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.

For this week’s #SelfCareDiaries, say a big hello to Lauren Barber, a yoga and meditation teacher, writer and coach.  I’m always inspired by Lauren’s deep teachings and wisdom, she has such a generous and articulate way with words and knew when I was putting this series together that I had to invite her to take part to share her knowledge and experience on self care.  Luckily she said yes! 

If you haven’t checked out Lauren’s new podcast yet, it’s an awesome listen.  It’s full of so many raw soulful truths, refreshing moments and extremely woo.  I recently subscribed and have been loving the conversations and guests.

Anyway enough from me, here’s Lauren…

What does self care mean to you?

Self Care has evolved for me over time. It started with taking care of the outside of me – and by that, I mean with things like baths, massages, doing restorative practices that supported my wellbeing. But over time I have realised that the true self care is far more of an inside job.

It is supporting all aspects of me and nurturing my wholeness. That means feeling overflowing with energy and joy, supporting my emotions, my mental health, and my physical health. And at the root of that comes kindness and, as cliche as it sounds, love.

When I did my yoga teacher training, one of the biggest penny drop moments was when I learned and studied Ahimsa – which means nonviolence or non-harm. I realised how kindness has to stem from ourselves first and that means not being harmful, unpleasant or unsupportive to myself. Self care truly is about nurturing mind, body, and soul.

We have to learn to be our own nurturers – and of course, that can be supported by others – but ultimately we are responsible for our own self care and only when we show up for that and focus on being selfFULL, can we then truly show up for others.

    Self care to me is many things…
    It is saying yes to joy, laughter, pleasure and my own emotions.

It is saying no to things and people that drain me.

It is being honest with myself and truthful in the way I express myself.

It is showing up for my heart on a daily basis – even when my head is trying to drag me in directions that it thinks I ‘should’ go in.

It is honouring my natural cyclical rhythm – which means some days I need to rest more, and some days I have boundless energy.

It is always asking… ‘what would love do?’ and responding according to that.

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

For me, it is more about the little things than the big things. That means taking time to breathe into my belly for a few minutes before I get out of bed.

Allowing myself a few moments to write down any feelings or worries I might have in my journal before I start the day so I can begin with a slightly clearer mind. Gratitude – all day every day – it is my greatest tool and takes seconds. Making a ritual out of drinking my hot water and lemon, and my non-negotiable 10 minutes of meditation all help anchor me as well. Some time in nature is absolutely essential to me every day, even if that is just standing in the garden for a few minutes.

I love turning any mundane parts of the day into a little ritual, even from the way I write my to-do lists with coloured pens and include an affirmation for my day or week on the list to help me stay in an abundant state of mind.

The big self care gestures are wonderful, but it is the little consistent actions that keep reminding you that ‘you matter’.

What does your morning routine look like?

It is pretty consistent – and the Virgo in me likes a bit of structure!

    • Wake up – naturally if possible but most of the time with an alarm.
    • Place my hands on my womb/lower belly and take at least 5 deep breaths into that space.
    • Drink a glass of water that is by my bed – I put it there the night before.
    • Go to the bathroom, splash water on my face, and oil pull for ten minutes while I get back into bed and write in my journals.
    • Three journals – yes I know that seems excessive. One is for gratitude – listing three things I am grateful for. One is for my moon/menstrual cycle where I note down how I have slept and how my body feels. One is for a download of thoughts – I write at least a page every morning of just random rambles that are in my mind – it doesn’t make sense but it feels good to let it out.
    • Get out of bed and go downstairs, take a shot of apple cider vinegar and then sip my hot water and lemon from my favourite big mug.
    • Ten minutes of silent meditation using Insight Timer App as a counter.

These are all non-negotiables. The rest of the routine varies depending on the day. I like to start my day with movement – so that is either a walk or a yoga practice – or both. Then I make myself a nourishing breakfast and move into my day.

How do you make time for self care?

It has become habitual more than anything for me now, I am so aware of my own energy that I crave it and use it as a really powerful tool to ensure I am aligned with what brings me joy. Like anything though, I see it as a practice and when I fall out of giving myself those things then I very quickly notice old patterns of anxiety and overwhelm creeping in.

I am motivated to make time for self care because I want more than anything to feel good and to be able to help other people find that same gift for themselves. If I don’t feel good then I cannot hold space for others to do the same. As soon as I shifted away from the mindset of my personal self care being selfish and indulgent, and saw it as an essential part of my wellbeing – it isn’t even a question as to why I would do it!

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

      • Nature is always my continuous healer – walking with my dog – come rain or shine – is more powerful than anything I could ever ‘buy’.
      • Breathwork – starting to retrain the way I breathed helped shift so much anxiety – particularly learning Ujjayi breathing – otherwise known as the
      • Victorious or Oceanic breath – it is an audible sound that gives you something to really anchor to.
      • Support from friends and family – being able to speak honestly and openly and have others be there to listen is pivotal.
      • My own creativity – writing, painting, moving intuitively, making delicious food – expressing myself in these ways has been hugely important to my own healing journey.

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

    • Nature healing – particularly getting my bare feet on the ground and my hands on a tree trunk.
    • Meditation – using the free app Insight Timer is wonderful, but even just taking a couple of moments to breath into my belly nourishes me.
    • My yoga mat – I bought my natural Eco Mat before I did my teacher training and despite it now wearing out and falling to bits – it is my little safe sanctuary that I have laughed and cried on. I can be in my space wherever I am.
    • Rainbow food – eating lots of colourful plant-based foods to pile in the nutrients – preparing food for myself feels like such a beautiful act of self-love.
    • Music – I have a playlist on Spotify that I have called my Self Love playlist – it is full of songs that lift me and I can go to it at any time.
    • Laughter – spending time with people that make me laugh until my belly hurts – that is powerful.

What quote really resonates with you and why?

‘When nothing is certain, anything is possible’

… because it reminds me that magic can happen at any moment and when in the thick of anxiety or a challenging situation – to just be reminded that things can pivot and shift in an instant is very comforting.

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

I have just launched my podcast Unravelling which is a series of honest conversations – some solo episodes and some with others – and we talk about the messy truth of life! 

I write regularly on my blog, send out a newsletter with tips and journaling questions, have some lovely events coming up in Kent and also have spaces for one to one coaching clients – all can be found on my website www.laurenbarber.co and keep up to date on Instagram.

Thanks so much, Lauren! I hope you loved this weeks #SelfCareDiaries installment, you can check out the last edition with Ruth Newton here