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Mindfulness over matter

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A respected mindfulness and meditation coach can teach anyone – be it a carpenter or a CEO – the value of mental health.

Liz Barrett

Senior Content Producer

We are all guilty of putting ourselves last and ignoring our own needs. But what’s the actual cost of disregarding our mental and physical health? Can mediation and mindfulness help us in business, as well as in our personal lives? Chelsea Pottenger doesn’t just think so; she knows.
Once a high-achieving corporate executive and award-winning salesperson, Chelsea is now a sought-after change-maker and advocate for mindfulness and meditation. Her business, EQ Minds, allows her to teach her clients, from large corporates to sole traders, the lasting impact it has not only on people but on organisations themselves. 

Before she found her calling as an accredited mindfulness and meditation coach, Chelsea was a rising star in her industry, had a loving husband and a child on the way. ‘After giving birth to our only daughter, I experienced severe post-natal depression,’ she recalls. ‘It was such a challenging time. Luckily my husband is amazing; he saw I wasn’t ok. So I was admitted into a psychiatric hospital when Clara was nine weeks old.’ 

New venture

Chelsea not only began her journey to recovery, but she also started to see how her experience may be used to help others. ‘My psychologist said to me, “You’d be a lovely psychologist; you have such a fascination with the brain, and you’re a really kind person.” So I thought maybe if I can help one person, I could ensure they don’t go through what I did. So that became my whole mission after I left the hospital.’

This conversation spurred on Chelsea. ‘I still had a lot of shame and guilt, so I spent time learning love, kindness and compassion meditation at the Nan Tien Temple in Wollongong, NSW. One of the monks said, “Sometimes you have to go through hardship to get to your true calling in life.” This was another penny-drop moment, and it fuelled the fire in me to go back to university to study psychology.’
That year, she left the city for a calmer life on the south coast of NSW and became a meditation coach. 
Although she was residing in the country, when she arrived at an industry event, fate intervened again. ‘I was talking to a man and being honest, raw and vulnerable about my experience. As it turned out, my story resonated with him. He was the CEO of mental health charity, R U OK? – he asked if I would be an ambassador.’

While a calmer life has not exactly panned out with Chelsea’s hectic travel and speaking schedule, she uses mindfulness and self-care practice to help her manage her busy life and remain in control of her mental health.

Don’t be alone

People who are suffering from stress and anxiety are not alone. Globally, there are 270 million people who have an anxiety disorder. However, while the pandemic has put a spotlight on mental health awareness, there is still a long way to go for this issue to be recognised, understood and treated in the same way as physical illnesses. For many in the building industry, it is something not often discussed, let alone addressed.

‘I was learning about the impact mindfulness had on overall health, performance and the ability to cultivate resilience in the face of adversity,’ says Chelsea. ‘I said to my husband, “Imagine if the business world knew this? How incredible would it be to teach yourself and your employees these coping tools?” I knew mindful mental health practices may change the way a business was functioning. So that’s how EQ Minds was born.’

Since then, Chelsea has worked with the likes of eBay, Uber, Westpac, Woolworths and Google, to name a few.

‘I’ve lived the corporate life, and I know what it’s like to push the limits in my career. I also have experience with a mental health issue. I found tools and techniques that will help people who suffer from mental illness. And it enables those who don’t suffer these issues to perform at their best. Who wouldn’t want their employees to learn healthier coping strategies in the business world and in their daily lives?’

The pandemic has taught us many things, but many now view their wellbeing in a different light. ‘Self-care is not selfish; it’s self-preservation,’ says Chelsea. 

To find out more, visit www.eqminds.com.au

Chelsea Pottenger is one of the 2022 HIA National Conference’s keynote speakers at the Gold Coast on 21-23 April 2022. 

6 ways to improve your mental health and wellbeing

1    Practise gratitude
2    Move your body for at least 30 minutes a day
3    Prioritise self-care 
4    Meditate for 10 minutes daily
5    Honour your sleep
6   Limit stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol.

Building mindfulness

Luke Van Dyck, LVD Industries

HIA member, GreenSmart Professional and host of the HIA Building Australia 

‘As a builder, you have a lot to take care of; the list is almost endless. Running the company and all the financial and legal requirements and managing all subcontractors, suppliers, and multiple project schedules is a big list. You’re responsible for your clients, your team and, of course, your family. But, you can’t forget to take care of yourself. 

‘I often miss lunch because I’m on the go all the time, and people need me. That’s why I’m trying to prioritise self-care and mindfulness. This means looking after myself in simple ways every day, but it also means taking a moment to breathe, reassess and regroup. That isn’t selfish; it’s imperative. If you can go outdoors, look around you, schedule time off, or just stop a little to breathe and switch off every day, even for 15 minutes, it really helps, and the long-term benefits are worth it.’

Ryan Stidwill, RW Stidwill Constructions

Winner of the 2011 HIA–CSR Australian Home of the Year and Custom Built Home of the Year awards

‘I take time every day to remind myself what to be grateful for. For me, yoga reminds me of my link to the world around us. It helps me stay connected and in love with building with natural materials.’

Rebecca Bishop, Elite Building

Winner of the 2020 HIA Australian Business Partner of the Year award

‘Helping others and being confident is as much about my personal development and wellbeing as it’s about business savvy. I’m still learning but I have also taught myself to prioritise my own care. It’s an ongoing process – self-improvement never ends. I’m fortunate to be part of an incredible business community (my tribe). I work really hard but I also meditate and journal. I spend quality time with my family and try to be less hard on myself.’