fancy a self love bath?

by Kate Shapland

I’ll come clean on this right away. Sometimes, when I’m writing or talking about Legology – encouraging you to do your body brushing, apply your leg oil, take yourself out for a galvanising walk around the park, or roast yourself a omega-rich salmon steak in the oven – I catch myself and think, but Kate you haven’t plucked your eyebrows for a month, or shaved your legs for that matter. And all you had for lunch today was a packet of crisps.

As for taking a lymph-boosting walk through the woods with the dog, well the workload has been such lately that he and I have had to make do with a few trots around the block. So much for looking after us both. And as I sit writing this at midday while still in my nightdress I definitely don’t think I’m alone in having lost myself a little in recent times.

Which brings me to self love. What is your interpretation of this? Does self love for you involve a couple of days without a shower, a night on WhatsApp putting the world to rights with your friends, a large glass of wine and a packet of chocolate biscuits? Or is it a nutritious smoothie followed by a jog, a litre of water and a home manicure – all perfectly captured on Instagram?

Real life is a lot grittier and messier than the images of perfection we all see on social media everyday.

Instagram is the modern equivalent, I suppose, of that very same aspiration that was projected at us through the pages of women’s glossy magazines. And it intrigues me that, while social media is deemed a more democratic and accessible medium than glossy magazines, it has still somehow managed to pile pressure onto so many of us to be/live the perfect life.

We all have different interpretations of what self love is, but the common denominator – the thing that makes it feed your soul – is surely indulgence. So whichever form of self love you take, as long as it makes you feel better in the moment, it’s good. Self love might be doing things that make you feel fantastic the next day, or utterly dreadful. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it.

If it means lying in bed all weekend watching Netflix, go with it. Falling apart can be as important as keeping it together.

Self love is about prioritising yourself and giving yourself a break. Life is a challenge at the best of times, and anything that takes you out of yourself, work or just daily life can only be a good thing.

Importantly, taking time out for self love needs to be a regular thing, not just a one off. I recently talked to Margo Marrone, founder of the Organic Pharmacy, about this on an Instagram live and we agreed that we all need to do something that benefits ourselves every day. And that means setting the boundaries that allow you to be you, whether it’s an hour’s headspace at lunch time in a yoga class when you would normally work through, a slice of cake at teatime, calling someone who lives on their own for a chat, doing a spot of painting or gardening, or having a long hot soak in the bath with a glass of something delicious at the end of a long day.

So if you’ve forgotten yourself recently, make this week the one that you change that and remember yourself. And the chocolate biscuits.

MORE MINDFULNESS

It remains to be seen what effects living through the current existential crisis will have on our mental health, but needless to say self love and mindfulness are more important than ever. Purpose & Performance Coach Mark Whittle talks about some of the best mindfulness practices on his podcast Take FLIGHT, and highlights the advanced practices below:

  • Cold water therapy is becoming a popular craze. Here’s what you don’t know about this growingly popular morning practice. Cold water elicits the release of noreprenephine (a form of adrenalin) a great way to promote wakefulness in the morning and drive your ability to focus through the roof. You may not even need your coffee. If you’ve already tried cold showers, try an ice bath, between 10-15c. Both cold water and the ice draw blood away from the extremities, which floods back once getting out. Benefits include boosted immune system, reduce muscle soreness and may even ease symptoms of depression.
  • Visualisation. At the end of your meditation, you will likely be vibrating at a higher level than when you started. Utilise this state by introducing visualisation at the end of your practice. Most high performers practice visualisation in one form or another. Imagining yourself where you want to be is incredibly powerful. But the real power comes when you imagine yourself where you want to be, but also while you visualise, deeply feel what it would be like to be there. Energetically, while you are vibrating at a higher level, feeling what it would be like is more likely to attract the lifestyle you are imagining into your life. Disclaimer – be careful what you wish for. 
  • Reduce your screen time! During lockdown we all look at screens more. The blue light emitted from screens is good for you when it comes naturally from the sun. But when its blasted into our eyes all day without rest it can affect your vision, bring on fatigue, throw off our circadian rhythm (sleep wake cycle) and even bring on depression. Take regular breaks from using your devices and find a horizon to focus on, whether out your window or on a walk. Invest in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. Most blue light blocking glasses stop 90% of blue light reaching our eye, meaning we avoid the symptoms mentioned above. Use your phone which measures your screen time to actively reduce the amount you use your phone. Finally, offer colleagues the opportunity for that Zoom meeting to be replaced by a walking meeting.