In retrospect, I was pretty spectacularly un-self-aware (is that a thing?) before motherhood. Seriously, spectacularly, mega, un-aware. To the point where I wonder how I survived and functioned as I did. Like many women in their twenties (because I had Poppy in my mid-twenties), I was fantastic at superficiality and selfishness, but I had no real understanding of the things that would deeply nourish me. Who knows, maybe this can be attributed to age and stage of life, although I’d warrant a bet that a fair few of you might say that motherhood has also made you more self-aware – regardless of age. Why am I telling you this? Because there is absolutely – without a doubt – a learning curve when it comes to managing your wellbeing.
Sometimes identifying and addressing your own needs (aka self-care) can seem like just another thing to whack on an already lengthy ‘to-do’ list, to say nothing about how difficult it can be to actually identify what those needs are in the first place. Hands up if you’ve ever been cranky/stressed out/impatient/ etc. but had no clue why!? I know you can’t see me but I’m over here frantically waving my arms.
I started this mini series because, for all of the airtime that self-care gets recently, I still get a bit confused as to what I’m actually supposed to be doing – and I figured that if I feel this way then it’s likely others do too. I’m a pragmatic person, and this series is as well. Real, relatable and actionable information, all wrapped up in the pretty packaging of personal snapshots. Because we’re all a bit nosey, right?!
On that note, this third (and final) part of the series shares a glimpse of what self-care looks like for the original Mental Mutha, Natasha (@natashabailie). For any of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure, Natasha is the woman behind the brilliant #mentalmutha series and the #youokhun hashtag. She also has this knack for bringing women together and uplifting them. So, basically, we should all be more @natashabailie.
1.Self-care has become a buzzword, but what does it mean to you? How has it impacted your mental health?
It has been a huge learning curve for me. Before I met Mary ‘Badass’ Meadows who is a life coach I honestly thought self care was having a bath with a few candles, which it can be for some, but a bath never seemed to reset my buttons – they just make me hot and bothered and not in a good way. Self care for me looks different every day of the week, it really depends on what I need that minute to survive or thrive. It could be writing, having a cuppa with a mate and a good giggle, it could be a country walk or drawing and colouring with the kid. Most of the time it is me taking myself off – outside, inside, over there, over here – I love to reflect on my own and take that time to figure myself out. I empath a lot so any time I can be alone with my thoughts and sort through whats mine and whats yours is key to my mental health.
2. What kinds of self-care do you practice, both on a daily basis and if time-were no object.
I love writing and I find it so helpful when it comes to either past experiences, feelings, unsaid words etc. To be able to write them down and give them structure is like therapy for me. There is something about organising your thoughts in an articulate way to write them down – it is a process I enjoy so much and I will write whenever I can. It doesn’t have to be The Guardian ready or a blog post or smart insta caption, it can be as simple as writing in a journal or filling out my positive planner.
Getting outside helps me when I need to gain a different perspective, sometimes I have to force my ass out, but I never regret it. A change in environment is as good as a rest for me and my mental health. I am also a huge over-sharer and I love to talk so chatting with a mate over a flat white with oat milk is my jam baby and can take me from zero to hero in minutes.
For the longest time I would hate to be on my own. I would hate to reflect on my feelings and so I never wanted to be alone with them so I always distracted myself with company, escapism, being busy etc. Until I exploded and needed help. Once I asked for support and help both personally and professionally everything shifted for the better. The anti depressants kicked in and put me on a equal playing field so I could do the work to get mentally healthy. Now I love being on my own and I like to take that time to reflect and adjust. I cannot believe I put it off for so long. I found myself and realised I was OK.
3. Do you have anything unusual (different/interesting/funny) that you’ve found helps support your wellbeing?
Laughing. I have to laugh every day and I am so lucky that I am surrounded by people who will make me laugh till I cry. I am also lucky that I have good buddies who like to ‘play’ and by ‘play’ I mean – see the magic in it all – adults can be so serious and I have never been that way and I have found some like minded women. Women who will sing as loud as they can with all the windows down in the car, women who want to go on adventures as soon as the kids are dropped off, women who laugh, cry, fart, swear, dance and ask questions.
Also I personally love watching MUKBANG shows on YouTube, specifically Trisha Paytas and I have no idea why – no one else gets it, most people give me the raised eyebrow, but it is one of my guiltiest pleasures and if it works for you – do more of it. Also I don’t feel guilty about it. I like what I like.
4. What is one thing that you think stops people from practicing self-care (a barrier, if you will), do you have any suggestions to overcome it?
I have spoken with many mothers specifically who will say to me “Oh I haven’t got time for that” – they don’t make themselves the priority and almost believe they should feel guilty for taking time out or away from their kids.
I wished those women had full support or enough love for themselves to realise that they are not ‘taking away’ anything and by looking after themselves they are actually ‘adding’ to themselves, their family, their kids and their mental health. I always think of the plane safety message “you have to put on your oxygen mask first, before you can help others”. Also, and you don’t have to believe me, but you have to believe Bill murray in Lost in Translation: “The more you know who you are and what you want, the less you let things upset you” – reflect baby, it helps, it doesn’t hinder. Find out who you are and what you want, because you deserve that.
Thanks for sharing, Natasha! x
A huge thank you to Sasha (@balancedbeautybristol), Suzy (@suzyreading) and Natasha (@natashabailie) for being so generous with their time and contributing to this mini series. I hope that you’ve all been inspired by the experiences and information that these three have shared, and that you’ve been able to take something valuable away.
As Natasha suggests, find your guilty pleasure and and embrace it! Tell us below, what is one of your guiltiest pleasures?