cover image of The Little Book of Self Care
title page of The Little Book of Self Care: The Tiny Everyday Habits that will Transform Your Life

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Epub ISBN: 9781473552197

Version 1.0

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Ebury Press, an imprint of Ebury Publishing,

20 Vauxhall Bridge Road,

London SW1V 2SA

Ebury Press is part of the Penguin Random House group of companies whose addresses can be found at global.penguinrandomhouse.com

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Copyright © Mel Noakes 2017
Cover designed by Two Associates

Mel Noakes has asserted her right to be identified as the author of this Work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

Designed and set by seagulls.net

Chapter opener illustrations © designer_an – Fotolia
All other illustrations © lakalla – Fotolia

First published by Ebury Press in 2017

www.penguin.co.uk

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 9781785037313

Contents

Cover
About the Book
About the Author
Title Page
Dedication
Introduction
mind
body
life
Conclusion: Self Care for Life
Self Care for When You’re Having a Really Crap Day
The Self Care Toolkit
Acknowledgments

about the author

Mel Noakes is a certified life and health coach, NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist, who has won acclaim for her work as the Self Care Coach. She specialises in programmes tailored for women – online and in person – helping them to balance successful professional lives with health and happiness, and to start loving the skin, and life, they’re in. To discover more, visit melnoakes.com.

about the book

Step back from the overload and find some time for yourself.

You are important too.

With encouraging reminders, inspiring thoughts, easy wins and practical advice, The Little Book of Self Care will help you identify your needs so you can relax, refuel and find calm in your hectic life.

To Olivia, Megan, Max, Seb and Baby Noakes, who we can’t wait to meet. I hope self care will be something your generation never have to struggle with.

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introduction

I was an ambitious and adventurous woman who appeared to have a life most people dream of. A great job, I travelled a lot and was always with friends and at events.

From the outside, it appeared as if I had it all, but secretly I thought. ‘If they only knew.’ Despite the trappings of success I had battled with an eating disorder and low self-esteem for most of my teens and twenties. A good day was characterised by what I ate or didn’t eat, how much I exercised and how hard I pushed myself. I was so far down my list of priorities that nothing could make up for a fundamental lack of self care. My life looked great on paper but felt like crap in real life.

They say ‘you teach what you most need to learn’. Self care has been my biggest teacher and lesson. From my late twenties I had to relearn new habits and learn to love and respect myself, not something I found easy. Daily acts of kindness grew into something more profound, and slowly I realised how nourishing myself enabled me to live a much fuller, happier and extraordinary life.

After almost fifteen years of therapy and much soul searching, I took a year long trip to Latin America that changed my life. At the end of a four-day Inca hike to Machu Picchu, I finally had the breakthrough I needed. As I stood at the sun gate, I was humbled and amazed to be there. In all the years I’d fought my body, hated it, starved it and battled with it, it had never given up. My body had fought back and it had allowed me the privilege of doing something as amazing as the Inca hike, when all the stats said I shouldn’t even be alive.

In that moment I made peace with myself and my body. I decided to start living my life rather than just existing … And now I help other people do the same.

Life is a gift – an adventure, a series of experiences, opportunities and lessons.

To truly live it, we need to correctly fuel our body, mind and soul. We need to discover self care.

This book is designed specifically to give you inspiration and ideas to open you up to new possibilities and choices. Feeling stuck or helpless happens when we feel we don’t have anywhere to go and when our choices are limited. This book is your go to guide, your pocket inspiration and your opportunity to see life, your life, through a different lens and see you always have a choice.

You don’t need to integrate all the tips into your life, but what you’ll find is when you truly practise self care, many of these tips naturally become part of your daily routine. I recommend dipping in and out when you need it, trying the tips that feel the most fun, relevant or valuable to you in that moment and when you find tips that work for you, committing to integrate them into your regular self-care practice.

book bonuses

Visit melnoakes.com/book to claim your free bonuses, including cheat sheets, worksheets, how to guides and lots of other useful stuff. You’ll find many of the worksheets and ideas shared in this book available on the site for you to download and use as you work through the book.

what is self care and why should you care?

Self care is the actions we undertake to look after ourselves: physically, emotionally and mentally.

Let me ask you a question – Do you nourish yourself or punish yourself?

Take a minute, digest the question and answer truthfully.

For many of us, the truth is, we punish ourselves more frequently than perhaps we realise. In our heads, we berate ourselves for missing a deadline, or saying the wrong thing or appearing stupid. We don’t dress well because we feel clothes are frivolous or our bodies are unworthy. We put ourselves last and others first because we want to be liked and accepted. We go to the gym to run off the food we feel guilty about eating the day before. We work late to prove ourselves to our boss, colleagues and ourselves. We don’t take holidays. We create busyness to justify our importance and make us feel valued. We cram so many things into our diary to feel we’re living that we don’t have time to sleep.

