Wise Words On Taking Care of Yourself with Nicky Clinch
Some of you may have seen my Facebook live just now with the lovely Nicky Clinch about creating more self-love and space for ourselves, and I wanted to follow it up with a longer post from Nicky, so that we could share more of her inspiring journey to health and happiness, alongside a few words of wisdom on how we can do more to do the same for ourselves. In the busy world that we live in self-love and care can be incredibly challenging, and I know that I’ve been very inspired in the past by Nicky so I hope this is helpful for you….
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey to where you are now
I had a pretty rough childhood and ended up struggling with addiction, eating disorders and health issues throughout my teens. By the time I was 20 it was either change every part of how I was living my life or I wasn’t going to make it much longer. Thankfully I chose the first choice. I began the process of working on my emotional & mental wellbeing which led to me learning how to listen to my needs, my body and myself better. Which led me to changing my diet, practicing yoga and meditation. After 10 years of learning how to take care of myself better, feed myself better and love myself and my body more I was starting to feel pretty good and felt incredibly grateful to still be here at all. And then my step-father passed away very suddenly which really woke me up to the fact this life we get is not going to last forever. It made me realise I’d better do something I really loved with my life. That year I put myself back into school. Trained as a counselor, life coach and macrobiotic chef and I’ve never looked back. I always wanted to bring emotional transformation alongside healthy food and empowered & authentic living, as this was what worked for me.
How do you try to bring balance and self-care into your life?
Well I would say one of the most important tools I practice and try to teach others, is learning how to listen to what you need each moment, each day. And then doing the best you can to take care of that. And each day will be different. There is no such thing as a perfect diet, perfect exercise routine or the perfect way to live. We are all so different and each day we need different things. And learning how to listen to what we need and nourishing ourselves with the things we really need is the best way to build a sense of self-worth, self-trust, self-love and a feeling of balance in our lives. One day we may need more sleep, more comfort food, a day watching movies. Another day we may need more exercise, more activity and green juices. Who knows! For me, it all started becoming much more loving and I began to find much more freedom and balance when I threw out the ‘being good’ and the ‘being bads’ from my life. Now a days there is no such thing. Eating a piece of chocolate cake can be such an act of self-love one day and such an act of self-sabotage another. It all depends on why I’m doing it. It’s important to remember that there are many different kinds of food and nourishment. A hug is food for the heart. Meditation is food for the soul. A night in watching Netflix is food for an over worked exhausted person. I think it’s important to stop trying so hard to get it right and instead start listening more to ourselves and aim to just be loving as best as we can.
What are your ‘can’t go without’ tools and practices?
I have certain practices that have become my anchors in my life, and allow me to stay connected to what I feel and in touch with my needs each day. The more in tune I am with these things the more awareness I have, the more present I can be with myself and others and the better choices I can make to take good loving care of myself and my family. I try to meditate for at least 20min each day. Some days less and when I’m preparing to facilitate a big workshop or retreat I will meditate regularly each day for longer periods of time. I journal a lot. Home cooking always helps bring me back to the moment. I often say to my students, get in the kitchen and make a simple soup if you’re feeling scattered, to bring you back to the moment and help ground you in the body and breathe. Tends to work every time. And I try to move my body in whatever way it wants each day – can be stretching, yoga, breathing, running or a more vigorous class. But I must admit, since becoming a mamma I certainly don’t get to do these as routinely as I used to and that’s totally ok too. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being loving.
We all find it challenging to give ourselves the space and love we sometimes need to feel our best. What are your favourite tips to start living like this every day?
