Where did self-care go?

meditateIs mum life really the answer to this question? Chances are, your children may have inspired you to be your healthiest self before they were in your arms. So what has changed? Let’s consider the journey to ‘mummyhood’ and figure out where caring for ourselves was lost.

At the beginning, the instant you make that decision to grow your family and have a baby, your life changes. You become more conscious about your health, you cut down on alcohol and processed foods and you adopt any practice that will improve your chances of conceiving. You read everything you can on fertility and you dream about the kind of mum you want to be. If, like me, falling pregnant takes a lot longer than you expected, you start to take on a holistic approach to health. No chemicals, no sugar, a kitchen bursting with fertility friendly foods and you take part in activities that promote both physical and emotional wellbeing. You’re probably the healthiest you have ever been.

When you finally get the amazing news that you are pregnant, you are probably the healthiest and happiest you have ever been. During pregnancy, you take care of yourself like never before. If you’re tired you rest, you put your feet up or take a nap. Some foods are now totally out of the question and your focus is on nutritious and nourishing foods. You become so in tune with your body, noticing every feeling and change and you make any adjustment needed to feel comfortable. Gentle movement, breathing exercises and affirmations become part of your daily routine. Plus everyone around you does everything they can to nurture you. The greatest motivation to looking after you is your growing baby. You matter so very much.

Then your bundle of joy arrives earth side and while people still care very much about your wellbeing, it’s all about that beautiful baby. A few weeks into ‘mummyhood’, it’s likely that you are no longer a priority to yourself, your life totally revolves around your little one. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, they need us so much. But they need us to be at our healthiest and happiest too. When they were in the womb they thrived on this. Now that they are lying beside us, what has changed? You still matter so much!

I believe that mum life is a distraction from ourselves. But we always have a choice, just like before when we made those positive choices for our health and wellbeing. As mums, we don’t have an abundance of time or freedom for ourselves so we need to re-define what self-care means for us now. It may look completely different. We may think we have no time for self-care, are too busy or too tired. These are obstacles that we can easily remove with a change in perspective, check out my article on this here. So what is left, is for us to make a choice to reclaim our health and wellbeing. Our greatest motivation is our family, just like before. Are you ready to rediscover the benefits of self-care again? What is one thing that you can do today for you? Self-care isn’t always about ‘me first’, it’s about ‘me too’.

I am so passionate about women, especially mums living their healthiest and happiest lives. I know first-hand that this benefits everyone around us. If self-care is the missing piece to the puzzle for you then you may be interested in my Shine Bright Mama workshop and the Shine Bright Mama 30 days of self-care journey that I will be running again soon on Instagram. For more details you can visit my website here, or contact me here.

Shine Bright Mama.xx


Shine Bright Mama – How to make time for self-care


Mama, you matter. Making time for self-care is not a luxury, it’s essential. But one of the biggest roadblocks to creating this time, is thinking that we just don’t have the time. If I told you that wasn’t true, you’d probably consider that a joke. But when we dive in a little deeper, you might find that you do, indeed have time for you. We can solve this roadblock from the inside out, starting with our thought patterns and mindset. Let’s take a look at three ways we can change our thinking around time and how to find that sacred time for us.

Too busy

What does being too busy really look like and mean to you? Yes, we have a lot going on with our children, relationships, home life, work life etc. It’s more than a balancing act at times. However, when we take a closer look it may be our thoughts and the language we use in relation to busy-ness that is the real obstacle. It honestly comes down to what is important to us. I love Dr Libby’s approach to this thought on not having the time. Rather than saying ‘I don’t have time for that’ or ‘I’m too busy for that’, change it to, ‘That isn’t a priority for me’. You will always have time for what is important to you. And mama you are important! You are worth taking care of, you just need to make the choice.

Perception of time

Consider the quote, “I have so much to do today, I better meditate twice as long.” Initially it may seem counter-intuitive but it is so incredibly true. I realised early on what works best for me is that when Isla goes down for her nap, the first thing I do is something that refuels me. I do a yoga dvd, have a cup of tea and read a book or do some writing, if I’m feeling particularly tired I’ll lie down and close my eyes. After about half an hour, I’m ready tackle my ‘to do’ list and I get it done quickly and easily. The chores aren’t so much of a chore because I’ve done something good for myself first. I’m not spending the whole time thinking: ‘once this is done, and that is done I can finally relax.’ Because I’ve already relaxed. When you’ve taken some time for you, time seems to expand and you feel like there is enough of it to complete all of your tasks. In my experience, when I’m solely focussed on completing chores, it never happens that way and I run out of time. If this is your experience too, try taking a break to refuel yourself before you get moving again.

