In the Press, Social Commentary, Spotlight On...

Spotlight On: Mental Health & Top 10 Tips to Beat the Blues

mental-health

(All photos courtesy of the internet. Photo above on art therapy).

Last weekend, I had what you could aptly call a ‘Mummy Meltdown,’ brought on by 4 cups of toddler meltdowns & tantrums, 6 tablespoons of teething sleep deprivation, 3 ounces of nanny issues, a double dose of snotty noses, a dash of hormonal cyclical fluctuations, a bowlful of responsibilities, and a large dollop of health problems. Even a David Beckham sighting couldn’t make me feel better and I burst into tears in front of my daughter O, for the first time ever, which I explained as ‘mummies have bad days too.’ Well, this was one way of stopping her meltdown, and at least it worked. I felt infinitely better after my little outburst, which finally showed her that I too can cry and reminded me that crying sometimes just makes everything better. These are not what you would describe as ‘tragic’ problems, yet at the particular moment in time, the culmination of all of these ingredients reminded me that even in the some of the best circumstances possible, motherhood is not easy.

It is normal for all of us to find ourselves vulnerable or fragile every once in a while, when the perfect balance of our lives are shattered by unpredictable events. Each of us will face problems at some point in our lives that tip our balance such as the death of a mother, a father, a husband, a friend or a baby. We are encountering more fertility problems than ever with our increasing age and facing new health problems that we never had before. Even more so, our parents are becoming elderly and fighting one ailment after another. And sometimes, we are just plain overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed as a parent is not something to look down on. It is a common and often under-respected affliction that we carry about on our shoulders.

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Mothers are burdened with portraying happy, perpetually enthusiastic people often while hiding our real feelings, but motherhood is not a Pampers commercial; it is bloody hard, and mothers are reluctant to discuss it openly as it is easy to feel that we have no ‘right’ to complain when others are childless or family-less, or less fortunate than us. In Notting Hill Land, where there is an inordinate amount of pressure on being the ‘perfect’ mother, we most often face our problems in silence, but we all have the capacity to feel overwhelmed in our own ways.

Luckily, there are more and more techniques to combat the blues, so I wanted to spread some shared wisdom to all.

Here are my 10 Tips on Beating the Blues: 

1. An excuse for a Massage: Touch therapy is one easy way to feel instantly better. But you didn’t really need me to tell you that. You can just use this article as an excuse for your massage bills. Space NK around the corner has some of the best massage therapists around: http://www.spacenk.com/SPA_NK.html

2. Put those feet up with Reflexology: It’s amazing how a few pressure points can change the way you feel. Zen at Notting Hill Gate has a wonderful Japanese Reflexologist who is booked weeks in advance, so be sure to book early. http://www.zenspalondon.com/

3. Downward Dog with Yoga: Another standard, proven mood enhancer that you are already probably practicing and loving, blending the spiritual and the physical. The Life Centre is an all encompassing place for inner healing and wellness. http://www.thelifecentre.com/centres/nottinghill//

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4. Qi Gong: A blend of Tai Chi, Yoga, and martial arts, Qi Gong is practiced for wellbeing and health. According to Wikipedia, Qi Gong ‘aligns body, breath, and mind for health and meditation, [which] allows access to higher realms of awareness and helps awaken one’s true nature… to fulfill our full potential.’ The Mei Quan academy offers classes all over London, including private classes. http://www.taichinews.com/

5. Be positive: Just by being positive and convincing yourself that you are positive, your brain will begin to feel and think positive.

6. Reach for some pills: Prozac and Zoloft works wonders, but I am talking about Magnesium supplements. Planet Organic, the one-stop-shop for all supplements in the area, carry a variety of great quality magnesium, a natural relaxer. Another way to absorb Magnesium is transdermally, through a spray or bath salts. Both will relax your muscles after a hard work-out or a hard day. http://www.planetorganic.com/

7. Find Yourself a Guru: Everyone needs a good guru, wellness coach or shaman to guide us through life’s ups and downs. Your guru could just be someone you know who inspires you to be happy. My personal guru, a good friend who is never in a bad mood, explained that once you have reached the bottom, you keep everything else in perspective. Wise words.

8. Listen to some Music: Music is a very powerful mood altering stimulus. If you are feeling stressed, listen to ‘RELAX’ by Mika, if you’re feeling down, listen to ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. Binaural beats were studied and proven to have a strong mood altering effect on the brain. My personal favourite relaxing music is by a very talented musician, Michael, from Cologne, Germany who creates ‘Relax Daily’ music, which can have a powerful effect on your mood and mind.

9. Mindful Meditation: Mindfulness is all the craze right now, with articles written on it from the FT to Grazia. Mindfulness has been around since the 70s when Jon Kabat Zinn used Mindfulness on patients with chronic illnesses and was proven to be very successful. Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor and researcher of Mindfulness, is THE expert and wrote numerous books on Mindfulness and its benefits which you can find on Amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=jon+kabat+zinn. Even simpler, there are now Mindfulness apps like Headspace which has garnered a huge following. (Mindfulness deserves a separate post, more to come later).

