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.

Say hello to Vicky Shilling from The Flourishing Pantry for this week’s #SelfCareDiaries interview.  I’ve been following Vicky and her blog for a while now and love her whole ethos around food and wanting to help busy entrepreneurs eat better.  Her beautiful food photography is what drew me in over on Instagram, but you will also find a world of wisdom and personal experiences on mindfulness and wellbeing too.

As you will read, food plays an important part in Vicky’s self care routine and I would have to agree. Fuelling your body with nourishing foods that you love is going to make you feel supported and help you thrive.  Of course, cooking also brings in that element of creativity, a way to authentically express yourself as another way to practice self care.

What does self care mean to you?

Self-care to me means getting in touch with what makes you happy. Knowing yourself and what makes you light up and carving out time in your day, week, month or year to ensure you are doing those things.

Personally, to me self-care doesn’t mean massages, getting my nails done, flicking through magazines or watching mindless TV. Those things are lovely for switching off, don’t get me wrong. But self-care to me is more about feeling fulfilled and happy than it is about zoning out.

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

I would say food is my biggest self-care priority in my day. Eating well and nourishing my body is definitely a foundation of my self-care. I always have breakfast, lunch, and dinner and make these from scratch where I can and ensure I’m using the biggest variety of wholefoods ingredients I can get my hands on. I love cooking, I find it creative and really miss it if I can’t cook for myself for several days in a row.

Otherwise, I would say writing a to-do list is something I do every day to help me feel focused and productive and stop my brain panicking! And meditating which I try and do for 10 minutes every day, though I don’t beat myself up about it if I can’t manage that. I used to really try and keep my ‘streak’ going on Headspace by doing it every day and get angry if I missed a day. But now I’m more relaxed with myself about it.

I used to keep a gratitude diary but found it became another task every evening that I felt pressure to complete. Doing it for 3 months really helped me to build a gratitude practice in everyday life anyway so I moved away from doing it every night. I think it’s important to do what’s right for you.

What does your morning routine look like?

The two things I do every morning (well weekdays anyway!) are going to the gym and do some meditation. I actually wrote a blog post about it here.

Doing exercise first thing really energises me and it also gets it done early so I have the rest of the day to myself which I really value. Personally, I like a fairly early class or session so that I can come home, shower, dress and do my meditation and get to my breakfast and then the desk by 9 am.

To meditate I usually use the Headspace app and sit on my bed for 10 minutes to do it. I’ve been using the app for nearly 2 years now and love the structure and different ‘packs’ it provides to take you through topics like prioritisation, change, anger and acceptance. I’m also now feeling more confident to meditate without the guidance and go in silence for 10 minutes, but that’s taken a long time!

How do you make time for self care?

I think some of that is tied to the morning routine – I make time by getting up early and maximising the morning to do exercise and meditation which I know benefit me the rest of the day. Otherwise, excuses creep in and these things drop further and further down the list.

I also try to dedicate time to doing things I love and making sure that’s in the diary if necessary so it doesn’t get missed. So that might be going for a walk or reading a book or catching up with a friend on the phone.

I also have a great other half who reminds me to switch off! It’s hard when you’re working for yourself to section off the hours of the day, because every minute you could technically be working. But he’s great at getting me to switch off the laptop and put down the phone and unwind. We’ve recently committed to eating dinner at the table instead of in front of the TV. It’s so nice how that simple change enables us to talk and connect more and make the most of our time together.

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

My partner for sure. Having someone to talk and share concerns with is really important. Sometimes saying things out-loud to someone else immediately makes the problem smaller. Its amazing what can go on in your head if you let it spin off into ‘what if what if’ too much! Having someone to ground you and remind you that you are capable and can tackle things is crucial, whoever that is to you.

I think also remembering that your work, your life, and your mind have ‘seasons.’ Your readers might be familiar with the coach Jen Carrington and her podcast Make It Happen. She talks in one episode about seasons of hustle, seasons of struggle and seasons of rest. I love that idea that sometimes things are just clicking, working and flowing, and then sometimes things just get… stuck. And you know what? That’s okay! I think mindfulness and meditation have helped me to be more accepting of that and try to make the best of every day. It’s good to realise that feelings aren’t forever and things change.

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

My Headspace app and headphones. And podcasts, they’re definitely my way to switch off and get inspired and motivated again. Books and cookery books I think would also be in there! Real therapy to me is reading or planning recipes by reading others. My notebooks and to-do lists too; I feel an almost instant calm if I have them with me and can write down and prioritise on paper all the things buzzing around in my head.

What quote really resonates with you and why?

“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking” – Voltaire

I love this one because it’s really empowering. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed sometimes and think a situation is completely insurmountable. But usually, when I’ve felt this it’s because I haven’t just sat down and given myself the time and dedicated focus to really tackle the problem. If we do one thing at a time, and really apply our best thought to it, we always find a solution. Putting things off only makes the problem seem worse.

I also love “Your success is necessary” and I use that as an affirmation to myself. I find that really empowering because it reminds me that what I am doing in the work is important and helps others. It is necessary that I succeed so that others can learn from me in some way. I need to lead and keep creating content and putting it out into the world. I love that and find it really motivates me.

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

I am currently working on completing my mini-course – The Capsule Collective. It’s a week-long e-course showing busy entrepreneurs how they can stock their kitchens for healthy eating, with really versatile and flexible recipes they can use for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well. It’s taking a lot of time to do all the filming and video editing but it’s nearly ready! If your readers are interested they can sign up to receive the details when the course goes live her

I also just launched a series of retreats called The Reset, alongside a friend and Nutritional Therapist Lauren Healy. The retreats are aimed at women who need the time, space and tools to unplug and reconnect with their goals and ambitions and how they’re going to achieve them. We cover goal setting, action plans, relationship with food, stress, and organisation and also offer yoga, Pilates, and cookery demos as part of the weekend too. We ran our first retreat at the end of June and the response was overwhelmingly positive. You can find all the details on our website

Thanks so much, Vicky! I hope you loved this weeks #SelfCareDiaries installment, you can check out the last edition with Gabrielle Treanor here