‘Mind care’ is at the heart of wellness, says our columnist. Here, she shares what she’s learned about ‘shame-flammation’, the supplement she wishes she’d had in menopause and the surprising mental benefits of coffee enemas!
So much of the wellness discussion focuses on skincare and haircare these days, but experience has led me to prioritise what I like to call, ‘mind care’. I believe it’s at the heart of all wellness because without it, we are ungrounded, disconnected, irritable and unable to contribute our best.
We create our lives from our thoughts and attitudes. Maintaining a calm and productive state enables us to achieve much more and to live with purpose. To ensure that our thoughts remain self-fulfilling and that they are our own, requires cultivating a clear, still inner domain, where we consciously endeavour to remain unaffected by external influences. Genuine ‘mind care’ involves inner practices and disciplines that enable us to shine our authentic self into the world.
Here are some of the mind care practices I have found helpful to anchor a calm, beautiful mindset.
1. Create a sacred space
It can be very helpful to create a ‘sacred space’ or somewhere quiet where you know you can be in peace. At home, I have a room where I can shut the door and it’s warm, quiet and comfortable. I have a nice big chair in there and I can play music if I like but I’ve arranged it so everyone knows not to disturb me. I can meditate or just contemplate my next steps or priorities, even reconnect with my inner sense around opportunities in my life and business. A ‘sacred space’ can be organised at home or in a hotel room or even outside just by setting your boundaries, setting up your surroundings, and letting others know. Creating a sacred space is an essential self-loving practice.
My home tends to be quite organised, making it easy for me to find things, especially when on the run. Most things are labelled and put away in their allotted place so I can find things effortlessly. This also means I’m not buying two of everything simply because I can’t find it - it saves time and money!
My bedroom is uncluttered and I don’t have a TV in it so my sleeping space is clear of distraction. I have books by the bed and a journal, plus I take hydration to my room every night so I can drink about a litre of water as soon as I wake, a hydration protocol that helps set the tone of the day. I have spring water in a glass with juice of one lime and 1/8 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt per litre.
My colour scheme is eggshell white, which I find very soothing. I make sure I have everything I need close at hand so I can support the practices I feel are valuable to my wellbeing.
2. Take some quiet time to go inwards
It only takes 30 minutes in the morning or evening and you’ll be amazed at the changes you’ll witness in your capacity to let go of self-limiting habits that lie unnoticed in our cellular memory, and which can often trigger us to re-act (act again) to life. We re-act out past traumas and conditioning, often unable to overcome them or change what seems overwhelming or nonsensical. Meditation offers us the clarity to see all of these narratives unfolding, often enabling us to attract opportunities in order to stop repeating them.
3. Step away from ‘shame-flammation’
I believe in living through a holistic lens, keeping body, emotions, mind and spirit in sync, knowing that they work optimally when they are aligned. An anti-inflammation diet works best for my body. Dr Will Cole’s book Gut Feelings is full of insights on this. I absolutely love his use of the word ‘shame-flammation’, which I can certainly identify with. It’s basically referring to stress-induced inflammation, stemming from chronic worry, anxiety and depression.
As Dr Cole puts it in his book Gut Feelings, shame can put a halt on physical healing: “Studies have even found that shame can impact your ability to heal from sickness, make healthy choices, and stay healthy overall with some researchers describing shame as ‘insidious, pervasive, and pernicious’.“
When we feel well, we are much more capable of digesting life on life’s terms, and gain valuable meaning and benefit from our experiences; we are more able to shine our unique inner light onto everything we do and be and so The Super Elixir™ which supports all 11 systems of the body, also plays an instrumental part in my physical wellbeing.
4. Respect the vagus nerve
You can’t have a happy nervous system with an unhappy vagus nerve. Part of loving and respecting our nervous system is knowing how it works. The vagus nerve sits within the parasympathetic (rest, digest and heal) nervous system and dictates everything from our mood and immune response to our heart rate. Think of the vagus nerve as your body’s biggest fan, sweet talking your fight or flight system so you can enjoy greater states of calm and clarity and, in turn, quality of life. It revels in connectedness, regulation and physical health – anything to keep you strong and resilient.
You can make your vagus nerve healthy through conscious breathing, singing, laughing, cold immersion therapy and connectedness. They all appease the vagus nerve and are the cornerstones of good mind care.
5. Connect to nature
I have always been a relatively balanced person, an outlook that has come naturally as a result of growing up in the heart of nature. The natural world has always grounded me – it’s the ultimate therapist!
As a kid, my happy place consisted of riding bikes, water sports, hiking, skiing and swimming. So long as I was outdoors, I felt like anything was possible. I’ve deliberately reinforced this awareness with my boys, encouraging them to stay active and get outside for their own long-term peace of mind.
6. Cultivate discipline
I’ve continued to rely on nature through the ups and downs of life, but I’ve also learned that discipline is truly paramount to my mental health. I’ve always said, “consistency shapes success” regarding the routines and choices I employ to thrive. This goes for accessing balance too. I’ve found consistent routine to be deeply empowering and believe it is always rewarded, particularly in terms of mindset.
7. Keep it light
I love to laugh! Laughter is always a great way to relieve built up stress. I try to see the funny side of everything and marvel at the seemingly wild synchronicities in life.
Not only does laughter open your own heart energy to allow in all that life has to offer, it allows you to naturally increase your intake of oxygen and stimulates your organs and muscles while increasing endorphins. For these reasons, I love to watch funny or uplifting films to keep things upbeat and light.
