Ooooh the harmony of a routine!

Bam, just like that the summer holidays have ended and it is back into full swing of routine, dashing from one place to the next and making sure that no-one or no items get left behind. I loved the summer holiday, for me it went past in the blink of and eye but I found joy in having quality time with the children, not having to dash anywhere and ask the children for the millionth time if they can put their shoes on! Simple things really do make a difference, changing the pace and easing the pressure allowing space to breath, relax and have fun. But then on the flip side, towards the end of the holidays I craved routine – I think as a family we all did and so now into our second week back at school the rhythm and pace is beginning to take shape.

I found that I learnt a lot over the summer break about myself, in particular I found it hard to make time for myself as I always had the children and continued to work until our camping trip. Whilst I loved the time with the children, by the end I yearned to just have 5 minutes to myself, to go to the toilet without company or being asked endless questions – to just be me. Part of me feels guilty for this, but why should I – we all need and all deserve time for ourselves. I also struggled with keeping up my fitness regime and had a few too many treats – but some days felt like survival and who can resist cake?! What I found fascinating about the holidays is that I did not punish myself, I did not make myself feel guilty for having the odd treat, for not making more of an effort with exercise because actually I think I was slightly rebelling as well but it showed me how much I have learnt about myself, that I love myself and it’s ok to just let go sometimes and give yourself a break. It may sound daft in some ways and you might be thinking why give up and the truth is I didn’t, I just adjusted my choices and the end result is whilst I may wobble a bit more, I’m still me and I will keep chipping away to improve my fitness, wellbeing and weight management.

I am really excited about the next few weeks, settling into our routine, I have decided to stop the Saturday clubs as my children are exhausted come the weekend and instead, we can have fun and not rush from one place to the next. My daughter and I are going to start running together, she is starting a running club at school and I thought it would be a great way for us to unwind and connect with each other. We can cheer each other on and as my son get’s older he can join in too – once we have the courage, we may even embrace a parkrun too.

As a parent I want and strive to be the best version of myself, for my children to look at me as a role model, to support their choices, nurture their creativity and true zest for life and to ultimately have lots of fun.

What do you hope for this Autumn? How do you find time for you in the holidays? I love learning new tips, advice and wisdom – we can learn so much from each other. How have the summer holidays have been for you? I hope you have laughed and embraced the adventures. I hope you are all planning some self-care time and if you are in need of a pamper, then drop me a message for a truly bespoke treatment.

B x

Self-care is a necessity not a luxury

Many of you know how much of an advocate I am for self-care and taking time for our own well-being. This year it has been my own personal challenge to focus on the discipline of self-care, to try and take back some control, put myself first and make time for me. Now we’ve hit June I wanted to reflect on how I am doing with self-care and is it really worth it. Well the simple answer is YES!

I am one of these people who say yes to everyone, put others first and myself last. Some might say this is selfless, thoughtful, kind, loving, compassionate – I am all of those things but not at the detriment to my own health. I often think self-care can be confused with paying for time out but it doesn’t have to be, self-care can take many forms, a cup of tea in the sunshine, a hot bubble bath at the end of the day, delve into a juicy book and escape from the world, go for a walk, run or bike ride – explore the nature and freedom around you or one of my personal favourites put on some fabulous music and dance like no one is watching. It can be so simple, so why as a society are we making it so complicated to give ourselves permission to have self-care time.

Guilt! I am conscious of this myself at times and so many of my clients say to me that they feel unable to take time for themselves as they feel guilty about leaving the family and taking time out when there are so many other things to do chores, shopping, catching up with work deadlines…the list goes on. I feel so saddened that too many of us feel this way, why are we putting so much pressure on ourselves? Why is our inner critic saying we should feel guilty? There is no need to feel guilty and it needs to stop.

Self-care is essential to our own physical and mental wellbeing, we give our children time to play express themselves and be creative so they can release their emotions, process the world around them and we need to do the same. Our health is our real wealth and if we ignite our passions, give ourselves space to breathe and unwind from all that we juggle then you will begin to feel really alive, you will have more of a spring in your step, boost your self-confidence and self-worth. Just look at the difference in me from the beginning of the year to now, it is not an indulgence but a discipline and it really is worth it!

