A weekly blog series where a special guest dives deep into self care and we discover what it means to them and how it manifests itself in their life.

After week off the #SelfCareDiaries train, this week we have the lovely Franky Shanahan from Love Audrey sharing her self care wisdom. 

I first discovered Franky after spotting her gorgeous wedding and falling in love with her style on Love My Dress.  Since then I’ve been following her journey as she’s set up her copywriting business, journey through motherhood and sharing her honest story and insights with suffering with CFS. 

What does self-care mean to you?

For me, self-care is about listening to my body and responding to its needs. It’s not as simple as firefighting issues as they arise, it’s about anticipating how I’m going to feel in the future, so I can put things in place to protect my well-being.  

Sometimes self-care is a warm bath, scented candles, and a facemask. At other times, it’s getting up early so I can drink a mug of tea and journal before anyone else is awake. Occasionally, it’s spending an afternoon catching up on life admin to prevent feelings of stress and overwhelm. It’s making sure I drink enough water and remembering to prepare myself a proper lunch. It’s getting some fresh air or spending 30 minutes on the phone to my mum.

Do you have any self-care rituals/practices that really anchor your day?

I tend to build my day around three separate self-care routines in the morning, at lunchtime, and then in the evening before bed. They don’t look the same every day, but they tend to include things like journaling, good food, scheduled rest, meditation and lots of sleep.  

What does your morning routine look like?

During the week, I use a Lumie alarm clock to wake me by 6am. It simulates sunrise and I find it makes a huge difference to my energy levels first thing. Our bedroom is a strict screen-free area and I try to avoid my phone for at least the first 30-60 minutes of the day.

I’m usually the first one up, so I head downstairs to make tea and coffee. After putting on a load of laundry and emptying the dishwasher, I spend 5-10minutes filling out my Letterfolk Abridged Journal. If I have time, I’ll complete a brief guided meditation using the Calm app. I like our mornings to feel as slow and gentle as possible, so I always diffuse essential oils and stick to a few soothing playlists on Spotify. I’ve found this really impacts how we all feel and behave before the school run. 

I wake my daughter with a mug of tea at around 6.30am and my son is up at 7am. I generally hang out in the kitchen with them until they leave for school. After eating breakfast, I tend to take a quick shower and listen to a podcast while I get dressed. I then head upstairs to the attic where I work. 

How do you make time for self-care?

I try to focus on small, achievable micro-doses of self-care. 10 minutes of journaling in the morning, an hour of rest at lunchtime, a simple, nourishing meal for dinner. It doesn’t have to be complicated or over the top. Sometimes self-care is just putting my phone away for the evening! If all else fails, I prioritise sleep. I love getting into bed at around 8pm and reading for an hour or so before drifting off.

During a challenging point in your life what key things got you through?

Almost 3 years ago, I was gravely unwell with flu and a bacterial infection. After a lengthy hospital stay, I went on to develop Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) which is sometimes called ME. The condition has completely changed my life and forced me to treat self-care as essential to survival rather than ‘a nice thing to do’.

Learning to rest has probably been the biggest factor in my recovery so far. As a high-achieving perfectionist with a passion for being busy, it’s not something that comes naturally to me! These days,

I’m much better at slowing down, saying no, and making sure there’s plenty of white space in my diary.

What’s in your self-care toolkit? Which items bring you most comfort?

I always like to have a big bath of Epsom salts on hand as they make a huge difference to the aches and pains I get due to CFS. I love using essential oils too and we’ve now got a diffuser on every floor! I like to use a mix of lavender, peppermint and lemon or On Guard by doTERRA which supports healthy immune function.

Since developing CFS, I’ve come to appreciate nice loungewear and comfy PJs. There are days when I simply don’t have the energy to get dressed, so having something soft and cosy that also makes me feel good about my appearance has become really important to me. 

What quote really resonates with you and why?

‘You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.’

This reminds me that it’s OK to prioritise my own self-care. Ultimately, it’s in everyone’s interests for me to stay well and in the best possible health.

What are you currently working on?  Anything that you would like to share?

I work from home in a quiet corner of Bristol and run my own copywriting business called Love Audrey. As well as sharing the occasional blog post, I hang out on Instagram Stories a lot. 

Thanks so much, Franky! I hope you loved this weeks #SelfCareDiaries instalment, you can check out the last edition with Kat Nicholls here