To me travelling is a therapy that crosses all categories – it’s a great energy and creative therapy simply because of the variety of sensations for my senses – sights, smells, experiences, new people, food – I could go on and on. I also find the actually travelling part great for the mind, especially when I’m on a boat, plane or train because I can just look out of the window and watch the view. As for the body, it’s probably not the most therapeutic activity but the physical accomplishment of carrying my backpack gives me the excuse to treat myself to a massage.
I love being pampered. I especially love it if it’s with organic natural products. I used to make all my own natural skincare products out of food items and I’m so passionate about this that I’ve even ran a few ‘make you own skincare products’ workshops – like in the picture, which is at the Antigua Yacht Show. These days I don’t have the time to make my own products so instead I use an organic UK brand which has the same values as myself (Neal’s Yard Remedies – I love their products so much that I decided to work for them too)! I think pampering is a therapy because it’s taking the time out to give your body some attention, and self-love which can be all too easy to forget in the busy culture we sometimes live in. Also, the best bit about using natural products is that if you run out you can usually make something out of the fruit and veg that’s sat in your fridge, even better if they’re starting to go off and squidgy!
I try to meditate every day for 20 minutes. I use an app called Headspace which for me, is perfect because it’s structured but visual and also has a variety of focused sessions to try. I really feel like we’ve come out of balance in the Western society, with all the information that is constantly being fed to our minds. Obviously, this has come with the advancement of technology and like most people I also love my iPhone but I try to avoid watching television, reading the (really negative) newspaper and constantly checking my social media accounts mainly because I don’t think it’s healthy for my mind to be busy all the time. Meditating allows me to create a pause where I can re-evaluate a situation. I’d really like to think that when I meditate that it’s as serene as the top image of the two, however realistically some days it’s more like the bottom image – some days only half present, some days a little wonky and some days without knowing where my head is at. However I practice every day knowing that it’s one of the most powerful tools that is helping me get through situations where I’m experiencing post-traumatic stress, especially when I am in a ‘hyper-vigilant state’ and feel the need to aggressively protect myself -meditation helps me pause and see my emotions in a more abstract manner.
For me, food is a big part of my life. In terms of nutrition, taste and also presentation, the right kind of food can make me feel a certain way that’s why I have it as a therapy. I think that the most important thing about looking at food as a therapy is to look at the motivation behind the desire. If the motivation is to escape a feeling, using food as a distraction tool or to comfort the feeling of loss then it can become dangerous. However if it’s used as a tool, sparingly and is ate mindfully then it can be used as a tool for enjoyment, thus a therapy. The pictures are from a wonderful restaurant in Bali called Room 4 Dessert and the whole experience here could be a therapy because the atmosphere is spot on, however if I abused this experience and went every day then this ‘therapy’ would soon become gluttony. Balance is everything.
I think science has thoroughly proven that exercise releases endorphins, therefore I see it as a great therapy to get happy feelings running through my body. Whilst I enjoy running and swimming I mostly enjoy activities where I can work with others and hang upside down. I’m not sure why I like hanging upside down so much… I used to climb trees as a kid so maybe it brings me fond memories. Aerial Arts is one of my favourite things to do when I’m back home – it’s a combination of acrobatics, yoga and dance from suspended silks and hoop. I also love Acro Yoga which is basically yoga but balancing on another person. I go to events and workshops whenever I can because it’s therapeutic to work so close with someone and balance together. When neither of these activities are available, I go climbing instead. Sometimes if I’m feeling quite negative and I don’t really want to do anything, I make myself go to one of these activities. It always makes me feel better, physically – because feeling tired gives me a sense of accomplishment but also in my mindset after spending time with a person or people who encourage each other as we progress through the exercise.
Cats are such a great energy to be around and they seem to have a sixth sense, especially if you’re upset. If I’m ever upset at home, our cat Ginger Nuts (he’s male and ginger) always smothers me with affection and I feel so much more positive after I’ve stopped and stroked him for a bit. This isn’t just me either, ever since the first cat cafe was established in Taipei in 1998 they have been popping up in cities all around the World and there is research to back up the positive effect that these furry felines have on us humans. The Mental Health Foundation and Cats Protection did a joint study in 2011 and found that 87% of cat owners feel that the animals positive impact on their wellbeing. It’s interesting because throughout my travels I’ve seen a lot of animals inhabiting cafes and shops, especially in the East and not in a gimmicky way either, they just live there too… cats, dogs, geckos, cows (if you’re in India). They’re all just hanging out ready to be stroked and loved like the rest of us.
A big therapy for me at the moment is having projects to work on. For now, that’s my blog, my book, and my business plan. I find that my most creative work usually coincides with having a good coffee and I use this as an excuse to treat myself and visit the local coffee shops of wherever I have currently laid my backpack.
These are some of the affirmations we have around our house to keep us positive since my Dad died. The sign is for people who try to come in the house and play negative deflection tennis – yes people come round our house to try and play this (wtf?) – it’s the last thing we need, so I put up this notice to try and politely make people think about the words they’re using.
My brother and I grew up baking and both of us use it as a form of therapy. It’s something that’s productive, creative and calming. A specialty of mine is baking bread but I also like to bake cakes and biscotti too. It’s great if you’ve got some pent up energy because you can use it to stir/whisk/kneed and at the end you’ll have a tasty reward. Hopefully. If it’s crap then the birds usually don’t mind having it… feeding the birds is a therapy too right?
Self- help, self-discovery, self-development, what ever you want to call it they all come down to the same thing. That is, learning lessons from each other’s stories but rather than fiction they’re real life lessons. I really don’t get what the taboo is with these types of books and it’s actually become a secret pleasure of mine to carry one around to see what kind of reactions I get – most of the time it’s a pretty awkward one which makes me smile even more. Personally I like to read books that are of the same philosophy as mine and ones that completely challenge me too. Otherwise how can I ever have an educated opinion on something if I only ever read what I already agree with? So I started reading self-help books because of the taboo I associated with them and funnily enough I found that although I may not always support the message of a particular book at least I know that I took the time to read and understand the message before I made my decision on it. So maybe if you feel the same way that I used to about these kind of books, why not pick one up?
I want to create a world of greater wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. That’s why I’m starting an honest conversation about wellbeing; encompassing self care, emotional intelligence, body and mind awareness, personal development, and authenticity. If you want to learn more about these subjects then then head over to www.shereensoliman.com to find out more about the packages I offer.
Sending self care vibes,