How many self-care books have you bought and never read? How many times have you fancied trying a new fitness trend or wellness gadget, but never actually got round to booking that class or buying the ‘must-buy’ product? The number of Instagram hits on #selfcare has grown from 500,000 in 2016 to 21.4 million in 2022, with ‘mindfulness’ not far behind at 16.1 million and there are more than 60,000 self-care books for sale on Amazon.
With the pandemic still snapping at our exhausted heels, we need self-care now more than ever before. Yet, ironically, the overwhelming wealth of advice available can leave us feeling worse as it creates yet another thing to fit into our overstretched lives. The truth is, unless the content of self-help books is broken down into bullet points in a magazine, or you know for sure from a friend that the £45 crystal face roller really works, most people can’t be bothered. But we can! As hosts of reality podcast Self Care Club, we don’t just read the books, we also test every product and put ourselves through every physical and mental practice to figure out if it actually works or if it’s just another waste of your precious time and money. As two Jewish mothers in our 40s, we try it all and tell it straight.
We were introduced by a mutual friend and appeared as guests on each other’s radio shows. Our chemistry was instant and it was while chatting about how self-care has become yet another job for women that the idea for our podcast was born.
One of our first practices was trying Goat Yoga, which involved a two-hour schlep to Ipswich at 8am on a Sunday morning. We yachnered all the way up the motorway and Nicole sealed the friendship for good when she brought along a surprise packed lunch for us both of smoked salmon sandwiches and her mother’s famous egg and onion on rye. It was love at first bite and, since then, we have challenged each other on more than 100 shows with everything from vaginal steaming, weight lifting and cold showers to pelvic floor trainers, joining a choir and tree hugging.
Here are our top five practices for 2022:
Gratitude is the foundation of all self-care. Every time a person expresses or receives gratitude, dopamine is released in the brain, which makes us feel good. Grateful people take care of their physical health, exercise often and sleep better. Gratitude improves psychological health by reducing negative emotions and improves self-esteem by reducing social comparisons and aggression. Recognising all you have to be thankful for – even during your worst times – enables resilience. So the next time someone gives way to let you out of the Brent Cross car park, be sure to say thank you!
The feeling of being hugged or held can help to relieve panic attacks, anxiety, depression and stress. A weighted blanket does much the same thing. Filled with plastic or glass beads, the weight provides an all-over gentle pressure on the body, which relaxes your nervous system and produces a calming effect. Doctors and occupational therapists recommend them. The pressure therapy starts a series of chemical reactions, releasing the happy hormone serotonin. This provides a calming effect, regulates our mood and boosts the production of melatonin, which promotes sleep. If you have a husband who snores it may prove useful, even if he kvetches about it being too hot.
It might sound cheesy, but learning to love yourself, cellulite and wobbly tummy included, is one of the most powerful things you can do. Think of self-love as cultivating a better relationship with yourself. People who love themselves are less likely to suffer from anxiety or depression. Self-love brings better sleep, reduces stress, lessens procrastination, nurtures close relationships and paves the way for a positive mindset. There are many ways to do this, such as:
• High five yourself every time you look in the mirror and say something nice to yourself like you would to your best friend;
•Fill in a journal at the end of the day to establish all the ways you showed up today and what you can celebrate about yourself (my hair is looking fabulous!), three things you’re grateful for today, or one thing you’ll forgive yourself for this week. (I forgot to call my mother);
• Say daily affirmations: “I am… (something positive about yourself)” .
A compassionate eating framework that treats bodies with dignity and respect is the opposite of dieting, when we are told what to eat and when – instead we listen to our ‘hunger’ and ‘full’ cues. To practice intuitive eating:
• Reject the diet mentality;
• Honour your hunger;
• Make peace with food;
• Feel your fullness;
• Cope with your emotions with kindness;
• Respect your body;
• Move – feel the difference;
• Honour your health with gentle nutrition.
Oy vey! This is a big one. People-pleasing is a process of guessing what other people want, or what will make them think favourably of us, and then acting accordingly. When we pretend to be something that we aren’t, or we do something that is more about influencing what others think of us than it is about expressing ourselves, then we lose our sense of self and deplete all our energy on the wrong things.
If you have a difficult time saying ‘no’, are preoccupied with what other people might think, or you’re always telling people you’re sorry, you are a people-pleaser. You need to change the conversation from: “What will they think?” to: “What do I think?” People- pleasing is all about the other person, so the first step is to check in with yourself. When someone asks for a favour, tell them you need some time to think about it. Saying ‘yes’ right away can leave you feeling obligated and overcommitted. Do you really want to host Yom Tov for 25 people when you are starting a new full-time job that week?
Lauren Mishcon is a birth doula and pregnancy and childbirth expert.
Nicole Goodman is a certified CPCC women’s identity expert and coach www.nicolegoodman.co.uk
Win a Remy weighted blanket worth £135!
For your chance to win a grey Remy weighted blanket worth £135, head to our Instagram @selfcareclubpod. You will need to like the post, follow us and subscribe to Self Care Club podcast on Apple iTunes. The winner will be picked at random and notified on Instagram. The competition closes on 21 January 2022.
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