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Self-care when you have no money

June 14, 2020

If there’s one thing that rattles my cage (and trust me, the word most people use to describe me is ‘calm’), it’s the commodification of self-care. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good bath lotion, I adore candles and I spend money on yoga and breath work classes because they make me feel a million times better. However, what I don’t like though, is the feeling that if you can’t buy these things (and let’s face it mes amis, we’re heading into one of the biggest recessions in years), then somehow you’re not investing in your self-care and you’re not looking after yourself properly. In the same way, that exercise shouldn’t just be about the gym, self-care isn’t about consumerism either. We need to separate what are luxury products and think about what self-care is especially when you have no money.

Consumer culture and self-care

Truth time, I’m very easily influenced – no pun intended – and it’s something I really have to keep on top of. I’m really susceptible to branding, latest trends and the higher the price tag, the more I seem to place value on it… Honestly, I’m a marketer’s wet dream, to the degree, I would buy snow from eskimos if it came in good packaging. This is why I know how well self-care has been commodified and tbh, being able to treat yourself is one of the greatest pleasures in life.

However, fundamentally, good self-care should cost nothing. Buying a good candle but then not giving yourself space and time to relax and enjoy it means that investment hasn’t really been worth it. Good self-care is fundamentally about space and time and the rest is all gravy. Drops the mike.

When your love don’t cost a thing – and you’ve also worked out boundaries because self-care

Self-care when you have no money

So what do you do when you’re need for self-care is high but your cash flow is low? Because let’s be honest here, being skint is stressful and this is when you need to look after yourself more than ever. How do you make that happen when money is tight and I’m not talking just because you’re saving for a holiday…? Well, here are some simple ideas on how to still invest in your self-care when you have no money.

Switch off social media (for most of your day)

I’m not suggesting switching off social media so you don’t see lots of adverts or people doing nice things… I just think we need to be aware that social media is a noise and it can make you feel a bit shit about yourself. I allow myself 70 minutes per day to look at all my social media channels and then my phone switches them off. We’re not good at being in our own thoughts and allowing ourselves to just be. So this is why I suggest manually limiting time on these channels and giving yourself some headspace.

Be at one with nature

I can only imagine what my neighbours must think when they see me kicking off my shoes and embracing a tree in our communal garden in Peckham. However, one of the best things you can do for yourself is spend time in nature. I’m not talking about roaming the Norfolk broads or wild swimming, just spending time tending a house plant or being in your local park will do. Seeing just a bit of nature makes the biggest difference to our wellbeing and it costs nothing.

Listen to a podcast

Now, I tried to google this to prove my theory and didn’t find much scientific evidence… HOWEVER, I fully believe listening to a podcast takes a lot less out of you than watching TV and so is therefore better for your wellbeing. Fully open to being shouted down by a scientist… But the best thing is podcasts are free.

I wonder if it’s because it’s more of an intimate relationship? It’s more conversational? Or it only requires one of the senses to concentrate? Anyway, regardless, here are some of my favourite wellbeing podcasts (placed in the order that I thought of them in). Just as an FYI, I only listen to the edited highlights of Russell Brand’s Under the Skin because I don’t want to buy a monthly subscription… I know we should pay for content (she says writing a blog for nothing…), however, needs must and this is a blog about self-care when you have no money after all 🙂

  1. How to Fail with Elizabeth Day
  2. That’s so Retrograde
  3. Happy Place
  4. Under the Skin
  5. Happier with Gretchen Rubin

Practice gratitude

I’ve written a lot about practicing gratitude and the difference it makes to your mindset. However, what do you do (and I’m not correlating this to having no cash) when things are really shit? And you feel like you don’t have anything to feel grateful for? Well, in those circumstances – and we all have them – then cast your mind back to things you were grateful for in the past and think of those examples until things start to feel a bit better.

Practicing gratitude is one of the best things you can do for your outlook. Plus, all you need is paper and pen.

Sleep

One of the best things all of us can do is make sure we get enough sleep. The amount you need varies from person to person, but for me, eight hours is the dream (pun intended). Get into good sleep habits and give your physical and mental body time to recuperate and replenish. Sleep is honestly one of the best things you can do for yourself and it’s free.

wellbeing

Why lavender is an essential oil superpower

January 19, 2020
lavender essential oil

Lavender essential oil

I must admit, I was never a huge fan of lavender. I associated it with overly perfumed soaps and a fragrance only an elderly woman could love.

But, I’m happy to report, I was wrong. Completely wrong in fact. Lavender is one of the most essential of essential oils. It’s highly versatile and can be used for everything from boosting your mental wellbeing to cleaning your home. 

Lavender essential oil is a must have in your aromatherapy tool kit. 

What is lavender?

