Self-Care with Suzy Reading
I recently wrote about the major moment self-care is having in our culture and how a lot of it often seemed to miss the point of what caring for yourself actually looks like. Well I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to have a conversation with the queen of self-care, Suzy Reading, a couple of weeks ago. Suzy is a coach, psychologist, yoga teacher and author of three books about self-care.
Suzy and I have actually met before, as we used to live in the same town, and I can happily say her kind and radiant energy is for real! It was so lovely to chat to her all about self care and ask her what simplicity means to her. Our conversation was so uplifting and her perspective on self care is truly beautiful.
How did you get interested in Self-Care?
I first heard the term used in the book, Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert, over ten years ago but it wasn’t until several years later during a really stressful period that I heard it again. It was during therapy for Post Natal Depression that my therapist asked me ‘What’s in your self care routine?’ and I thought, ah there’s that term again.
I was working with clients as a personal trainer but being trained in psychology, this was also part of how I was helping people. I realised that with self care unless you remove the barriers for people self care doesn’t happen. You needed to figure out what are the blocks that need to go before they can realistically make the change.
It’s amazing how powerful movement is for moving through emotion and dealing with emotions. It’s incredible to teach someone that if you stand tall you feel a sense of courage. It’s only through using the body that you can access the emotional brain and because the emotional brain hijacks the logical brain, you need to you the body to reset physiology.
Where would you recommend someone start if they want to start practicing self-care?
There are a couple of key things:
One, is to be clear on what it is. It’s hard to commit to something wishy washy. I use the mantra Self Care is Health Care. It’s about nourishing the head, heart and body. In our culture we don’t feel selfish brushing our teeth, or going to the gym but when it comes to emotional and metal health we really need to break the stigma.
If there is that guilt there and you aren’t doing it for you, do it for the people who depend on you. Ultimately self care makes your feel good right now but also takes care of the future you. It tends to the person you are becoming. It’s got to be for the you of tomorrow morning and in a month’s time.
Number two, is asking yourself what does self-care facilitate in your life? What is your personal why? How is your self-care practice helping you be the person you want to be. I suggest that people describe themselves when they feel energetically topped up. How does that effect your quality of mind, how you behave and how that effects you and others. Also describe yourself when you are energetically depleted.
Self-care allows us to step up and be the kind of person we want to be.
Thirdly, I think it’s about knowledge and understanding the barriers we have. The main barriers people perceive is not having enough time, enough energy, or enough funds.
People need a broad toolkit and tiny practices that they can turn to. It isn’t always an activity either, sometimes it’s the lens through which you see life. It’s not just rituals but also developing core skills, such as curiosity, compassion and creativity. Often it’s just about enjoying life’s blessings.
What’s your favourite way to spend a slow day with no plans?
Nature always features in days like these, lots of time outside, probably because of my Australian roots. Doesn’t matter what the weather is, if it’s raining we’ll get togged up but nature is definitely a form of therapy. The main thing is being together, not necessarily doing the same thing. You don’t all necessarily want to do the same activity but just to go with the flow and be in the same space doing separate things.
I also love to make time for a bit of yoga, even a single pose.
What simple moments will you always remember?
Moments of connection. My Dad passed away a few years ago and I have a few flashbulb moments I recall; going for walks on the headland where I spent my childhood, things like that. Moments sitting in the garden with my Mum when she visits. With the kids it’s the cuddles, the touch, being together. Simplicity comes from being aligned with your values, being in the moment and shared experience.
Any go to tips for feeling organised?
I’m a Virgo, so I’m very fastidious. I’m a big fan of list and I make sure I have diary where everything is written down, so I won’t forget about it. It really helps with having clarity on the things that are necessary. I also think it’s important to be anchored in the body and to be feeling at peace. How we breathe and hold ourselves matters too. If you breathe better, you feel better. I can have ducks lined but if I’m not breathing well I can still feel agitated.
What simple meal is always a winner?
Toasted sourdough with avocado and scrambled egg.
What’s your favourite way to unwind at the end of the day?
Scent and touch, movement and breath are all a part of the mix for me to unwind.
I might do a yoga pose of two. Massage in body lotion that has a calming, soothing scent. I find that most calming rituals use multiple senses. Movement is so key for releasing physical tension.
What does simplicity mean to you?
It is alignment living in congruence with values. Peace, ease, being clear on your values that’s what life feels when it’s simple.
Image credit: Natalya Chagrin