Just say no

This is a biggie! Everything that fills up your day, you have said yes to and only you can make the choice to change this. Truth bomb!! I know for a lot of us, we become all things to all people. Often trying to hold on to elements of our lifestyle before kids, plus taking care of our kids and pleasing others too. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. The simple act of saying ‘no’ can be freeing. You may think that saying no is difficult, but when it comes down to the doing and the over filled schedule, saying ‘yes’ is actually more difficult. It may feel challenging at first, but finding a way to say ‘no’ with love will be one of the best things you can do for you. Be honest with those around you about your time, your commitments and priorities. Be honest about needing time to yourself. Respect yourself and your time, and when you show that you respect your time, others will respect your time too. If you create boundaries from a place of love and self-care, you’ll be rewarded for it. Create these healthy boundaries then lovingly enforce them without the guilt.

Mama, it’s no longer ok to put yourself last. Self-care everyday is a non-negotiable and the benefits will ripple outward. I like to think of us as the sun, and when we are looking after ourselves and shining our brightest, those warm, energising, nurturing and nourishing rays are reaching those around us, touching and impacting on their lives too.

I know self-care is important to you and I would love to meet you at my Shine Bright Mama workshop in August. We’ll explore:

+ Why self-care is the best ‘health care’
+ How to make self-care a priority and part of your routine
+ How to get in touch with what really lights you up and refuels you
+ Ways to create time for self-care
+ How to remove the guilt from your ‘mama me time’
+ Practical tips and ideas to truly nurture you

You will leave feeling inspired and motivated with an action plan to incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Follow this link for more details and to book your space. I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Shine bright mama.xx

Quotes to inspire more self-love

pinkflowersI love reading motivational or inspiring quotes. Depending on where you are at in your life, the beautiful words you read can have endless meanings.

Making time for ourselves can be difficult when we have so many demands in our lives but it is actually the best thing you can do for yourself and those around you.

Here are a few quotes to inspire more self-love in your life. To make these quotes really work for you, you may like to write the ones that resonate with you the most in your calendar or set them as a reminder in your phone each day. You may like to write it in your journal, add it as a screen saver or simply write it on paper and keep it close by. Which one speaks to you the most?

  • When a woman becomes her own best friend life is easier. – Diane Von Furstenberg
  • We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light. – Mary Dunbar
  • To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.
- Louise L. Hay
  • Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
- Veronica A. Shoffstall
  • To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance. – Oscar Wilde
  • Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. –  Carl Gustav Jung
  • Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her. – Lao-Tzu
  • There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  Anaïs Nin

Do you have a favourite self-love quote? Please share it with us in the comments.


Why I’m working with a Life Coach

_DSC6638I’m the kind of person who sets goals and works hard to achieve them. I decided I wanted to live overseas and travel, so I did. I decided I wanted to go back to university and become a Primary School Teacher, so I made it happen. I chose to follow my passion and enrol in the Institute Integrative Nutrition (IIN) course for a year, set up my Health Coaching business and a website all while working full time. I achieved all of this through my own motivation and determination. I never thought I would want or need to work with a Life Coach!

During my year at IIN, one of the most valuable things for me was speaking with like-minded people and encouraging and supporting each other. I really missed the regular check-ins and catch-ups once the course was complete and I certainly took away an appreciation for the positive role an accountability coach can have on your life. As a Health Coach myself, I see immense value in having that guide on the side to support and cheer you along on your path to achieving your goals.

At the start of the year, just like many of you, I thought about all of the things I wanted to achieve or do in 2016. Being halfway through my pregnancy at the time, I found it a little difficult to see beyond my due date. I also had so many questions come up such as, how can I still work on my business with a newborn? What will my life look like once she is born? How can I still have time for myself? Can I still complete my studies, work on my business and look after a baby?

I found myself facing a huge transition in my life and I was also presented with the opportunity to work with an amazing Life Coach. I jumped at the chance! I had goals I wanted to achieve and an inner monologue that just kept going around in circles! I needed to get out of my head!

From the very first session with Amy from Designing her Life I had clarity and felt uplifted. Hearing her bright and cheery voice of reason really gave me the motivation, support and the sounding board that I needed. She helped me prioritise what I really wanted to achieve and we began working on my business goal and a personal goal. One of the things I loved so much about working with Amy is that she encouraged me to consider how I felt about my goals and how I wanted to feel about them. She gave me the space to bounce ideas or concerns and take an in depth look at the choices I am making.

