Self-care

Francesca Geens and the HappySelf Journal

February 22, 2019

Today on the blog I’m delighted to feature Francesca Geens, founder of the HappySelf Journal for children. She is so passionate about giving kids the opportunity to explore and support their mental wellbeing as early in life as possible. My daughter, Cora, has always been curious about my writing and so I invested in a HappySelf Journal to help us talk about her day and her thoughts and feelings. It’s been a great tool for us as a family and so I invited Francesca to share some of her wisdom and thoughts behind the product for #thebigselfcareshare!

Francesca Geens on journaling & happiness

Tell us about your business

I founded the HappySelf Journal as a way to bring the science of happiness and growth mindset principles to children in the format of a beautifully illustrated daily journal. I believe it’s really important for children to develop the positive skills they need to support their own happiness. Through just a few minutes of filling out their journal children are able to reflect on their day, develop their emotional intelligence, boost positive thinking and develop positive habits. Parents and teachers are reporting better sleep, improved behaviour and emotional skills and less anxious children. The journal brings together so many things that matter to me and nothing makes me happier than having a positive impact on children’s lives.

HappySelf Journal for children

What does self-care mean for you?

For me it’s all about having time to myself whether it is to take piano lessons, spend time in the morning with the Headspace app and my journal, going for a walk or doing an exercise class or to treat myself to a massage or facial. Self-care is precious time out from the usual routines of work and family to recharge and make sure I can be my best self.

Self-care is precious time out from the usual routines of work and family to recharge and make sure I can be my best self.

What do you find most challenging about self-care?

Time is always the challenge. There is always something else that needs doing so it is hard to stop and take time out. However, my productivity is always boosted when I do so I know it’s worth doing even when it feels counter-intuitive!

How do you create time?

I book it into my diary in advance so that other commitments build around self-care. It goes into the calendar first each month – regular classes, lessons, appointments, morning routine, anything like that so work and client calls aren’t accidentally booked in at the same time.

Share a self-care tip, something that’s helped you on your path to being kinder to yourself.

I love reading The Daily Stoic and accompanying journal. I read this as part of my morning routine straight after doing 10 minutes of Headspace. The combination of Stoicism and Meditation has done wonders for my anxiety levels and ability to be clear as to what I can and cannot control and how to focus on the here and now. Getting my day off to a good start is for me the best way to feel grounded and ready to take on the day with clarity and purpose.

Thanks so much for your contribution, Francesca. You can find out more about the HappySelf Journal and follow them on social media at:

Website: www.happyselfjournal.com
Instagram: instagram.com/happyselfjournal
Facebook: facebook.com/happyselfjournal
Twitter: twitter.com/HappySelf_

Self-care

Amy Holland on self-care that works for you and your family

February 4, 2019

Amy Holland, 34, is a single parent to two boys and a lover of high waisted jeans, sausage rolls and hot green tea. She had PND with both of her children and set up I Can Cards after finding affirmations a really powerful tool to manage her mental health. Amy is also the co-founder of Single Parents Wellbeing and Warrior Women Events. Her contribution to #thebigselfcareshare covers the steps she’s taken towards creating her businesses and finding a self-care practice that works for her.

Amy Holland self-care

What’s brought you to where you are?

The affirmations that were out there seemed very cheesy or the subjects weren’t so meaningful to me. I developed the first pack with some single parents as they had so many pearls of wisdom. I met them through the Wellbeing Workshops I manage for the Social Enterprise I co-founded, Single Parents Wellbeing. That snowballed into other affirmation cards covering subjects such as depression and anxiety and even I Can Children packs. There are seven packs in total and two new ones are to be released this year around health and work.

Everything I do is centred around wellbeing, empowerment and positivity, something that led me to create my business and run events.

How would you define self-care?

Self-care to me is the small things that we do throughout the day to make sure we’re keeping our cup filled up. That could be a hot cup of tea, a cuddle, checking in with our emotional wellbeing or choosing an affirmation. Daily rituals are essential to keeping our mental health in check.

Daily rituals are essential to keeping our mental health in check.

Of course, it can be huge things like climbing a mountain or long-term counselling, but that tends to be needed when I’ve let things go too far. But generally, self- care is diverse and individual, and not everyone likes a hot bath, a face mask, yoga or chocolate. Find out what methods of self-care make you happy and do it daily.

What do you find most challenging about self-care

Being a single parent, I hear a lot about the time element. But if you recognise that you can do this with your children then it’s not instead of doing something, it’s ‘as well’. My children hear me a lot saying ‘I just need 5 minutes’, and they respect this. They know that I’ve reached a point where I need that time. It is more difficult, logistically, for parents to work around self-care. But it shouldn’t stop anyone. I also build weekly yoga into my working week. So look at other ways that will work for you.

How do you incorporate self-care into your daily routine?

I always start with making sure that my phone is in another room, and I don’t check any social media until at least an hour after I have woken up. I prioritise a cuppa and an I Can Card, where I take the time to absorb how I am feeling that day. My children do this ritual with me, we all have a drink and discuss our I Can Cards.

