Living in a city as big and bustling as London can feel draining at the best of times. Some of us spend up to two hours a day underground; we’re constantly on the go, and in winter, we’re lucky if we see the sun during the working week. As cities fare, London is one of the most intense to exist in due to its sheer size and cost of living. But it’s also one of the most beautiful; one of the most culturally rich and one of the most green: almost 47% of Greater London is green space.
When there’s so much going on during the festive season, and so many people to see, taking a break often revolves around socialising or drinking, leaving us little time to refresh and reboot. It’s no wonder then that “self care” has become one of the most popular phrases in the millennial lexicon – in fact, almost 50% of millennials included it in their new year’s resolutions for 2019. We’re guilty of throwing it around too liberally (I’ll use it as an excuse for everything, from eating pizza on a Sunday to buying something new because it’s a Monday and I feel sad), but when you strip away the humour and the corporate hijacking, the phrase boils down to a very important point.
We need to set time aside to focus on our body and mind – the habits, rituals and practices that elevate our quality of life – so that we can operate as the brightest, shiniest versions of ourselves. Of course there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but we put together a little breakdown of some of our self-care practices in case they stimulate something meaningful for you.
Seems simple, right? But nothing tires out the body and mind quite like lack of sleep; in fact, it’s been proven that it’s as damaging on the body as stress. When white blood cells spike due to over-tiredness, the immune system is weakened and our mental and physical health suffer as a result. So take that Sunday duvet day, cancel unimportant plans to get an early night and try to get at least 8 hours so you feel motivated to take on the rest of the week.
Sleep is proven to improve mood, weight control, drive, health and overall happiness. Also, it just feels amazing. We like to sweeten the deal with one of our 100% Mulberry silk sleep masks. Soothing on the skin and gives us that snoozy feeling as soon as we slip it on. Delicious.
LOOK AFTER THE SKIN YOUR IN
Everything from the pollution in London’s air to the hard water coming out of our taps (lots of calcium and limescale) age our skin rapidly. In the same way that we lovingly take care of all our houseplants, we need to nourish our skin so that it feels happy, healthy and doesn’t age prematurely (a moment of silence for the succulent I may have killed last week). Dr Gary Goldfaden, dermatologist and co-founder of Goldfaden MD puts it simply: “Pollution can cause uneven skin tone, dehydration, dryness, dark spots, expedited ageing, wrinkles, sagging and a deterioration of collagen.”
That may sound like a scary list, but there’s always a solution: “First – identify what needs help: is your skin dehydrated? Is it producing enough oil? Then tailor your daily routine to it: toner, serum, face cream – the holy trinity of radiant skin. Toner removes dead skin which helps with absorption of serum. Then you can apply a sheet mask once a week for extra moisture.” Tree Cheung – Senior Makeup Artist, Shu Uemura
TAKE A TIME OUT
We often let this city run away with us: night-after-night plans, working late and rising early, or refusing to say “no” to anything, in case we miss out – sometimes I feel like I would turn up to the opening of an envelope so that my friends didn’t have a good time without me. We need to remember that in order to thrive in multiple areas of life, we have to set boundaries for ourselves and disconnect from the white noise.
Find an outlet, a hobby or exercise class that works for you. Give yourself the time to read, draw or walk in the park. Take 5 minutes out every morning to meditate with no distractions. It sounds easy enough but we’re often so busy, we forget to include the simplest things that contribute to our overall happiness in our daily routine. “Self-care is a multiplier of time,” explains Heather Peterson, CorePower Yoga’s chief yoga officer. “When you take time, whether it’s five minutes for a short meditation, 10 minutes to food prep for the next couple days, or a full hour of yoga, you build energy and focus.” And guess what happens with all that energy and focus? It gets channelled into all the other stuff keeping you busy.
NOURISH YOUR BODY RIGHT
Did you know that 90% of our serotonin (aka the hormone responsible for our happiness) is made in the digestive tract? This means that what we eat has more of an impact on our general mood and happiness than we realise. You can do a few things to improve your gut health, like staying away from too much junk food + empty calories (yes you, alcohol) or by taking probiotics, and eating various foods that help to enhance the ratio of good to-bad bacteria in the gut. Eggs, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, oily fish, fermented foods and yogurt amongst many other types of food will literally give you the good gut feeling you’ve been searching for (sorry we had to).
PROTECT YOUR EYES
This point is two-fold. Firstly, we’re talking about protecting your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays when you’re out and about.
Ultraviolet rays damage the eyes and can age the skin prematurely, which is why it’s important to wear 100% UVA and UVB-protected sunglasses – even when it’s bright but not particularly sunny. Secondly, we’re talking blue light protection on your lenses, another service we offer for your new opticals in store. We’re glued to screens from the moment we wake up the minute we go to sleep and the blue light that comes off our phones and laptops can put unnecessary strain on our eyes whilst causing sleeplessness (and as we mentioned above, this can significantly reduce your quality of life).
There we have it – a few of the mindfulness rituals that go a long way in keeping us healthy, happy and focused. We’re not always perfect, and no one is expecting you to be either, but it’s the small changes, even if it’s only a minute a day, that make all the difference.