What is this mania with “self care”? And what even IS self care??


Strangely enough, #selfcare means taking care of yourself!  But what I really mean is truly taking care of yourself with little acts of kindness to YOU. To my mind it is a huge comment on the life we are living that we have to consciously stop & think about engaging in self care: about being kind to ourselves, and giving ourselves a little hug…

That “little hug” can be anything that equates to giving a little special time to yourself. It might be stealing some time in the afternoon to indulge in reading a favourite book, or getting up half an hour earlier to start a practice of mediation in solitude, or treating yourself to a long ramble in the woods once a week. It can be ANYTHING that genuinely feels like a little “me time”. This fact is important: if you don’t actually enjoy reading, then reading a book will NOT constitute me time for you; if the thought of lying in the bath for 20 minutes just makes you feel frustrated and bored then that isn’t self care for you. Choose wisely: select something you will genuinely enjoy, and something which will be a true “switch off”. Time to “park” everything else for a while and simply focus on YOU: on doing something you like whilst not even thinking about anything else…



In today’s society our day to day lives are such that we are forever being pulled in different directions. We have constant demands on our time, from a work ethic that (largely due to our digital world) often demands 24/7 availability, to children whose clubs and hobbies have become a full time job, to the “MUST DO” habit whereby we MUST fit in exercise/meditation/self development too. It can all seem totally overwhelming, & it can feel nigh on impossible to fit in anything else, but I promise you it is possible to carve out an extra 5 or 10 minutes in your day if you set your mind to it. It is YOUR choice, and it has to be YOUR commitment: if you make that commitment, the benefits to be had are endless…



Giving a little back to YOU makes you feel less resentful of ‘giving’ to everyone else. If we’re honest, we’ve all been there. That feeling that everyone always wants a piece of us: the kids, your partner, work, neighbours – even the dog! It is impossible to achieve this without some degree of resentment unless we find a way to give a little back to us too.

Breathing space: time to “switch off”. In a society of constant demands – from the “ping” and “woosh” of notifications on our phone, to the endless stream of info for our kids activities – the chance to “switch off” or “unplug” for a while becomes a luxury. It is a NECESSARY luxury: one we need to make time for.

Welcome release from from mind chatter. The idea of “mind chatter” goes back to the Buddhist concept of “monkey mind”. Buddhists observed the never ending restlessness of a monkey and compared this to our own restless minds. Our minds are never still, (it is believed humans have around fifty thousand separate thoughts each day), and when this is added to the stresses of modern day society, we can see how real a NEED we have for this release.

Improved health. Taking time out for ourselves will enhance both physical and mental health. When we are forever “on the run” our bodies and our minds feel the pressure. Both end up “running on empty” and this can lead at best to feeling a little run down, and at worst to burnout.

Lowered stress levels. If we are a little clever about which activities we choose as self care, we can succeed in significantly lowering stress levels (see below).

A chance to be mindful. There is a very good reason why “mindfulness” has become such a buzzword: it is SO very necessary as an antidote to what today’s world throws at us. But how easy is it to be mindful in the midst of our never ending day-to-day? Not at all! Giving yourself a few minutes each day for self care however can double up as an opportunity to be mindful as well.

Feeling better about YOU. Giving yourself a little time, a little kindness, equates to giving value to yourself. If we don’t believe we’re worthy of that, then we are really not respecting “self”: not awarding ourselves enough self worth. Committing to a regular practice of self care gives value to YOU, thus increasing self esteem.


An added advantage of elevating self esteem is that feeling better about yourself can be the first step to start to doing other (perhaps more challenging) things to make you feel better still: to make you the best version of you that you can become! So we’re talking the biggies like exercise and nutrition, which are themselves a hugely important aspect of your self care. If you start with simple “me time” activities such as those discussed above, this will get your self esteem back where it belongs. This in turn will do wonders for your ability to tackle the bigger challenges a little further down the line: just think what that might do for your 2019 New Year’s Resolutions, and your ability to stick to them…



If you can include some activities that are more specifically related to stress management, then this will enhance ALL of the above even more. Some examples might be:

  • Getting out in nature (scientifically proven to lower stress hormones)
  • Practising “Belly Breathing”
  • Starting a daily practise of Gratitude
  • Starting a daily meditation or mindfulness practise

Once again, ALL the above are pleasant things to do: I’m not asking you to go clean the house, I’m asking you to find the time to do something lovely!