Lavender comes from the lavender plant. It can be grown as a shrub in your home garden (even in the UK) and commercially is grown as a crop most famously in Provence, France. 

It’s actually one of my dreams to cycle through the lavender fields in Provence on a vintage bike with a baguette in the basket. Yes, I really am that basic…

Lavender has tiny violet coloured flowers which can be dried and used in beauty products and around the home. The essential oils are created through steam distillation, which is quite a long, technical process. Apparently, you can do this at home – however, I’ve never tried it so can’t vouch for this DIY lavender extraction method

Top 10 benefits of lavender essential oil

  1. Anxiety and stress – Feeling stressed and anxious? Lavender can help calm and relax the mind. Inhale lavender oil right out of the bottle or use in a diffuser.
  2. Sleep – Lavender oil is proven to help induce sleep. Try putting into a diffuser whilst you go to sleep or adding a few drops to your pillow.  
  3. Pain relief – lavender is an anti-inflammatory. It can help reduce redness and pain from insect bites and try adding to a carrier oil such as wheatgerm for muscle pain.
  4. Cold relief – lavender can help with respiratory infections by loosening phlegm (apols if you’re reading this first thing in the morning…) and providing soothing relief. Add hot water to a large bowl and add 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil and 2-3 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Cover your head with a towel to trap the steam in and breathe deeply.
  5. Wounds – lavender has antimicrobial properties which have been shown to speed up the healing of cuts, burns, scrapes and wounds. Mix with a carrier oil like coconut oil and use a cotton ball to apply to the bruise.
  6. Cleaning the home – did you know lavender is antibacterial and a natural disinfectant? Mix with water into a spray bottle for laundry and with white vinegar for a natural chemical-free cleaner.
  7. Skin – there’s a reason why lavender can be found in so many beauty products. Try mixing with a carrier oil such as argan oil and massaging into your skin.
  8. Hair – lavender is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal so helps in reducing dandruff and supporting scalp health, which can stimulate hair growth. Add a few drops to your shampoo.
  9. Stimulating the brain – lavender can improve cognition because it helps remove stress. Try diffusing when studying or working.
  10. Detoxifying lavender contains antioxidants and is a natural way of removing toxins from your body. Just add a few drops into a hot bath.

Subtle (spiritual) properties of lavender

Essential oils can also be used as part of a spiritual practice. Use lavender for balancing, calming and to clear a house of negative energies.

Easy ways to use lavender essential oils

The power of smell is linked to the brain’s limbic system. It triggers positive and negative reactions in us. Smell can help provoke memories and emotions, which is why it impacts on our wellbeing.

There are several ways to use essential oils. Try using a diffuser, adding to a hot bath or mixing with a carrier oil for quick results.

How to buy lavender essential oils

A good essential oil should have ‘100% pure essential oil’ and the proper name on the label. In lavender’s case this is lavendula. If you see the word ‘fragrance’ it almost always means there are chemicals added in.

The best essential oils are therapeutic grade, which means they are unfiltered and untreated and really good quality.

Essential oils are natural but powerful. Some people may develop an allergic reaction so it’s always best to do a patch test. If you’re pregnant, nursing or planning on using on a small child, then check beforehand. Lavender is safe in all of these instances though.

Where to buy lavender essential oils

I buy my essential oils from Baldwin’s or Tisserand. However, there are lots of suppliers around – just follow the advice above to ensure you’re buying a good product.

You can buy a 10ml bottle for around £5-7. A small amount goes a long way.

self-care

Self-care practices and how to implement them

March 26, 2019
self-care practices and how to implement them

What is self-care?

Self-care is the practice of ensuring we are looking after ourselves physically and emotionally. This helps us navigate through life easier.

Whilst the self-care phrase has been mocked for just being about candles and baths (both of which I love); it is fundamentally important to make sure we are giving ourselves what we need.

Stresses about our families, finances, work all play on our minds. Eating badly, sleeping badly, becoming dehydrated and not exercising enough affect our physical health.

So how can we put self-care practices in place?

Our lives fluctuate and so it’s important to think about what we need to help with the situations we are experiencing at that moment in time. We are all individuals and our experiences are different so it’s important our self-care practices reflect what we need. In a previous post, I put together a self-care audit template so you can work through areas to focus on.

It’s important to then think about what self-care practices we can put in place to help and how we can do this realistically. What self-care isn’t, is a stick to beat ourselves up with. For that reason, I would choose only a few practices to put in place at any one time.

What are good self-care practices?

Nutrition: I find the advice about nutrition overwhelming and busy lives can make it hard to eat well. I try to start the day with a smoothie (2/3rds green veg and/or beetroot and 1/3rd fruit) so I know I’m getting some vitamins. I buy frozen fruit to save time in the morning. I also find taking my lunch to work helps. It’s very hard to eat the perfect diet and our bodies all metabolise food differently. I would choose one thing to start with such as cutting down on takeaways and then take it from there.