Building in self-care can be overwhelming at first, so start small take a little time everyday a brisk 10 minute walk, a coffee at your favourite café, eating your lunch outside and away from your work environment, listening to an album, starting that book – it doesn’t have to be complicated but just try some little steps and see how you can fit it into your day. Go on I hereby challenge you to make time for you every day, keep me posted on how you get on and what your favourite ‘self-care’ time involves. Be kind, be patient, be harmony, be you.

B x

Let’s Talk about Stress

So, this month is Stress Awareness Month, it is something that affects all of us and we all know that a little bit of stress is good, but prolonged stress can cause bad habits, weaken our immune system making us more prone to infections and if not addressed can lead to heart problems, mental illness and cancer. To me this is quite frightening and I am conscious we live in a highly pressured world where everyone wants to get hold of us 24/7 making it harder to switch off from work, juggle home life and make time for ourselves.

Stress has affected me quite significantly during my career, in nursing the demands and pressures to meet targets, manage child and family expectations whilst also trying to sneak in a quick drink or toilet break on a long 12 hour shift was exhausting! Work load pressures are hard at times to juggle, sometimes colleagues elevate your stress by offloading to you and this can extend to friends and family. I am not saying that it is a bad thing we all need to off load and share but it is the balance and if you are the one everyone always goes to as a sounding board of advice and wisdom then it can take its toll.

I have a few times in my career hit a burn out state, where I just want to hide and cannot face the world, I am sure I am not alone as stress affects us all in our lifetimes. Recent statistics have highlighted that 74% of adults in the UK have felt so stressed at some point in the last year that they have felt overwhelmed and unable to cope. This is a frightening percentage and it makes you wonder what are we doing about it – how does stress affect you? How do you manage stress in your own life?

Well for me, my stress has been elevated in recent years and in particular due to my endometriosis and pre-menstrual syndrome. My hormones have easily flipped out of control and I can feel angry for no reason at all – this has been really difficult to manage but my doctors said one of the best ways to help ease the pressure is to make time for myself every day. So, I do, no matter how small because I matter, I am a busy working Mummy and I want to be the best possible version of myself not just for me but for my children and husband too. One of my particular bad habits caused by stress and hormones over the years is emotional eating and just hoovering up bits of food here and there and before I know it boom, I have consumed a ridiculous number of calories.

At the start of this year, I made a promise to myself, to look after me, make time for me and to focus on weight management and fitness. I have been chipping away and I am now seeing the results – two major things have helped me change. Firstly, personal training with the amazing Zoe McAndrew of Fuelpotential – she is just the most brilliant PT, always on hand for support but pushing me in the right direction for results I want and need. Secondly, I have embraced hypnotherapy with the truly brilliant George Longland of Wellbeing Hypnotherapy, this incredible lady has helped me to retrain my subconscious to manage my hormones and at times overwhelming emotions to focus addressing bad eating habits, lifting my self-esteem and giving me confidence to believe in myself. I am thankful to both of these women and proud of myself for taking steps to alleviate stress to shake off the worry and truly start living.

It is amazing if we give ourselves the space how much more we have to grow and give. Love yourself, believe in yourself but most importantly do not take yourself for granted – you are worthy of giving yourself space and time to breathe.

B x

The love affair with Charlie Locks

“Wow – I want your skin!”

It may sound funny but I often get asked about my skin, questions like what is my secret, how can I have your glowing skin, and how on earth do you do it being a busy Mummy?

Well it is all down to the Charlie Locks Professional Skincare System, taking time to look after my skin and ensuring I keep hydrated with plenty of water. I must confess, I have never been great at looking after my skin and never really bothered with cleansing and toning as I didn’t see the point it is only in recent years that this has changed when I went for my first facial – why did I wait until my 30s! A glorious spa day (you remember those!) I had a Declόr facial and oooh it was lovely but my goodness the price of the products is insane – so I slipped into old habits and then I decided to add facial treatments to my business. The facials and skincare course I completed and the amazing trainer opened my eyes to skincare. Our skin is our largest organ, our faces in particular are exposed to so much so why not take care of it? Most people these days are desperate to look younger, want a quick fix but ageing is natural. For me personally we should embrace our natural skin as ultimately, it’s about how you look after yourself that makes the difference.