10. Your own Notting Hill therapist, Dr. Kerry Thomas: If all fails and you really feel like you can’t talk to your partner or your friends about your feelings, Dr. Kerry Thomas, a certified psychologist and psychotherapist will hypnotise, visualise and guide you for hours until you are somewhere better. She can even take you on a ‘mindful’ island vacation without even leaving Notting Hill. Everyone in New York has one, so join the bandwagon and get yourself one, it’s the latest accessory. http://www.kthomaspsychologist.com/

Have a lovely day.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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In the Press

Please excuse my fashion…#London Fashion Week 2014

London Fashion Week 2014

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(All photos of this post courtesy of the Internet 2014)

Motherhood’s Fashion Blackhole

Please excuse my fashion. I have been in a Fashion BlackHole (B-hole) for the past four and half years since the advent of Motherhood. Motherhood should come with a warning attached to it: Warning: Motherhood will take away all your fashion sense & flair. I had heard rumours about glamorous, immaculately dressed women becoming mumsy after motherhood, but never had it occurred to me that it would actually happen to me. But then Motherhood and the BlackHole happened.

The Fashion B-hole sucks any kind of energy or time dedicated to fashion, as early as three months pregnant until, realistically the school years or perhaps the nursery years (if like the French, your child starts doing full days from the age of 3, that’s why they always look so polished). During pregnancy, when your body starts to change in alienating ways, fashion becomes high elasticated waist bump covers from Serpahine and more elastin that you’d ever worn before. Post-pregnancy, the B-hole sucks all the time or energy for: 1) Reading fashion mags and following ever-changing trends 2) Shopping for these ‘trendy’ clothes seen in those glossies 3) And if you manage points 1&2, after a night of waking up 6 times because of your baby’s teething or snotty nose, there is nothing one wants more than the comfort of sweatpants to curl up and cry from exhaustion. Toddlerhood is not much better, when your silk trousers and cashmere sweaters are ruined by your little one’s sticky chocolatey or chips & ketchup fingers, or your baby’s poo/pee/vomit residues (and I would just be too ashamed to be one of those women who pushes their child away to save their Balenciaga blouse).

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Victoria Beckham: An example of what I am not.

Work, the saviour of the B-hole
The only women who seem to escape the Fashion B-hole are women returning back to work soon after the birth (and of course, a special breed of NHYMs, which I am clearly not part of, like V-Beckham above). Some of these women actually go back to work just so that they can ‘dress up in my work clothes, wear some heels, and feel human again.’ Every woman I know that quickly returned to work mentioned that work clothes make them feel good, and fashion does just that for women. It makes us feel better when we dress up and get other women to notice us.

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Melissa McCarthy vs Cara Delevigne

These days, I feel more Melissa McCarthy (of Bridesmaids fame) than Cara Delevigne. Except maybe for Cara’s eyebrows, since I never have time to trim, cut or tailor mine anymore (blame it on the B-hole). At least I have a good sense of humour about it all, I have an award-winning muffin top which has reliably become my best friend (we spend all our time together, and no matter what I do or say to her, she will always be there for me), and I have spent the last four years wearing my fashion-less clothes with pride. But thankfully, the magnetic pull of the Blackhole is waning, and I am starting to feel like I am emerging from it (thanks to nurseries & schools!), actually caring about coordinating and matching, accessories and trends. The fact that I know that Fashion Week is starting today is a very good sign of my Fashionitis recovery.

The Serpentine Gallery summer party - London

Cara D. 
Speaking of Cara D., she is everywhere. She is the model ‘du jour’. All of the fashion world is clamouring for a piece of her; Burberry, Mulberry, Tom Ford, Topshop, so I figure, all you have to do to be fashionable is to copy what she is wearing, right? What I do like about her is that she isn’t afraid of being herself, of having character, whether you like it or not, and being damn silly. On top of being a model, Cara has just become a bag designer at Mulberry with her ‘Cara’ bag, which just launched last week. And the great thing about bag fashion is that one size fits all, so I don’t have to try to fit in my not so skinny skinnies (or should I just call them my ‘fatties’). I last ran into Cara in July at the Serpentine party sporting her Cara bag, looking oh-so glamorously beautiful in a classic black gown. I could do that, I thought to myself. Her bag is being publicised as a ‘practical,’ three way bag that can be worn as a rucksack, across the body or hand held, in which you can throw your whole life into. To be frank, my fashion mojo is just not quite ready for the rucksack style yet, but I hear it is doing exceptionally well that Mulberry may soon run out of stock.