Loving these self-care tips! Thank you, Amy, for taking part in #thebigselfcareshare, and for telling us more about what inspired you to create I Can Cards. You can find out more about Amy’s businesses, events and projects by visiting:

I Can Cards:

www.icancards.co.uk
www.instagram.com/icancards

Single Parents Wellbeing:

www.singleparentswellbeing.com
www.instagram.com/singleparentswellbeing

Baby loss Secondary infertility Self-care

Self-care during tough times

January 28, 2019

Today on #thebigselfcareshare we have Kate Meakin and her husband Phil. I first encountered Kate on Instagram and we connected through our struggles with secondary infertility and recurrent loss. Here she opens up about her husband’s recent cancer diagnosis and the couple’s approach to self-care during a challenging time.

Kate & Phil Meaks self-care during tough times

Tell us about yourselves.

Phil and I been together for 17 years, meeting when we were just 21. We finally married 11 years after meeting and are blessed to have a beautiful little boy Austin via IVF. We are just about to embark on our 5th IVF after enduring 3 miscarriages since our son was born.

Infertility has been a major part of our marriage and I started blogging and sharing our story after our first miscarriage. Writing is very cathartic for me and I will always try to help break the silence around baby loss and infertility. Last year, at the age of 38, Phil was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This was devastating for us all, so this year is all about getting Phil fit and well and taking care of ourselves as we try to complete our family.

What does self-care mean for you?

Phil admits he has never really thought about self-care, but what it means to him now is looking after yourself and having more awareness around when you need to make the time for it. Before his cancer diagnosis working a 60 hour week was the norm so self-care wasn’t high on the priority list.

To me, it’s not self-indulgent to care for yourself, it’s a necessity to keeping fit and well.

As a stay at home mum, I have more opportunities to focus on self-care, especially when Austin is in nursery. I make sure that on one of those days nothing is planned so I can enjoy a very quiet day of writing or resting at home. To me, it’s not self-indulgent to care for yourself, it’s a necessity to keeping fit and well. Now with Phil’s diagnosis, there is even more emphasis on self-care; radiotherapy is gruelling for Phil and I need to make sure he has the time to rest, just as do I. It’s about keeping us both healthy, physically and mentally.

What do you find most challenging about self-care?

For both of us, the challenge is setting time aside for self-care when life gets busy. Austin keeps us very busy and we both love to spend time with him, so it can be difficult to prioritise. Phil works hard for his young family and because I’m at home it’s easy to think I’m resting but choosing to dedicate that time to self-care is isn’t simple.

How do you incorporate self-care into your daily routine?

Since his cancer diagnosis, Phil understands now more than ever how important self-care is. The biggest side effect from radiotherapy is fatigue and so we always make sure that he’s well rested so he sleeps for as long as he needs to and takes daily naps. It’s also important for him to keep fit during treatment so it’s recommended that he walk 30 mins a day, which has now become part of his routine.

It’s rare that there’s a single day where there isn’t some sort of treatment or appointment and physically they can be quite demanding. Even the journey to and from the hospital can be gruelling for both of us, and with our next round of IVF now underway it’s essential that we both live and eat well; good fuel is so important.

I have dedicated a day for myself too; a day to write and allow myself the opportunity to speak the words my mouth sometimes struggles to say.

I have dedicated a day for myself too; a day to write and allow myself the opportunity to speak the words my mouth sometimes struggles to say. And taking 5 minutes to just quieten my mind through breathing exercises or a heated face mask is bliss.

On the days Austin is in nursery, Phil and I do simple things together like go out for brunch or a nice walk.

Share a self-care tip, something that’s helped you on the path to being kinder to yourselves.

For Phil, it’s about letting others know when he needs time to rest. The fatigue caused by radiotherapy means relaxation is important and by telling us when he’s tired Phil’s less likely to be interrupted and will get the rest he needs. For me, it’s making self-care a part of every day and not just when I feel exhausted. Prevention is the best cure and so I make sure that self-care is a part of my routine.

Thank you, Kate and Phil, for taking a moment to openly share your experiences. I know your honesty and approach to self-care will benefit others going through their own struggles, fertility or otherwise.

You can follow Kate on Instagram and visit her website where both she and Phil contribute: www.mrsmeaks.com/blog

Self-care

Talking positive wellbeing with the founder of Isabella & Us.

January 16, 2019

Lancashire-based Emma Cottam, 27, is wife to Chris and mummy to one-year-old Isabella. She’s a full-time photography teacher as well as being the founder of her own business, Isabella and Us.

Here, Emma tells us about the meaning behind her business and how it’s driven her to support and inspire other mums with their maternal mental health. In her contribution to #thebigselfcareshare she also talks about taking the time for herself and meeting her own needs.

Emma Cottam of Isabella & Us.

What’s brought you to where you are?