I am well aware that for most of us, the most challenging part of this whole article is actually FINDING THE TIME. I get it: I’ve been there. But I PROMISE you that ANYONE can find five minutes extra in their day. It is about prioritising YOU, and that is the very first step in self care. There is a wonderful Zen saying which states:

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy: then you should sit for an hour”

…no more need be said!


Your first step has to be believing you are worth it, remembering your own self value, and therefore finding that time. The second step is COMMITMENT: make the decision that 2019 is going to be the year that you give back to YOU – and therefore to everyone around you. Write down your commitment to a self care programme, sign it & place it somewhere you will see it regularly. Tell other people about it: telling others increases accountability. Then jot down a list of activities that you consider to be true self care for YOU.

If you’d like to take it all a step further and to engage in a daily 5 minutes of stress relieving self care, then do grab my FREE download here. This is where the real turnaround happens. The guide will take you through a simple, manageable, step-by-step process to carve out that time and practice self care activities that will truly address your stress levels as well. In the space of just seven days you will start to see the difference, and THAT is the turning point: the point at which you realise that SELF CARE WORKS: that it is oh so very worth putting in that time. And you’re not thinking it because you’ve read my article: you’re BELIEVING it because you’ve tried it yourself, and you’ve seen the results .




What is “home” to you? How does the word make you feel…?

“There’s No Place Like Home”?

“Home Is Where The Heart Is”?



Coming home should feel like returning to a place of warmth, a place of calm, a place where you can relax / offload / do nothing / do everything…

In my world I can genuinely say that home does feel like that a lot of the time, but if I’m honest I know that it’s much easier to sense all of the above when I’m feeling good about myself. If I’m stressed it’s oh so much harder…and yet surely that’s when we all need that warmth & calm the most?

Personally, I really enjoy “tweaking” my home: re-thinking what should go where, playing with colours & fabrics, picking up little bits & pieces that I think will enhance my home (including, of course, my beloved quotes!) BUT, I only do this when I am already in a relaxed place: when I’m feeling good about myself, when everything’s pretty much “hunkydory”. How about when stress levels are high? How about those days when you walk into the house and think:

“Jeeeze, what a mess! Why has no one bothered to tidy this up?? I can’t even see straight through all this mess… After the day I’ve had at work this is the last thing I need…ggrrrrrrrrrr!

It’s at those times that we could benefit so very much from a little chilled #mespace – yet at those times it seems like the last thing to prioritise…



How about if we turn those thoughts upside down? How about if we realise that actually we can make creation of that “Me Space” a part of our relaxation, an aspect of our stress management? And how about if we make it a Family Affair? A fun thing to do that actually brings us together…(as opposed to dreading the next time you have to row with the kids about pleeeeeeeeeze tidying up their rooms – or at least bothering to put their dirty laundry in the basket…)



Creating places of #calm within your home is so very important. Where you might choose to create such a space is personal to you.

  • If you love cooking you may want it to be a corner of your kitchen
  • If you feel strongly about the need for calm when working, your #zoneofcalm may be within your work space
  • If reading is your “chill zone”, you might like to create a little nook for reading a book

If you live in a busy household, it can be a lovely idea to do the same for all the residents! Whether you’re living with friends, relatives, your partner or your kids, we all need a little #mespace.