Working with a coach is a lot different to leaning on a friend for support or guidance. Friends and family can be a little biased because they want what’s best for you or perhaps they know you too well. They may unintentionally give you the kind of advice that may lead you away from what it is you really want. With a Life Coach of course they want what’s best for you too, but the approach is a lot different to speaking with a friend. For a whole hour it’s all about me and I’m asked the kinds of questions that lead me to realising my own answers or seeing an issue from another perspective. Priceless!! Amy, in her beautiful heart-centred way, also reflects back to me what I have accomplished already and reminds me that I am succeeding.

Personally, working with a Life Coach has not only given me the clarity, sense of purpose and flow that I was seeking, I also think it has made me a better coach myself. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re at in life or what it is you want to achieve. Having a personal cheerleader by your side is life-changing!


Make Peace with Your Plate – Book Review

make-peace-with-your-plateReading is one of my favourite things to do. I usually have about three books on the go; one for business, one for health/spirit and one for fun. Then I have more books waiting for me when I’ve finished them. I also have an ever growing list of “must reads” to get through!! Who’s with me? Earlier this year I joined a Wellness Book Club where us book nerds share our thoughts and ideas about a particular book each month. One of the books we read was Make Peace with Your Plate by Jess Ainscough, and now I’m sharing my review with you.


Australia’s very own Wellness Warrior has left a significant legacy. The passing of Jess Ainscough earlier this year was felt by the many lives she touched. The authenticity of her blog and her story as well as her message of wellness resonated with so many people who in turn felt a connection to her. I had followed her blog for a couple of years and credit her inspiring story, enthusiasm and dedication to health for sparking a transformation in my own life. I started 2015 with my ‘books to read this year’ list which included Make Peace with Your Plate – finally! Picking up this gem for the first time after her passing was both comforting and poignant.

Jess’ story is both heart-breaking and remarkable. At just 22 years old her life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a rare type of incurable cancer and told that her only option to prolong her life was to amputate her arm. She was like any young woman; partying, living each day as it comes, surviving on junk food and battling body issues. Her shocking diagnosis was a life-changing catalyst for extreme change to her lifestyle, beginning with a three week stay at the Gerson clinic in Mexico. Two years of hourly fresh, organic veggie juices each day, a basic plant based diet and five coffee enemas a day followed.

She was absolutely, one-hundred percent committed to her health with the support of her parents, boyfriend and fur babies. An obsession to research everything about natural, alternative cancer therapies and treatments as well as how to bring her body to optimum health forms the basis for a lot of information in this book. She acknowledges that the information isn’t new, but rather something we have forgotten along the way and need to relearn.

What I absolutely love about Make Peace with Your Plate is that it is part reference book, part autobiography and part self-help book, all interwoven in an easy to read and light kind of way. She speaks about the chemicals in our foods, nutrition, whole-foods, a plant based diet and debunks some ‘truths’ about dietary claims. She shares some useful information on superfoods and how to use them as well as reading labels. Most useful is the ‘how’. You will find a lot of value in how to put all of this information into practice.

Going beyond the plate, Jess rightfully acknowledges that our wellbeing is based on more than what we put in our mouths. We must take a holistic approach. For me, having a regular meditation practice is important but something I never prioritise. Jess shares the details of her own practice and how to do it, this really helped me out with my routine. While reading this book I also got back into dry body brushing and felt amazing for it. I was also inspired to try oil pulling for the first time. All I can manage is 3 minutes. I’m not sure how someone with kids or a dog could possibly do this for 20 minutes in the morning. Another thing is the coffee enemas…..hmmm, still need to get my head around that one!

We can read a number of text books or spend an afternoon googling the theories and philosophy for health and wellness included in Make Peace with Your Plate. But what we would be missing out on is Jess’ incredibly inspiring story. How a young woman with a serious illness intuitively makes decisions for her own health, researches daily practices and nutritional information to allow her to thrive and manages to live a life full of gratitude and positivity. Her holistic approach to wellness and what that looks like in her daily life is what sets this book apart from the rest. Her authenticity, honesty and passion shines throughout this entire book, engaging the reader from start to finish.

A truly inspiring book that empowers us to live our healthiest lives.

Have you read Make Peace with Your Plate? I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you enjoyed this book review please let me know in the comments. If it’s something you’re interested in, I would really enjoy writing more reviews for you.xx


Ten Tips to Help Create Balance in Your Life by Rachel Stokes

Whether you have children or not, balance is a word that comes up a lot. We’ve all been there; a huge week of work or study, social occasions, relationships to maintain, a house to keep clean, mouths to feed, pets to walk, many things to be done. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness and feel frazzled. I’ve been there, I’m sure I’m not alone.