I set up Isabella and Us. when Isabella was four weeks old as I wanted to share my experiences with other mums and help them feel less alone. Through Isabella and Us. I promote positive wellbeing in parents and help to raise awareness of maternal mental health.

The business originally launched as an online gift shop and is the home of the Positive Wellbeing Zine for Mums. Issue 3 is now on pre-order and issues 4 and 5 are in progress. I love being a cheerleader for mothers and celebrating our parenting wins!

How would you define self-care?

Self-care for me means looking after myself and putting myself first when I need to. It’s something that I try and incorporate into every day as before having Isabella I never really made the time for it. But when I became a mum I very quickly realised that if I didn’t meet my own needs then I would be no good to anyone else.

How do you incorporate self-care into your daily routine?

Every day I make sure that I find some time for me, even if it’s just 5 minutes to sit, to enjoy a shower in peace or to watch my favourite TV program. I’m also trying to exercise more and eat better to help look after my body.

Every day I make sure that I find some time for me.

One of the best things I do for self-care is to think about what I’ve achieved each day and how I’ve been winning as a mummy.

Share a self-care tip, something that’s helped you on your path to being kinder to yourself.

My self-care tip would be to do something every month that’s for you! Whether it’s quality time with your partner or with friends, or just a long soak in the bath or getting your nails done, plan that time for you in!

What’s next for your business?

It’s an exciting time for Isabella & Us. and I’m getting 2019 off to a strong start by building my team and searching for brand enthusiasts. I’ve also launched a range of new products, started two blog series and can’t wait to distribute the next Positive Wellbeing Zine.

Thanks for taking part in #thebigselfcareshare, Emma, and for telling us more about what inspired you to create Isabella & Us. You can find out more about Emma by visiting Isabella & Us. on Instagram and the Isabella & Us. website.

Self-care

The mini self-care Christmas gift guide

December 1, 2018

Self-care is the gift that truly keeps on giving, so why not support your friends and family this Christmas by delivering some treats that remind them to take extra care of themselves? I’ve included a few tried and tested products for kids too, to ensure they get the opportunity to experience and explore self-care and create their own happiness toolbox.

 

1. The Happy News Gift Subscription

The Happy News paper subscription

Why not buy an annual gift subscription for your loved one? With The Happy News, they’ll receive a little piece of sunshine through their letterbox four times a year. A small gift card is included with the recipient’s first order and I’ll let you in on a (not so secret) secret – I’m looking forward to my own little subscription in 2019!

 

2. The Positive Planner

Self-care with journaling

A daily gratitude journal that inspires and supports emotional well-being, this beautiful sunshiny planner has sections dedicated to daily reflections, mood tracking and mindfulness activities, as well as everyday organisational tools such as meal planners and shopping lists. I’ve been the proud owner of three journals so far and found them to be so beneficial.

 

3. Lena Wild Organic Skincare 

Lena Wild skincare products

This company believes that nature and beauty should be within everyone’s heart, mind and home, and I couldn’t agree more. Using carefully selected natural and organic ingredients from plants, flowers, herbs, nuts and seeds, they create protecting and nourishing, skin-loving products. They’re a real treat and I’m a fan of the Harmony Rescue Mask.

 

4. Stib Colouring Pencils

Stib colouring pencils for kids

These jumbo kids colouring pencils are great quality and come in a rainbow of vibrant colours, each printed with inspirational words such as ‘self-believer’ and ‘problem solver’. My daughter loved the character sticker sheets which accompanied the pencils and I’ve stocked up on their mini boxes for Christmas gifts this year. They’re so lovely for kids to grip, and they’ll put a smile on their faces.

 

5. I Can Cards

I Can Cards positive affirmations

These positive affirmation cards provide comfort and reassurance around meaningful subjects such as depression and anxiety. I Can Cards also sell cards for children and beautiful self-love kits complete with chocolates and a candle. I really like their self-love affirmations, created as a daily reminder of the necessity of self-care to improve our wellbeing.

 

6. Can to Candle Products & Workshops

Can to Candle

I found this company a few days ago and love all that they stand for. Not only are they producing 100% natural soy-wax candles, including aromatherapy and personal candles, you can also gift a candle making workshop, which would be a lovely way to spend an afternoon. The workshops are held in the lovely rural village of Temple just 15 miles south of Edinburgh.

 

7. HappySelf Journal

Happy Self Journal for kids

This is a journal designed especially for kids, which promotes happiness, develops positive habits and nurtures enquiring minds. My daughter is the proud owner of her own HappySelf Journal and we use it as an opportunity to talk about her day and her feelings. She loves to draw in it with her Stib pencils – they make a winning combo!

 

8. Flow Magazine Gift Subscription

Flow magazine subscription

Flow are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, as well as the release of their new Book for Paper Lovers. Their magazines are so beautiful and uplifting, and the content is geared towards mindfulness, creativity and (my favourite part) the beauty of imperfection. Illustrators from all over the world contribute to each issue and there’s usually a wee paper gift inside.