  1. Ask each member of the household to make a list of things that make them feel relaxed: is there a colour that relaxes them? A particular cushion or throw? A book or magazine that they love to flick through? A specific object or image that calms them? Is creativity important to them? And if so, what does that creativity mean: sketching, knitting, writing…
  2. Everyone should consider which part or parts of their lives bring them the warmest memories, and be sure to represent them within this special place. For the adults it might be photos of childhood summers? Music from Uni days? A chosen birthday pic of each of the kids? For the kids it might be a fave holiday moment? A photo cuddling with Santa? A pic of a beloved pet?
  3. If music calms you, be sure to have a way of listening to music in your space.
  4. If you feel calmer when outdoors you can always bring the outside in! Use green colours, bring in plants or vases of flowers – or alternatively paintings of outdoor landscapes. Think of outdoor scents too – lavender or herbs can be a great idea.
  5. If scents are emotive for you, use essential oils in a diffuser, or (for the adults) natural candles.
  6. If you love reading, you can collect together a few books or magazines or whatever you would most enjoy browsing to scatter about the place.

Taking Action:

  1. Ask everyone to decide in which part of the home they would like to create their own personal “me space”.
  2. It can be fun to ask each person to take a photo of the place they have chosen. Looking at something in a photo rather than in ‘real time’ enables you to take a step back from things a little: to see things from a different perspective.
  3. Now take a look at all those things you’ve listed in no 1: all the things you would choose to have within your space.

Here comes the fun part: taking on the role of Interior Designer & deciding what to put where!

There are NO rules here: no rights & wrongs. It is entirely about YOUR choice. Think of why you have chosen each item: is the throw simply because you like the look of it, or are you dying to dive under it & snuggle up with a fave book…or with the cat! If you have something that’s your favourite colour, then where do you want it placed? Is it better in the light of the window or is it a bright colour that might ‘shout out’ from a darker corner? Where should any snippets of nature be? Should plants & herbs be on the windowsill, closer to the ‘real’ outdoors?

If you need a little extra inspiration you might like to flick through some magazines or browse the net – or simply think of other places that make you feel calm…




You can choose if you want to work together to create everybody’s spaces as a group venture, or if everyone should first prepare their space and then do a grand ‘unveiling’! Either way, give yourselves plenty of time to play around with your ideas – try things here & then there, in this combination then in another.

Lastly, do try to remember: even when you have created your space, it is still a work in progress. This space will grow as you grow, bend in the wind as you do. Above all else this is a place in which you are comfortable: a sacred space where there is no judgement – where you can simply be you, and surely there is nothing more important than that…



It’s that time of year when we are looking to get out and about. The kids are off school, the UK weather is actually being kind to us(!) and it seems almost criminal to be indoors during weather like this. 

Aside from the hassle of actually getting everybody out the door, I think most of us would agree that being out in nature makes us feel good. The kids have renewed energy when they are outside; adults seem better able to “switch off” and relax.  If you live or work in the city, then escaping to somewhere green really enhances your feeling of “getting away from it all”, alongside which it FEELS good to be out in the countryside, away from exhaust fumes and noise, surrounded instead by the scents & sounds of nature…

Is this ‘feel good factor’ just a myth, or is there more to it…?



I am here to give you a fabulous excuse to book a weekend away in a beautiful corner of countryside, in the true knowledge that this is PROVEN to be good for your wellbeing – both physical and mental. Indeed the Japanese spent $4million researching the benefits of so called ‘Forest Bathing’, concluding that this is

“scientifically proven to improve your health”

Forest Bathing essentially just means being in the presence of trees. The whole point of the experience is NOT to achieve something, but simply to “be”. You might sit, you might stroll, you might read a book, but most importantly you will RELAX in the presence of trees. We seem to instinctively sense that this is a pleasant and soothing thing to do, but we need to examine the research to understand the actual health benefits. Simply “being” in a forest environment has been shown to result in:

  1. lower concentrations of cortisol [the stress hormone]
  2. lower pulse rate
  3. lower blood pressure
  4. lower sympathetic nerve activity
  5. higher parasympathetic nerve activity

The first three are fairly self explanatory, but what about the nerve activity? Our SYMPATHETIC nerve system is what controls our ‘fight or flight’ response (our body’s ‘self-help’ reaction to – for example – being chased by a wild animal), so if being amongst trees reduces activity in this system this surely means we will be less ‘wired’. Meanwhile our PARASYMPATHETIC system does the opposite job, supporting our ‘rest and digest’ system and aiding our relaxation response…another plus for sitting amongst the foliage!