We put pressure on ourselves to be perfect and expect nothing less, yet accept far less from others.

It’s no wonder so many of us are burnt out, worn out, exhausted and confused.

My friend, this is punishment.

Let’s look at the flip side. Believing you’re capable and able to do anything you put your mind to. Acknowledging the good in you and your life. Surrounding yourself with people that love and champion you. Going to the gym or for a run because it makes your body feel amazing and strong, and because you want to be able to live healthily. Choosing to eat food that makes you feel good and gives you energy, as well as being able to enjoy indulgent food without feeling guilty. Taking time out to recharge, rest and restore, so you can be fully present in the moments that matter and spend quality time with the people you love. Making a difference in the world and choosing to give time to things and people that matter. Creating an environment around you that feels safe, calm and relaxing. Allowing people to love you because you love yourself.

This my friend is nourishment and radical self care.

Let’s look at the science.

Stress is your body’s natural way to respond to danger. If you are consistently experiencing stress then it can play havoc in your body. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can suppress your immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, and speeds up the aging process.

It can even rewire your brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression and other mental health problems.

Regular self care practice has been shown to lower stress levels and improve health. It is one of the most positive things you can do for yourself.

Health and wellbeing isn’t elitist. You don’t need to join a fancy gym, shop in specialist stores, buy expensive gear, drink expensive juices or buy expensive detoxes. Whilst those things are great, if you can afford them, they’re not pre-requisite for your health or self care.

This book is filled with tips and ideas that you’ll probably think are really simple and easy.

That’s exactly the point.

Self care isn’t rocket science.

Often the most profound things in life are the simple, everyday things we know but somehow think are irrelevant because, well, life is meant to be hard isn’t it?

No, it’s not.

Here’s to the journey. Your journey.

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The foundations of wellbeing, self care and how we live and feel about our lives all start with our minds. What we think impacts the way we feel about things, and this in turn affects our actions. So, whenever we discuss wellbeing, we need to start with what’s going on in our thoughts.

Looking after ourselves and feeling we’re deserving of attention and care are the keys to wellbeing. Believing, fundamentally, we are worthy of good things means we treat ourselves with respect. We nourish our bodies with healthy nutritious food and we move our bodies because it feels good to do so – not to punish ourselves for some perceived ‘sin’ or to maintain a certain body shape. We surround ourselves with healthy relationships. We invest in our personal growth and we flourish.

Like so many others, I’ve experienced the other side of this coin, whereby we believe we’re not good enough; where we need to be perfect to be loved and accepted; where we feel we’re somehow ‘bad’, and the only way to change is to be harsh on ourselves and constantly push ourselves to prove we’re worthy of affection and love.

We all have bad days, moments when we say or do something we regret, and periods of time when, perhaps, life isn’t going according to plan and we’d rather just stay in bed. And it’s true that life is often challenging and bad things happen. People die; relationships fail; we don’t always get the job, the person or the house of our dreams. Our finances aren’t always stable. People we love get sick. We witness injustices. This is all part and parcel of the real world. Self care is not about how full the glass is or ignoring the realities of life; it’s about learning to accept the glass and life as it is.

When you have positive self-regard, or self-love, you will have more resilience and the ability to cope with life’s unexpected turns because you’re able to draw on your internal strengths. You won’t beat yourself up over every bad thing that happens, but equally you won’t need to shirk the blame if you ought to accept some responsibility. Your view of yourself will be truly balanced and not reliant on external sources for validation.

This part of the book is designed to help you improve the way you perceive yourself and the world around you. It’s designed to help you question the stories you tell yourself about who you are and the nature of the world. It aims to help you become curious and compassionate and to learn to love yourself from the inside out.

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let’s talk about mental health

Nearly two thirds of the UK population have experienced a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime while, in the USA, one in five adults suffer from a mental health condition (that’s more than the population of New York and Florida combined!). All around the world, mental health issues impact people of every background and social status, whether they are male or female, young or old, black or white, rich or poor.

So let’s discuss the elephant in the room. Looking after our mental health is fundamental to our self care. Our minds are complicated and intricate, and coping with the pressures of modern day life can sometimes create issues that require specialist help. However, when you’ve lived in the fog of a mental health issue for a long time, it can be hard to understand that this is not a ‘normal’ way of living, as you come to accept the way you feel. While it can be hard to admit that things aren’t perfect and Instagram worthy, when it comes to mental health often the only way things can start to improve is when you actively step forward and ask for professional support. At the back of this book, in the Self Care Toolkit here, you’ll find a list of organisations that can assist you. If you suspect you might be suffering with your own mental health, I would encourage you to take that first step, as living with mental health disorders can be vastly improved and even entirely resolved with the right help.

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