Lauren and Nicole from the podcast Self Care Club: Wellness, Road Tested talk us through some self care tips in COVID lockdown 2.0!
With England settled into a second lockdown and the continuation of COVID restrictions all over the world, self care has never been more relevant or important. Enter the Self Care Club: Wellness, Road Tested – a podcast that tests out self care so you don’t have to. With new episodes coming out every Tuesday, women’s coach Nicole Goodman and birth doula Lauren Mishcon are trying it all: from menstrual cups to face yoga!
I interviewed Lauren and Nicole last month about the podcast and their process. I knew they’d be the perfect podcasters to speak to about what self care practices they would recommend to help us stay grounded throughout lockdown 2.0!
Give yourself permission to say ‘no’
In a desperate bid to implement those lessons learned in the lockdown first, it seems as if we all threw ourselves back into FaceTimes with friends, Zoom quizzes, and online social event after online social event. The first week of lockdown, I ended up completely overcommitting myself, to the point where I was left feeling exhausted and hoping that my friends would just forget about our plans. In that moment, I needed to give myself permission to say no and reclaim my time. In this sense, saying ‘no’ becomes a real act of self care – one that the Self Care Club ladies cover in their episode ‘Saying NO!’.
“Many of us are taught to be people-pleasers and say ‘yes’ automatically, even when we actually want to say ‘no’,” Nicole points out. “We don’t want a confrontation, we don’t want to let the other person down, we don’t want to seem selfish and we want to be likeable; but by always saying yes we risk causing ourselves stress, mental exhaustion and resentment. This leads you to be critical of yourself and spiral into negative self-talk, which can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Not saying ‘no’ has serious side effects.”
“Saying ‘no’ is also about the boundaries you set with yourself,” Lauren says. “The relationship you have with yourself very much depends on what you do and don’t allow into your space and learning how to say ‘no’ is a great place to start.” In lockdown, it may be tempting to lie in bed for hours, doom scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, and spend your waking hours numbing out and constantly consuming upsetting news. In this case, being firm with yourself and saying ‘no’ to activities that drain your energy and leave you feeling sad is a profoundly self-loving act. Keeping boundaries with yourself is just as important as keeping them with others. Although, don’t follow up your ‘no’ with an onslaught of self-shaming and guilt! It’s okay to not always be coping perfectly.
Saying ‘no’ is often the most generous thing you can do – for yourself and others. Asserting ourselves frees us from making shallow and insincere commitments and it ensures we spend time on the things we really care about. ‘No’ leaves space for us to say ‘yes’ to the things we want for ourselves. Show yourself love and honour your boundaries by saying no to activities or things that drain your energy. This is not a selfish act, but an honourable one.
Go on an ‘awe’ walk
Staying cooped up at home all day in your pyjamas can, for most people, be a one way ticket to Depression City. It’s hard to feel positive and energized when you’ve spent most of your day catatonic on the couch or in bed. For that reason, it’s good to get out of the house every once in a while for an ‘awe’ walk, a practice Lauren and Nicole tried out in October.
“Scientists have revealed that a short awe walk – where you make a conscious effort to look for things to be amazed by – can combat negative emotions and help to maintain a healthy mind,” Lauren explains. “Feelings of awe increase positive emotions like compassion and gratitude, reduce self-focus and promote social connection. Our problems may seem big and overwhelming, but awe shifts our attention outward. When we feel awe, we feel small in the relation to the rest of the universe but we feel more connected to the world and people around us.”
“The benefits of awe walking are plenty,” Nicole adds. “It’s been found to boost your immune system, improve your memory and attention span, as well as reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease in middle age. A 20-minute stroll in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature is enough to significantly lower your stress hormone levels. It relaxes the brain.”
Awe can be found in any environment – whether you’re traipsing through a storybook forest or walking about your city neighbourhood. You are also more likely to feel awe in a new place where sights and sounds are unfamiliar. So, if you’re in the city, maybe try wandering around streets you would not normally go down – so long as you remember your way back! It’s not so much the destination that matters, rather the journey itself. “Wherever you are, the key is to be in the right frame of mind,” Lauren points out, “turning your ordinary walk into a series of awe inspiring moments.”
Although it may sound like more work, decluttering can actually do worlds of good for your mental health. Clutter and mess can cause distress, so why not spend a day or two restoring order to your surroundings?
“Decluttering is the process of putting the miscellaneous physical things around you away where they belong,” Lauren describes. “While it’s probably not something that you dream about spending your precious free time doing, decluttering can actually be one of the most successful forms of self care and one of the most effective ways of making you feel better in the long term.”
Scientific studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between clutter and stress. While we may not always realise it, clutter can have a negative impact on your life. What is the clutter in your home stealing from you? Definitely your time, space and energy. But it can also steal your peace as well. Living in a cluttered space is associated with reduced productivity and chronic procrastination.
“When there’s lots of clutter, you lose control over your physical environment – which can feel very defeating and bring on stress, depression, or anxiety,” Nicole continues. “It can take a toll on your social life, too, if it gets to the point of embarrassment where you won’t have people over. Clearing out the clutter means you literally give yourself more space in your home. And more space means you create breathing space, making rest and relaxation easier.”
Sometimes we don’t even realise how heavy and overburdened our stuff makes us feel until we start letting it go. Once you start letting go, you can experience a huge relief as you feel lighter, happier and begin to feel the benefits of having less. It is freeing in so many ways. Letting go of the excess “stuff” that fills your home often feels like a weight is lifted from your life. Instead, you have the opportunity to fill your life with what matters most to you.
Lauren and Nicole just recently tried out decluttering, so give this episode a listen for tips on where and how to start.
The Self Care Club has become a valuable tool for those who want to put more energy into taking care of their mental health, but who might be intimidated by the sheer amount of options available to them. This lockdown, put some time aside to take care of yourself – you deserve it!
If you’re interested in self care and mental health, or want to learn more about the practices we described, listen to Self Care Club: Wellness, Road Tested every Tuesday via Spotify, Acast, or Apple Podcasts.
Blandine Hoge is a Podcast Production Assistant at Stakhanov and lives in London.
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