I’m being honest. I left behind a busy practice in Hong Kong, and have been working on building up my client base here now, so I have at times allowed myself be too available, which has caused quite a bit of stress at home and with childcare. So now, I only work the days and times I’ve decided upon, and I’ve just had to be less flexible. I know once my son is at school, my schedule will change again, and for now, I’m just cherishing the time we do have together. Equally, it’s so important to also carve out time just for yourself and for self-care, as well as time with your partner, and again these are things you have to put into your schedule and commit to.
What has helped you the most get to where you are now?
I’ve found that having a supportive partner who has the same ethics, beliefs and a complementary skill set has helped me hugely.
What is your relationship with our magical village Primrose Hill?
I live and work just up the road in Belsize Park so I spend a lot of time around the high street in Primrose Hill, and in the park with my son and two dogs. I spent many wonderful afternoons walking him around the park when he was a baby for his afternoon naps, and now he enjoys riding his toy car or scooter there.
What do you most enjoy about living in the area?
Coming from Hong Kong and having only lived in Central London before, I love the proximity to parks and nature, that most places are super accommodating if you have a pram, a child and dogs, and the sense of community. I also love the fact that you can easily get to central London on foot via some beautiful parks, and being super close to London Zoo. I’m also a big fan of the farmer’s market on a Saturday!
How can someone find out more about experiencing Kinesiology with you?
My website is www.wellbein.gs and I work from On the Lane on England’s Lane in Belsize Park.