The Supermum Myth – how to overcome anxiety, ditch guilt and embrace imperfection

The Supermum Myth – how to overcome anxiety, ditch guilt and embrace imperfection

Motherhood is the one thing able to send you from feeling like a million dollars to a piece of poo, in one swoosh of a baby wipe. It contains our zenith, and our nadir. You’re having a great mothering day: you wake up after three hours’ unbroken sleep (which constitutes a great night), you manage to have a shower, feed and clothe your children, brush all teeth and bundle them out the door vaguely on time. You’re feeling bloody amazing. Then BAM! A thoughtless comment from someone slaps you round the face, making you feel like a shit mum:

‘You had an emergency caesarean? That must be because you had an epidural. I managed on just lavender oil for all my home births.’

‘My two have always slept like a dream, I think it’s probably because I’m quite a chilled out mum, they can sense that. Maybe if you were more relaxed your children would sleep better?’

Looking a little deeper, you may be able to recognize that, depending on the day, time, moment, that perfect supermum isyou, sometimes. Imagine those moments when you’re not judging yourself harshly, because all is calm – when you are the fleetingly glossy schoolgates mum kissing your smiling child goodbye, running happily after the non-tantruming toddler, no glitches, no hitches, no spanners – how would you look to another mum in the playground in those moments? It’s all about your own perception.

A recent study of 2,000 mums in the UK (a chocolate-filled crepe company commissioned the survey, possibly acknowledging that being a mum and eating chocolate is a marriage made in heaven) revealed more than half have a number of friends and acquaintances who “portray themselves as the perfect mother”. But 60 per cent claim they find these kinds of mums “highly irritating”, while nearly three quarters dislike it when mums “show off their prowess on social media”. So it’s a tricky internal tug of war – we are collectively reaching for an unattainable ideal of Supermum perfection, but we also sort of hate those smug mums who appear to have achieved it.

The Supermum Myth Anya Hayes The Supermum Myth

The Supermum Myth is a book for those seeking to find a shift in perception and stop the tugging from one side to the other. Through learning about the psychology behind our core belief system, and breaking down why we react and behave the way that we do, we can work out why we have come to our Supermum imagined ideal. Then we can learn how to turn it around: to change your reactions to perceived judgements, view your own achievements in a different light, be kinder to yourself – and by implication, to others. We’re all struggling our own battles.

In the book my goal is to help you rebuild your confidence in your own intrinsic wisdom, and drown out the niggling competitive doubts that can grow to cause some serious psychological problems: low self-esteem and anxiety. Embracing the imperfect, and being good enough. It’s not about lowering your expectations of yourself, it’s about accepting and acknowledging how well you’re doing.

The Supermum Myth aims to help you lift yourself up in those days you feel you’re failing at motherhood, when all you seem to see is images of Instagram feeds full of smiling mums cherishing perfect mothering moments, when you feel your life in comparison is a shambolic mountain of weetabix-encrusted Lego.

Negative feelings such as envy creep in, and we judge other (super)mums as “smug” if they seem to breeze through the daily grind taking it all in their stride (and celebrating every minute on their social media), while we’re stuck feeling bored, tired, incompetent and inadequate in comparison.We seem to have an internal battle: desperately reaching for perfect supermum status – while secretly despising those women you feel are achieving it effortlessly.

I just worry all the time that I’m not a good enough mum to her, that she is bored at home, that I’m not setting a good example, not making her happy. I want her to feel safe and happy and loved and wanted, but I don’t know if I’m achieving that. I don’t want her to be damaged by my inability to cope or respond appropriately to the more challenging bits of motherhood. I ultimately want her to have the happy childhood that I didn’t. I feel I am failing.

Sally, mum of 1

Become a happier mum

Ultimately, we just want to be rewarded with an acknowledgement that we are doing a Good Job. But this kind of concrete reward system doesn’t really happen as a mother in the way that it might have done in our education or professional life before we became mums. We want our children to be ‘safe, loved and happy’, and all our actions are geared towards this one arguably intangible goal, so we often don’t allow ourselves to recognize the achievement that striving for this goal in itself makes us pretty awesome mums.