 

9. Johanna Basford Colouring Book 

Johanna Basford self-care colouring book

Johanna Basford is an illustrator on a mission to ‘Create Happy’. Her inky colouring books give colourists from all over the world the chance to explore Secret Gardens, Enchanted Forests, Lost Oceans and Magical Jungles. She recently launched the World of Flowers (pictured) and a signed copy of Ivy and the Inky Butterfly will be making an appearance in our next giveaway.

 

10. Bloom & Wild Fresh Flower Subscription

Self-care subscription flowers

There’s no better pick-me-up than a fresh bunch of flowers and Bloom & Wild offer a fantastic flower subscription service. They also have some beautiful mini Christmas trees and bouquets in stock for the festive season, which would be a nice surprise. Come January, you can plant the Christmas tree in your garden.

 

Create Your Own

Alternatively, you could create your own self-care kit to gift to a loved one this year. Some ideas include placing it in a decorated box or basket, or personalising it then filling it with goodies to promote some calm this Christmas. For a mini combo, you could pair a journal with stylish pencils, affirmation cards with chocolate or a candle with a beauty product. Or you could create a beautiful hamper with a range of products for someone who needs a little extra love this Christmas.

 

Thanks for reading and let me know what self-care products you have to hand to help you throughout the day. I’m always on the lookout for more opportunities to enjoy a little me time and to occasionally try out something new.

Love,
Sarah x

Self-care

Mariel Witmond on compassion & acceptance

November 13, 2018

Mariel Witmond enjoys a career that supports people through life coaching, nutrition and yoga. In her contribution to #thebigselfcareshare, she talks about how she’s learned to positively change her behaviours and shift her perspective.

Mariel Witmond self-care

Tell us about yourself.

I am half English, half Mexican with an American accent (born in Puerto Rico). I spent 11 years working in the entertainment industry. When I turned 30 I was running an office across Europe and South Africa, and I was massively burnt out. By the time I decided to leave the job I had gastritis, a hernia and Hashimoto’s – all of which I attribute to stress and an unhealthy lifestyle. Two years after I left my job, and after almost 15 years of practising yoga, I achieved my longtime dream of becoming a yoga teacher – in the hopes of sharing with others the countless ways it has positively impacted my life. I share a passion for life coaching and nutrition that together with yoga have become the pillars for my business Mindful Sonder – a holistic approach to wellbeing.

What does self-care mean for you?

Self-care is definitely a hot topic at the moment (and what a great one for it to be!), but I often find it to be associated with physical activities – getting a massage, taking a bath, etc – whereas I feel self-care is less about what we can do and more about how we can behave, and perhaps it’s those physical activities that help to get us there! To me, self-care is all about compassion and acceptance. I spent many years of my life not liking myself, feeling shame for my feelings, looking to the external world to fix what was wrong within.

I find that the first step towards self-care is finding compassion for yourself; allowing yourself to slow down long enough to check in with how you are doing.

I find that the first step towards self-care is finding compassion for yourself; allowing yourself to slow down long enough to check in with how you are doing, owning how you are feeling, and from a place of acceptance for who you are, deciding which next action best suits your current need. I always go back to the analogy of aeroplanes in the time of an emergency – you need to put your mask on first before you can help anyone else with theirs.

How do you incorporate self-care into life and work?

I am fortunate enough to have a job that requires me to regularly spend time on introspection. I’ve come to realise that the people I draw into my life (especially as a life coach and teacher) tend to be mirrors for things I myself have had to, or need to work on. Yoga keeps me in tune with and appreciative of my body and breath, and meditation allows me to clear through the chatter in my mind in order to better choose which thoughts to focus on. I would say writing is a big form of self-care for me as well – journaling, preparing my posts on Instagram and writing my blogs. Much like meditation, writing allows your thoughts to unravel, creating greater awareness that gives you the ability to pick and choose which thoughts to give your energy to.

What’s helped you on the path to being kinder to yourself?

Don’t waste your time on comparison and jealousy. I love this quote from Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Wear Sunscreen’ speech: “Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind… the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.” The thing that helped me the most with this is that whenever I would catch myself comparing or feeling jealousy, I encouraged myself to instead be inspired and find admiration. Comparison and jealousy lead you down a path of never enough. Admiration and inspiration can fuel your drive to accomplish whatever you want in life. It also helps to encourage support of one another rather than separation, which to me is essential. I am all about human connection!

Self-care is a behaviour. A mindset shift. Life is a reflection of our thoughts, a mirror of our perspectives – so work on shifting that perspective to be a more positive one, always from a place of compassion and acceptance.

I really enjoyed reading your contribution, Mariel. And the Baz Luhrmann quote is spot on! Thank you for taking part and giving us all more to think about.

You can follow Mariel on Instagram and find out more about her work on the Mindful Sonder website.

Self-care

Fill your cup with Sarah Holland

November 7, 2018

Today on the blog we have Sarah Holland, Fertility EFT Coach and founder of Fertile Mindset. Sarah has been a huge support to me this year and continues to help me manage the thoughts and feelings I have in relation to secondary infertility and baby loss as well as home and work life. I invited Sarah to share some of her wisdom for #thebigselfcareshare!

