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Looking After Number One

So – what makes you happy? What can you do for yourself that will lift your spirits and make you appreciate yourself, feel grateful for small things and take your mind off the weird, weird world we live in (temporarily) right now?

I’ll start. My favourite happy time is a luxurious, uninterrupted soak in a bubble bath, with gorgeous candles, surrounded by my favourite plants. It’s not exactly unusual or ground-breaking but there’s a reason that having a soak in a bubble bath always comes up as a way to practice self-care and relax. It works! I like to upgrade my me-time even more by blocking out a bit longer and using it to do a mini facial – I’ll choose my favourite products and carry out a cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising routine complete with night-time retinol and hydrating serums.

You might enjoy a mini-spa routine? Or just a bit of time on your own with a meditation app? Perhaps a walk in the park, some gardening now it’s getting warmer, or just sitting with a cup of tea and watching one of your favourite films? Self-care and doing little things just for you is never wasted, and it’s not frivolous. Don’t forget mental health too – that’s something I know that many of my clients at my skin clinic in Needham Market have mentioned to me after the past year. We are living in stressful, anxious times and with a background of uncertainty and unease it’s important to try and centre yourself and slow down every now and again – stop the train of thoughts that are making you anxious. My top tips for mental health (as well as self-care and LOTS of bubble baths) are:

Let yourself relax

I’ve already mentioned this but it’s so important. We need down time…it’s an essential, not an optional treat. Try reframing ‘relaxation’ as ‘investing in myself’ and use it to switch off.

Don’t keep criticising yourself

We’re all doing our best in difficult times , cut yourself some slack. You wouldn’t say mean things to your kids, partner or best friend so don’t be so hard on yourself. Listen when you find yourself putting yourself down for not doing another Joe Wicks workout or having read 12 books a month during lockdown. Stop, breathe, and tell yourself you’re doing your best.

Forget everyone else’s opinions

If there’s anything we haven’t been short of in the past year, it’s been opinions on other people’s behaviour. We can also get into competitive judge-itis on social media. Remember people post their best on Facebook and Instagram. They don’t tell you when they are just about to hit the wall, home schooling is driving them crazy or they spent an entire afternoon locked in the bathroom, stress eating Doritos. Try living under your own rules and switch social off for a bit if you’re prone to comparing.

Lower your expectations

The gap between expectation and reality can be a major factor in mental health issues. Try to be realistic rather than perfect and stop putting so much pressure on yourself.

Express yourself

Don’t bottle things up. If you’re having a bad day, try talking to someone, or if that makes you feel even more anxious, get it out there by writing it down or even drawing. It doesn’t matter how it reads/looks. It’s for YOU. Dance it out. Play some music. Listen to music that makes you feel happy or makes you cry, whatever you need to do.

How are YOU doing? Hang in there and I hope I’ll get to see you REALLY soon…

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