The Supermum Myth will provide you with the tools to actively move forward positively in softening into your mothering reality vs. perfect ideal, and unlock the reasons why you got to where you are, by retracing psychological steps to how your core belief system was formed, and the factors that shaped your opinions and desires when it comes to your own mothering. Essentially, this book is here to help you to feel ok about the fact that sometimes you think you’re a crap mum.

We’re all looking for some guidance occasionally. Seven years into my motherhood adventure, it’s still a constant source of amazement how incompetent my children can make me feel on a daily basis. How any poise and authority I might have wielded in a previous life or in my career is instantly thrown out the window when my son calls me a poo poo head and refuses to put his shoes on. When we feel helplessly incompetent, we lose trust in our instincts and can only seem to focus on what we’re crap at: the cup becomes half emptied.

Getting the hang of motherhood is less about controlling everything and more about realising what makes you happiest as a mother, and feeling confident enough to trust your instincts. With parenting, much of our underlying unhelpful thinking is a form of perfectionism, of aiming for ultra high-achievement. But it’s hard to see it for what it is, as it manifests itself as extreme self-doubt.

We tend to think of perfectionism as an affliction that applies to highly strung Stepford mums who have perfect hair and could win Bake Off in their sleep. But it’s just as likely to strike anybody who simply really cares about doing their best for their child (that’ll be all of us, then?!). Once you accept that the anxiety and self-doubt are a manifestation of an unhelpful mental habit, it becomes easier to challenge them.

The Supermum Myth will wander through flash points at various mum-life stages: Pregnancy, post birth, the toddler tunnel through to school days, juggling work around all this, with quotes and experiences from mums throughout. We’ll explore how you’re feeling and the range of what’s totally normal emotionally, hormonally, etc, for you at each of these phases. There are activities peppered throughout, utilizing different therapies with suggestions, tips, techniques on how to overcome obstacles, negotiate difficult experiences and tricky feelings.

If you’re feeling low on energy, depleted as a mum and painfully aware of your inner critic every day, this book could help you get back on an even keel. How are you today?

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What is “the postnatal period”? How long am I “postpartum”?

What is “the postnatal period”? How long am I “postpartum”?

I’ve just finished writing Postnatal Pilates – I cannot wait for this to be available as a resource for mums to take ownership of their physical and emotional recovery after birth. But, what exactly is “the postnatal period”?

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

It is not a small window of time that exists after you have a baby. It’s not a finite period where you have temporarily become a mother. It’s not a brief stop in your journey along the way. Often I’m asked “am I still postnatal?”, or “I had my baby two years ago so I’m not postnatal any more”…but, in my view, if you have ever had a baby, you are postnatal. Always. For the rest of your life.

The word “postnatal” is misunderstood – swept under the carpet, banished, humbled, belittled. We try to narrow it down to an arbitrary period of 6 weeks. Something to get through, to pass, to deal with and then move away from and “get back to normal”.

But – you have changed. Your body, your heart, your mind has changed. Forever. You have experienced your matrescence.

It’s true that a very important and intense period of postpartum healing occurs in the few weeks and months after you have had your baby, when you’re riding the hormonal and emotional rollercoaster and often in free fall, blindfolded. When that settles and an equilibrium is found, you’ve completed your metamorphosis. Often, though, the physical healing journey is ongoing – particularly if you’ve had a caesarean birth or otherwise experienced physical or emotional trauma.

You may be craving getting back to “regular life”. To have this postnatal period end and become “normal” once more. But please be gentle with your new self. The postnatal period doesn’t end just because you’ve stopped breastfeeding, gone back at work or once you fit into your pre-pregnancy jeans. You will indeed be labelled by healthcare and some fitness professionals as “no longer postnatal”, but this undermines the fact that the physiological (and psychological) issues of pregnancy and birth may have a long-term impact. Never allow yourself to be fobbed off because you had your baby “ages ago” but are still suffering from a weak core or pelvic floor issues. Investigate these things rather than wishing they would just somehow go away.

You will be strong, vital again. You will have energy. You will find your identity. It may simply take a bit of thought and love. You’ll get there. And you’re not alone.

If you have any questions or just want to chat about your journey into motherhood, get in touch! xxx

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Be the mum you want to be

Be the mum you want to be

Hello, my name is Anya. Lovely to have you here.

