Discovering The Art of Self Care
Up until a few weeks ago, my idea of self care consisted of grabbing a quick and non-
involved takeaway, followed by the biggest bar of nutty chocolate, washed down with a half
decent bottle of red. Pass me the sofa, the TV and I was in Sarah’s Heaven.
What’s the problem with this, I hear you say? Has Sarah lost the plot along with her desire
for cocoa based food stuffs? Well, not entirely. You see there is absolutely nothing wrong
with vegging out in front of your favourite box set, wine and choccie in hand. However, I
recently discovered something else and, if I may say so, I’m kind of enjoying it a bit more
than the Sag Aloo, the chocolate and the wine (who have I become?!)- and I’m feeling sort
of, really ‘well’ for it!
Before you think this is another preachy piece about giving up Korma for rose petal baths,
don’t panic. I just feel that through conscious effort and teeny changes, I’ve come to
readdress a balance I had no idea was as wonky as it was. And I wanted to share in case
you are feeling a bit wonky too.
I thought I was doing alright; Mumming to my two little ones, teaching 6 yoga classes a
week, managing my admin and the daily onslaught of family life which involves organising 3
other people and all ‘their stuff’ in this house. And then it happened.
I woke up one morning, breakfasts done, packed lunches packed, 3 sets of teeth scrubbed
(mine included). I went to lift my youngest Little into the car seat and, TWANG. It felt like my
hip had split in two. I saw white and I actually yelped out in pain. I managed to get seat belts
buckled and set off on the school run, seemingly undeterred. I shouldn’t have driven off. I
ended up needing help at the school- help to lift my daughter and help to hobble back to my
car. I looked like an injured hobbit. Every time my left leg pressed down on the clutch to
change a gear on the way home I cried. Some bad shit was going down in my bod and I
couldn’t ignore it anymore.
Whenever my body says no, my first thought is always, ‘What about my yoga classes?” I
knew straight away that for the next few days, there would be little to no classes. I knew I
needed to rest, but being a teacher there will always come The Teacher Guilt when you can’t
make a session. It’s horrible letting people down, not being to hold space for them when they
need it the most. Whatever our vocation in life we often forget that we are human, and not
just teachers. I’m probably talking about you too, right? When was the last time you kept
going when you know should have stopped?
This was the first step in my new understanding of Self-Care: IT’S OKAY TO TAKE TIME
OUT. I had been feeling niggles in my back for so long but had been ignoring these little
warnings from my body to slow down and to put a bit back into me. So I kept going full pelt,
hoping the chocolate and wine would help me relax, ready to face another day afresh. But in
this case, they really didn’t. I needed more. I needed to hold space for me. So I reduced my
timetable for a few days and invested in the best hot water bottle EVER and did some
actually resting of my body. Shock, horror! (did you know rest is an actual verb? I tell myself
this when my resting makes me anxious)
My lovely husband was the first to get me packed off for an emergency session with my
masseuse. A few hours later I hobbled onto her bed full of tears and snot as she worked her
magic and told me to breathe and let it all out. I tell women this every week, how come I had
forgotten to breathe myself? Was this why I had ended up in such a sorry state?
Anyway, it was upon Fran’s massage table and with a completely stuffed up nose that I
discovered Step 2: IT’S OKAY TO INVEST IN MY MIND AND MY BODY. Our bodies and
health are our most precious commodities. Without them, we have nothing. How we treat
ourselves has a huge impact on how our bodies function. This in turn magically feeds in to
how we FEEL both in ourselves and about ourselves. We *should* be booking the massage,
we *should* be finding time to take a quiet walk in nature, we *should* be doing things that
inspire and nurture us. This is an investment in our bodies and in our minds and we can
draw on these investments at times in our lives when we need it the most. I’m starting to
realise that money I spend on nice bottles of Malbec is probably better spent on something
that actually nurtures my body. Ok, so I’m still going to enjoy my yummy treats but maybe
not so regularly and the money I save is totally going in a jar to pay for regular massages
and yoga classes for myself.
My husband, coincidentally, was also behind Step 3 of this great uncovering of mine (you
guys probably know all this stuff but this is my, very belated, journey to Self-Care.) He asked
me for a Nutri-Bullet for his birthday……a blinking blender of all things! Anyways, talk about
divine timing because this thing was beautiful AND it came with a recipe and nutrition
booklet! So here was I, having this epiphany to love and care for myself more and lo and
behold, I now have the keys to the nutritional kingdom. **Thank you universe!**
And so, Step 3: IT’S OKAY TO MAKE LITTLE SWAPS FOR FOOD THAT MAKES YOU
FEEL GOOD. I don’t know about you, but I actually FEEL GUILTY if someone invites me for
a post school run coffee and pastry and I say no (OK, so it’s mostly me doing the inviting but
the school run makes me SO hungry!)
What *is* that about?? I have always LOVED my food, cleared my plate and mopped it up
with bread and butter. I’m well aware that I’m slightly larger and softer than your average
yoga teacher but that’s never really bothered me. But what I do know is since swapping my
morning coffee for a Blendie (a blended smoothie, see what I did there?!) I feel AMAZING.
