Susannah Taylor: Need a self-care quick fix?

The most overused wellbeing term of the past few years has to be ‘self-care’. We are constantly told to ‘take time out, meditate, book a weekly massage, have a daily bath, start a hobby…’ But finding even ten minutes to look after ourselves is a huge challenge. Self-care specialist Katie Brindle is a Chinese medicine practitioner and founder of the Hayo’u Method (hayoumethod.com), which provides techniques and tools that simplify Chinese wellness wisdom. Katie is aware that we don’t have time for lengthy treatments and instead promotes ‘self-care snacking’ – taking bitesize restorative moments during the day. This replenishes our ‘qi’, which means ‘life force’ in Chinese. Katie likens our bodies to our phones. ‘If we top up our qi throughout the day like you charge your mobile, it all adds up,’ she says. ‘Most of us are functioning on low-power mode and if you don’t replenish yourself, you will conk out.’

Image: David Yenni. Stylist: Sairey Stemp.

However, we have been taught to live by a ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality, thrashing ourselves in the gym three times a week. If we are already under chronic stress, Katie says this can make us feel exhausted and restless, leading to more phone scrolling, news watching and other twitch-inducing pastimes. Follow Katie’s ‘self-care snack’ tips for optimum physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing…

Boost your tea break

As we’re a nation of tea drinkers, Katie suggests that while we’re waiting for the kettle to boil we should use those spare minutes to do some ‘qigong’ exercises. These involve gentle stretching, moving and breath work to help our energetic pathways and revive our organs.

The two exercises she promotes are Lifting the Sky and Swimming Dragon – both are very simple. Google them and you will find a number of videos showing you how to do them.

Alternatively, visit hayoufit.com, where Katie offers unlimited online qigong exercise classes for £40 a month.

Supercharge your shower

As a short wellness ritual, spending just one minute extra under the shower in the morning can set you up for the day. Katie suggests taking a deep breath to the belly, and when breathing out, letting your tongue come out (in yoga this is called Lion’s Breath). This helps rid ourselves of stale energy. She also encourages a gentle smile – it will lift the energy of the body as a whole.

Get hands on

During your next loo break, says Katie, ‘Instead of just washing your hands hurriedly, take an extra minute to really massage them under the water. Your hands are full of reflexology points, so rub all your joints and everywhere you feel would benefit. You don’t have to know exactly where all the correct points are to do this exercise, just feel into them.’

Learn to tap

Katie has become well known for her tapping. We’re not talking about finding your inner Ginger Rogers, but the physical act of tapping the body from head to toe using your fingertips or one of Katie’s Bamboo Body Tappers (£32, hayoumethod.com). Used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, tapping is believed to have the power to supercharge energy levels. Ideally, Katie suggests doing it for ten minutes a day, but you could use a minute in the shower or when you get up from your desk for a break.

Go for a stroll

If you’re stressed, high-intensity exercise might do more harm than good. A short walk in nature might be more nurturing. ‘These bursts of self-care will replenish your wellness bank account,’ says Katie.

Step this way for rewards

Need motivation to get walking? Then check out free social app WeWard. Already popular in Europe – last year it was one of France’s most downloaded apps – for every step you take, it gives you ‘wards’ that can be changed into pounds to spend in shops or donate to charity. What better incentive do you need to get out there and keep moving? en.weward.fr

Feel fresh, no sweat

I am always on the lookout for a natural deodorant that works, which is why I love Ben & Anna’s Natural Soda Deodorant Sticks (£6.95, benandanna.uk). Ingredients include bicarbonate of soda, essential oils and shea butter. They keep armpits fragrant, stop wetness, are aluminium free and vegan. Better still, the tough cardboard packaging is fully recyclable.