For this week’s #SelfCareDiaries, Suzy Reading is sharing her in-depth insights on self care and what it looks like in her life. Suzy shares so much with her community about nurturing a self care routine and taking care of yourself on a deeper level, so it was a no-brainer to invite her to take part in this series I felt so honoured when she said yes!
To tell you a bit more about Suzy, she’s a Chartered Psychologist, Yoga Teacher, and Health Coach specialising in self-care, helping people manage their stress, emotions, and energetic bank balance. It was her life experience of motherhood colliding with the terminal illness of her father that sparked her passion for self-care which she now teaches to her clients, young and old, to cope during periods of stress, loss, and change and to boost their resilience in the face of future challenges.
You will often find her contributing to Psychologies Magazine and is the Psychology Expert for wellbeing brand Neom Organics. If you haven’t read her first book yet, ‘The Self-Care Revolution,’ then I couldn’t recommend it enough.
What does self-care mean to you?
Self-care means health care to me. It’s getting quiet, listening in to my bodymind and taking action that meets my needs at this moment, and nurturing to my future self. It’s not always easy, it’s not always the thing I feel like doing most, but it is the thing that allows me to step up and access greater equanimity, compassion, and resilience.
Do you have any self-care rituals/practices that really anchor your day?
As a psychologist, I rely on tools that harness the power of the mind – such as mindfulness, gratitude, curiosity, and compassion. Having spent a decade working as a personal trainer, I value the therapeutic power of movement and posture. As a yoga teacher, I appreciate the healing potential of breath, mantra, and meditation. The most fruitful self-care routine is varied, allowing a breadth of choice when pressure is mounting. I ask myself, what is accessible to me right now – mind, body or breath? There is always a tonic at hand.
What does your morning routine look like?
Before my feet hit the floor I either cultivate a sense of gratitude for something in my life or reflect on something I am looking forward to in my day… even if it’s the thought of getting back into bed in 16 hours time! I spritz some room spray that invokes how I want to feel – soothed or uplifted and choose one yoga pose that channels the same energetic effect. Quite often it’s a mountain breath to energise or a child’s pose if I need a little coaxing to be ready for the day. I pair this with a mantra affirming how I want to feel. It might be something along the lines of: “I am resolute or present or calm or loving”. Then it’s tiptoeing downstairs to make the kids lunch which I treat as a daily mindfulness practice, an affirmation of love. After that, it’s generally chaos ☺
How do you make time for self-care?
I take the approach that self-care needn’t take huge chunks of time, in fact it doesn’t need to take any extra time at all – it is a lens through which you see the world and a series of habits and tools that keep us grounded and nurtured. Of course, it’s lovely to get to a yoga class or out for a long solo walk, but these are not accessible to me every day. I have other micro-moments of nourishment that keep me topped up – skills like appreciating Nature’s beauty, tuning in to hear my inner elder or feeling the sensation of my breathing. We all have time for these. We can all build these habits of self-soothing.
During a challenging point in your life what key things got you through?
The love and support of other people always gets me through – this comes in the form of drawing on the people on my team and allowing them in when I’m at my most vulnerable and also looking for opportunities to connect with other people in my day, whether I know them or not, building a feeling of ‘we’re in it together’. Yoga is always my tonic and the times in my life when I’ve felt energetically bankrupt, this has mostly been lying down on the floor and allowing myself to feel held. Kindness and compassion really are the most healing qualities to develop and extend to ourselves.
What’s in your self-care toolkit? Which items bring you most comfort?
I created the Vitality Wheel to help me mentally conceptualise my self-care toolkit in an instant. I find a set of categories of self-care helps me to identify a nurturing tool when I need it the most, better than trying to generate an idea when I’m feeling frazzled, reactive or blue. It’s also easier than sifting through a long list of potential activities. The spokes of my Vitality Wheel are:
- Social Connection
- Eat and Move
- Mood Boosters
- Sleep, Relax and Breathe
- Goals and Accomplishment
- Values and Purpose
Of those, Nature brings me great comfort, as does really communing with a kindred spirit. Yoga helps to ease away burdens and let’s not get too fancy, sometimes I just need to feed my brain so I can think straight. Sleep, I revere sleep and cuddling.
What quote really resonates with you and why?
“Be the adult you want your child to be.”
My awareness of self-care and subsequent healing journey began when I was born a mother. I learned the hard way what happens when we neglect our own nourishment and my little girl needed me to get my act together so I could be the mother she deserves. And now that life has smoothed itself out, I still need to engage in self-care so I can mother effectively, but it’s also about role modeling and empowering my now not so little girl with her own self-soothing toolkit. Connecting with this purpose I find deeply galvanising and any residue of guilt drops away.
What are you currently working on? Anything that you would like to share?
I love that my daughter has been so excited by my book coming out that she has turned her hand to writing her own little books on self-care. I am passionate about working with her to create her own toolkit, so that’s a real focus right now. I’m also finding it inspiring working with other families on collective self-care practices. It’s the next phase of my self-care revolution! Some new family-based workshops in the pipeline perhaps.
Thanks so much, Suzy! I hope you enjoyed this weeks #SelfCareDiaries post, you can check out last week’s edition with Nicola Rae-Wickham here.