Anya Hayes author and speaker
I help women who are experiencing challenges in their postnatal recovery to strengthen their pelvic floor, restore their core and rebuild their vitality, in body AND mind.
It breaks my heart that too many women put up with postnatal physical discomfort and dysfunction, critical inner dialogue and overwhelming anxiety… and think that it’s “just part of being a mum”, or “just the way they are”.


Body image is so intrinsic to our sense of identity and self-esteem – and inner power! If you feel your body has let you down, or you’re feeling weak and uncomfortable every day, this is going to have a dripping tap effect on your energy and happiness levels.
Tapping into your source, unlocking your power can transform your day to day, from your mood to your relationships and productivity.

NOW is the perfect time to focus on your wellbeing and strength. Don’t delay it any more.
Get in touch if you’d like to work one to one or come to a group class, or keep following this blog for more information and advice. Get in touch! I’m always here to answer your questions. 

Tell me – what is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Have a wonderful day
xxx

Anya Hayes The Supermum Myth

Welcome to Motherhood

Welcome to Motherhood

I did a lovely live chat last night with Lauren, an inspiring author and motivational speaker, on her Facebook page This Girl is Enough. We talked about self care and wellness for mums – about how mums are so keen to put ourselves at the bottom of the care-for list, somewhere far below the neighbour’s dog.

The thing about looking after your mojo and wellbeing is that ultimately it benefits everyone around you. I know, quite simply, that I am a better person if I am calmer, if I’ve had some headspace, if I’ve done yoga or had a walk, gone for a swim. I feel triumphant when I prioritise my own wellbeing even if just for a morning stroll and don’t agonise over the things I “should” be doing instead. One of the things that Lauren quizzed me on when I talked about my meditation practice is “how do you manage to take 15 minutes to do that and not feel guilty?”…well, the honest answer is that the gain of that 15 minutes of breathing is way more powerful than the 15 minutes which might have been spent going through emails or checking something off on my to do list only to frantically remember that I have to put another 7 things onto it. And a refreshed spring in my step is nicer for my family to be around. I’m more patient… I have more empathy for my children’s huge emotions rather than feeling explosive and fractious in response. I’m more productive. I’m more energised. I’m … nicer.

Anya Hayes at a yoga and mindfulness retreat

This morning I taught my lovely group of Welcome to Motherhood mums, with their fourth trimester babies. We talked about Dr Oscar Serrallach’s brilliant The Postnatal Depletion Cure, and about just how much challenge physically being a new mum is. Yes, the rewards are high – you only have to hear that tinkle of a new baby’s laughter to struggle to feel like there is anything wrong in that moment – but the demands are huge.

I will be launching my new Motherhood Mojo Toolkit soon – drawing from my Pilates postnatal healing programme which I will be revealing in book form next year, I am creating a holistic mind–body programme which combines life coaching activities from The Supermum Myth plus elements from Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), to help you feel like the calmer, more balanced less frazzled mum that you would really like to be. She’s in there. I’m going to help you find her.

Anya Hayes with her two children

Watch this space. How are you feeling today?

xxx

You can buy The Supermum Myth here

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The art of breathing

The art of breathing

It all begins with the breath.

Did you realise that, although breathing is a natural reflex that all living animals perform, newborn babies have to learn to breathe? At first, nestled in your arms, you may notice how the breath comes in fits and starts, how unrhythmic it is, like an avant garde jazz session. The riff isn’t predictable. One slow, two quick, two slow… Sometimes anxiety-inducing long silent gaps between the breaths.

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

The natural fluid motion of the breath has to be established, the metronome to breathing has to be learnt. You actually teach your baby how to breathe, by modelling that rhythm. By taking deep, conscious, long breaths in their presence. By being close, and breathing alongside them. Creating that harmony of the breath for them, with them.

You breathe 22,000 a day. Are you conscious of…any of those breaths? It is something so ordinary and yet so miraculous.

Take a deep breath now. Deep and low, into your lower belly. Deep down into your pelvis. Send the breath far into your torso. And as you breathe out, feel the tension soften in your jaw, cheeks, shoulders.

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Photo by Bryan Schneider on Pexels.com

A gently rising and falling breath pattern stimulates your rest and digest, parasympathetic nervous system. The counterbalance for your stress response. This can calm your body and mind. You begin to soften and relax. Your body is soothed by restful hormones. Your thoughts, feelings, emotions can also be tamed and calmed by this physiological response. Slow, deep, long, soft.

