Welcome to the first interview from The Simple Now series! This week I chatted to the lovely Kat Nicholls all about self care, mental health and her new self worth coaching which you can find more about here. Kat can also be found on Instagram at @katjayblue and her brilliant blog is bluejayofhappiness.com.
Hi Kat! Thanks so much for agreeing to contribute to The Simple Now, it is so lovely to have you here. First of all please can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
Thank you for having me! Of course, I’m Kat and I’m a writer and self-worth coach. In my day job I write content for mental health and wellbeing platforms, including Counselling Directory and Happiful magazine. When I’m not doing that I’m working on my blog and coaching business.
I’ve been blogging for 10 years now (yikes!) but things really took shape when I decided to ditch my old blog and start afresh in 2017 with Blue Jay of Happiness. I started taking Instagram more seriously and found an incredible community online.
A lot of my work centres around self-care, self-worth and how we can all be kinder to ourselves. I’ve gone through quite the journey with it all myself and now I want to share what I’ve learnt with others.
I wondered when you first became interested in self care and how your life has changed since you’ve been incorporating this into your lifestyle?
Writing about mental health in my day job meant I learnt a great deal about different conditions and treatments. Over the years (and after my own experiences with mental health) I came to realise more and more just how important self-care is and how things like stress can easily develop into anxiety and depression.
To some degree I think I’ve always incorporated self-care into my life (it just didn’t have a name back then!) but I’ve certainly taken it more seriously lately as life has gotten busier and more stressful. And yes, my life has changed because of it.
I’m more productive at work, I’m more resilient and my self-awareness has skyrocketed. I now have the tools to manage my mental wellbeing and the self-compassion to do so with no guilt.
What does a typical day look like for you? Are there any things that you try and make time for each and every day for self care?
My days will differ depending on if I’m working in the office or at home, but the one consistent practice I have is journaling. Every morning before I do anything else, I’ll write a few lines in my journal, setting an intention for the day. Then every night before bed, I’ll write a few more lines about how the day was, what I achieved and if I had any physical/mental health symptoms (I find this really helpful to track and spot patterns).
I have dedicated times in my week for self-care, but the most important thing for me is to tune into my body and mind, and listen to what it needs, day to day.
Do you think that creating a self care routine can be beneficial for someone looking to live a slower lifestyle?
Definitely! I think the very act of living a slower lifestyle is a form of self-care – it’s all about giving yourself space. For those trying to move into a slower lifestyle, creating a routine can help you prioritise self-care and get used to slowing down.
And while it may seem a little counterintuitive to have a set routine when you’re trying to slow down, it can be helpful to have that structure to start with. Once you find what works for you and feel more in tune with yourself, you can be more intuitive with it.
Are there any signs that we can look out for in ourselves that indicate that we need to dedicate more time to self care?
Oh yes, and these will vary from person to person so getting to know your personal ‘red flags’ is really beneficial. My signs for example are a sense of overwhelm, feeling tearful, having lots of headaches and chest pain from anxiety.
Other people may struggle with their sleep, notice a difference in eating habits or feel irritable. Of course if you experience a symptom you’re not used to, always go to your doctor to check it out. Being able to recognise these signs and respond to them helps us be more in control of our health, making self-care a pretty powerful tool.
You talk about your experiences with mental health online. I wondered if you could share with us how your struggles with mental health have shaped and influenced your attitude towards self care?
Of course, when I was younger I struggled with anorexia and self-harm. It was a really dark time in my life and it was only with the support of counselling that I was able to recover. Part of my recovery involved learning to accept myself and treat myself kindly – which is a huge aspect of self-care.
In recent years I started suffering with anxiety, and looking back I’ve come to realise that this was likely the root of my problems when I was younger too. Last year I got cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which helped a huge amount and reiterated how important self-care is.
Since then I treat self-care with even more respect. I still live with anxiety, but I now know how to respond to it and what to do if I need further support.
Looking specifically to anxiety, I wondered if you could share any advice that you have for someone else who might be suffering from anxiety and things that you recommend for manage it and living with it?
My first piece of advice would be to get help, if you haven’t done so already. Even though I knew a lot about self-care and mental health, when I started getting anxiety symptoms, I knew I couldn’t manage it alone. The professional help I received means I now feel able to manage it myself, but I wouldn’t hesitate to get more therapy if I needed it.
If you can, try to be open about it with those around you – the support I got from work colleagues, friends and family was invaluable. The most helpful management technique for me was to learn that the way we breathe when we’re anxious sets off most physical symptoms (including dizziness and chest pain). Breathing exercises, meditation and mindful movement like yoga or walking can therefore really help.
Social media plays such a huge part in our lives now and I wondered if you had any tips for navigating the online world in a more mindful and intentional way? How do you balance your online world and offline world?
Being more intentional to me means remembering that we are in control of our social media feeds. We can choose who to follow and what content to consume. If someone makes you feel bad, for whatever reason, unfollow them. Fill your feeds with people who inspire you.
I’m online a lot because of my work, so I try to keep a balance by taking breaks now and then. Having offline hobbies like yoga and reading helps when all I want to do is scroll through stories on Instagram! I also try to plan in offline time with my partner, friends and family. This helps me gain perspective and remember that I’m not just what I do online, I’m so much more than that.
You recently launched your Self Worth Coaching – congratulations! I wondered if you could tell us a bit more about it and what you offer?
Ah thank you! To me it’s felt like a really organic move, from writing and sharing what I’ve learnt in written form on my blog to actual conversations with people. During my training, I thought a lot about what I wanted to help people with and realised at the core of everything I talk about is self-worth.
When we struggle with self-worth, it can show up in different ways, from poor body image and difficulties implementing self-care to imposter syndrome and self-doubt in business. I lost my self-worth when I was younger and the impact it had was devastating.
I’ve since re-discovered my worth, and having that cushion to fall back on has made me braver in business and more confident in life. To help people on their self-worth journey, I’ve created two offers.
One is the self-care strategy session, a one-off call with me to unpack what’s holding you back from self-care and practical ways to fit it into your routine. The other is the self-worth discovery package, a three-month programme where we go deeper to see what’s really going on and use tools and techniques to build up that sense of self-worth.
Finally, on a completely different and lighthearted note what is your favourite colour/group of colours and why?
Oooh great question! This may sound super boring, but I love neutrals and blues – anything that makes me feel calm when I look at it makes me happy. When I was little I even had my bedroom painted blue with fish stencils so I could feel like I was underwater!
I think this is why I love having a simple and neutral colour pallet on Instagram, it feels calming to me and I want to welcome people into that space 🙂
Thanks so much Kat!