Self-care as a term has been thrown around a lot in recent years as more of us become attuned to our bodies and minds. Yet it’s easy to be a bit overwhelmed – I know I struggle to fit in yoga, baths, candles, self-help books, eating well and exercising. And even when I do manage one or two of these things, it can feel like a temporary fix rather than part of a longer-term strategy that truly puts you first and foremost. So, I’ve been in touch with Amy Hunt from Let’s Get Back to You, the UK’s first Self-care Mentor and a lady who’s taken her own experience with overwhelm and anxiety and made it her mission to help others in the same spot. Read on for advice on daily self-care practices and tips on looking after yourself when things are especially tough.
First of all, can you introduce yourself & YOUR SELF-CARE MENTORING SERVICE?
Hi there, my name’s Amy, I’m 25 and live in Manchester (soon to be Cheltenham), UK. I am a self-care mentor and I run Let’s Get Back to You, offering self-care support for the stressed out, the overworked, the overwhelmed and the just plain confused, because hell, I’ve been there. The primary purpose of my work is to support people in redefining self-care on their terms, as an intuitive, compassionate concept that genuinely supports their wellbeing.
I offer a variety of mentoring services 1:1, (both face to face and via video call) including a one day intensive session, my ‘Deep and Meaningful’, a four week video call based program ‘First Steps to Self-care’ and a two hour immersive highbred session called ‘The Deep Dive’. My support is also available for groups (be that employers, charities, or private clients) and I’ll soon be including an empowerment strand to my work, so if you’re in need of a confidence boost watch this space… I got you!
What made you decide to start a business in self-care mentoring?
I’d known I wanted to take the step into self- employment for some time, but didn’t know what that could look like for me, or what my focus should be. Having a background in psychology and wellbeing, as well as a fascination with personal development and people in general, I knew it had to involve connecting with and supporting others, but nothing really resonated with my skills or my interests. I considered training in colour therapy and relaxation therapy, along with a host of other subjects (which I may well explore as part of my CPD going forward) but none of those things felt like the right platform for me to launch a business from. I did a lot of self-exploration work attending courses and trainings, surrounding myself with inspiration, and I noticed that as I learned more, other people began asking for support, asking my opinion on ways to manage anxiety, ways to get more motivated, to deal with emotional challenges, to feel better. All the questions I was getting seemed to revolve around that one common theme ‘How do I help myself to feel better?’
As someone who has lived with anxiety for many years now, this point is something I’ve really had to work on, and something I’m very passionate about. However, I began to notice that the only construction of self-care that was really visible in popular culture, was one that revolved around yoga mats and green juice, luxury holidays, bubble baths, cashmere socks and beautiful people living the ‘dream’ life, and while it can of course take all these forms, I recognised that self-care absolutely doesn’t have to look that way and I wanted to share the message. I wanted to demonstrate that the notion of self-care doesn’t have to be attached to feelings of good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, right and wrong – it can just be about you, and that’s when the idea of becoming a self-care mentor was born.
I took a leaf from the fabulous Lucy Sheridan’s book and created my own role, one that would allow me to have all the things I wanted from a self-employed lifestyle and captured the essence of what I wanted to give. Exploring self-care felt so natural and easy to me that one day it just clicked.
What do you do to practice self-care daily? How about during especially tough times?
Self-care for me can look very different day to day and even moment to moment depending on how I’m feeling and what I’ve got going on. One of the biggest things I’ve learnt over the years (and now advocate for in my work) is the importance of being reflexive and tuned in to how I’m feeling, so that any action I take is aligned to that, and genuinely supportive. Journaling is a huge part of my practice, not only does it help me stay connected to myself but it also helps me explore my ideas thoughts and feelings freely. I tend to either free write, just pouring out whatever’s on my mind in that moment…no censoring, or I’ll write to my intuition if there’s something specific I want to work through (basically having a conversation with myself.) I find I am much more able to recognise and meet my own needs when I’m tuned in this way, it helps me avoid getting swept along with the never-ending list of ‘shoulds’ and to-dos that could otherwise have me burning out, or super anxious.