Treat yourself like the newest of newborns. Learn how to breathe.

Do you consciously breathe at any point during the day? What are your thoughts on breathing as a calming tool? I’d love to know.

I’m at the beginning of my training to teach Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy – and coming back to the breath is one of the fundamental skills that we have to learn, to reduce our stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression in the longer term. Have you felt a positive effect of conscious breathing? Comment or DM me! xxx

The Supermum Myth
Anya Hayes’s two books Pregnancy: The Naked Truth and The Supermum Myth
World Mental Health Day – how are you?

World Mental Health Day – how are you?

It’s World Mental Health Day today. You wouldn’t feel ashamed to tell anyone you had sprained your ankle or had a sore throat. Yet we still layer our mental health with taboo and cultural patterns of secrecy and stiff upper lip.

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Photo by Creation Hill on Pexels.com

❇️According to figures from the World Health Organization – depression and anxiety are set to become the world’s 2nd biggest health burden by 2020. That’s basically now. A crisis matching heart disease for its effects on society. And yet, if we are allowed to begin to SEE our mental health in the way we’re encouraged to see our physical, perhaps we can help ourselves move away from this crisis by empowering ourselves and – crucially – noticing in others and coming from a place of support and understanding.

❇️ Everyone has physical health. Everyone has mental health. You might experience blips in each of these, throughout your life. And for each, it’s about learning the tools to keep them optimum in your day to day. It’s ok – normal – not to be ok all the time. It’s how you handle it long term that affects your mental health. You can control what you take on board in your mental challenges just as you can your physical. And you can aim to work on your mind as on your body. If you have an injury, go to phsyio. If you have a mental health crisis, find some way of counselling your way through to heal.

❇️ Lengthen your spine through Pilates, stretch your brain through mindfulness. A star jump here, a gratitude list there. Medicate and/or meditate. There should be no shame.

Happy world mental health day. How are you today? What do you do to maintain your mental health?

My essential mental health toolkit is:

❤️ Green space

❤️ Movement

❤️Meditation

❤️ Gratitude

❤️Being OK with not feeling OK all the time

❤️ Connection – seeking support rather than hibernating in hermit land (which is often what my mental health gremlin tells me to to do when feeling low).

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Look at some wonderful sources of wisdom, Emma @thepsychologymum, Suzy @suzyreading, Zoe @motherkind.co. You’re not alone ❤️

 

Build the right foundations

Build the right foundations

I’ve just taught my Pelvic Floor Health and Wellbeing course at Market Studios in Greenwich. It’s my favourite course to teach – and today there was a teeny weeny 10-week old baby there, which is always the best part of my job, soaking up the baby cuddles.

woman holding baby while sitting on fur bean bag
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

One of the mamas there was talking to me about her pelvic floor situation. Her baby is nearly a year. She’s been going to physio for 6 months, she’s downloaded the Squeezy app, she’s been doing everything right…. “but I’m still leaking when I run so I feel like my healing has flatlined”.

So, you’re still leaking when you run? Yes.

Did you stop running at any point in your recovery or have you run from pretty much since you could strap on your trainers since having your baby? I’ve run since I first had the energy to, yes.

But you’re still leaking? Yes.

And running anyway? Yes.

And feeling frustrated? Yes.

Have you considered that although you’re doing all the right exercises to build your strength, you’re also simultaneously running to challenge that fledgling strength at its most highest impact, which may be akin to re-plastering a wall in your house but then trying to wallpaper it before the plaster is dry?

Ah…no…

I really get, I SO understand, how much we want to “get back to normal” post-baby. So much of our identity is intertwined in our looks and how we FEEL inside. And if you’re a runner, running is in your legs and in your heart and it can feel totally alien to consider not running. BUT. But. You must build the appropriate strength to withstand the force of running. Otherwise any good that you’re doing will be chipped away as soon as soon as you can say Kegel.

Patience is so tricky in our world of immediate instant gratification and of the Bounce Back, and pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge looking immaculate hours after having her baby (was her hair being blow dried actually while she was still in labour, I wonder??) don’t help our feeling of not being good enough, not healing fast enough, not being enough.

