The Self-Care Revolution with Suzy Reading
Our emotions have a space and time in our lives. Learn the tools of the self-care revolution and start nourishing yourself.
The pace of the city will never stop and this is the perfect reason why there is a need to be still and witness the hidden treasure of nature. Watch how it unfolds and inspires those who look for it and find the blankets of green and stretches of blue. Self-coach, yoga teacher and mother two Suzy Reading shares how she uses the Vitality Wheel in the self-care revolution. Start nourishing yourself so that you can do the same for others around you.
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Our guest is Suzy Reading. Suzy is a mother of two, a Chartered Psychologist, a yoga teacher and a health coach. She specialises in self-care, helping people manage their stress, emotions, and energetic bank balance. Suzy’s a contributing editor for Psychologies Magazine and the psychology expert for well-being brand Neom Organics. Her first book, The Self-Care Revolution, is published by Aster in December 2017. She is from the northern beaches of Sydney and she now lives in Hertfordshire in the UK. Suzy, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me, Clare. It’s a pleasure.
I’d love to hear a little bit about how the place that you grew up in and the place that you now live in influences the work that you do today.
I’m absolutely fascinated by how our physical environment, the landscape that we live in cultivates different energetic effects. I think the reason why I’m so passionate about that is because I’ve lived in very different places. I grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney, close to the beach, close to the cliffs. I loved the ocean and the sunshine and the energy that that brought. Equally now that I live in Hertfordshire, there’s natural beauty all around me but it has such a different energetic effect. I’ve got woodlands on my doorstep. There’s an ancient ruined castle. There’s deer that wander the streets at night. I’m fascinated by how we’re enriched by the place that we live in but it can be so different and still so nourishing.
What kinds of tips do you recommend for somebody who’s living in a city, they’re living in one of those fast-paced, crazy lifestyles and they may be feeling a bit overwhelmed as we go into the new year?
I’ve also lived in the city. I lived in the heart of London for about seven years. I understand the energy of that too, and the fact that it’s pretty frantic. It’s a pace that never really stops. Wherever you are, you will find beauty even in the most urban landscapes. There is beauty all around you, whether it’s in architectural beauty, the moving crowd scape. When I lived in London, I absolutely adored escaping to the parks. There are so many. You can stumble across these little green spaces that feel like a little oasis of calm. It’s a matter of being on the lookout for it. Looking up I think really helps as well because research has shown that simply looking up and having a longer spine and open-hearted posture naturally taps us into a feeling of resourcefulness and zest. Wherever you are, cultivate that kind of posture and you’ll feel more energetic. Just carving out times of stillness wherever you are, I think that’s really important. Where you’re just witnessing what’s unfolding around you, whether that’s a bird on the wing, whether it’s people walking past or just whatever it is that’s unfolding around you, getting curious about it and absorbing yourself in it.
All of those things really light me up because I’m a huge, huge fan of just trying to be deliberate and intentional about slowing the pace down, particularly in those pockets of cities like London where it’s really super fast. It can bring out the less pleasant side in humans in those circumstances.
Walk at your own pace. I think we can get bustled along by life where we feel hurried and frenzied just because that’s what everyone’s doing around us. Carve your own pace. Give yourself enough time to get from one place to the next and time to breathe. Just be with your breath on your commute or on your walk wherever it is that you need to go. Be with your breath. It’s amazing how calming that is. The fact is we’re doing it anyway. It’s not like it takes any extra time. Just feeling the sensation of your breath can be very calming in the midst of real busyness.
I know that as a youth, you were a figure skater, right?
My previous life, yes.
How does that influence what you do with your body in your yoga practice and your yoga teaching, if at all?
