Thanks to the effort made to raise awareness, we’ve learnt the importance of lifting the colourful cloak that shields our insecurities, issues and concerns; reassured each-other that asking for help won’t brand us ‘crazy’; and established that me-time shouldn’t be laden with guilt. Friends, family and even strangers are swaddled with our support as they embark on their own self-care journeys. So why are we still hesitating?
This discussion isn’t new. In fact, self-care, wellness and mental health are currently the most talked-about topics after Brexit. And too bloody right!
‘Shellacking ourselves and expecting everything to be okay isn’t enough.’
According to Suzy Reading, author, charted psychologist and qualified yoga teacher, the misconception of self-care as a challenge is the first stumbling block. ‘I don’t want people to feel like this is another thing to add to their to-do list or thinking they can be bad at it.’ Suzy tells us. ‘There are four main barriers to people engaging in self-care – time, energy, expense, and the biggest one of all, guilt. People feel like self-care is somehow indulgent, but it isn’t. We need to blow away those barriers.’ Don’t give up before you’ve even started ‘make really tiny, sustainable lifestyle changes in bite-sized increments.’ Suzy advises. ‘You’ll soon realise self-care is totally doable’
But, these tweaks aren’t 5-minute head massages and face masks. ‘Sometimes people get confused between self-care and pampering’ Suzy shares. ‘They might ask themselves if a glass of wine is self-care. But we don’t want our self-care to become self-sabotage. Self-care is health care. It’s nourishment for the head, heart and body in this moment, but it also nurtures the person you’re becoming – your future self.’ In short, that glass of wine might make you feel great right now, but isn’t contributing to a better you down the line. A yoga class however…
‘No one has time for it – I get it. As a mum, a solitary trip to the loo is like a spa day for me.’ Suzy admits. ‘But the fact is, you don’t need big chunks or an investment of time. I call it the micro moment approach. Connect with your breath, use your posture to change how you feel, do a single yoga pose, savour a few sips of coffee, or even look outside and follow a bird in flight for a few seconds. None of these things take time, but dotted throughout the day, they have a cumulative effect, like a pressure release valve.’
Ready for the next stage of self-love? Brace yourself – it takes one whole minute. The purpose? To feel strong, confident and pick up your energy levels. ‘Stand tall, feet hip-width apart’ Suzy instructs. ‘Feel the strength of your legs and tap into a feeling of personal power. Spritz an uplifting room spray, and do six mountain breaths: breathe in and stretch your arms out like wings, taking them up above your head and then exhale as you bring your arms back down by your sides.’ For best results, Suzy suggests teaming your mountain breaths with a mantra.
‘A mantra gives your mind something constructive to focus on’ Suzy explains.’They cultivate how you want to feel’. Unsure where to start? ‘The simplest way to build your own mantra is to use a simple ‘I am’ statement’ says Suzy. ‘If you’re preparing for a meeting, you might say to yourself I am ready, or I am prepared. If you’re getting ready for bed, you would say I am calm, or if you’re looking for social connection – I am present. I am available.’ Not quite working for you? Suzy has the answer ‘If you’re saying to yourself I am calm but you’re actually thinking the opposite, condense it to ‘I am’. That is irrefutable.’
For more smart habits and simple self-help practices you can adopt every day, read Suzy’s book, The Self-Care Revolution, £8.39, available on Amazon.