Getting outside is also a huge part of my daily self-care, even if that literally just means going for a walk around the block. Being self-employed and working remotely it’s very easy to get involved in something, and find the day gets swallowed up – 4pm rolls round and I’ve barely moved (unless of course to go to the kitchen- priorities and all). That kind of day’s not very good for my mental health, so I make a concerted effort to pop out at some point, just to get some fresh air and a change of scenery. I’m fortunate enough to live quite close to beautiful countryside, and that always has an amazing capacity for grounding and calming me, it’s great for re-energising and clearing mental space, enabling a creativity reset too.
Finally, another big one for me is having screen free time, or at least internet free time, where I can switch off and relax. That might have me curled up with a book and a blanket of an evening, or may involve getting in the kitchen to cook a tasty meal. Whatever it is, there just needs to be some space between me, social media and work so I truly feel like I’m getting a break and some down time. That can be easier said than done though, I have definitely had to cultivate some firm boundaries around phone use and social media to make it happen (it continues to be a work in progress).
When things are particularly tough, engaging in self-care has a tendency to get harder and harder even though it’s when we need it the most. The biggest thing I can do for myself in those moments when I’m struggling is be gentle. When we’re already feeling worn down and vulnerable that niggly mean voice in our heads seems to ramp up the volume, drowning out the kinder, more realistic voice that’s really needed. I try to remember that even though it might be shouting the loudest, that voice doesn’t tell the truth. I give myself much more space to do things, taking more time wherever I can to rest and recalibrate. I try to give myself whatever is needed in that moment to ease the tension a little (that’s when the tuning in I mentioned before is particularly important.) I also remind myself that no matter how much I ‘have’ to do and no matter how ‘urgent’ something is, nothing is as important as me being well and healthy. The phrase ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ has become a bit of a mantra for me, as it helps me to recognise that unless I am taking care of myself, I’m ultimately not going to be able to do the things I really want to do, or enjoy them, so taking the extra time is worth it and necessary.
What tips would you give someone looking to introduce more self-care into their lives? And why is it so important?
Self-care is such an important part of modern day life because we live in a world that demands our attention 24hrs a day. Whether it’s work, family, social commitments, social media, Netflix, or Youtube, we are constantly on call and constantly consuming something. It’s becoming harder and harder to switch off, to just be, and I feel that’s caused a significant disconnect. A disconnect between people, their unique feelings, their needs, and wants. Burnout is a real, dangerous thing and so is autopilot. As I mentioned earlier ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ you cannot give to the world when you are not putting your health and wellness first. As Preston Smiles and Alexi Panos often say, it’s about ‘filling your cup up first and giving from the overflow’ because otherwise you’re depriving yourself (and the world) of the best you. So, if you are looking to bring more self-care into your life, I want to give you a high 5 and a big hug because it’s so valuable, and just recognising that it’s needed is huge!!
What I would say though is don’t limit yourself in the way that you think about self-care. The only thing that really matters is that you’re in tune with how you’re feeling and doing things that support your wellbeing in that moment. As such, self-care will look different for everybody and may well look different every day. It might mean taking time out to be still with your favourite book, or getting outside for a walk. It might mean cancelling your dinner plans, putting your phone out of sight for a couple of hours, or calling a friend. In reality it can be anything at all as long as it’s done with a little conscious awareness and it supports you. It doesn’t even have to take much time. A few minutes on your lunch break, or before you jump in to your day and you’re already setting the foundations up differently (don’t be afraid to experiment and play).
Finally, what does an independent life mean to you?
To live an independent life (as I would conceptualise it) means to have total freedom over how I spend my time and where I spend it. It means having choices and options, flexibility and fun. It’s the ability to support myself, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially, in a way that feels good and isn’t determined by the outside world, but by my own values, and priorities. Living in this way is something I continue to explore on a daily basis and is part of the reason I chose to become self-employed.
You can find Amy online at letsgetbacktoyou.co.uk and on Instagram @letsgetbacktoyou
What does self-care mean to you?