Create Nourish Inspire Interviews is a blog post series, where I interview people who inspire me because of the way they follow their heart and seek to do what lights them up. I find out more about the journey they have taken and discover how they embrace their creativity, nourish their soul and find peace in everyday life.
This week, I’ve been talking to Suzy Reading. Suzy is a mother of two, a Chartered Psychologist, Yoga Teacher, and Health Coach. She specialises in self-care, helping people manage their stress, emotions, and energetic bank balance. It was her life experience of motherhood colliding with the terminal illness of her father that sparked her passion for self-care, which she now teaches to her clients, young and old, to cope during periods of stress, loss and change and to boost their resilience in the face of future challenges. Suzy is a contributing editor for Psychologies Magazine and the Psychology Expert for wellbeing brand Neom Organics. She figure-skated her way through her childhood, growing up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, and now makes her home in hills of Hertfordshire, UK. Her first book ‘The Self-Care Revolution’, published by Aster, is out now. I’ve recently read this brilliant book after being a follower of Suzy’s blog for a while; I found it to be a fantastic insight into the different ways we can use self-care for our wellbeing, as well as containing lots of practical activities and ideas to top up our energy bank.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you have created a business doing what lights you up?
There have been many twists and turns in my business, which keeps evolving with my life experience, but finally my mission to empower people with the tools of self-care makes sense of my disparate training in psychology, yoga and fitness! I’ve been self-employed for over the last 15 years spending half of that time working as a personal trainer and private yoga coach and more recently, specialising in wellbeing psychology infused with a therapeutic application of yoga.
How has your life changed since you decided to do what lights you up and did you have to overcome anything along the way?
It was motherhood colliding with the terminal illness of my father and my ensuing energetic bankruptcy which first lead me to the concept of self-care. I don’t know whether it was postnatal depression, exhaustion or grief, but I really struggled. I think anyone would’ve given those extreme variables. In partnership with a wonderful psychologist, we worked on creating a new self-care toolkit, given so many of the things I used to do to nurture myself were inaccessible with a newborn in my care. We also focused on self-care activities that helped heal my frazzled nervous system and this is what I am now passionate about sharing with other people.
Self-care was the thing that helped me process my experiences, to heal and recover and it also helped provide a buffer to future stresses. I know it works because four years ago we packed up our Sydney life to move back to the UK, while 12 weeks pregnant, to be with my father in law in end stage heart failure. Second time around it was still painful and like wading through treacle, but I didn’t wind up flat on my back. I’ve come to appreciate that this is just life in its full glory and no one is immune from challenges and curveballs. After clawing my way back to vitality, I felt I’d earnt my stripes and I reclaimed my psychological practice. Now my mission is to empower others with the tools of self-care, and I have a special focus on mothers because we need a whole new toolkit that takes little time, energy and one that is healing and soothing after the upheavals and change we face physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically.
How do you nourish your soul in your daily life and does creativity play a part in this?
As I wake, I focus my mind on either one thing in my day that I am happily anticipating or something for which I feel grateful. This helps me rise with a feeling of energy, anchored in perspective. I like to use scent that channels how I want to feel –something uplifting, energising, focusing or calming. I love Neom Organics room sprays, facial mists, hand balms and their eau de parfum is an unbeatable mood booster. As I stand tall and take a few deep breaths to savour my chosen scent, I create a mantra that prepares me for what’s to come in my day. Something like ‘I am ready’ or ‘I soften into this moment’. Adopting a tall, upright posture is an instant way to feel confident and I check in with how I’m holding my body throughout my day. I love that none of these things take long and they form a potent ritual that gives me a lift whenever I need it. I can return to them too as my day unfolds, making space for these micro moments of nourishment. If there are challenges in my day, I use a warrior pose to tap into a sense of strength. Creativity, curiosity, and appreciation all form a part of my self-care toolkit, expressed through writing, my yoga practice and activities with my kids.
What helps you to find peace in everyday life?
Nature’s beauty is my tonic and being with the breath. Both are free, easily accessible and so potent.
What piece of advice would you give to people going through a tough time or struggling with their health?
Firstly, please take time to nurture your health. Self-care is health care and we need to nourish ourselves so we can keep going and keep giving. Secondly, try my go to tip when overwhelm hits. Think of Homer Simpson saying d’oh! He instantly brings his hand to his forehead. When we experience shock, this is the common place hard-wired response – to either bring the back of your hand to your brow, or if you are sitting, you rest your head in your hands. It is instantly soothing for your parasympathetic nervous system and helps mediate the stress response. This is the first thing I turn to when I need comfort. It may be in the form of earthing my brow if I am seated at a table, if I’m on the go, I will make two gentle fists and press them into my forehead as if I were massaging imaginary horns or I surrender in a yoga childs pose. Try it. Feel how it connects you with a feeling or peace and ease. Physically it softens your eyes and jaw and tension melts away.
Who or what inspires you?
I love Amy Cuddy for her work on authenticity, confidence and the way we hold our bodies, Brene Brown for her ideas on vulnerability and belonging, Sharon Saltzburg for her contribution on compassion, Barbara Fredickson for her concept of love and connection, Sonja Lyubomirsky for empowering me with the toolkit of positive psychology and my local go to is Mandy Lehto for real, everyday hacks to being the person I aspire to be. I turn to podcasts, TED talks, books and quotes to keep me feeling uplifted and motivated.
If you could make one profound difference in people’s lives, what would it be?
I would love to break down the barriers to engaging in self-care and empower people with many options for micro moments of nourishment through their day.
Thank you so much Suzy; you’ve given us some brilliant, manageable, highly effective ways of practising self-care throughout the day. You really inspire me in the way you are such an advocate for self-care and the accessibility of the activities and ideas you suggest.
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