Introduce yourself – tell us a little bit about yourself:
I am Novena-Chanel, pronounced NO-VE-NA-CHA-NEL, a London-based Entrepreneur, Radio Host, Presenter, and Mother, of Sierra Leone, Jamaican and Nigerian heritage.
Qualified and Registered as a Psychotherapist/Counsellor, Counsellor Supervisor, Life Coach, Nutritional Advisor, Acupressure Massage Therapist and Reiki practitioner, I try to encompass my mantra of living a holistically balanced life, with a ‘Focused Mind’, ‘Balanced Body’, Awakened Spirit’, and ‘harmonious Home and Life’, through all that I do personally and professionally.
This is demonstrated through Workshop facilitation, Public Speaking engagements, Coaching and Therapy, and my work as a Media Consultant.
As a Writer and Radio Host I explore and write articles on Well-being, Personal Development, Self-Care, and Relationships; unapologetically raising awareness of the issues that silence and marginalize women; demonize young people; stereotypes men, and presents gender, racial and class inequalities.
I work to bring a clear voice to the muffled discussions about race, history, and society, and use my love and understanding of psychology and human relationships, to bring facts, theory, humour and challenge – to the topics many would rather sweep into their neighbour’s back garden.
How do you define self-care and what does it mean to you?:
Self-care, to me, means looking after myself in a healthy, loving, affirming, and positive way.
This can be as simple as brushing your teeth, taking care of yourself when you have a cold, taking your insulin on time, making yourself a healthy meal, removing yourself from negative environments/relationships, resting your body and mind, or simply taking some time out from the busyness to just ‘be’.
Self-Care for me means doing the things that are important to me, such as seeing friends and family, unwinding with my favorite book or music, enjoying and finding new hobbies, seeking and asking for support when needed, and going on holiday when possible.
It involves looking after my emotional, physical, spiritual, social, and intellectual wellbeing – always remembering that when I say ‘Yes’, when I really want to say ‘No’ to someone else’s needs, I am allowing them to write my destiny.
I am beginning to enjoy saying ‘No’ to the things I do not want in my life
Why is self-care important, particularly for women?:
Something I have learnt even more now since becoming a Mother a year ago is the need to be healthy, happy, and well, first, in order to successfully and wholeheartedly be present for others.
Society regularly enforces the lie that being a ‘good and whole woman’ is about servitude, Motherhood, sacrifice, and silencing our needs.
For a while, during my twenties, I bought into that ideal, always looking for ways to help, rescue and nurture everyone else, first. It led to me suffering with burnout, and although still ‘presenting as well’, as most of us do, I was emotionally exhausted, spiritually drained, and feeling overwhelmed – making me a substandard friend, partner, and family member – and slowly losing the essence of myself.
I think one of the ways of changing a lot of the problems in the world starts with going back to the root… women.
Teaching and allowing women to fully and wholeheartedly love, respect, care for, embrace, and rescue themselves, teaches those around them and those who come after them to also respect, love, nurture, and take responsibility for themselves and their energy/impact.
This, I believe, fosters a desire to protect themselves and those around them, and a respect for our own life, births an interest and respect for others.
Over simplified? Maybe… but we have to start from somewhere, and where is more impactful and powerful than starting from, and working on, ourselves.
How do you practice self-care in your daily life?:
Through embracing the power of my ‘No’ and communicating boundaries. I am beginning to enjoy saying ‘No’ to the things I do not want in my life – be it relationships, my own patterns of behaviour and cycles, or giving when I cannot or do not want to.
Saying ‘No’, taking fifteen minutes a day to simply check-in with myself (sometimes done in one sitting, other times in bits throughout the day), and ensuring I eat at least one healthy meal a day (hard at times with an active toddler and work).
Sometimes I try to fit too much in
What part of your self-care routine is most important to you? And is there one that is vital to you even when you’re having the worst day?:
The process of making and eating a healthy meal at least once per day has proven to be the most important routine I do to-date.
I believe it acts as a reminder to myself that I matter, my health matters, and what I fuel my body with matters (be it food, thoughts, or environments).
Vital to my equilibrium is the daily self-check.
It keeps me grounded and connected to myself… even on the bad days when I discover new parts of myself that needs new attention and work (haha – things like losing my cool when cut off in the car, or snapping at the Postal Worker who banged the front door and woke up the baby).
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to self-care?:
The all-or-nothing approach to it.
Sometimes I try to fit too much in – a massage in the morning, the healthy meal, ten minutes of meditation, a walk with the dog, etc., and then I feel demotivated as I look at the ‘list’, seeing them as a chore, and no longer a benefit.
So now I just try to aim for two and see how I go with adding others as the day or time presents. Less pressure to be ‘well’ and doing everything.
…if we start off trying to fit too much in, it can become overwhelming and you might end up feeling like you have failed.
What do you think are some of the most common misconceptions about self-care?:
Firstly, that the need for self- care is just for women – men need to practice good Self-Care too.
Secondly, that it is about being selfish and over-indulgent, or that it is costly (massages, expensive creams, etc.) and time-consuming.
What tips, resources or advice can you share for anyone struggling with self-care?:
As I said above, if we start off trying to fit too much in, it can become overwhelming and you might end up feeling like you have failed.
So keep it simple, realistic and doable.
Most importantly, do not wait until you find the motivation to get started… start it and allow the motivation to find you while you are doing it.
Why not create a Cookie Jar of Self-Care Activities?
The Self-Care Cookie Jar is something I use with clients in Private Practice – it teaches and reminds us to spend time taking care of ‘Self’.
The idea is to write down a Self-Care activity on a small piece of paper; creating a Self-Care Cookie, for you to fish out each day, or once per week, to meet your Self-Care goal.
I have given an example on how to create Self-Care Cookie Jars on my blog. There is a link to an instruction video within it too.
What are your favourite self-care mantras, quotes, poems, songs, books or movies? :
One of my favourite quotes about Self-Care comes from the aeroplane metaphor of putting your own oxygen mask on first – meaning, we have to save ourselves first, then we have enough ‘oxygen’ to save others.
I also really like Oprah’s words on not only being responsible for the energy we bring to others, but also taking responsibility for the energy we allow around us.
We can turn ripples into waves when we stand together.
What is the most important advice would you give to your younger self?:
Be patient with yourself; you do not have to know how everything is going to work out… just be intentional and present in each step, with faith that each one works towards the greater end.
What is your hope for your future and the future of women?:
My hope for my future is that I continue to grow, learn, embrace, and challenge myself to be the better me, with understanding, patience and compassion.
My hope for the future of Women is that we continue to embrace and accept our own vulnerabilities and those of our sisters; allowing ourselves to see the power of remaining sensitively intuned in an increasingly insensitive world; and fully working together as a sisterhood to create a village effect.
We can turn ripples into waves when we stand together.
Connect with Novena-Chanel
Disclaimer: Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. However, I only recommend products or services I use personally or that I believe will add value to my readers, as well as friends and family. All opinions are my own.