I discovered yoga through my figure skating pursuits. As a way of preparing my mind and body for sport, I went to yoga. There was something incredibly stilling and calming about it. Also, if you think about the silly things that I used to put my body through on the ice, there are a lot of shapes that lend itself perfectly to strengthening the body and developing suppleness. Very quickly, what I came to learn was that it was such a great tonic beyond just getting fit for skating. It was this thing that when I couldn’t ice skate anymore, it was the way that I could express myself using my body. I love that as a discipline, that’s something that I’ll be able to do for the rest of my days. I’ve done yoga with eight-week old babies. I’ve done yoga with toddlers, with teens, with new mums, with older mums. I’ve done yoga with 90-year-olds. There’s always some way of expressing yourself using your body inspired by yoga. Yoga has become such a big part of my toolkit personally but also professionally. Just about any person that comes to me, whether it’s in my capacity as a psychologist or a health coach or obviously yoga teacher, they’ll be prescribed some kind of yoga. It’s because whatever it is that we’re trying to achieve in life, you can use the mind but you can also use your body. I think we are at our most potent when we get both involved.
I’m someone whose burnout story is pretty much head was disconnected from body and that’s what got me into trouble. It’s such a revelation to me at this grand old age, well into my 30’s, as I prepare to get ready to go into the next decade is, how I’ve lived for so long not being connected to my body. Not understanding the signals and the clues and the whispers of guidance it wants to give me and how what’s going on in my head is so interlinked. I think many people live really thinking that who they are is the head that sits on their shoulders and the rest is just the mode of transportation to get them through their days.
I spent a decade working as a personal trainer. It’s when I first moved to London and Australian PTs were highly regarded and it was just an easy way to build a business. I fell into it. I actually never meant to stay here. It was meant to be a two-month holiday that turned into a seven-year stint. It was all that experience of working with people, and they come to me with physical goals. What amazed me was the kind of transformation that we could achieve using the body but on an energetic and emotional level, the fact that you can empower someone. I had one lovely lady in her 50’s and she said to me, “I tried to run for a bus and I couldn’t.” Her goal was to reclaim the ability to do a bit of jogging. She found it truly transformative being able to run. She felt so empowered to take on other things in her life. I think that’s what taught me really the fact that there’s really no separation between mind and body and that we separate physical health from mental health. In actual fact, I don’t know if a lot of people have noticed, but when you’re unwell, if you’ve got a cold or you’ve got some aches or pains, we tend to also have a knock-on effect in our mood. When we’re low, our bodies tend to ache. Honestly, there is absolutely no separation between the mind and the body. That’s why the yoga is just such an incredible healing tonic because we’re harnessing both at once.
Suzy, The Self-Care Revolution is out in December 2017. I love the cover. It’s so vibrant and interconnected. It’s really a beautiful book cover. I’d love to know about the vitality wheel which is the core methodology that underpins the content of the book.
The vitality wheel was basically a synthesis of all of my learning as a psychologist, a yoga teacher, health coach, all of my own personal experience. Basically, I use it to empower people with the tools of self-care. I think what really brings self-care to life is having some framework or a series of categories. When we need it the most, when we’re feeling frazzled or overwhelmed or scary mummies turning up, we need something at our fingertips’ reach that will help us in the moment. It can be really hard to put our finger on what that is. I’ve designed the vitality wheel and it’s a wheel diagram where you can look at it and think, “I can tap into that type of self-care in this moment to help me feel better.” When we’re in that headspace of feeling burnt out, it can be so hard to generate a useful option. What I recommend is that people actually sit down and write down a self-care toolkit so that you’ve got those activities spelled out for you so you’re not having to be creative in the moment. If I can take you through the different segments of the vitality wheel, would that be useful?
I think that would be something that our listeners would really welcome because micro actions are so integral.
I call them little micro moments of nourishment. The way that you use this vitality wheel is not to think of these spokes as standalone or distinct. There’s a lot of overlap between them. It’s there to broaden your conceptualisation of what self-care is and to tap you into something accessible. There are eight pathways. The first one is movement and nutrition. I call it movement because it’s not just exercise. It’s any movement whether that’s hovering, gardening, walking to collect the kids from school, having a dance with some music. That’s really intuitive. We know that we need to nourish our mind and body with movement and food. That’s the first spoke of the vitality wheel. The second one is sleep, rest, relaxation and breathing. The reason why I’ve put those altogether in the same category is that they all stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. For anyone that’s in a state of burnout or overwhelm or stress, loss, change, that’s pretty much what your body and mind is crying out for. Let’s be honest though. In those times, often good sleep isn’t accessible. Regardless of all the good choices we make, it’s just not possible. It can also be really tough to find time to rest and relax. In the absence of good sleep, we turn to relaxation and in the absence of time and space for that, then we have the breathing to work with. That’s a very soothing spoke of the vitality wheel.