Sarah Holland self-care

Tell us about yourself, Sarah.

As well as being a Fertility EFT Coach I’m mum to two boys, aged 11 and 5. I had my own long journey to parenthood which included both natural and medical fertility treatment and early pregnancy loss. Our first son arrived through birth and our second through adoption. Having experienced the reality of fertility issues myself and the different paths to parenthood, I have a greater understanding and empathy for my coaching clients’ situations.

Many people believe this is the reason I became interested in fertility support. However, my work in the world of fertility began even earlier, in the year 2000, initially as a reflexologist. Whilst I loved reflexology and saw many positive results, it was the emotional side of fertility that fascinated me. I wanted to explore how effective emotional healing and support could positively affect the outcomes for my clients – both for their fertility journey and their life as a whole.

Through a desire to overcome my lifelong crippling fear of public speaking I discovered an amazingly effective technique called EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques, also called ‘Tapping’). My public speaking fear was cured within 20 minutes (and never to reappear!) and I could see how powerful this approach could be for my fertility clients. Fertile Mindset, my Fertility EFT Coaching practice, was ‘born’!

I now support women and men all over the world via online consultations and my online membership group the Fertile Mindset Sanctuary, and closer to home at my Fertile Mindset support group in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

What exactly is EFT?

EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques and is sometimes called ‘Tapping’. The theory behind EFT is that all negative emotions are caused by a disruption in the body’s energy system. If we remove this disruption – with the tapping technique – we can once again connect with our most healthy and natural emotional reaction to triggers, which is to be rational, to look at the facts instead of worry about the “what ifs” and discover our own natural positivity, strength and resilience – all wonderful qualities to have by your side in your home and work life.

How important is self-care to you?

Self-care is an important foundation of the work I do with my Fertile Mindset clients. In fact, it’s often an urgent priority the first time someone contacts me for support. When you’re trying for a baby and it’s taking longer than you expected, it starts to take over every area of your life. The focus is on becoming or staying pregnant, with all available energy being poured into ‘project baby’. But where does that leave the woman who is trying to conceive? If the ‘baby’ is her main or sole focus, caring for herself becomes a lower priority.

Many women tell me they have lost touch with who they were before they started to try for a baby, and feel a need to reconnect with their passions, purpose and true self. This doesn’t mean they will be any less focused on their path to parenthood, but they want to put themselves at the centre and start to prioritise their needs again.

If we are to rise to daily challenges and give our energy to them, we need to think about where we are sourcing that energy from.

Of course, this can be true for any overwhelming or stressful life situation, not just fertility issues. Working long hours in an all-consuming job, taking care of sick relatives and many other circumstances can also lead to a lack of self-connection and self-care.

If we are to rise to daily challenges and give our energy to them, we need to think about where we are sourcing that energy from. It’s very hard to pour your energy into other people or things if your own cup has run dry.

Whilst I aim to include self-care in my everyday life when I have bigger challenges arise I am conscious that even more self-care is needed at these time. It’s a paradox that it’s the time when we are most busy and overwhelmed that we truly need to make time for self-care. That is often the biggest challenge, but one well worth overcoming.

How do you practice self-care?

My ideal self-care is the kind that naturally fits into my daily routine. This way I can’t say that I haven’t had time, and it becomes an integral part of my life. One example is how I use ‘empty time’. I walk everywhere and use that time to listen to podcasts. My two favourites right now, which I switch between depending on my mood, are Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations and Kara Loewentheil’s Unf*ck Your Brain. Listening to them (or as I like to call it “putting good stuff in my ears!”) always leaves me with an inspiring or encouraging thought to support me throughout my day.

Walking is also my self-care for my body. You could say I’m sport-averse, and I was always that child who was “too poorly” to do P.E. at school! I’ve tried and failed to get into regular exercise routines including joining a gym, going to classes and exercising at home with online videos. But this structured approach doesn’t work for me and exercise then doesn’t feel like self-care. Taking a long walk on a beautiful route is something I can engage with and truly enjoy, and this is self-care for both my body and mind.

As I look at my days, I want to see that I have spent time with the people I love – my children, husband, family and friends – not just me and my computer until the early hours of the morning!

Working for myself and from home gives me the perfect opportunity to practice self-care. Of course, without set office hours and a never-ending to-do list, it can also be tempting to work too much. A few years ago, when my boys were younger and my available working hours shorter, I frequently used to work until 2.00am. This was not great self-care! I was sleep deprived, burnt out, and hardly seeing my husband. So now as part of my daily self-care routine, I work only a couple of evenings a week and have a much earlier finish time.

As I look at my days, I want to see that I have spent time with the people I love – my children, husband, family and friends – not just me and my computer until the early hours of the morning! Whilst my work is still extremely important to me when I achieve this balance it gives me a huge sense of well being.