The crux of it all comes down to one of my favourite #stressmanagement topics: essential oils. Particular essential oils called #phytoncides are found in wood and plants (and in some fruit and vegetables). Trees emit these oils to protect themselves from germs and insects. What is of especial interest to us is that the phytoncides affect the activity of human natural killer (NK) cells. These are cells which

“provide rapid responses to viral-infected cells and respond to tumor formation, and are associated with immune system health and cancer prevention”

And so whilst ‘bathing’ in a forest, we are in fact drinking in a fabulous immunity support “pill” via essential oils…and not a jot of medication in sight!



It is surely true to say that the overall calming effect of the forest environment must also be a contributory factor. When we immerse ourselves in green surroundings, with the soothing sounds of streams and babbling brooks, and the chatter of birds and wildlife each one of these plays a part in relaxing us. There are in fact so many elements that go to make up the therapeutic profile of the natural landscapes, helping us to ‘switch off’, ‘calm down’ and simply ‘reboot’, but if we are looking for scientific proof then it is the phytoncides and their affect on human health which  is the major player.



Encouragingly, all the evidence suggests that we don’t actually need to spend a LOT of time in nature to reap the benefits. It is more important to aim for regular contact, so “little & often” is a good one to aim for – and if we’re honest it’s also probably more realistic for many of us within our weekly schedules. If you live or work in urban areas, then try to get to the park during your lunch hour, or take a family picnic in the park on a summer’s evening, remembering that even just a little pocket of time amongst the greenery can be positive. You can still aim to venture a little further afield at the weekends, and ‘up’ the effects that much more…

So, if forest bathing is so simple to achieve, lovely to experience and 100% free, then what’s stopping you? Whether it’s a quick trip to somewhere local or a ‘note to self’ to plan that weekend away, you can now genuinely convince yourself that you owe it to YOU – and to your family – to “get away from it all” and experience the many proven therapeutic benefits of being AT ONE WITH NATURE.




The simple answer to this question is: YES!

However, in my experience if you start just any old stress management technique without really understanding what stress is, your chosen technique may not work – and even if it does, you will massively limit the potential benefits. I only realised this in retrospect. Months of hospital visits and anxiously waiting for the next phone call with doctors’ test results was in itself hugely stressful, but only when looking back did I realise it was largely the stress that had caused the problems in the first place. That in turn was my inspiration for understanding more about stress and what it can do to us. If only I’d known more about this in the beginning, I may have avoided many if not all of those crowded hospital waiting rooms…



“Being stressed” actually means something has caused your body to invoke the #stressresponse. This is a primitive, physiological response designed to protect the body from a threat to survival (such as being chased by a tiger). To give us the best chance to outrun the striped fellow, our heart starts to pump faster, our muscles take on the ability to clench faster and stronger, and our thinking quickens. Meanwhile, to enable all these functions to operate at their optimum, other less necessary bodily processes are compromised: growth hormones, sex hormones, the immune system and the digestive system work at ‘half mast’ to allow extra energy to be delivered to all the processes necessary to flee the threat.



In today’s day and age, “stress” is unlikely to involve savage animals, and more likely to mean running late for work, being stuck in traffic, worrying about the outcome of an interview…or losing network coverage at a crucial point! These modern-day stressors are of course not comparable to being chased by a tiger, but the body doesn’t understand this: the same hormonal changes are invoked whether we are late for a bus or fleeing a wild cat. In simple terms this is why losing the WiFi before a meeting can result in palpitations, sweaty palms and tense neck and shoulders. If this is happening on a daily basis meanwhile, these stressors can chip away at us and can wreak havoc on our health. 



The ‘symptoms’ of stress tend to build up without our really being aware of them, and this in itself can add to our stress as it makes us feel out of control.



It follows then that successful #stressmanagement should put us back in control, and this is why DEEP BREATHING is so effective.

To understand this, we need to understand a little about the body’s own natural antidote to the stress response:

“the relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress (e.g., decreases in heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing, and muscle tension)”

In primitive times when fleeing that wild beast there were two possible outcomes: (1) you died, (2) you returned to your cave and slowly – injuries permitting – the relaxation response aided your body to calm and return to ‘normal’. When confronted with our modern day “bit-by-bit stressors”, the relaxation response rarely gets a look in: somehow we have to create that sense of calm. Deep, conscious breathing can be our answer to this.