Then moving on to the third spoke, we’ve got mood boosters. That would be any activity or skill that boosts your mood. It can be as simple as wearing your favourite outfit, wearing a colour that you love, spritzing a scent that you find uplifting, music, watching something engaging or reading or listening to something engaging. It’s also skills including mindfulness, savouring, kindness and compassion. That’s the kind of stuff that’s instantaneous. For the people that think they don’t have time for self-care, I would challenge them to take a look at what are some of the things that lift your mood. Some of those things can be as simple as repeating a mantra, standing tall, feeling the strength of your legs, the length of your spine, and in ten seconds, you’ve changed the quality of your mood. We’ve all got time for that.
It’s incredible what a difference that can make. As you say, it takes just a few seconds. I love the idea of savouring. I think that’s really beautiful.
My dad was a psychiatrist. I think he taught me the skills of appreciation and savouring. That was very much linked to the landscape that we lived in. Dad would get home from a long day working with complex clients and we’d go for a walk. Often we wouldn’t even talk a lot on the walk, but what we would do would be to share what we were finding or inspiring and uplifting, whether it was a kestrel or at odd times we might see whales passing. We even did this bird count where we would identify as many number of species as possible. It was a little mindfulness meditation walk. Savouring, it’s literally the ability to suck the life out of the pleasurable experience. Whether it’s reminiscing over something that’s happened in the past or savouring a pleasurable moment as it’s unfolding or we can also anticipate future events. If you build this muscle of savouring, you have got access to a mood alchemist. Wherever you are, all you need to do is just close your eyes and either think of a happy memory, look forward to something you’ve got planned in the future or enjoy something pleasurable at this moment.
An easy toolkit that you can take wherever you go. That’s a really good one. I really love what you said at the top of the interview around writing yourself a toolkit. I know from personal experience, when I’m in the midst of feeling overwhelmed or frazzled or sad, whatever is getting me down, it is hard to have perspective around what are the good nourishing things that are quick wins in terms of helping my mind and my body feel better in those moments of feeling a bit anguish, frankly.
That’s what I learned the hard way. The fact is I’m a psychologist, a yoga teacher and a personal trainer. You think of the toolkit that I’ve got available to me there, all of the different things that I could do to nourish myself. When I found myself in a state of energetic bankruptcy, I literally couldn’t put my finger on what was going to help me. I just couldn’t think straight. I was lucky that I worked with someone and in partnership with her, she reconnected me with those practices. We can do it for ourselves. If you do find yourself in that space, then do it with a friend or do it with a coach. There’s no shame in reaching out for help but do it proactively. Make sure that it’s written down for you, whether it’s annotating a copy of the vitality wheel which just makes it really simple or writing it out on a piece of paper or having it on your phone. Just have it at fingertips’ reach. When we need it the most, that’s when we’re least resourceful and creative to come up with it. Make it easy for yourself, write it down. I hope that the spokes of the vitality wheel will give you some inspiration for how you can design your own self-care toolkit.
What are the next spokes on the wheel?
We’ve done the first three. We’re up to coping and stress management. In that spoke of the wheel, we’re talking about specific coping strategies. I draw from CBT, from mindfulness, from acceptance, and commitment therapy, whatever it is that allows you to chunk things down and just cope it all. If I just take you through the other segments, we’ve got social connection. The reason why I call that social connection rather than friendships and relationships is that you can get such an incredible sense of zest and energy from connecting with someone you don’t even know. This doesn’t just depend on close relationships and friendships. It’s making the effort to connect with whoever it is that’s serving you coffee or if you’re going out for a jog, giving someone else a nod, that sense of we’re in it together. It’s incredibly galvanising and really feeds the soul. That’s another way that we can nourish ourselves.