Learning all about the different skincare products and the importance of a skincare routine took me to consider what I actually put on my body. During my training I used lots of different products but one company stood out and that was Charlie Locks which was for a few reasons. Charlie Locks are a local company based just outside Winchester, they use organic essential oils, SLS and paraben free, no harsh chemicals or nasty additives, the products are not tested on animals, vegan friendly and they can be used on everyone no matter what your age thus celebrating a truly #HappySkinLife. I have a very close working relationship with Julie and Mark at Charlie Locks. They champion small businesses and are always on hand for support and advice, they instil passion and the products that Julie has created are just fabulous.

It is important to me to use products on my clients that I would use myself and as a busy working Mummy I wanted products that would adapt to my life which are practical, didn’t take hours on end to use and would have a winning result. That is Charlie Locks. They smell divine and even when used in a hurry I feel pampered and my skin feels alive. My clients adore these products and like many they’ve been fooled for years by the skincare industry that we all have a particular skin type but its rubbish, a pure marketing trick. Our skin varies on a daily basis, dependent on many factors, the weather, if it is hot or cold, exposure to wind, being cooped up indoors, air-conditioning, what you are eating, drinking, smoking, hormone levels the make-up and products you use all influence the tone, texture, hydration and the overall appearance of your skin.

The simple steps of Charlie Locks will have you utterly glowing, so make time for your skin bringing back it’s natural glow and move towards a #HappySkinLife with this amazing local company.

B x

I am NOT Superwoman!

So, hello and apologies it has been so long since my last blog but life has just been a little hectic to say the least! This last weekend, I have had an escape child free and I feel human again and certainly am a lot less stressed.

Over recent months, a number of times I have been referred to as Superwoman now for me this does not sit well as whilst in part it is a compliment, I feel it also comes with a lot of pressure and expectations. Juggling life for any working Mum is hard and whilst I appreciated the sentiment some days having a few minutes to breathe is what keeps me sane. My life in the last year has changed immensely and I am so proud of what I have achieved and the difference I have made to my client’s well-being but a few weeks ago I cracked and it hit me that something had to give – I cannot do it all.

I feel in part I am my own worst enemy and critic, I aspire to be the best I can be and have a zest for life to share my passions and skills but what I hadn’t realised is how much I had overcommitted myself and sadly I have had to step back from some of my volunteer work to give myself some space. For me this has not been an easy decision and the guilt I have felt over letting others down has been tough but since making the decision and the understanding of those around me and who it impacts on has been overwhelming and it made me realise that it is ok to say no, it is ok to step back and say I need to be with my family.

Part of the reason I have struggled these last few weeks is that due to overcommitting I have not allowed myself any self-care time and it just highlights how important it is. I strive to inspire my clients to make time for themselves and that we should not feel guilty for allowing ourselves space and time to breathe – I was putting everyone else first, my clients, my work, my family and forgetting about myself and sadly I have learnt the hard way. It has been coupled with sleep regression from my baby boy which for any Mum out there will know how hard this phase can be!

So, I guess I have learnt a great deal about myself in the last few weeks, I have exciting plans for the future and have blocked out my self-care time now to ensure I have my space to re-charge and breathe. I am only human, I do not have super powers and I genuinely love what I do but with anything in life it is all about balance – so take care of yourself and make sure you make time for you.

B x

Inspiring each other to talk about our well-being

Wow! What a week it has been, I was so fortunate last week to be part of a worship at my daughters school where I spoke to the children about mental health, their feelings and that it is ok to not be ok. We all feel sad at times but the message I wanted to get across to the children was that if they were feeling sad that they can talk about their feelings because if they fell over and hurt themselves they would naturally tell someone and the same applies to our feelings.  

We spoke openly about feelings and the importance of friends and helping each other to smile. A great example I used was Winnie-The-Pooh and his friends, Eyeore often feels low but his friends always include him and try to cheer him up. I shared with the children the importance of smiling, sharing a beautiful poem by Spike Milligan about how smiling is infectious and challenged them to see how many people they could make smile that day. I showed the children some exercises that if they felt, angry, worried or sad to imagine they are blowing up a big balloon and then to let all their worries float away and also got them to take some deep breaths – the participation and engagement of the children was just fantastic, I was truly blown away and inspired to appreciate their resilience but also my role as a parent to provide a nurturing and open relationship with my own children.