Dealing with stress: stress is an inevitable part of life. However, it’s important to understand the physical and mental impact it has on us. Try to rest and yes, take a bath or light a candle. Think about a mindfulness practice and download an App such as Headspace or Andrew Johnson to help. Look at ways you can minimise what is causing you stress – although admittedly, sometimes it’s out of our control and we need to just be kind to ourselves.

Good sleep hygiene: sleep is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing. Going to bed at a regular time; switching off phones at least an hour before bed; avoiding alcohol and making your bedroom a sleeping sanctuary should all help.

Give yourself permission to focus on you: there is a saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ and it’s so true. Sometimes we are so busy focusing on other people, we forget to take care of ourselves but being depleted means we can’t give either. Do something for yourself even if it’s just taking a short walk or sitting down with a coffee.

self-care

10 quick and easy self-care ideas

July 31, 2018
quick easy self-care ideas

Self-care for when life gets busy

I fall into bad habits quickly. Lack of time means I reach for junk food instead of eating a more balanced diet and rushing around means I forget to think about my needs altogether. When life gets busy, self-care tends to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. The irony being that when life gets hectic, we need to look after ourselves more than ever. There are only so many hours in the day, and of course, there are times when self-care can’t be prioritised. So here are 10 quick and easy self-care ideas to consider for when time is short.

10 quick and easy self-care ideas

  1. Prioritise small life admin tasks. I’m the queen of procrastination and push any small admin tasks as far down the list as I can. It’s easy to delay something that isn’t urgent but the reality is, it still hangs over you as something to do. Give yourself sense of achievement and stop the list from building up.
  2. Declutter. There is a lot of evidence which shows a clearer space is good for the mind. It gives you room to think and breathe. Prioritise one room at a time and objectively clear things you don’t use or need anymore.
  3. Take time out from social media. Sure, social media can be fun. However, it can also be a time hoover and leave you with feelings of inadequacy. Switch your phone off for a set period of time and always unfollow or mute anyone who doesn’t make you feel good about yourself.
  4. Check in with your body. How are you really feeling? Do a full body scan and notice signs of aches and pains. Do you need to rest? How is your mood? Understand what your emotions are telling you.
  5. Breathe. There may not always be time for mindfulness practice but there is always time to breathe… Take 3 deep breaths and use the moment to pause and reflect in a busy day.
  6. Pay it forward. This may not sound like a self-care strategy, however, doing random acts of kindness helps uplift us and feel more positive. Try leaving a bottle of water for a homeless person in summer or buy a coffee for the person in front of you. Small acts can make a big difference.
  7. Gratitude. My gratitude practice often falls to the bottom of the list when I get busy. During those times, take a few minutes out of the day to notice what you feel grateful for.
  8. Walk outside. We should all try to have 15 minutes outside to make sure we’re getting enough Vitamin D. I try to take some time away from listening to music and really notice the world around me. It’s important to see the beauty in everyday life.
  9. Give yourself permission to take time off. I will sit down to read a book and within minutes get up to start putting the washing away or some equally innocuous domestic task. I struggle to make time just for me. It’s important to remember, we all need breaks and no one’s energy is limitless.
  10. Do something just for you. I know baths and candles are a bit of a joke when it comes to self-care. However, there is something in the idea of taking time out just for yourself. We all deserve a break.
soul

The energy alignment method: does it work?

May 14, 2018

What’s the energy alignment method?

The Energy Alignment Method (EAM) is a tool to help shift thoughts and patterns which no longer serve you and enable you to live a happier life. It uses a Kinesiology energy technique, the Sway, along with Law of Attraction practices and some Eastern spiritual philosophies. 

EAM was designed by Yvette Taylor, a personal development coach with 20 years of experience coaching people.   

I stumbled across a free course called ‘5 days to flow’ whilst scrolling through Facebook. It promised to help me become the person that I want to be. Admittedly, I’m still trying to work out who that person is…  

The course was marketed as a study, and in the name of transparency, I felt it was more of a content teaser for a 10-month paid-for programme, rather than a research project. This may have changed since. However, it was completely free of charge and the only thing I gave up was my time (and my email address for course materials and sales pitches which you can unsubscribe from).  

I’d never heard of EAM before, but I’m always interested in trying new things, particularly in the wellbeing/self-development space. You only have to make a short commitment each day, which tbh I would probably have been spending faffing around on social media. Plus the course was coinciding with a planned quiet period in my life and thoughts around needing some change. 

It seemed like there was some synchronicity at play so I decided to give it a whirl.

