What’s your top tip for remaining calm in a stressful situation?
Use whatever resonates for you in the moment – the body, the breath or your mind. It is literally impossible from a nervous system perspective to be stressed and relaxed at the same time, so soothe yourself with gentle and coaxing inner dialogue, elongate your exhalation and soften any physical tension you find.
What’s a good way to switch off in the evenings, particularly after a busy work day?
Down tools, leave your phone in another room and let go of your day by using your senses – immerse yourself in a warm bath, submerging your ears beneath the water for real silence, use some scented body lotion and enjoy the sensation of applying it tenderly, listen to some music that channels how you want to feel, lie back with your legs up the wall with some guided relaxation when your mind feels really sticky.
How can we stop ourselves becoming overwhelmed by changes beyond our control?
Keep bringing your mind back to ‘what can I do something about’. If something is beyond our control we need to acknowledge that any worry, effort or wishing is a waste of time and energy, because there is nothing we can do about it. Direct your mind, focus your energy on where your influence lies and we protect our peace. Sometimes this calls for radical acceptance and grief is part of the healing journey.
Do you have any short practices to do before bed for a better night’s sleep?
Childs pose to quieten the mind, candle breath (in through the nose, out slowly through gently pursed lips) to release what we no longer need, a quick mind dump to let go of your day or a spot of gratitude journaling to lift your mood.
If Yoga isn’t your thing, is there anything else that can have a similar effect?
In my experience if you feel that yoga isn’t for you, it’s more likely that you haven’t yet found the style of practice that resonates. Keep looking! The beauty of yoga is that it brings us into connection with the body, builds our mindfulness muscles, releases physical tension and helps us process our emotions. Alternatives can be dance, tai chi, mindful walking, journaling, or expressive art.
If you’re new to meditation, what’s the best way to start?
I’d recommend a walking meditation where you focus on one sense – sight or sound can be a good starting point, or meditation where you focus on movement like yoga or tai chi or even folding the washing.
Personal connection is something we’ve really lost in the last year, how can we make sure we still feel connected?
Connection is all about staying current and communicating care. While our means of connection have been seriously impinged, there are ways we can still plug in. Record a voice note, send a postcard or care package, or text a photo of a treasured shared moment and relive it together.
What led you to write Self-Care for Tough Times?
Self-care is challenging at the best of times, in tough times it can feel impossible. We just don’t have the same time, energy, space or funds and guilt can literally stop us in our tracks. In times of stress, anxiety, loss and change, we need a whole new toolkit of soothing practices. I wrote Self-Care for Tough Times to remove the barriers to self-care, empowering people with accessible, healing practices at fingertips reach. I hope it can be just the tonic right now.