As a result of this worship, I had incredible feedback from parents who were grateful for raising the importance of mental health and how we can look after ourselves by encouraging our children to talk about their feelings. So many of the children went home that night sharing the detail of the worship and how many people they made smile that day! This was wonderful to hear, I spent 15 minutes talking to the children and the impact it had is just brilliant. One Mum Naomi commented “my children were so keen to tell me how much they enjoyed worship and the importance of talking about how they feel on the inside. Their insight was really interesting and they had understood what to do when they are worried about something, they loved the smiling challenge and were so engaged – my boys struggle to talk about their feelings and this has inspired them to open up”

The impact led to Naomi’s 8 year old son Jake Aylott being inspired to write the following about Mental Health:

Mindfulness

Everyone has feelings

Never let sad feelings get you down

Try to focus on the positive

Always take a deep breath if you feel sad

Let’s all talk about our feelings

Hey, let’s go outside and get some sunshine

Everyone has their own abilities

Ask how people feel

Love everyone around you

Think of other people who may be sad

Help people when they need it

This is just amazing! I am truly in awe by the impact of this worship and if I can inspire children to open up about their feelings, then perhaps you can make time too. We all need to invest in our wellbeing, to be healthy inside and out and if ever in doubt just SMILE and spread a little happiness along the way.

B x

Our Children’s Mental Health Matters Too…

Children’s Mental Health Week – Healthy Inside and Out

This week has such a special place in my heart, I have worked with children throughout my professional career and having two little monkeys myself I just adore them. They make me laugh, cry, drive me potty at times but I am in awe of their zest for life and imagination and we all need reminding of that sometimes.

In my nursing practice I have sadly seen the alarming increase of children suffering from mental illness and shockingly on average 1 in 8 children will be diagnosed with a mental health illness before the age of 18. Depression, anxiety, stress and self-harm are on the increase and I have seen children as young as 8 make attempts on their own life. THIS IS HEARTBREAKING. I honestly believe that this increase is due to a societal shift, the daily demands we all feel, the pressure to be the best and always be on call – the escapism is shrinking and we are the only ones in control of how much time we spend bowing to these expectations. It feels sometimes that all aspects of our lives are 24/7 which is in some ways convenient and inspires connections but at the detriment of our own health and that of which is being learnt by our children.

As a parent I strive to instil healthy habits in my children, to empower their freedom and self-expression but equally at times when deadlines are looming and I feel the pressure and burn it is hard to balance their needs vs that imminent work project that needed completing yesterday. Naturally as a result, I feel guilty that I cannot constantly give my children my full attention, there are always chores to be done, messages to respond to, planning to do but why should they suffer as a consequence. But like everyone I guess, I am my own worst critic and actually when I reflect on what I give my children, the time we spend together is precious and quality – we go on adventures, we love exploring outside, we travel on an imagination ride to give us freedom to express ourselves, we bake, we laugh and connect through play. So, in these times I try to ditch the phone and embrace play just popping it out for those photo moments that we all treasure!

My daughter has recently been going through a phase of lack of self-confidence, comparing herself to others and believing that she is not special – she is 4 years old! I find it so upsetting to hear her talk like this but I am proud that she is expressing how she is feeling so I can comfort her and offer her wisdom to recognise that we are all different, we are all special and we are all worthy of our place in the world – we are one big family after all.

I realise that I am fortunate that my daughter can express how she’s feeling, but not every child is like this so take time to consider how your child will communicate best. Is it through a game for example; asking what was tricky about today and what was a treat? Focussing on the world around you, the colours and how they make you feel and if they are feeling anxious or worried get them to imagine they are blowing up a big balloon and all their worried thoughts are going into this balloon and when they are ready, they can let go and see it fly away. These are just some thoughts of ideas that you can utilise and use with your children.

I get how tough parenting is but how rewarding it is and it is by far the best job in the world and a real honour to inspire and nurture the growth of our children. Make time for them, listen to them and maybe by reconnecting you can all find some mindful space to just be you – away from distraction, away from work, away from the pressures of life and embrace your family.

B x