I would say first off is to start learning how to listen to ourselves and our own needs each day. At the end of the day there is no one out there that will ever really know what we, as individuals, really feel and need each day. The first important step is starting to learn how to listen to ourselves. What do we feel today? What do we need? What do we want? What doesn’t work for us? Starting to build up an inner dialogue with ourselves so that we can then have the chance to make choices for taking care of ourselves. And then that is the next step…. What can we do today to take care of our needs? Emotionally, physically and mindfully. Once we can start building this trusting, listening relationship with ourselves we can start to feel more empowered and in control of our own lives, body and health. Another important tip is realizing that we need to be fed and nourished in many many different ways. And that in fact everything is food in some sense. Taking a pajama day to rest, watch movies and wind down is just as much food for us as eating an amazing salad or stew. Meditation is food for the mind and soul. Exercise is food for the body. Laughter & friendship is food for the heart. And of course there is the actual food we feed ourselves with through our mouths. Learning what our needs are, how to listen and hear them and then learning what ‘foods’ we need to ‘feed’ ourselves and our lives is so helpful in allowing us to feel much more empowered (and loved) in our lives.
Do you have tips for braking self-sabotaging habits?
That is a great question! Well, in my view sabotage is usually a warning sign that there is a need or feeling that needs to be taken care of underneath. Usually fear, or feelings of low self-worth. I always tell my clients that when children need something and they get repeatedly ignored, they will scream louder and louder and have a tantrum. I often feel like sabotage is like our version of tantrums. An internal tantrum! So if you’re sabotaging something, then instead of getting angry with yourself or frustrated, try to pay attention to what is really going on underneath and then try to take care of that as lovingly as you can. The same way you would care with that tantruming child. I used to struggle with self-sabotage all the time. With binging on loads of junk food or not doing my homework or studying for my exams. Really underneath it all it was all a cry for help. I felt like I didn’t really deserve to do well, or I had fear of the changes I was making. The more loving and accepting I became with myself the more loved and safe I felt. And the less I acted out.
Gosh it all sounds so simple doesn’t it – but we all know it is not easy. So top tips if sabotage is coming up:
Get your journal out to try and investigate what is going on underneath. Then if there is fear or low self-worth or whatever it is, try to talk to yourself lovingly or write to yourself lovingly in your journal about it. Talk to yourself like you would if it were your child struggling. Then share with someone you trust about how you are really feeling. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and to receive support.
Then, try again but this time with awareness, love and support.
Any tips to start learning meditation and including that ability to tune into ourselves?
If you’re beginning with meditation then start by throwing that word out completely. As usually ‘trying to meditate’ creates all sorts of pressures to achieve some kind of enlightenment or something. And makes it harder.
If you’re just beginning try just sitting or lying quietly for 10min every day and just breathe. That’s all. Try to just sit or lie there and let your body breathe itself. Try to stay present with your own body, pay attention to anything you are feeling, even if it is resistance. Let your mind be noisy if it is and bring your focus back to your breath.
Then journal about your experience afterwards, maybe on the tube on your way to work.
This ‘sitting & breathing’ is so simple but it really works. Slows you right down and brings your awareness back to yourself and your own body. Then journaling about it after helps you see more clearly what is going on.
The more awareness we get about ourselves the more choices we can have about how we need to take care of ourselves. Awareness is always the first steps to change.
If there’s one quote that we should live by, what should it be:
“True power is living the realization that you are your own healer. You are the one you’ve been waiting for”
And finally, as we’re all about food here, tell us:
What’s your typical…
Breakfast: I’m really bad at answering these kinds of questions cause every single day will be different. I tend to wait till I’m hungry and then eat whatever it is I feel like. It could be anything from a lovely natural granola (love you’re new granola Ella!) to left-over rice and veggies or miso soup. Who knows! But I usually am not ready to eat anything until about 10am.
Lunch: I am so bad at lunch. Usually it’s leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. Some kind of wholegrain, plenty of veggies and some vegetarian protein. Or maybe some soup.
Snack: Maybe some nori or if I’ve had time to make desserts, I’ll have a kanten (macrobiotic jelly) or strawberry mousse or some raw chocolate.
Dinner: Almost always some wholegrain or some kind of noodles or pasta. With vegetarian protein and plenty of veggies. My quick go to is stir-fried veggies with tempeh and brown rice with a home-made satay sauce.