I came across this blog post at just the right time. It was exactly the words I needed to read to get me through a huge week. This topic is close to my heart and I just had to share it with you!

Rachel StokesRachel Stokes is incredibly passionate about health and wellbeing, particularly preventative health care. Her beautiful blog and Facebook page provides invaluable knowledge about the nutrients our bodies need for vitality. Nutrition is only one aspect of health.  Wellness requires balance in the areas of relationships, career, physical activity, spirituality and having clarity around your life’s purpose.

As a busy, working and studying mother with four children (four!!), I couldn’t think of a better person to help us all out with the pursuit of balance. If anyone can provide insight, valuable practices and simple strategies for us all to create more balance in our lives it is definitely Rachel.

Ten Tips to Help Create Balance in Your Life

Balance-10-self-care-tips-for-the-blog-300x240Juggling a family, career and a social life is a balancing act. There is nothing I love more than being a mum. I also love having a rewarding career and having a social life. However, life can be challenging, it is easy to stop taking care of yourself. You have other people you are responsible for and there are always demands for our attention. In order to be the best mum, friend and wife you can be you have to be healthy, happy, well rested and in balance. I know this is so much easier said than done. I am not here to preach. For years my life had no balance. It took more than a slap in the face with a cold fish to snap me out of it too. That’s a story for another day.  Here are 10 self -care tips you can implement straight away:

  1. Take one day at a time. I read a Buddha saying just today that said: “Do not dwell in the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
  2. Spend time with your family and friends. For me this means scheduling activities so that I can maintain healthy relationships. My husband and I have just started scheduling fortnightly date nights. We are literally passing ships and needed to do something to bring the relationship back into balance. We could probably upgrade it to weekly. Fortnightly is a start. I schedule to catch up with my friends regularly, sometimes it is to go for a coffee, other times it’s a swim or a walk or a family BBQ. Consider other areas of your life that you may want to commit some time to. For example, spiritual growth, personal growth, career development and plan them into your weekly schedule.
  3. Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet and eat healthy foods. I know this sounds ridiculously simple but it’s also ridiculously easy to eat bad foods. They just seem so convenient. You will function better if you eliminate highly processed foods and refined sugars out of your diet. Foods have an amazing ability to support digestion, heal the gut, strengthen immunity, fight infection, reduce inflammation, enhance mood, boost IQ, build muscle and much more. There are a gazillion resources on eating well. Don’t get too overwhelmed with it all. Keep it simple: Increase fresh foods and drink more water to crowd out the junk.
  4. Hire a health or life coach for additional support or find a friend to be your accountability partner. Discuss your goals, your dreams, the vision you have for your future. Let the coach help you to break it down into achievable and doable chunks.
  5. Take breaks. Take short breaks, long breaks, weekend breaks. You must take time to renew and rejuvenate. Today I felt like I was getting nowhere, I was so frustrated with myself. I work mostly from home so I took 5 minutes to go outside feed the chickens and have a jump on the trampoline. The short break allowed me to refocus and start again. When I worked at the hospital, instead of having breaks in the lunch room I would take a stroll outside or sit and have lunch outside in the fresh air.
  6. Breathe frequently. Dr Andrew Weil has a great breathing exercise he calls the 4-7-8 breath. You can do anywhere anytime. Learn how to do it here. Dr Weil recommends practicing twice a day. It’s a tool you will have in your back pocket so to speak. Use it to help you fall asleep, overcome food cravings or whenever you are aware of tension building. I was attending one of Dr Weil’s lectures and he stopped right in the middle of class and taught us this.  At first I thought it was so weird but now I love this technique and use it daily.
  7. Move your body. Exercise energises your body and clears your mind. If you’re not fit, start with a ten minute gentle walk and increase it by two minutes each day. Within twenty days you will be walking half an hour a day.
  8. Don’t compare yourself to others. Full stop.
  9. Spend time with supportive people.
  10. Keep a gratitude journal. Being thankful helps us to focus on what we have rather than what we don’t have. Every time you have a positive thought it literally changes your brain and the hormones that are released in your body. Dr Caroline Leaf is an expert on how thoughts affect our emotions and our bodies and teaches how to break the cycle of toxic thinking. As you think, your thoughts are activated, which in turn activates your attitude. Your attitude is all of your thoughts put together and reflects your state of mind. This attitude is reflected in the chemical secretions that are released. Positive thoughts and gratitude cause the secretion of the correct amounts of chemicals and negative attitudes distort the chemical secretions. This distortion of chemicals, over time, can result in ill health. Gratitude and thankfulness lay the foundation for health and peace. Start by writing down just one thing a day that you are thankful for and each day add to your list. Also start to pay attention to where your mind goes most of the time. Each time your mind strays toward a negative thought replace it with a positive thought. When you practice gratitude your world begins to look brighter.