Breathing deeply and consciously into the tummy (“belly breathing”) will:

  1. Lower blood pressure
  2. Encourage the heart to beat slower
  3. Encourage muscles to relax
  4. Oxygenate the blood so that the brain releases endorphins

…all of which sounds pretty helpful if you are feeling stressed!

Practising deep, conscious abdominal breathing actually activates the body’s natural relaxation response”

So it’s a fabulous stress management technique that you can use anytime, anywhere…soooo simple!

We do have to remember that this takes practise. We’ve been breathing all our lives without really thinking about it, and that means lots of little ‘bad’ breathing habits will have crept in. Take a look at the video below to help you to achieve true abdominal breathing, and then make sure you put aside just 5 minutes a day to practice. These five minutes will become a little pocket of “me time” that you actually look forward to once you grow used to the technique and start to realise the benefits.






  1. Take time to understand what stress is doing to you first, and to understand why deep breathing will help
  2. Put aside time every day – even if it’s only five minutes – to fully focus on practising deep breathing. Only when it becomes second nature to breathe this way will you truly be able to put it to use during stressful situations
  3. Find a quiet place, away from distraction, and make it special to you. Use a favourite cushion, light your favourite candle or use a few drops of your chosen essential oils. Take time over your choices, and then make the time yours and make it enjoyable
  4. Drink a glass of water before you start, and refill the glass to have some at your side
  5. Turn off all phones, laptops and electronic devices!!! (Go on, you can do it: it’s only for 5 minutes!)


My challenge to you is to slot 5 minutes of breathing practice into your routine every day from today and for the next 3 weeks. Create a simple chart and make a note of how you were feeling each day before your breathing practice (a sad or smiley face, or a simple comment such as “tired”, “cranky” or “stressed out” is enough), and then jot down how you feel after your practice. At the end of the 3 weeks take a little time out to look back over your notes and see what you feel you’ve gained. 


If you genuinely put the effort in and start to focus on the power of your breath, it can be truly transformational:

“When you own your breath,

Nobody can steal your peace”



A big thank you to Liz Shaw for inviting me to script a blog post for Shaw Lifestyle. My name’s Amelia Critchlow and I’m really excited to be here!


Liz and I bonded over Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic and sharing our approaches to stress management and optimal wellness – particularly when juggling a busy life and solo-parenting.


My own experiences with stress have led to lots of exploration and today I share what has worked for me: where I was (years ago) and where I am today are two very different places.


For many of us, life is hectic and busy; we earn, care-give and maintain ourselves and our homes too. Carving out time to care for oneself is VITAL – without it we can grind to a halt and our minds or bodies may stop functioning as well as they could, and it is only then we take heed. If instead we maintain a way of life that supports our wellness as a prevention rather than cure method, this is a winner all round.




It was when I decided to return to study to complete an MA in Fine Art that I noticed I could no longer consume foods and drinks that once agreed with me, and discovered, like many others, I had become intolerant to gluten and probably the chemical overload in many of the foods we eat today. A journey ensued to find out why, (the GPs diagnosed stress), and to explore ways to manage this. Here began an exploration of ‘wellness’ in its entirety – uncovering key elements needed for optimal well-being. Moving forwards, this inspired my exploration of all things organic, and my subsequent training in Theta Healing and Soul Re-alignment and Coaching.


So, here is my own ‘to-do’ list of 5 things that really make a difference to wellness. Consider this an EXPERIMENT – this is what I do. It takes the ‘work’ out of it, and creates a sense of fun!

1. Create a NEW habit of eating and drinking well. It takes about 10 weeks of doing something different for it to become a new habit. Do it with a buddy to share top tips, recipes, accountability (or book-mark this blog & keep referring to it!): taking the right supplements will support the change. Go organic too. Reducing your chemical intake will reduce internal stress on your body. Take note of what makes you feel better – although detoxing can be painful at first, it feels amazing once it becomes a part of your daily practice. Drinking enough water is vital too. Buy a re-useable bottle and give yourself a daily ‘water goal’. Seeing yourself attaining a goal each day will be really motivating.