I also believe that as a mother I need to fill up my cup to be the best I can be, for me and for my children. We can fall into the trap of believing that ‘good parenting’ means being with your children 24/7 and giving them everything you have (and then some more!). From day one as a mum, I have never been afraid to ask for help and support or to make time to be with friends and fill up my cup.

Share a self-care tip, something that’s helped you on your path to being kinder to yourself.

Going back to how I struggled with finding exercise and self-care for my body that worked for me, I’d say that personalising your self-care is essential. Just because other people are doing something, or saying you should be, doesn’t mean that it will be the best self-care for you. #thebigselfcareshare is perfect for ideas and inspiration. Then you can listen to your inner voice. What do YOU want to do? What does self-care mean for you?

When we are at our most stressed and overwhelmed I know it can be difficult to know what you need, but start small and choose to do something daily that you enjoy. It can be as simple as reading a magazine, having a coffee with a friend, or singing in the shower! As you take that small step, acknowledge that you are doing it for YOU. You are putting yourself first and enjoy how this feels.

Thanks so much for your contribution, Sarah. Whether I’m having a tough day or need to make an important decision, EFT is always there to help me balance my thoughts and I can wholeheartedly recommend trying it. It’s an integral part of my self-care practice these days.

If you’re struggling with self-care or any aspect of life and would like to chat to Sarah Holland about one-to-one support, she is offering 10% off her support packages to all Bide & Bloom readers. Read more about one-to-one support and then email Sarah to start with a free no obligation chat.

You can also follow Sarah on social media at:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/fertile_mindset
Facebook: business.facebook.com/FertileMindset

And visit his website: www.fertilemindset.com

Self-care

Self-love & the fertility struggle with Alice Rose

October 30, 2018

Today on #thebigselfcareshare we have Alice Rose, a woman on a mission to empower people during one of the hardest experiences in the world: a fertility struggle.

Alice Rose on self-care and fertility

Tell us about yourself.

I’m 35, married to Simon and mum of one IVF toddler. We live in London and I work for my dad. I started to share ways that I got through fertility treatment on Instagram and it’s snowballed into live events, a podcast and most recently my ‘think! what not to say’ campaign.

I suppose I offer a weird mix; encouraging people to live mindful, conscious lives, combined with solid support for fish and chips scoffing while bingeing on crap TV on the days when you need it. Life is about balance!

We couldn’t agree more! How do you define self-care?

This comes at a good time because I’ve been focusing on getting my podcast ready, launching my campaign and promoting my events. I am trying to juggle my job and personal life as well, so I’ve found myself getting to a point where I absolutely have to listen to my own advice.

What I’ve found though, is that with each challenge I’ve been faced with (vocal surgery when trying to be a singer; multiple failed rounds of fertility treatment; post-partum insomnia…) I’ve had to dig deeper every time. I’ve had to reach into my self-care toolkit (I call it my life raft!) and use all of my tricks and techniques to learn how to fuel and nourish my mental and physical wellbeing so I can be the best version of myself.

Self-care means putting my heart, soul and body first…

Self-care means putting my heart, soul and body first so that I can give as much as I possible to my family, my friends and the people who follow me on Instagram. If I don’t take my self-care seriously I can’t hope to encourage other people to do the same. Self-care means daily nourishment and check-ins to make sure I am OK. It’s loving myself unconditionally and giving myself as much gentle support and encouragement as I give my daughter.

How do you build self-care into your regime?

I write. Every day! I do three pages of free writing, then read for a while before bed. That’s my favourite time of the day. If I feel called to, I will meditate or do some yoga too. I live intuitively so I don’t have any routines really apart from my writing, which I couldn’t be without.

Can you share any self-care tips?

I think you have to check in with yourself daily. Whether it’s meditation, writing or moving…you need to go inside and see how you are. Only then can you give yourself what you need on any given day.

For example, I’m really looking forward to receiving some beautiful essential oils to help me cope with fatigue and stress! I’m no longer ashamed of admitting when I’m overwhelmed or tired. There’s nothing wrong with any feelings that come up – allowing yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling is such a relief. You haven’t failed. You’re human!

…allowing yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling is such a relief. You haven’t failed. You’re human!

The quicker I can identify how I am, the faster I can provide the antidote and come back into alignment, which is always the goal. I talk a lot about creating a ‘TTC Life Raft’ for people trying to conceive and I share my own story in detail during my talk and workshop. The feedback from the last two was amazing.

Such a brilliant response to my questions, Alice. Thank you!

Having been on something of a fertility rollercoaster myself I can appreciate just how valuable advice like Alice’s is. Do follow her on Instagram. She really does balance advice with humour and her latest campaign puts the spotlight on an important topic.

Alice’s latest blogs include How to Support Someone with Fertility Problems and 5 Ways To Cope with the Royal Baby news.