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Kate Moss carrying a Mulberry Willow

Bag – Love: Mulberry
Not only is Cara Mulberry’s newest designer, she is also fronting their new campaign, which is rather beautiful, shot in the Scottish highlands (I much prefer this ad campaign to her previous high-tea-with-puppies ads), and throwing fab, fun parties at the Wilderness Festival (no, I don’t know this festival either, blame that on Motherhood). Mulberry has had it tough lately, but it’s always been a brand I liked, especially the Mulberry tree logo and for making beautiful leather goods (I can’t bring myself to spend £750 for a parachute bag of plastic coated canvas, thank-you-very-much). They have just come out with some new items of ‘affordable luxury’ like the Tessie, which is uber practical and I could imagine some mums wearing on the school run without attracting too much attention like a Hermes Birkin. School run ‘bag etiquette’ is quite unique in the world of the NHYMs. Ever since I saw a Birkin making an appearance on the school run and another mom whispering ’She looks snooty and unapproachable with her Chanel outfit and her Birkin’, I have kept mine far away from the school run. And the Bottega Venetta Intretaccio, seen on every NHYM’s shoulder, has become rather unoriginal and too ‘normcore’ to do my fashion comeback with. The Willow and the Lily are two beautiful Mulberry bags that have gone under the radar but that I could definitely add to my wish list. Then again, perhaps I should just get a Cara, in hope that her fashion shine will rub off on me and I will feel a little less Melissa and a little more Cara.

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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Social Commentary, Spotlight On...

September is my favourite month

September used to represent the end of summer, the end of salty skin against the sand, of sunset cocktails by the beach and welcome the nostalgic feeling that we would have to wait another whole year for the next summer. Since becoming a Notting Hill Yummy Mummy, I cross each day off the calendar during the summer waiting for September. September is now my favourite month. Holidays, as all parents of small children know, really aren’t holidays anymore. Summer is an endless two month period of trying to entertain your children any way possible, of breaking sibling fights, managing tantrums from beach/pool/sun exhaustion and trying to figure out how to have five minutes to yourself. There is no end to my children’s demands in the summer and the amount of energy these little bodies produce is really a physiologically mystery (another reason why we should have all stuck to having kids in our 20s! My older, closer-to-40-than-30 body just cannot keep up.) I now spend my summers dreaming of the ‘Back to School’ days when my life will return to normality.

You see, there is ‘my’ self and there is my ‘mummy’ self, and unfortunately my ‘mummy self’ does not bring the best out of me. My ‘mummy self’ is a neurotic, overprotective, anxious, helicopter parent that has led to my children never leaving me out of their 2 meter radius. In the summer when I am mostly ‘mummy’ and less ‘me,’ I am constantly reprimanding my children, since they stop listening to me and my threats of no ice-cream/no TV/no IPad, which they know I will never go through with since it is my only method of keeping sanity in this household. The rest of the time, I snap at my husband for not realising how much work being at home with the kids all day really is, which does not make me a particularly endearing mother or wife. (I want him to try staying at home with two small children for just one week. I rub my hands gleefully at the prospect of this idea). In any case, this equates to a very long and tiring summer, since this year I forgot to organise any kind of organised, social activity for them. Note to self: Must better organise next year’s summer holiday. See what I mean?!! I need ‘myself’ back! I look forward to September when my children return to their beautifully, constructed routine of full day schooling and activities and when I can go back to being ‘my’ normal ‘self’. My children are happily taken over by professionals, behave better, actually listen to me and I return to the cool, trendy, relaxed Notting Hill writer I pretend to be, which makes everyone much happier. Welcome September! xx NHYM

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Uncategorized

‘The World According to Notting Hill Yummy Mummy’ in Corner Magazine

I was recently approached by Corner Magazine, http://www.cornermag.com, a new local, West London on-line Magazine by the people who brought Matchbox magazine, to write a column on my life as a Notting Hill Yummy Mummy. Feeling rather pleased with myself, I duly accepted. Their 5th issue just came out and my first column can be found in the Kids section about September being my favourite month, now that the girls are back in school. The magazine is filled with Notting Hill Neighbourhood information, as well as interviews with great, local people. 

Here is a photo of the title of my column, for your eyes only. For the full column, please download the magazine when you have five minutes to spare between the school run and your morning Cappucino at Granger’s.

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Now, this is my first experience with online magazines. I am used to picking up a hard copy of Grazia or Conde Nast Traveller at the Sainsbury’s on the corner when shopping for my toddler’s milk and nappies (which by the way, seem to constantly be disappearing into thin air).  It is a whole new world that our UK generation is just learning about, whereas for my two little ones’ generation, it will be second nature to ‘download’ a magazine. 

In New York, online magazines have already been around for almost a decade, competing with hard copy magazines that were folding like dominos during the recession and only the strongest survived. And as all trends move from New York to London, it is only a matter of time for online magazines to enter our social fabric. I have recently painfully and reluctantly given up my hardcover and paperback books for a Kindle, realising that the only way is forward. So, here I am learning the tools of Online Magazine Navigation, feeling like a baby learning how to walk, falling down every so often but excited to learn new skills and be part of a newer generation. 

xx

NHYM

http://www.nottinghillyummymummy.com

@NHyummymummy

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