I’m talking sparkling and energised but not jittery like I do after I drink caffeine. I still love my
coffee but just have it a bit later in the day and I’m trying my best to only have one. Herbal
teas are also proving to be a really lovely alternative, especially the bedtime blends that get
me off to Noddy Land in the blink of an eye. I guess what I’m trying to say is what you put in
to your body is what you get out of your body. Be kind to it, feed it what you love- but also
feed it what your body needs.
My last and final thought on Self-Care has actually been the most profound. I come back to
the moment that my back gave up and I found myself unable to lift my daughter out of the
car. Now, if I had encountered someone in the street in the same predicament, I would have
responded with complete concern and compassion. How did I respond to myself? With
complete disdain and disgust. I’m quite sure the words, “you f**king idiot, Sarah” floated by
more than a few times. How can this be??!? How can I talk to myself like that when I
wouldn’t dream of treating someone else in this way?? How many times have you done just
this to yourself? How often to you beat yourself up, and draw focus to what you see as the
negatives about yourself? If you’re anything like me, you probably do it more than you
should, and several times a day at that.
So, my last and final step is Step 4: IT’S OKAY TO SPEAK KINDLY TO YOURSELF. Hear
your inner voice. If you wouldn’t speak to someone that you loved dearly the way you speak
to yourself, then you really do need to be kinder, more compassionate, more loving to YOU.
You will spend all of your time in this life with yourself so you may as well try and make
friends with who you are and not spend your entire earthly experience making yourself feel
like shit. Try and flip the negative phrases for something a bit more loving.
For me, its always been my tummy. Most days, I try and just pretend it’s not there. A while
back I decided to try and flip it and stood naked in the mirror, Beyoncé on full blast and
forced myself to shout positives at my lovely belly including a lot of THANK YOUs for being
home to my 2 girls. It felt so liberating to feel good about my body. We’ve been through a lot
together, she has served me so well and produced 2 little human bubs. Yet a lot of time, I
talk about her like she’s a piece of shit. This is not cool. I’m changing that and being more
mindful to give her thanks instead. I’m slowly learning to love her and nurture her the way
she has me, and the way she did my babies. So, thank you, Body! You are awesome and I
So, turns out that twang in my back was a total massive Cosmic Slap that was a long time
coming. I couldn’t have gone on the way I was without putting anything back into me. Being
a mother; a stay at home mother, a working mother is more than a full time job and without
any time off for you, you will become drained and depleted until there isn’t much left. Your
body and your mind will eventually just say no.
I hope you might find somewhere in my ramblings something that might help you reflect on
how you treat yourself, how you feed yourself and how you speak to yourself. Remember
that you are precious, and you are SO worthy of your own time and your own love. So
instead of *just* filling up on the wine and the chocolate and the takeaways when you feel
knackered, try a great big serving of Self-Love with a side of Self-Care instead. Your treats
will always be there, but make a few small and easy changes and I promise you will feel so
much better- and way more nourished of body and mind.
I wish you so well on your journey back to you and please remember, it’s all okay. Wherever
you’re at right now, a small change can start.
10 Top Tips for Self Care
1. Grab a diary and mark out your Self Care evening. Give it a specific start and end
time. Make sure that anyone who needs to know, knows that this is a time just for
you, so no disturbances.
2. Run that bubble bath. You don’t need expensive stuff, just some good old bubbles or,
if you fancy, a few drops of essential oils.
3. Book a treatment for yourself if you can afford it. If not, get in some face packs and
invite your bestie round for a pamper evening.
4. Dance. Put on your favourite music, however cheesy, and dance like no-one is
watching. You will never not feel good after doing this one.
5. Use your time to get out of the house BY YOURSELF. Go for a walk, breath in the
fresh air and remember to smile.
6. Cook yourself a new healthy meal every week or get creative with your blender and
flood your body with those essential vitamins and minerals. You’ll soon build up an
impressive repertoire of amazing meals to nourish your body and mind.
7. Move your body; take a yoga class, go for a walk or a run……anything that gets your
body moving is going to make you feel so good. It doesn’t have to be a marathon
either! 10 minutes a day is going to make a huge difference and you can gradually
increase your active time should you wish.
8. Gratitude. At the start or end of every day, remind yourself of something that is
wonderful in your life and say to yourself three times, thank you, thank you, thank
9. Take 5 minutes in your day to stop and draw your attention to your breath. Allow your
breath to be deep, breathing in for 5 seconds and exhaling for 5 seconds. Notice how
your breath sounds and feels within your body. This mindfulness of your breath is a
great way to calm and soften the nervous system and to be more aware of your inner
10. Find something nice to say about yourself at least once every day. This is the one we
all struggle with the most, so the next time you catch yourself beating yourself up, try
and flip the statement so it becomes a positive. These are small steps in becoming
kinder and softer to yourself and can lead to a much healthier you, both in body and
Sarah teaches a range of classes in Abergavenny, South Wales. These include Pregnancy
and Postnatal Yoga, Birth Preparation Courses and WiggleBums Children’s Yoga Classes.
She is a Mum of 2 spirited girls and is definitely practicing what she preaches from now on!