Introduce yourself – tell us a little about yourself
I’m a writer, journalist, author, wife and mum – bringing up a mixed-race, bilingual 4-year-old daughter with my Norwegian husband. Since 2012, I have run a communications business with a small ‘b’.
For me, it’s more about living my mission than becoming the next Richard Branson. And that mission is to help people to better express themselves in writing.
I run classes in writing for creative self-expression and speak about writing skills for businesses, universities and professional organisations.
I’m also a former vegetarian who would love to be vegan, but eats far too much meat for that to happen any time soon!
Self-care helps you to create a strong sense of self, which is vital to health and happiness.
How do you define self-care and what does it mean to you?
Doing small, kind things for yourself. Making yourself attractive (inside and out). Appreciating your body, mind and soul. Drinking lots of water. Eating fruit and vegetables. Taking time to breathe.
Why is self-care important, particularly for women?
As women, it’s very easy to let others define what our roles ought to be. But we are more than what we do. Self-care helps you to create a strong sense of self, which is vital to health and happiness.
How do you practice self-care in your daily life?
I’m not the kind of person who can stick to strict routines, so if I genuinely don’t feel like doing something, I don’t. That usually means that I exercise far less in the winter and eat more stodgy food (and unfortunately put on some weight on in the process). But I do try to incorporate a plant-based approach into my diet, and I love raw cakes and vegan salad bowls.
I also journal most days. I’ve been doing morning pages (where you write three pages of your thoughts in longhand) on and off for nearly 15 years. I love having a place that is just for me where I can express myself.
Julia Cameron, who created the concept, describes the pages as being like taking a whisk broom, and sweeping away your voice-over. They help me to clear my mind, and they also help to keep me focused on the things that matter.
Other than that, I love walking through the city – through the life that is happening all around. I like to walk through a busy street, grab a takeaway chai tea and purposefully pound the pavements.
Sometimes you need to do less, reach low, go within and recharge.
What part of your self-care routine is most important to you? And is there one that is vital to you, even if you’re having the worst day?
Having some alone time, at my desk, writing something. That is the place I feel most calm. What is vital to me is that I’m living a creative life and that I’m surrounded by the things that inspire me. This helps me to take care of my creative self, which is a huge part of me.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to self-care?
Getting enough sleep. After I’ve put my daughter to bed, I need time to chill out. But then after I’ve done all the chores, made her packed lunch for the following day, and taken care of other bits of pieces, it’s often quite late.
On the whole, my daughter sleeps through the night, but sometimes she can wake at 2am or 3am and it can take her (and me) a while to get back to sleep. Or she’ll wake up at 5am, two hours before the alarm, and say she’s done with sleeping. It’s a challenge either way.
Sleep time is always squeezed and I’d love to have a consistent 8 hours every night. I hear about people routinely getting up before the crack of dawn ‘to get stuff done’ or even practice self-care routines. But at this stage in my life that would just lead to burnout.
“Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong,”
What do you think are some of the most common misconceptions about self-care?
That it takes a lot of time. Actually, it does initially, but once you get into some good habits, it becomes much easier. You just need to carve out the initial time.”
What tips, resources and advice can you share for anyone struggling with self-care?
If you’re an ambitious, goal-focused person, then my top tip is to give yourself permission to do less – much less. And make sure that you say ‘no’ a lot more often to anything that isn’t important to you, or to the people you love.
On social media there are lots of shouty posts that tell you to ‘go bigger, reach higher and take massive action’. But often this is the exact opposite of what you really need. Sometimes you need to do less, reach low, go within and recharge.
What are your favourite self-care mantras, quotes, poems, songs, books or movies?
I like the quote: “Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong,” taken from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I also love the film The Devil Wears Prada, where the main character Andi is finally true to herself after falling down the rabbit hole of the fashion industry.
Sometimes you need to go through an experience like that to find your centre and emerge stronger, and more fulfilled. You need to go right off the path in order to find your way home. Plus, she ends up with a better dress sense and a new sense of confidence.
My hope is that we’ll stop judging ourselves and others by impossible standards.
What is the most important advice that you would give to your younger self?
There are so many things I would tell my younger self now. The main one being that it’s OK to be yourself. Being a highly sensitive person means that I need downtime. I would tell my younger self to stop trying to fit into environments that just don’t support who you are.
Times have changed now, but the norm for me and my peers when I graduated was to work in large, open-planned office environments. The trouble is that bustling, busy, noisy places leave me drained if I spend too much time in them.
I would tell my younger self the following: Ensure that you create soothing solutions to daily life so that you don’t end up frazzled. Summon up the courage to speak up about who you are, and about the qualities that make you just as good as a non-sensitive person. And celebrate the unique, creative gifts things you have to offer the world.
What is your hope for the future and the future of women?
My hope is that we’ll stop judging ourselves and others by impossible standards. I also hope that more women will see each other as comrades and collaborators, not competition.
Connect with Greta
Blogging about life, love, writing and self-expression and a newsletter with monthly inspiration on writing, creativity and living a creative life.