But believe me when I say that slow and steady really does win this race. And better still, don’t see it as a race but a lifelong meander. Your long term pelvic floor health will appreciate the extra month or so you took to look before you leap forward. To hesitate before you HIIT. Breathe before you burpee.

Breathe. Be kind to yourself. Honour your long-term healing. Stop running if you’re weeing. You’ve knocked down a supporting wall in your house. You need to build that back up before you build on the loft extension. It will happen, but it takes time, love, patience and commitment.

And I’m here with you all the way.

How is/was your postnatal healing? I’d love to hear your stories. We need to smash the stigma of pelvic floor dysfunction. Let’s keep the conversation going.

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Matrescence – the second adolescence?

Matrescence – the second adolescence?

Emerging into motherhood is an intense time for body and mind ❤️ it’s a passage through a one-way turnstile. When we become adults, we first go through adolescence. Aaahhh the joy! The pain! The skin breakouts! The awkwardness! The hormones. The loneliness….some people sail through. BUT SOME PEOPLE DON’T ❤️
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How about we start to acknowledge the similar aspects of transitioning to motherhood: Matrescence ✨. So we’re prepared for the thriving AND the struggle. The euphoria of a new horizon, and the crippling fears of what comforts and knowns you’re leaving behind. It’s akin, right? ✨

That’s why I have always struggled with black and white labelling of postnatal depression (you either have it or you don’t) because it’s SUCH a grey area, a spectrum to out do all spectrums. And some element of struggle and angst is to be expected within the framework of viewing it as a transition to a new way of being. Which is why the obsession with “bouncing back” is so fricking unkind and unnecessary. Push, stroll, hobble tentatively forward, don’t bounce back. Accept and process and learn how to navigate the new terrain, which may include a totally ok element of sadness for what has passed.

Check out @alexandrasacksmd beautiful and inspiring TED talk about Matrescence and article in the New York Times The Birth of a Mother, here ❤️❤️❤️.

I’m running a new Welcome to Motherhood wellness course this month in Peckham. Three weeks – babies welcome – to focus on your body and mind in this time of metamorphosis. Offering you healing and calming tools. Message me to book or for more information.

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Brain gym – exercise to tone the brain

Brain gym – exercise to tone the brain

I’ve just had the great fortune to have been to a wonderful Mindfulness and Yoga retreat, where we had daily guided meditation and soothing yin yoga, to nourish body and mind. And I’m now at the beginning of an 8-week course in Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) with the British Mindfulness Institute, so that I can weave in more mindfulness benefits to my Pilates teaching – and my life! I’ve found recently that I’ve allowed myself to become a bit weighed down by worry and stress. A Chinese Medicine-based treatment at my recent yoga retreat revealed to me that I was depleted generally and taking on too much worry about the world and my place in it. So, it’s divine timing it seems that I am starting this course now, to help me combat the effects of cumulative over-worry.

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It’s fascinating, truly fascinating, the tangible benefits of a regular mindfulness practice. Increasingly I think we need to look inward, not outward, in terms of validation and proof of our contentment. Not the stuff, the Pinterest-worthy house, the car…but how you feel day to day. Whether your mind is cluttered and jangly, or whether you genuinely experience a sense of calm and pervasive sense of peace. We’re human: “inner peace” will always be a recalibration day to day and there will always be stress in our lives, but it’s the overwhelming sense of balance and the response to stress that brings that sense of contentment rather than depleting angst, I think. And even just two weeks of practising mindfulness consciously every day has lent me a sense of space. increasing the space between stimulus and response.

We have to be kind to ourselves: as women, our mood will wax and wane with hormones and the moon, and this flux has to be taken into account. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts defines Mindfulness as: “The awareness that comes from paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non judgmentally.” It’s the “non-judgmentally” bit that resonates most with me. We are so hard on ourselves! There is no “getting meditation right”, there is simply giving it a try and placing it firmly within your regular daily toolkit. It could be meditation = breathing. Meditation = looking up at the sky for a moment. A snack, rather than a full 3-course meal.

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Here are some things I have discovered:

  1. Mindfulness improves focus, empathy, emotional control and increases happiness:

After 8 weeks of Mindfulness training researchers were able to show through brain scans there was an increase in activity in the area of the brain which has been identified as being key in attention, memory, emotional regulation and empathy for others (Holzel et al).