Moving further around the wheel, we’ve got goals and accomplishment. A lot of people wouldn’t necessarily think of that as self-care, but if you want to create any change, you know that you’re more likely to do it if you set some goal around it. Not only that, checking in with your progress and seeing how far you’ve come is incredibly uplifting. I think reflecting on your accomplishment is a really important part of self-care. You can simply do that throughout your day by just checking in and thinking, “What’s gone well? What have I done well this morning?” Rather than just focusing on that remaining to-do list that’s an arm long, think about, “What have I achieved today? How far have I come?” I think that can be very nourishing too. Then we’ve got another couple to go through. It’s values and purpose. That’s another way of tapping into a feeling of zest. We can spend more time on that if that’s interesting. The last one is nature, environment. Obviously, that speaks to you. In that segment, we’ve got the environment that you live in, the environment that you work in, your commuting space. That taps into this therapeutic power of nature itself and immersing yourself in that as much as possible for a potent anti-depressant effect and its ability to just reboot us. That’s the eight pathways.
I think it’s really crucial when you’re living in an urban area to seek out those places that are very elemental, whether you walk along the canal towpath or along the embankment of the river in your city or your town or you find a local park. We do have these places in the concrete jungle. I think sometimes we have to make a great effort to find them and to enjoy them rather than when we are living or working or visiting more of these areas.
I think it’s interesting to look at how different environments affect you in different ways. I think it’s a deeply personal thing, whether you need to be intrigued or whether you need the wide open possibility of being in a wide open space or whether it’s moving water. If you’re feeling a bit stuck, sometimes being by moving water can feel therapeutic. It’s just opening up your eyes to what’s available to you, also listening to what you need and thinking about how it is that you can meet those needs. Maybe you need to hop in the car and get to the coast. If you can’t do that then you can close your eyes and take yourself there. I haven’t been home to Australia for four years but I go there everyday. I do it in my head or I look at images or I put on a soundtrack of the sea. This is how we make it accessible.
For me, definitely there’s something around water that when I’m here in London, I will make a beeline for the Thames. There are times when it is about jumping in the car or taking a train down to the coast. I just love that hypnotic experience of seeing the waves and just being awestruck by their power but also that beautiful mesmeric impact they have on me. There are times when that’s all that will help. It’s definitely something that I seek out. You mentioned earlier about commitment and acceptance therapy. I’d love for you to talk a little bit about that.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, we tend to shorten it to ACT. If you want to find out more about it, just Google ACT. At its heart, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is drawing together mindfulness and it’s coupling up with values. According to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the goal of the therapy is not to eliminate particular thought patterns. It’s not to eradicate particular emotional states. It’s saying that there’s a space for all emotions. There’s a time and a place for all emotions. I think that in itself can be very healing. Allowing yourself space to feel what it is that you feel rather than saying, “I shouldn’t feel this. I can’t feel this. I don’t want to feel this,” and all of the struggle that entails. That also applies to thinking. If you look at CBT, a lot of CBT is trying to eradicate particular thoughts. ACT, on the other hand, is just making space for thoughts but reminding you that you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts, your emotions, your sensations, your memories are all just passing states. Our job is to just allow them to be there. This is where the mindfulness component comes in, allowing it to be there, sit with it even if it’s uncomfortable but allow it to be and then to connect with your values, to connect with what matters to you most in life, and then take action in service of those values.
That’s the kind of approach that’s helped me to be real, to be honest with myself about how I’m feeling. I have felt most healed by someone saying to me, “Of course, you feel as you do. Allow yourself to feel that. That’s okay. Also acknowledge that you won’t feel like this forever.” If there are other feeling states in there that quite often when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we get focused on just what we think of as the negative emotions, you peel those away and there’s other stuff in there. It’s this concept of emotional agility, the ability to feel and to feel a whole range of emotions and often simultaneously.
With these coping strategies and mechanisms that you were able to use and draw on at really dark times in your life.
