This week we caught up Rachel, a plant-based food and wellbeing blogger, to chat about self-care rituals and taking time off. 

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Hi, I’m Rachel Evans, a behaviour change psychologist and award winning health blogger who specialises in the psychology of eating and creating plant-based recipes. I am juggling lots of things at the moment – from studying a PhD full time, to working with clients, running my blog and creating content for brands – but I believe that it’s important to find time for myself and for activities to enhance my wellbeing. I definitely didn’t have a great work-life balance at the start of my PhD and my quality of work and mental health suffered because of it.

Almost three years on, I feel less guilty for taking time out, but will admit that I’m still learning how to make the most of my time in and away from work.

How does self-care fit into your daily life?

I always make sure to take time for breakfast, to have at least a short walk in the morning or afternoon and to switch off my laptop by 9pm. Since I have incorporated these things into my routine I don’t consciously think about self-care too much on a day-to-day basis. If I’m feeling a bit run down or stressed then I will make sure to take extra time out for myself. This can mean that I don’t finish as much work as I would like to that day, but I know that I’m not at my most productive if I’m not feeling good, so I think it’s more beneficial in the long run for me to go easy on myself and to take a break.

What’s your favourite self-care ritual?

Going for a walk. I’m so lucky to live near a beautiful park with a river running through it. When I’m feeling overwhelmed I like to take half an hour out to go for a walk and listen to a podcast to re-inspire me or to just be with my thoughts and try to get things straight in my head.

Do you have a mindful practise? If so, which one?

I aim to go to at least one yoga class every week. I especially like ones that focus on breathing exercises and where the teacher keeps reminding me to check in with my body. If I am feeling particularly stressed, anxious or upset then I might listen to a meditation from an app, but it’s not part of my usual routine.

What do you struggle with most when it comes to taking time off?

I sometimes struggle with making my time off worthwhile. For example, if I decide to take some time off because I feel stressed then I want to be doing activities that contribute to my wellbeing rather than just watching TV and trying to distract myself from the fact that I feel stressed. Thankfully, I feel like I’m getting better at understanding myself and what I need to make the most of my time off.

Are there any books that you find helpful?

I really like Life Tonic by Jody Shield. It’s not specifically about self-care but it does encourage you to reflect on your life and how you can shape it to find balance and full fill your potential. I read it when I was struggling to find motivation to work on my PhD and I found it incredibly helpful.

You only have 5 minutes to yourself. What do you do?

Let’s be honest – I would probably go on Instagram or play Candy Crush! Although, I have recently realised how much time I waste and one of my goals for the next few months is to make better use of small chunks of time like 5 or 10 minutes.

How do you consciously take time away from the online world?

If I know I have a lot to get through one day then I will put my phone in the other room so that I’m not tempted to check it. I have also decided not to make Instagram or my blog a priority for the moment while I finish my PhD and establish my business, so that means that I’m not spending as much time online as I used to.

Top tip for busy people:

Consider if you actually need to do everything on your to-do list. When I feel like I am over-stretched or like I have made too many commitments I will often cross a couple of non-essential things off and immediately I feel better. Or if there is nothing I can cross off, I will think about what I need to take time over to do a really good job and what needs to be just good enough.

Quick-fire questions

  • Favourite breakfast when in a hurry? Avocado on toast with a handful of strawberries on the side
  • Yoga or mobility work? Yoga
  • Favourite book to reclaim time for yourself?The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do and how to change’ by Charles Duhigg. I think this offers an interesting way to think about procrastination and how to reclaim our time by changing our habits.
  • Your favourite Netflix & Chill series? I only started watching Queer Eye last week but I’ve already finished season 1!
  • Gym or exercising outdoors? Usually outdoors but it depends what mood I’m in and if it’s raining or not
  • Favourite music for relaxation? Something that I can sing to
  • Day at the spa or outdoor adventure? Ideally spa day – but often I don’t want to spend the money on it, so outdoor adventure!
  • Beauty buy you swear by? A good coconut oil based lip balm
  • What does your ideal night in look like? Literally me, sat on the sofa with a big cup of tea and 3 or 4 episodes of my favourite show to get through. If it’s a Friday then I might light a candle and put on a facemask as well!
  • Favourite self-love Insta account? @beauty_redefined
  • Favourite podcast to unwind? I don’t think I listen to any ‘unwind’ type podcasts – I prefer them to be educational or inspirational. My current favourite podcast is Ctrl Alt Delete by Emma Gannon
  • Favourite quote/mantra you live by? ‘I’m doing the best I can’. Some days I will be on fire and get lots done (I like those days), but other days it will be a struggle for me to read one journal paper or write a few paragraphs and I am learning to accept that.
  • Background music, silence or podcasts? Always music in the car or if I’m running, but I need silence when I’m working. I can only listen to podcasts when I’m walking.
  • Dream holiday destination? Somewhere hot and sunny that I can go exploring and see animals in their natural habitat, but return to a lovely hotel for a shower and dinner.
  • Dream city break? Anywhere with good restaurants!

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