Today marks the first day of Self-Care week, an annual national awareness week that focuses on embedding support for self-care across communities, families and generations. This year’s theme is all about engaging and empowering people, something we wholeheartedly believe in at Well Aware. The strap-line for Self-Care week this year is Embracing Self Care for Life and what better way to mark this week and find out how to create some space for ourselves than with the Self-Care Queen herself, Suzy Reading. This week we are shining the spotlight on Suzy to find out her top tips for carving out 'micro moments of nourishment' in our ever increasing schedules.

Briefly Suzy, can you tell our readers what you do? Where did it all begin and how did you get to where you are today?

Suzy Reading, the Queen of Self-Care

Suzy Reading, the Queen of Self-Care

I’m a psychologist, yoga teacher, writer and corporate speaker – the one thread uniting all these roles is empowering people with the tools of self-care. My passion for this, while underpinned by all of my disparate studies, was really set into motion by my life experiences: motherhood coincided with the terminal illness of my father and for a time there, I really struggled. Self-care helped me claw my way back to vitality and now this is the toolkit I share with my clients; helping them to cope with and heal from stress, loss and change, boosting resilience in the face of future challenges and enabling them to become the people they aspire to be.

As the Queen of Self-Care and what with it being Self-Care week, we thought it fitting to find out your top self-care tips…

I have so many little gems I want to share with you! Here are just a selection from my book ‘The Self-Care Revolution’:

~      Self-care needn’t be grand, elaborate, expensive or time consuming. Be on the lookout for ‘micro moments’ of nourishment that allow you to de-stress, soothe, energise or focus in an instant. Think along the lines of music, scent, movement, physical softening of tension, a mantra or just being with your breath.

~      Be clear on what self-care really means. Self-care is nourishment for your head, heart and body. It delivers what you need right now in this moment, AND it also nourishes the person you are becoming, your future self. This is a useful distinction to make. One glass of wine savoured in the evening might be self-care but more than that, leading to a late night, and you’re future self won’t be thanking you. Don’t confuse self-care with pampering either. Sometimes self-care is gentle, soothing and relaxing, sometimes it is going for that run that you really don’t fancy. Sometimes it is taking an honest look at emotional baggage you’re lugging around. Self-care is not always comfortable but it always takes you closer to the person you aspire to be.

~      Be proactive and write out your self-care toolkit so it’s there at your fingertip reach when you most need it. When we are stressed, self-care often drops away because we are fatigued, frazzled, time poor and our usual means of replenishment become unavailable to us. We are also at our least creative and resourceful in coming up with new, accessible options. Writing out a broad toolkit of soothing, healing and energising practices that resonate for you is like forming a psychological contract with yourself, helping you take swift action and get back on track sooner. I give lots of inspiration for self-care activities in my book and my instragram account @suzyreading.

~      If self-care feels indulgent, ask yourself, what have you got if you don’t have your health? Two mantras for you: ‘self-care is health care’ and ‘it’s not me first, its ME AS WELL’. Please nourish you! When we tend to ourselves with love and care, we are all calmer, kinder, more compassionate people – it is the ultimate win win!

At Well Aware, we are all about helping our clients make long-term positive changes to their health by encouraging small changes to your daily habits over a prolonged period of time. Are there any things you incorporate into your daily routine to boost your mental and physical health?

Absolutely, for me the cornerstone of my self-care practice is reflected in the framework I created, called The Vitality Wheel. There are 8 spokes to the wheel, each representing a different way of nourishing myself. I use at least one of these spokes every day to boost my physical, emotional and mental health. They are:

1.     Movement and nutrition

2.     Sleep, rest, relaxation and breathing

3.     Mood boosters

4.     Social connection

5.     Physical environment

6.     Goals and accomplishment

7.     Values and purpose

8.     Coping tools

What’s the first you do every morning? What are your morning rituals or routines?

Before I get out of bed, I think of one thing I am looking forward to it my day. This always cultivates a feeling of zest. I spritz my Neom Organics ‘Feel Refreshed’ room spray and take 6 yoga mountain breaths, repeating a mantra that cultivates how I want to feel. It can be as simple as ‘I am ready’. I choose an outfit, colour, piece of jewellery or swoosh of lippy that I love and I hit the ground running, feeling nourished and present.

And bedtime rituals? How do you switch off and ensure you get restful sleep?

My mantra is ‘sleep for sanity’… I revere sleep so I have a strong ritual to unwind in the evening. It’s a digital detox for at least 30 mins prior to bed, some soothing yoga poses on the floor, like childs pose and pigeon to disentangle my body from the busyness of my day. I might journal with a braindump if my mind is still whirring or do a gratitude exercise if my mood is subdued. Reading Psychologies Magazine is another way of focusing my mind on something constructive. I use a magnesium oil spray that definitely promotes better sleep and lastly my favourite Neom Organics pillow spray has me floating off to sleep.

As specialists in workplace wellbeing, one of the common issues we get asked about is sleep… do you have any tips on this?

Yes! Design your own pre-bedtime ritual and cultivate a positive relationship with sleep. It can be as simple as wearing PJ’s you love or using the 4/7/8 breathing technique when your head hits the pillow. Most adults need 7 – 9 hours sleep to function well so get to know your sleep needs, give sleep the priority it deserves and get some decent shut eye! Just about every aspect of health is improved when we are well slept, so think of it as time well spent.

We are big on personal development at the Well Aware HQ, helping our clients unlocking their full potential and boost performance. Do you have tips you can share with us that you’ve picked up along the way?

I think my favourite tip is to get clear on who you want your future self to be. What would they say, how would they move, what choices would they make. How does it feel to be in their skin? I love cultivating a relationship with my future best self. I ask, what would she do? Every time I make that choice I know I am taking a step closer to being this incarnation of myself. Tune in with yours and you’ll find great wisdom, resolve and a healthy dollop of self-compassion there!

Quick fire round…

1.              Coffee or tea? – a savoured cup of coffee in the morning, green tea in the afternoon and a soothing herbal blend to unwind in the evening.

2.              Early bird or night owl? Early bird by virtue of my figure skating days

3.              Introvert or extrovert? Introvert mostly, with some extroverted moments

4.              Rural or urban? Rural, preferably seaside please

5.              Adventurous or cautious? Mindfully chosen adventure

6.              Hiit or yoga? yogahhhh

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Suzy's first book ‘The Self-Care Revolution’ published by Aster, is due out 28th December 2017 and available for pre-order now.

Suzy's first book ‘The Self-Care Revolution’ published by Aster, is due out 28th December 2017 and available for pre-order now.