You can follow Alice on social media at:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/thisisalicerose
Twitter: www.twitter.com/thisisalicerose

And visit her website: www.thisisalicerose.com

Baby loss Self-care

Taking time for you after baby loss awareness week

October 16, 2018

Every year, thousands of people in the UK are affected by the loss of a baby during or after pregnancy. Baby Loss Awareness Week, which runs from 9 to 15 October, offers bereaved parents, their families and friends the opportunity to unite and honour the lives of their little ones. It also seeks to highlight the key issues affecting those who have sadly experienced baby loss – to ensure that care, research and bereavement support continues to improve.

After the event

While awareness weeks such as this can give people the chance to air important views and share valuable experiences, it can also be emotionally challenging. Over the last week, one which also saw us recognise World Mental Health Day, I’ve had to be extra mindful of my time spent reading articles and blogs, watching videos and the news. There have been media campaigns, television programmes, remembrance services; each of them a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness and honour the little ones we couldn’t bring home. But just over two years on from the first of our five pregnancy losses, it’s also been a constant, daily reminder of my own experiences.

We made the decision very early on, days after losing Harris in fact, that we would name him and talk about him. I didn’t know then that I would lose four further pregnancies and that’s brought a heaviness into my life that I still can’t describe, but it hasn’t dampened my spirit for talking, for sharing and for keeping his memory alive. He and our littlest stars are and always will be a part of my life. And I do want to continue raising awareness and remembering them. But I also have to find ways of moving forward. Not ‘moving on’, not forgetting, but I suppose making my experiences a part of my life in a way that’s manageable, that doesn’t keep me in a place that’s hard to bear.

…it’s important to be mindful of our thoughts and feelings and to take the time to be kind to ourselves.

The awareness we’ve raised, the support we’ve offered, the lives we’ve honoured, these are all things we can be proud of. And now in the days that follow Baby Loss Awareness Week, it’s important to be mindful of our thoughts and feelings and to take the time to be kind to ourselves.

Over the last few days, in my own small way, I’ve taken the grief I feel and the love I have for my littlest ones and put it into making the topic of baby loss more widely understood. I’ve accepted that it’s okay to do as little or as much as I like in the form of awareness-raising, and I’m keen to carry this forward; to keep talking, to keep sharing, but to do this at a slower pace and bring some focus back to other areas of my life.

Today, I feel emotionally tired but stable. A little tender maybe. So for those of you who are feeling a little tender too, maybe you can join me in exercising a little extra self-care? Here, I’ve written about the four things I did today to help me feel better and thought I’d share.

Four simple self-care activities

1. Observe
Sometimes, the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is to be still. I sat on my sofa with a hot drink. I stared into my mug of tea. I thought about how I was genuinely feeling. And I had a good greet. I felt alone and I felt sad. But I also felt supported because I was allowing myself that time to just be. It’s definitely okay not to be okay at a time like this, just as long as you’re also talking and sharing somehow. For me, that meant replying honestly to a couple of kind messages from friends after I’d finished my cuppa.

2. Write
Most mornings, I reach for my journal. While I don’t write religiously, I do try to set intentions and create a realistic to-do list for the day ahead. There’s something therapeutic about jotting down tasks, completing them and checking them off. It can give you the motivation to keep moving along and possibly the energy to do more (if you want to). Today, I felt compelled to free-write about how I was doing after Baby Loss Awareness Week and it grew into this blog. It might go unnoticed, but I feel so much better for putting it out there.

3. Relax
I try to have a relaxing couple of hours to myself once a week and I decided to enjoy that time this morning. My body felt tired and achy despite a lack of exercise and that’s usually a sign that I’m almost at the point of running on empty. So I decided to take a cheeky Epsom salts bath. This is something that still seems quite luxurious to me and I almost thought about making this a list of three but it’s actually just a cup of salt in a giant bowl of warm water. And my body feels a little more nourished, it feels better supported.

4. Read
I’ve been reading a few new books lately (I always have more than one on the go!) but there’s one I’m keen to finish this week and that’s The Self-Care Revolution by Suzy Reading (do check out her recent contribution to Bide & Bloom). I’ve mentioned the book a couple of times on Instagram because it genuinely is a handy guide and I’ve learnt a lot from it over the last few weeks. So I’m going to pop my phone on charge in the living room, complete my journal for the day then head to bed and read a few pages.

If you’d like to reach out or add your own thoughts do comment or share below. I’d love to know how the past week has been for you and how you plan to take the time to support yourself.

Love,
Sarah x

Baby loss Self-care

Self-care after baby loss with Jennie Agg

October 13, 2018

Today on #thebigselfcareshare we have Jennie Agg. A passionate writer and journalist, she runs a blog about life after recurrent miscarriage called The Uterus Monologues. We first connected when I set up my blog earlier this year and I recently approached Jennie about contributing to my series as part of baby loss awareness week.

Jennie writes so beautifully and honestly about her experiences. She’s also a great support to others, giving them a platform to share and getting behind causes such as the Tommy’s Together For Change campaign which she helped to launch. It’s a campaign that’s about ending the silence and stigma around all forms of baby and pregnancy loss, something that’s very close to my heart.

