Published by Pearl and Groove, March 2018
Can you give us a quick run through of the journey you’ve taken to get where you are now? What inspired you to get into mindfulness?
My journey has been a bit of a rollercoaster but in terms of my mindfulness journey it really started when I was suffering with suffering very badly with mixed anxiety and depression. I was working long hours, travelling a lot and had become quite isolated from my social network as a result. I didn’t have a ‘breakdown’ but I think I was a whisker away from one. My GP gave me two options, quit my job or try mindfulness, I was pretty sceptical about mindfulness but was not willing to quit my job so decided to give it a try. In less than 2 weeks life seemed manageable again and I felt human again. Without a doubt it saved my career as well as improving my physical health and enhancing my relationships. The benefits have continued to emerge since that day. It was so transformational to experience that for myself that I wanted to share it with everyone I knew and so I decided to leave my role in the fashion industry after 15 years and follow that passion.
What do you find the most challenging about working in this area?
For me it is ensuring that I carve out the time for looking after my own wellbeing. Whether you are new to mindfulness and wellbeing practices or have been doing them for years we all face that challenge. That has been and, I imagine, always will a conscious effort but the process of working through this myself really enables me to support others overcome their challenges more effectively. Whether I am teaching group classes or doing 1:1 coaching it is important for me to have both an evidence-based scientific understanding of tools and practices as well as an experiential knowledge.
What would be your top 5 tips that people dealing with daily stress and anxiety could do to help alleviate or change these feelings into more positive ones?
– Try to find one person you can talk to honestly about whatever you are going through. That can be a friend, a therapist or anyone at all. Make it clear to them that you are not looking for advice but you just want to speak out loud about what’s going on for you. Just having that ‘air-time’ in a non-judgemental space is invaluable. If you can’t find someone then you can look for a group meet up, speak to a coach or check out NHS services. (Or get in touch with me as I currently have space to offer 2 people free one to one coaching sessions.)
– Get out of your immediate working or home environment at least once during the day. Even if this is just a 5 minute walk to a local shop or a stretch outside your building. Taking a break and having a change of scenery is imperative to allow the brain to assimilate thoughts, consolidate memories and regain clarity. If possible don’t take your phone and focus on the way your body feels as you move and the physical environment around you.
– Try this 3 minute mindfulness practice – it really is only 3 minutes long and I suggest doing it at least once every day.
– Prioritise getting rest. That includes sleeping more, adapting your exercise routine to be less high intensity and more restorative (i.e. try yoga or jogging rather than a spin or HIIT class), and ensuring you get ‘down-time’. If you have trouble sleeping then it is worth looking into your sleep routine as there are many small changes that can be made to improve your sleep. (Feel free to email me for more details!)
– Give Gratitude a try! This was another practice that I used to be very sceptical of, despite the mountain of scientific research that backs up the physiological, emotional and social benefits. I tried it and now swear by it! To bring this into your daily life simply take a few moments before you go to bed to write down 3 things in your day that you are pleased you have achieved, or challenges you have overcome or things that you are grateful for. There is nothing too large or too small here and often it is the smaller actions that make a bigger impact in our lives. Examples from my experience are – getting into bed 30 minutes earlier than usual, finally remembering to pick up my dry cleaning or sharing a smile with work colleague in a meeting.
What did you want to be when you were very little?
I had a list of 10 options including lawyer, hair dresser and fashion designer. I am pleased that I pursued the fashion designer dream as I know I would have always wondered “what if” had I not done that and it really led me to where I am today. Having said that I am grateful to have taken the step away from that role as I am happier now than I have ever been.
What can’t you live without?
My friends, laughter, sushi, ice cream and meditation! (I am glad you’d didn’t ask for just 1!)
Who or what do you find inspiring?
My friends – I am always amazed at the courage they show in their own lives, the challenges they overcome and the compassion they offer.
Where would you go for breakfast, lunch and dinner (separate meals) if they were your last on earth?
Breakfast – Pastis in New York or Watercress in Bali
Lunch – A secluded mountain top restaurant with a panoramic view
Dinner – The top floor of the highest building in a warm city where I can sit outside
Talk us through what you’d do on a Pearl (truly virtuous) day and a Groove (really indulgent) day?
A Pearl day would start with the fact that I had gone to bed early the night before so I would wake up feeling refreshed and energised! I would meditate for 25-30 minutes, go to the gym or do some yoga, enjoy a calm breakfast without feeling any time pressure and then I would start the ‘doing’ bit of the day. It would definitely include writing an article, creating a new download for my website or adding some value to the world around me. There would also be an element of tidying, filing or throwing away stuff I no longer use as the more I can simplify the life the better I feel. The key elements would be taking a lunch break where I take a walk outside and enjoy lunch in a new setting as well as finishing my day by 6pm so I can enjoy the process of cooking dinner and eating it in a relaxed environment. I would probably read, draw or paint a little after dinner and have another early night. That feels good even describing that – thank you for asking that question!
A Groove day would be having a lie in but being able to be awake in bed and enjoy being aware that I was having a lie in! I would read in bed or listen to music before getting up to a fantastic breakfast of avocado and kale on toast or maybe poached eggs and then heading out for a morning of skiing. We would have a long morning of some challenging back country skiing and finish for a late lunch in a rustic log cabin with awe inspiring views. After lunch we would head into the spa area for massages and pedicures before enjoying a jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. We would be taken back to our chalet in a husky drawn sleigh or similar fabulous transport where we would lounge by an open fire before dinner and then round the day off with a couple of movies on the sofa. (I don’t know who the “we” is in this vision but I know I would not be skiing alone and most things are better when shared!)
Finally – if you could learn one skill over night, what would it be?
Absolute unrelentless trust in whatever lies ahead. I wish I could grant that to everyone, everywhere. If we could all stop worrying about what may or may not be we would all discover that we have more opportunities, more courage, more strength, more resources and more support than we ever imagined. We would see that we have the chance to live a life of no regrets and that starts today.