8. Respond rather than react
I have learned that through quietly listening to my inner sense, or my ‘intuition’, I can respond constructively to life from a place of calm, balance and self-regard, rather than re-acting from a place of consequence or victimhood.
We all learn and achieve much more from equanimity than from drama; from inner guidance rather than from pressure and influence.
9. Fill up your cup
I love to look to others for pearls of wisdom and have many a mentor in my spiritual toolkit. I reference countless books for guidance. I have a personal spiritual mentor I worked with regularly who keeps me aligned and on track to inner stillness. A wise counsel is Osho, who once said, “You can’t see your reflection in running water”. So true.
10. Sleep well, drink water
Anxiety often comes from simply not having enough sleep. Other times it’s not being hydrated. So I consider these factors when feeling anxious. I use our Sleep Welle Fortified Calming Tea, on any evening I’m feeling either of the above. It’s made with an effective blend of herbs that can assist with anxiety, sleep and stress. It contains Valerian root – sometimes called ‘nature’s Valium’. It’s a natural remedy for insomnia.
11. Know your triggers
I am wildly triggered by procrastination. Ruminating but not taking action means that often things pile up and I feel overwhelmed. Prioritising what’s most aligned with my heart is very helpful here. I also find writing things down is also a great way to ‘get it out’ onto paper rather than storing the energy in the body and mind.
Stress shows up for me when I’m feeling overwhelmed and can also appear when I’m trying to ‘fix’ things that are not mine to manage. Identifying what’s mine and what’s others’ helps in this endeavour. Some things are just not my business and I take pleasure in supporting others to resolve their own stuff rather than reacting and trying to fix it for them. It’s a win-win. All of this takes awareness to slow down, pause, look, and listen to my inner sense.
Living in the past or the future is also a huge trigger for anxiety. Remembering to be here now is a great de-stressing tool — it’s very grounding.
12. Harness your hormones
I think hormones can be a trap for a lot of us. They are so insightful and intelligent but can also disrupt our equilibrium. I wish I’d had WelleCo’s Goddess Elixir, £35 when I was going through menopause! It has been formulated to address both your vitality for life and your calm with red clover, chasteberry, Siberian ginseng, magnesium and hops.
In fact, it was a deciding factor in starting WelleCo when I realized that the body has the natural capacity to rebalance and repair if we give it the right nourishment on all levels — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. WelleCo’s products are carefully formulated to do just this.
I also began to listen to my heart and body and slow down on having to mentally ‘tick boxes’ so I tend to be less frenetic these days.
13. Embrace extremes
It’s well documented that I love cold immersion therapy for so many reasons. It is particularly kind on the vagus nerve for its ability to ‘tone’ it and cultivate resilience. Fasting is similar. Dr Mindy Peltz writes about reclaiming women’s health in Fast Like A Girl. I’ve learned a lot from her about fasting and I use it regularly for mental clarity and energy.
Another one for me is coffee enemas. Something I’ve learned a lot about through Angi Greene, a friend, former model and triathlete. She puts it well here: “The body’s language of distress is inflammation. The connection between the gut and the brain is called the gut-brain axis. Central to this axis is the vagus nerve that extends from the base of the brainstem down to the major organs.” As such, the benefits of enemas can include improving energy and assisting with depression and anxiety.
All these practices seem to jolt the body into action, prompting it to reactivate its natural balance mechanisms that become lacklustre at times.
14. When you need to help others find calm
- Breathing with others can also be an extremely beautiful and empathetic means of support when they are stressed, upset or anxious. Just hold them against your body and synchronize your breathing with theirs (it could be quite fast and shallow). Then silently, gradually slow and deepen your breath, providing them the opportunity to follow. Take some time to do this. It could take a few minutes to gradually slow and deepen the breath. Stay like that for a few minutes or until they have calmed down somewhat. They may even start talking or weeping as calm breathing helps release their pent-up energy.
- Practice listening: Sometimes we’re not great at this but grounding yourself into surrounding sounds can be calming. Listening to others is equally healing - don’t try to fix or add an experience of yours to show you understand. Just listen. Often a hug or some simple physical connection helps but only with their consent or it can have the opposite effect.
My calm techniques toolkit
- Stillness: take deep slow breaths - it costs nothing.
- Get in nature: Walk, hug a tree, go barefoot in the grass, touch the soil, anything that gets your body in contact with the earth for at least a few minutes. The negative ions work wonders and has been linked to sleep regulation, reduced stress and boosted immune function.
- Breathing: Box, humming, deep – any kind of breath – speaks directly to our vagus nerve.
- Cleaning: Clearing clutter or donating and gifting anything that doesn’t work for me or ‘spark joy’ is crystalising and beautifully sets the tone for a new chapter.
- Music: I have some great playlists I listen to while going about my day and this often helps alleviate stress as I spontaneously sing or dance when moved by a particular song.
- Meditation: 25 minutes in the morning.
- Hydration: spring water in a glass with juice of one lime and 1/8 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt per litre
- Pen and paper: For my nightly gratitude list.
- Infrared sauna or mat
- Quiet time
- Being of service to others: buy a stranger a coffee, call a friend, do something kind for someone (it also helps you get out of your head)
- Clutter clearing
- Cooking nourishing yourself
- Playing with a pet
- Exercise, swimming, listening to music while going for a walk
- Baths full of nutrients: My recipe varies but I do love a Cleopatra bath with milk and honey for its moisturising properties
- WelleCo The Calm Elixir, £29
- TheraPro - PEMF/Infrared/Red Light Pad $498
- My mentor Paul Darrol Walsh's guided meditation (see above)
- Theresage TheraO3 - Bubbler $125
- Sleep Welle Fortified Calming Tea