That’s where this coping toolkit really was honed. It was working with a post-natal depression counsellor who was just a wonderful warm soul. To be honest with you, I don’t know whether it was post-natal depression or whether it was grief, exhaustion, I don’t know. The fact is I was struggling and this lady connected with me with some really wonderful coping tools. I can take you through some of those if that’s helpful.
I just want to take a step back actually just so that for listeners, they understand what you were experiencing. You experienced motherhood and there was the collision of being a new mother with the illness and subsequent death of your father.
To set the scene, we moved back to Australia from the UK to be closer to my parents. At that time, I knew that my dad wasn’t very well. After lots of investigation, dad being a medical practitioner himself, he wasn’t able to find out what was going on. He couldn’t find a cause. It was marked aging, fatigue, loss of appetite. Honestly, he’d aged twenty years overnight. A week before my little one, Charlotte, was born, my dad had a breathing failure. I was there and I was able to hold his hand and try and reassure him while we waited for the paramedics. They told us it was unlikely that he was going to make it. You can imagine that heightened state of being pregnant and about to become a parent at the same time as envisioning losing a parent. It was incredibly overwhelming. My dad was so tenacious. He held on. He actually survived for fifteen months after that breathing failure. He spent four months in intensive care. It was a very, very stressful time. With no diagnosis obviously, there was no treatment, so we never knew what was going on for dad. It was only posthumously that it was diagnosed that he had some very rare variant of motor neurone disease. There was nothing that could have been done to him but we didn’t know that at the time.
It was just torment because for a long time there, my mum needed to be my dad’s advocate. I felt like I’ve lost both parents at the same time. Of course, I didn’t. Mum was there as much as she could. Thankfully, we’ve had plenty of good times after that, but fifteen months is an awful long time for that acute level of crisis. This is why I do the work that I do now because I learned the very hard way what happens when we drop self-care. I learned that if I don’t nourish myself, then I’m really not well-placed to nurture those in my care. If I can’t do it for me, I have to do it for those that I’m responsible for. If I want to be the kind of mother, wife, daughter, sibling, friend, business owner, practitioner, I have to nurture myself.
What I learned too from that experience of burnout is that when you are overwhelmed, it can be so hard to know what to do. The things that generally you would do to enhance your well-being, the things that you’d normally turn to in a state of crisis or overwhelm, they become unavailable. You can’t get to the yoga class that you used to get to. You can’t do the run that you used to do or the walk on the beach. Those things are inaccessible for reasons of being time-squeezed, energy poor or financial reasons. We need a whole new self-care toolkit but we’re least creative in that time to come up with it. That’s why I’ve embarked on developing this framework and writing this book to share with people those lessons. I love that finally my career makes sense. Self-care is the thing that unites all these disparate threads into one sensible cohesive offering. It’s all about nourishment. I think really it was trying to heal my nervous system first, and I did that with soothing yoga, with as much rest as possible, being in nature, stillness and absence of stimulation. I think we live in such an over-stimulating world these days where even in our down time, we’re choosing more stimulation with our screens and more busyness that we’ve lost the art of just being still and quiet. That’s an incredibly healing thing that we need to reclaim.
With the post-natal depression, how long was it that you were living with that before it was recognised or you had the support that you needed to really recover from it?
I don’t know whether it was post-natal depression or whether it was just grief, exhaustion, whatever it was. I think for some people labels are really helpful because it allows them to get their head around it. For me, I just felt like I was having a normal human response to a very, very taxing set of variables. I went to my GP and she said, “Taking antidepressants will minimise your stress.” I just thought, “I think there’s something else I can do in there.” That’s why I feel so grateful to have been connected with that post-natal depression counsellor. With her help, we were able to think about, “What are some of the things that I can reclaim? If I can’t do those things in their old shape, how can I take on a new shape?” She was the one that really helped me fine-tune that coping toolkit and just to chunk things down. When you’re in that state of overwhelm, your brain goes into overdrive. It’s like you’re doing a year’s worth of stuff in one day, when in actual fact you just got to get through this minute and then the next minute and the next minute. Just chunk it down. Break it down into small manageable bits.