YOLO, as they say. 

How does the energy alignment method work? 

EAM teaches how to use the Sway to get answers from your body. It’s hard to describe but you stand on both feet, cross your arms and place on each shoulder. You close your eyes and then ask the Sway for guidance by asking yourself ‘yes, no’ questions. 

The Sway taps into our subconscious feelings and directs our energy either forward or backwards for yes or no. This gives us some clarity to understand how we really feel about certain things. 

Over the five days, you work through various parts of life including relationships, work and thought patterns. This helps you identify blockages which may be standing in your way from changing your life or making you feel stuck . 

These blockages might be limiting beliefs, negative thought patterns, fears around change and self-destructive behaviours built up from our life experiences over time. 

EAM then teaches you to use the Sway to help release these blockages and free yourself of negative patterns which have no value. 

It helps realign your energy and create space for it to flow so that you can start focusing on manifesting what you want from life. 

So does the Energy Alignment Method actually work? 

In all honesty, I found using the Sway difficult. I questioned how much it was my subconscious controlling it and how much was my own will? I struggled with it as a concept. 

However, the other part of me wondered how much that really matters? If I’m asking my body for guidance and directing my energy to a certain outcome, then it shows that I know the answer already. I quite often lack trust in my own judgement and perhaps the Sway is a way of giving me confidence in decision-making? 

I’m not convinced I’d use the Sway to navigate major life changes. However, I think any tools which help us to ask questions about our thoughts, feelings and emotions are always useful. It’s good to be able to identify our limiting beliefs and recognise what we tell ourselves isn’t always true. 

EAM also teaches you Law of Attraction methods of focusing on what you want from life and visualising your goals. It helps you think bigger and think about what you want to change in a way you feel you can do it. 

It also encourages you to give yourself positive affirmations and to believe in yourself. 

Re-energising ourselves matters

I did find EAM to be really energising. It’s upbeat, it doesn’t take too long and it’s a chance to really focus on what you want from life. 

Like most people, I’m so busy getting through the day-to-day that I don’t check in enough on how I’m feeling. EAM gave me the space to do that. 

Having a regular self-development practice to help you feel in control of your own life is always beneficial; whether that’s EAM or something else. We all need different things at different times. 

The main takeaway I had was the importance of lifting your vibrations and how good you feel when you’re radiating positive energy. A self-development practice will help energise you and empower you to feel excited about the future and change ahead. 

wellbeing

Spring clean your life

April 21, 2018
spring clean your life

Do you ever feel stuck in a rut, or that things are ok, but, could be better? Does life feel a little bit blah? Well, this is when you might want to give your life an overhaul and look at what could do with sprucing up? Do you need to give your life a spring clean?

What is a spring clean?

The term ‘spring clean’ comes from the days when our homes were heated by fires. People would spring clean and air their homes in the warmer months to clean it of all the soot and grime that had accumulated when the weather was colder. These days, we rely on much more modern methods to heat our homes – but there is still something about the first sunny day and seeing flowers starting to bloom, which lifts our spirits and offers the chance to spring clean your life of some of the patterns we may be in.

How to give your life a spring clean

Revaluate relationships

Do you have relationships in your life with people who make you feel bad about yourself? Are there people that you feel you have to mentally ‘psyche’ yourself up to spend time with? We should try to surround ourselves with people who lift us up and support us rather than bringing toxic energy. There are occasions when it’s time to let friendships go or manage the amount of time you spend with someone. We all change throughout our lives and sometimes our relationships need to change to.

Contact people you care about

How many times have you mentally composed a message to someone – but never actually sent it? Are there people on your mind, who you never seem to contact? Make the effort to reach out and let people know you’re thinking about them.

Declutter old clothes and possessions

My Dad always told me if you haven’t used something for two years, you should get rid of it. I think there is an element of truth in that idea. However, I sometimes struggle with the idea that I might want to wear something again. If I’m really uncertain, I pack it away and if I haven’t missed it in a year, I know I can give it away happily. There are physical benefits to decluttering in that it frees up more living space, as well as mentally feeling a lot clearer.

Go through life admin and paperwork

Write a list of everything you need to do and work through it. It can be really easy to put off tasks that need doing (even as I’m writing this I know I have a fair few outstanding..), however, it’s good to be able to clear the decks.

Look at finances

Anyone else like to stick their head in the sand when it comes to their finances? Or is it just me? Spring is a good time to think about your spending, where you might need to make savings and if you have any financial goals. Note to self.

Switch off social media

Social media brings lots of positives into our lives especially around building communities and connecting with people. However, it can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction, lower self-esteem and the feeling of being ‘always on’. Like anything, there is a balance to be had so take the time to switch off and do something else instead.

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