Jennie Agg self-care

Tell us about yourself

As well as being a writer, journalist and blogger, I’m a wife to Dan, a feminist, a cat person, a runner, a worrier and a Hufflepuff. On my blog, I write about my experiences of miscarriage – we’ve had four now, all before 12 weeks – but I’ve also started to share other people’s stories of baby loss. There’s so much about fertility, reproductive health and loss that we don’t really hear about or know how to speak fluently about and that’s what I’m interested in changing through my writing – on the blog, but also in my journalism where I can. Until recently, I used to work for a newspaper (a big, scary tabloid one) editing the health pages, but I’m now freelance. The decision to leave behind the office, the job title and to work for myself, from home, was made partly so I could do more of my own writing (and less worrying about other people’s writing) but also partly to give me the space to take better care of myself.

What does self-care mean for you?

More than anything, I’ve come to realise that self-care for me means time – time to myself, time to do whatever I feel like. For me, it’s not so much the thing that I’m doing that’s important, it’s that carving out of breathing space to be on my own. I think I’ve always been a classic introvert in that I need quite a lot of time to myself to decompress, to order my thoughts and truly relax, but this was amplified massively after our miscarriages (which all happened in space of about 18 months). Sometimes just being in crowded or loud spaces would feel exhausting, mentally and physically, in a way, I can’t really justify. The best I can do is that in the deepest moments of grief it’s like your body interprets everything as a threat and it just saps your resources (I have no idea if there’s any science to this).

I am not the person who can bounce from task to task, social engagement to social engagement and feel energised by that. I need the pauses in between.

In terms of the things I do with my self-care time, it really could be anything – a walk, a face mask, odd jobs in the house, decluttering forgotten messy corners, listening to a podcast, reading a magazine, baking something, or just sitting with a coffee in a cafe. People like to mock the idea of “me-time” (and it’s been shamelessly co-opted by companies flogging bubble bath and wine and the rest of it) but that really is what it is – and for me it’s vital. I like to busy and I like to be productive, don’t get me wrong, and I think I work hard, but I am not the person who can bounce from task to task, social engagement to social engagement and feel energised by that. I need the pauses in between.

How do you incorporate self-care into your daily routine?

I’m a great one for regimenting things and making what should be a treat feel like a chore, for latching on to something I enjoy or makes me feel better and deciding that therefore I MUST do it every day or three times a week. I’ll think: “I’m a yoga person now”, or “I’m going to get up and go for a run every single day at 7 am. That’s the answer”, or “I’m going to give myself a facial every Sunday night”. So I’m really trying to work against that tendency because it’s not a very relaxing mindset! Often, I think, real self-care is about what we let ourselves not do. So not getting up early if we’re exhausted, or not going to the gym when our legs are still sore from the day before, or not making ourselves eat the salad when we’re actually craving pasta. Not watching the serious drama everyone’s talking about, but re-watching the naff film we love instead. Small acts of letting ourselves off the hook.

Reading isn’t just entertainment for me, I honestly think it improves my well-being.

That said, I have some things I try to stick to every day: I try to get enough sleep, at least 8 hours (I know some people will think that’s a total luxury, and it’s easier for me as I don’t have children or a commute, admittedly, but I’ve interviewed enough sleep scientists to know that it really isn’t just a “nice to have”). I also try to get outside every day, whether it’s for a run or just a walk around the park at lunch. I like to look at the trees and the sky (God, I sound boring). (Jennie, I have to disagree! It sounds very relaxing, the perfect self-care activity!)

And my final non-negotiable act of self-care is to read a book. Not something for work. Not a newspaper article or blog post. An actual book. Reading isn’t just entertainment for me, I honestly think it improves my well-being. Sometimes if things are starting to feel a bit jangly and jarring in my head and I can’t really work out why, I almost always realise that for whatever reason I haven’t been reading on the train or before bed, as I usually do. I think reading does for me what meditation does for some people.

Share a self-care tip, something that’s helped you on your path to being kinder to yourself.

Schedule it in. It’s so easy to push whatever it is you want to do for yourself to the bottom of the list, and then never quite get round to it. This is something I’ve found especially difficult since going freelance because, in theory, I can do things any time I like – I don’t actually make the time at all. So I try to actually write self-care things in my diary, blocking off a whole day to specifically do nothing every now and again, or setting an alarm on my phone to tell me when it’s time to go for a walk or take a break or finish for the day. I think it’s about shifting how you see self-care from non-essential to something that has to be done, otherwise, nothing works as well. I’m still working on this, to be honest.

Thank you, Jennie, for being part of #thebigselfcareshare. All too often we try to fill the space we have and what you’ve said about carving out more time to simply be (and not necessarily do!) really resonated with me. It’s an important message for many people.

Read more about the Together For Change campaign and follow Jennie on social media at:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jenniemonologues
Facebook: www.facebook.com/uterusmonologue
Twitter: www.twitter.com/UterusMonologue

Or visit her website: www.uterusmonologues.com