2. Do something creative. We are all creative creatures by nature. Whether it’s compiling your favourite music for a device, or clothes for your wardrobe, decorating, crafting, baking, playing an instrument, doodling, or DIY – this part of you NEEDS to be honoured. You will feel infinitely better. Take your diary and block in this ‘creative’ time. Make it as important as any other appointment – from dentist to work meeting. This encourages you to value YOU, and this feeling of value will increase the more you honour it.



3. Move your BODY! Body movement releases endorphins and is the best stress-buster. It moves your energy and creates a ‘state change’. If you are feeling angry, depressed, sorrowful or plain ‘meh’ – just try it and see what happens from 15 minutes of yoga, a walk in nature, a cycle, a swim, or dancing to your favourite song or two (whilst no one is looking) – whatever takes your fancy. Do this regularly and take note of any state or mood changes you notice, so you log and ‘see’ your progress.

4. Change your mindset and develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’. We know that what we ‘think about we bring about’. Our ‘state’ or thoughts carry a vibration we then exude, and like magnets we attract experiences that reinforce our state. As thoughts precede decisions and action it is these actions that then form our experiences, therefore it’s important to be mindful. Write down 3 things a day you are grateful for and notice whether more of these things start to show up in your life. Please note: new habits take time to form, so be gentle with yourself and keep going and experimenting.

5. SLEEP. None of the above will be possible in the same way without enough good quality sleep. Never underestimate how important sleep is. Bodies and brains both function better with the right amount of sleep (you will have a good sense of what is the right amount for you) and also unbroken, good quality sleep (avoid alcohol or the TV). This may be tougher for mothers with younger children and babies, and if so, invite people to give you ‘sleep breaks’. Again, take note of the differences you feel in your body and mood when you do this.


Treat yourself to a ‘wellness’ journal or diary. Take time to write in your ‘feel good’ time, your sleep, your creativity, your exercise and take notes of the before and after feelings. This will spur you on. Stick healthy and inspiring recipes in there, log your daily water intake, what exercise you did and over time you will marvel at the magic you are creating in your own life!

There are many other wellness tips, but these 5 are really key for me. Up to this point in your life you will have created the habits you have now. Consciously or unconsciously we continuously create thoughts and beliefs which inform our decisions and actions. If these become mis-aligned, we find we are inadvertently self-sabotaging our true desires or creating the ‘wrong’ outcomes in our lives. This is where Theta Healing is so valuable – with Theta Healing we look at where our ‘mindset’ first began, what thoughts and feelings we have about things and how these sub-conscious programs run our lives more than our conscious minds do! If you would like to find out more, or have enjoyed this post, please do check out my website; soulspacehealers.uk and check in with the giveaway below….




And so for my #Giveaway: I am offering 2 complimentary half hour consultations with a taster of #thetahealing included for 2 lucky readers. You choose an area you wish to focus on – something you may be finding particularly challenging – and we will work together on how we can address and shift it.

Please email me at: info@soulspacehealers.uk with one sentence about why you feel you would benefit from a Theta Healing session with me, and two people will be selected. Answers to be received by Monday 11 June and those chosen will be informed Tuesday 12 June 2018, and announced on the blog…



About Amelia: Amelia followed the traditional route of finishing school and heading off to University, and graduated with both a BA Honours Degree and mother to a gorgeous small daughter too! Years later, during her MA in Fine Art, health issues raised their head which meant a radical re-assessment of diet, lifestyle and attitude. A visit to a Naturopath, and training in Neal’s Yard Remedies Organics started the next part of the wellness journey and living a fully organic existence (wherever possible), which led on to training in Theta Healing, and currently Soul Re-alignment and Coaching. This has been totally life changing and the next ‘building block’ in a journey to ultimate wellness that embraces inner peace, fulfillment and tranquility in amongst this #crazy experience we call life.
Click here for Amelia’s website: https://www.soulspacehealers.uk/

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