I know that when there was a death in my family, that was absolutely the advice that was given by somebody else.
I knew that I was in trouble pretty much before I gave birth. My dad had that breathing failure seven days before I gave birth. We had seven days of saying our last goodbyes to dad. I was honestly on my knees before giving birth, so obviously after giving birth, that’s what I call energetic bankruptcy. When I was in the hospital having given birth to Charlotte, thankfully she was healthy and I was okay, but I said to the midwife, to the nurse, “I need someone to talk to because I’m worried about how I’m going to look after myself, let alone look after this little bundle of joy.” From there, it was a bit of a rocky old road. They sent some chaplain, bearded guy, bless him. It was the complete antithesis of what I needed. Basically, he was there to assess me for risk of self-harm or harm to my child. I get why these safety measures are necessary. What I needed was some grey-haired old lady to come in and hold my hand and say, “Sweetheart, you’re going to be okay. You’ve just been through an absolutely horrendous time, but you’re going to be okay. You will draw on reserves that you don’t even know you have and you’ll be okay.”
I knew I needed support because my nervous system had just been through such trauma that I reached out for help pretty quick. Being a psychologist, I have no hesitation to reach out for help from that capacity because I just think it’s just a normal part of life. You go and see a personal trainer if you’re preparing for a marathon or you want to change your physique. Why not see a psychologist if you want to think with greater clarity or feel better about life and it’s inevitable pitfalls? Even having said that, it still took me a long time to find the right people. It can be really hard to make appointments when you’ve got a baby. I was very lucky that I had people that came to me and I had a wonderful support of friends and family around me. I would say it wasn’t until Charlotte was two that I really felt vital and abundant again. It really knocked the stuffing out of me. Funnily enough, that coincided with Charlotte starting nursery and there was actually more time to do things solo, like just sit on the beach and watch the waves or lying in the sun. That was a very healing time. It took about two years.
I know there are lots of people who live in one place and they’re from another place. We move to places because we fall in love with someone from there or for economic reasons, for all sorts of complex reasons. It doesn’t mean that we ever stopped missing or longing for a person or a place. As somebody who’s living in London in the UK who’s obviously got all of these lovely connections from Australia, which is where you grew up and where your mother still lives, how do you manage those moments of home sickness?
I think first and foremost, it’s about being anchored where you are and feeling a sense of rooting and connection there. Generally when I feel homesick for Sydney, that’s when I’ll go out into the woods here and just plug in to what’s available to me. I can have a hankering for that stuff and not be able to meet that need, but what I can meet is the need for feeling plugged in. I look at what’s available to me here right now. I guess I’m very lucky that England for me feels like an ancestral home because my father was English and we came here a number of times as I was growing up. There’s a deep sense of history here. I think it’s that sense of history that people crave. There’s something that landscapes and environments get etched in the cells and fibres of our body in some way. When I do miss Sydney, I think about what are the things that I miss? It’s the texture of the sand. It’s the hues of the sandstone cliffs. I think about those colours. It’s closing my eyes and literally immersing myself in the sensation of being in that place. I have stacks of photographs that I pore through and I share those photos with my kids. I love that we can have a continued relationship with a person or a place by doing that. I think that can ease the feeling or just help us sit with the experience of longing and loss without pushing it away but just letting it be there. I think that can be very healing.
So often in this world of hyper connection and speed, we resist those feelings that are uncomfortable and difficult for us. We want to squash them down so we numb out by jumping online or stand in the coffee shop queue and look at whatever is on our phone rather than just being with a moment of discomfort because actually our minds might wander and we might have to process some uncomfortable thoughts so we feel awkward. I’m a big advocate of just being with it, particularly in those moments of pain. I say that as someone who’s grieving the loss of loved ones. It’s really, really hard but feeling it I think is helpful to get through it and get past the pain bit. The next time it strikes, because it will strike, it might be a longer gap but you know this pain in this acute moment but I will get through this.