This is borne out by a study known as “The Waiting Room Study”. People who had attended an eight week Mindfulness training course were brought into a waiting room, along with an equal number of people who hadn’t attended Mindfulness training. A woman entered on crutches, a medical boot on one leg. She winced, sighed uncomfortably, and leaned against the wall because there were no free seats. The researchers found that 50 percent of people from the Mindfulness training group gave up their seat, whereas only 15 percent of the non-Mindfulness trained people did.

  1. Mindfulness increases generosity:

Neuroscientist Helen Weng took individuals with no prior Mindfulness training and offered them two weeks training. This experiment was conducted to determine whether this short training would result in an improvement in their abilities to become more compassionate towards themselves and others. The training was conducted over the internet and lasted approximately 30 minutes each day. Each participant was required to make responses over the 30 minutes and listen to what is known as ‘Loving Kindness’ Meditation. This form of meditation asks the participants to extend feelings of compassion towards a loved one, an acquaintance and someone with whom they have had difficulty.

Before and after the two week training, the participants had fMRI brain scans. While undergoing the scan they were shown a series of images depicting people in pain – a child crying and a burn victim. At the end of the two week training the participants were asked to play an online game to measure altruistic behaviour. The participants who underwent the training were twice as generous as those without training.

  1. Mindfulness improves mood and boosts immune system:

In a research study entitled ‘Alterations in Brain and Immune Function’ researchers studied participants who had undergone an 8 week programme of Mindfulness meditation. fMRI scans of brain activity were taken before and after the programme. At the end of the programme the participants were injected with a flu virus. From the fMRI images participants were shown to have significant increases in left-sided anterior activation (brain circuitry related to a positive mood). The participants also had a higher white blood cell count. The conclusion of this study was that after only 8 weeks of Mindfulness training, participants had more positive moods and a more positive immune system.

  1. Mindfulness in the Workplace:

Mindfulness has also proved extremely beneficial in workplace settings. A mindfulness-based programme offered to workers at Transport for London resulted in major changes to the level of health-related absenteeism. Days taken off due to stress, depression and anxiety fell by over 70% in the following three years. Course participants also reported significant improvements in their quality of life – 80% said their relationships had improved, 79% said they were more able to relax and 53% said they were happier in their jobs.

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Worth a try, right?

Have you got a mindfulness/meditation practice in place? Even if not a formal one – do you notice day to day how you’re feeling? Do you breathe, fully and deeply, as a way of consciously combatting stress? I’d love to know. Feel free to comment with your thoughts and experience! xxx

Perfect Night’s Sleep

Perfect Night’s Sleep

Sleep. The number one thing that most mums yearn for more of. What if you could bottle it, hey?

Well…I think that NEOM Organics are pretty much there with their Sleep range including new gorgeous skincare which has launched this year.

I’ve been a fan of NEOM for years – it’s my husband’s failsafe for birthday and anniversary presents. When I escaped for a 4-day yoga retreat in Ibiza with my best friend for our 40th birthdays, I took with me the Sleep set including pillow spray and hand cream and, I swear… I still fantasise about that 4-night sleep, it was bloody amazing. Every night I spritzed my pillow, put in earplugs, and BOOM (or…something that sounds more restful than boom…), a whole night of restful rejuvenating proper actual sleep awaited me. It was honestly the best few days of sleep I can ever recall in my life (although, ok, I hadn’t slept for longer than 2 hours for 15 months by this point so my benchmark might have been fairly low, lolz) . I still find the Neom Sleep scent so powerful for conjuring up immediately that memory of calm and peace in an instant. Aaaaahhhhhh. Ibiza, here I come…

So, I’m completely delighted to be able to announce that I’m going to be part of the NEOM wellbeing expert panel as their Mums Wellness & Pilates expert.

I’ve been using the Sleep range fairly religiously for the past month to counterbalance the relentlessness of being mum of two wonderful and bonkers boys… who appear not to need as much sleep as I feel is just and right for my life (deep sigh).

When I had my first baby my skincare routine went out the window…and that was part of my real loss of identity because up until this point I had been bordering on obsessed about my skincare…and suddenly no time (let alone sleep) was devoted to beauty. I became really craggy and there was certainly no radiance to speak of – no glow from within as if a light had been switch off. This really affected my self esteem and became a bit of a negative cycle of loss of identity and self love: loss of self care strategies led me to feel I wasn’t worth self care strategies as there was no point as I had so far to go to get “back to normal”.