Visit Rachel Stokes Nutrition and Wellness for more inspiration for balanced living and make sure you check out her delicious recipes!

Which of these tips will you try this week? Which one interests you the most? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.


Seven Days of Self-Care

2014-08-life-of-pix-free-stock-photos-Countryside-trees-hammock-chill-RelaxationHow well do you care for yourself? Do you only make time for yourself once you’ve looked after everyone else? If you have set an intention for 2015 to love yourself more or if you rarely make time for yourself then this is for you. Late last year I ran a “Seven Days of Self-Care” guide. I don’t feel ‘challenge’ is the appropriate word here when speaking of self-care. The feedback was positive and some of the changes and insights by those who participated was profound. Follow the guide below at your own pace. Notice which self-care tips resonate with you and which ones you struggle with. Try to focus on just one strategy per day. Remember, taking good care of YOU means the people in your life will receive the best of you, rather than what’s left of you.

Day 1: Breathe

Breathe through the nose. Notice the inhale, notice the exhale and connect with your breath. Breathe deeply into the belly. Notice how the nose warms the breath as it enters the body. Notice how your belly expands. Notice how your chest rises. Exhale slowly.

Three deep breaths can be enough to calm and de-stress your body and mind. Take a moment to connect to your breath. Focusing on the breath will bring you back to the present moment. If you are feeling stress levels rise, take a moment to breathe.

Day 2: Take a break

A real break. The kind of break without distractions or interruptions. Switch off your phone, turn off the TV, wait until your kids go to bed if you need to. This is not the time to be making mental ‘to do’ lists either!

Make yourself a cup of tea and sit down and enjoy it. Put your feet up, read a book or magazine or simply close your eyes. Slow down and savour it. Enjoy the stillness! Completely stopping for as little as ten minutes could make all the difference.

Day 3: Move your body

Exercise produces the feel good hormone serotonin, which has an uplifting effect on your entire body. It also increases energy and reduces anxiety and stress.

Moving your body outside in nature can also improve your mood. Pay attention to your surroundings and notice natures’ beauty. Breathe in the fresh air and feel recharged.

You may like to try a yoga, Pilates or Zumba class. Maybe a walk, run, bike ride or swim outdoors is more convenient for you. Or perhaps a game of tennis or soccer with your friends or kids is your type of exercise. Even turning up the stereo and dancing around the house counts! Enjoy whatever you do and have fun. If you can’t spare more than 15 minutes, don’t worry, do as much as you can.

Day 4: Be Positive

Think positive and positive things will happen. Positive thoughts boost your mood, spirit and can even generate more positivity and happiness in your life.

Let go of negative self-talk, make the choice to be positive. When you notice the negative chatter going in your head, replace it with something positive. Even when you don’t think you have it all, focus on what you have today.

One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.

Day 5: Pamper Yourself

It’s time to relax and recharge. Show yourself some love and care. You deserve some you time!

You could try dry body brushing before a shower, a body scrub, facial, massage, pedicure, manicure or a relaxing bath. A DIY spa night could be the perfect way to pamper yourself and unwind.

Day 6: Play!

Most of us have jobs and roles that require responsibility. All work and no play is no way to live a life of depth. Life shouldn’t be so serious and busy all of the time.

Make it a priority to let go of the stresses in your life and make time for play. Not only will you enjoy it but you’ll also be modelling healthy work-life balance behaviours to those around you.

So dust off the cricket set, tennis rackets or board games and have fun just playing. Remember playgrounds aren’t just for kids! Play, laugh and relax!

Day 7: Connect with nature

Disconnect from the rest of the world and concentrate on the beauty of nature. Enjoy the simplicity of nature, it’s good for the spirit.

Nature will quiet your mind and you will feel connected with life all around you. You may emerge from your nature break feeling more alive, inspired or more relaxed than ever. Getting outside will nourish, de-stress and empower you!

Take off your shoes and sink your bare feet into the grass or sand, tend to some gardening, or go for a walk outdoors. Breathe deeply and enjoy the fresh air. You could even bring nature to you with a plant, freshly cut flowers or some shells collected from the beach.

Finally: Reflect

How will you incorporate self-care into your days ahead? Which self-care tip resonated with you the most? Which one did you struggle with? I’d love to hear from you!