It’s being brave enough to sit with it and let it be. Don’t medicate yourself against it. Just allow it to be because it’s in the feeling of it, that’s where the healing is. If we try and push it down or avoid it or neglect it or numb out to it, that’s when it just stays in our body or it leaks out at other times. The therapy is in taking a look. What I find is that the braver I am and the more honestly I have a look, grief and longing and loss and sadness often occur with a deep, deep reservoir of love and gratitude. I can immerse myself in the awareness of that, the feeling of that whenever I miss dad or whenever I miss mum. To be honest with you, there’s a sense of grief because my mum’s on the other side of the world and I’m here but I can be grateful for the depths of bond that we have. I stay connected with mum by sending a little image of whatever is happening in my day. It might be a simple snap. I just want to share it with her. This is a very, very simple way that we can stay current. It’s the currency that really helps, especially when there’s a big psychological distance and time zone differences where you can’t just necessarily pick up the phone. You can send an email with an image or text. It’s just setting an intention.
That’s such a lovely example of where technology is amazing when we use it in these ways to maintain meaningful connections. I think that’s something that I’m really keen on understanding what’s a meaningful connection versus a, “This is a distracting connection,” or, “This is a numbing out connection,” or a connection that actually is making me get into a comparison paralysis. That’s not constructive for me or my relationships. I would love to know what you’re curious about right now.
Clare, I love this question and I love it because I think cultivating the skill of curiosity is really transformative. We can transform something that feels very heavy by just getting curious about it. I love that you are drawing people’s awareness to the skill of curiosity. The thing that I’m really curious about at the moment is a concept called right effort. I think it’s one of the noble truths from Buddhism. I first came across it when I was doing yoga teacher training probably a decade ago but I keep coming back to this lesson of right effort. Essentially, right effort is all about pacing yourself. It’s about identifying what is the most constructive course of action here in this moment that allows me to achieve my intention. The reason why it’s so pertinent right now is that one, I’ve got this book on self-care. Self-care is such a huge passion of mine. I have a very, very strong commitment to nourishing practices. Even me with all of that knowledge, I still manage to get it wrong sometimes. I’m just learning how much of an art form it is to pace ourselves. It’s because my littlest one, Ted, started nursery. For the first time in seven years, I had time and space to expand and express myself in different ways. I went at it like a banshee. I was running everyday because I hadn’t exercised as much as I’d like to in the last seven years. I was meeting people in London because for the first time in years, I could actually leave Berkhamsted for more than an hour. I was doing lots of writing and lots of reading. It was all frenzied action. All of which in isolation, they were all nourishing activities. If you do too much of them or with too great a pushing, you end up depleted.
I woke up and I just thought, “What am I doing? Scary mummy is showing up.” I’m waking up feeling like there are not enough hours in the day, “What am I doing? This is my toolkit. I need to take a look here.” It all comes down to the art of balance, the art of pacing yourself. That’s what I’m curious about at the moment. I’m getting better at listening to my body and mind. I’m getting better at thinking, “I need to move but what kind of movement is going to help me get through the rest of the things in my day? If taking a run right now is going to mean that I’ll scream at my kids this afternoon, go for a walk instead, woman. Think about it.” That’s what I’m curious about at the moment.
Suzy, where can people find out more about you, and most importantly, where can they get hold of a copy of your book?
It’s on Amazon already, The Self-Care Revolution. I would so love it if you come and join my well-being community at Instagram. There’s such a lovely gathering of kindred spirits there and we share our insight, we share our experiences, and we literally walk the paths together there. That’s just @SuzyReading, also at Twitter. I have a Facebook page as well, @SuzyReadingPsychologyAndYoga. You might find some little yoga videos there as well as lots of self-care inspiration. Please seek me out and let’s start a dialogue. We share the journey and we have so much to learn from each other.
Thanks so much for being a guest on the show.
Thank you, Clare. I have so enjoyed our conversation. I love thinking about the questions that you posed. I hope people found our conversation interesting. Thanks, Clare.
Thanks so much for being a guest on the Urban Curiosity podcast.