I’ve since learnt that I really need to access this part of myself, looking after my skin and the face that faces the world, in order to feel “like me”. So when Freddie my littlest was born I chose to make time every night to cleanse properly and give myself a facial massage.

Do you use face oils? What’s your skincare regime – do you have one? Lots of people are a bit nervous of putting oil onto their face, worried that it will make their skin feel greasy, but it really doesn’t. It feels gorgeous and indulgent… Oils can actually help to stabilise and regulate the overproduction of sebum.

The Perfect Night’s Sleep facial oil contains a beautiful blend of skin-nurturing essential oils. Rosehip oil which is bursting with nourishing fatty acids to help with skin’s moisture levels, pigmentation. It’s an incredible antioxidant and one of the best ingredients to help dry skin emerge blinking with a glow after this long winter. Almond oil softens, calms and helps retain moisture.

The oil is super relaxing, smells sublime and a dream to massage into skin. I love it – It’s the perfect blend for a mini facial.  I use it after my nightly cleansing routine, just before bed. It’s my evening ritual to pamper myself and “reset” my skin (or my nerves after a frazzled day!).

Depending on how dry my skin is, or how dull or tired it looks (hmm, let’s not discuss that too deeply right now…), I put anything from two to six drops in the palm of my hand, take a few lungfuls of calming deep breaths, fully inhaling the sleep-inducing fragrance of the oils. Then I rub the oil between my hands to warm it up, and give my face a really good massage. I like to work it deeply into the skin with enough pressure to stimulate circulation which is really nourishing for glowing skin. A good facial massage increases the blood supply to the face, giving it a healthy glow. It also helps relieve tension from your facial muscles which we hold onto without even realising (bitchy resting face, anyone?). Massage can even help increase muscle tone and strength. Daily facial massage can work wonders for your skin, plus it’s immensely calming as a ritual before bed – win win.

I have a bedtime routine, what’s yours? I mean, we do for our children so why not for ourselves, right? Do you have a bedtime night time routine which helps you release the pressures of the day, switch off – and sleep better?

Modern life (and technology) makes it so hard to fully switch off, plus I work from home, so often the work/life balance falls well out of kilter. So I’m now much more conscious of making sure I have a non-negotiable routine in place that helps me unwind before bed. Last year I stopped taking my phone into the bedroom – this means I don’t look at Instagram or emails right before falling asleep – scrolling is never conducive to a good night’s rest with no anxiety! My phone lives in the kitchen, and quite frankly who needs an alarm clock when your children are always up by 6am?!

Soothing and calming scents (lavender, chamomile, jasmine) transport my mind and body instantly towards sleep mode, so I love NEOM body oils and lighting a candle in the bedroom in the hour before bed. Before laying my head on the pillow I use the pillow spray and have a few minutes of deeeeeeeep breathing, calming the mind. I don’t call it my “meditation practice” but clearing the mind by taking a broom to sweep out anxiety and clutter is meditation and definitely lays the foundations for a better night.

If I’ve got a bit more time to play with for my evening routine, I always use magnesium salts or Neom’s Perfect Night’s Sleep Bath & Shower Drops in a lovely hot bath.

For the past 15 years I’ve used hot cloth cleansing balms such as Eve Lom, Organic Pharmacy carrot butter cleanser, and Neals Yard Therapies Wild Rose Beauty Balm as a staple in my cleansing and evening self care routine. So it was pretty much a given that I was going love the new Neom Sleep cleansing balm.

This is my ritual every night. Every night – however much motherhood mayhem is going on. It prepares me mentally for bed and means I sleep better (even if that sleep is interrupted by renegade small people it can still be a restful overall experience if I gift myself this pre-bed time) and my skin definitely looks better. It makes me feel calmer and more ready to face the world, carving out just that non-negotiable 7 minutes of s p a c e. And it lays the foundation for realising that self care is the least selfish thing in the world – when I’m calmer I’m a much, MUCH nicer person to be around.

Tell me about your sleep rituals! What do you do to stay rested and sane?

I’d love to hear

Xxx