Back in the days when I was juggling a relentlessly stressful job in PR with looking after a baby and a three-year-old who seemed to take it in turns to be ill, I turned into a walking wreck. I was desperate to be the consummate professional I’d always been – but, grappling with chronic sleep deprivation, I was falling apart at the seams. My weight plummeted, I had a constant knot of fear in my stomach and I was struck by all manner of weird ailments, including a horrible red eye that refused to heal.
Now that I’ve retrained as a health coach, I’m a lot more aware of what my body is trying to tell me. Whereas I used to plaster over the cracks, slap on more make-up, fake a rictus smile and crack on with the job, I now recognise when I’m at breaking point – and I take action.
I’m far calmer, happier and more focused now at 50 than I was at 30. Back then, I was attempting to do the impossible and was wrecking my health in the process – though I was blind to what I was doing to myself.
‘One of my favourite breathing practises is 7/11: breathing in for the count of 7 and out for the count of 11’
My mindset around my own self-care is now radically different from how it used to be. I now make sure to put my own wellbeing to the top of my list. Here are some of the things I now do regularly as part of my self-care toolkit:
- • Start the day with a morning routine that doesn’t immediately launch me into the fight or flight. I now spend some time on journaling and mindful breathing before I check my inbox.
- • Have much more respect for the boundaries of my energy. These days, I’m more choosy about what I commit yourself to. I recognise that if I take energy out of my bank, I then need to put some energy back in!
- • Schedule me-time into my diary – whether it’s going for a walk in nature, doing a weekly yoga class or booking in a monthly “date with myself” to see a matinee performance at the theatre (I’m looking forward to restarting this one now that theatres are reopening).
- • Pay attention to my breathing – one of the fastest and most effective ways to get back to feeling calm. One of my favourite breathing practises is 7/11: breathing in for the count of 7 and out for the count of 11.
- • Write in my gratitude journal last thing at night – simply noting down three things I’m grateful for from that day. This is a beautiful way to interrupt any anxious thoughts and replace them with positive feelings.
Suzy is a former PR boss who left behind an award-winning career in PR to become a health coach. She has first-hand experience of burn-out, having struggled to juggle the very stressful running of her business with looking after her three children. She now leverages her experience to empower others to look after their own health – mentally, physically and emotionally. Suzy is the founder of Peppermint Wellness (www.peppermintwellness.co.uk) and host of the Wellness Unwrapped podcast.