"Was It Stress?" What Eminé Uncovers

Posted by Nicola Elliott, Apr 12, 2017

As Wellness Director of fab Psychologies Magazine, Eminé Rushton is a woman who is in tune with her wellbeing, but even she uncovered something she didn’t know… “Was it stress keeping me awake? That’s what I thought… but was I right?

The lovely NEOM team sent a batch of NEOM Scent Discovery Tests into the Psychologies office for us to try (yes as a journo, you get perks like this!). What a joy it was - opening up the little box to find four little glass vials inside, and each one relating to a different wellbeing need. It could be lack of energy, poor sleep, low mood or too much stress.

Given that I was going through the busiest month in living memory and juggling projects-after-project, event planning and live filming alongside my role at Psychologies magazine (and that’s before I get started on home and family responsibilities!) I was almost certain that stress would come up as my most pressing concern! Was I right? Let me tell you.

I sniffed each one in turn – did I feel strongly drawn to that scent, or did it not really provoke any discernible reaction? One struck every chord in me – the reaction was crystal clear. When I turned the vial round I was surprised to see the words ‘Scent to Sleep.’ Sleep! Never something I’ve had a problem with… until, of course, recent responsibilities became so pressing that sleep began to feel like a luxury… and one that I could skimp on, just a touch… right?

I’d like to say that I am pretty in tune with my wellbeing needs – I know when I need to slow down, when I need to boost my body with extra nourishment, and I can sniff depletion pretty far in advance of actually running myself down – BUT the fascinating thing about the NEOM test was that it showed up something that had just started to spiral into a problem – and I didn’t even realise it.

Scent discovery test

I have always been religious about switching off tech by 8pm. We then turn off lights, light candles and I’ll often do some yoga, take a bath, or do a simple evening meditation. These simple things provide me with my wellness foundation – but since skimping on them – and pushing my shutdown time to 10pm some days, in a bid to get things finished, there’s been a noticeable knock-on effect on my sleep. I fall asleep easily, but have been waking around 2 or 3am, mind racing with the to-dos, before falling back to sleep around 4am. What the?

The test revealed that the quality of my sleep was lacking. And that’s because I didn’t take any time to wind down before getting into bed. It wasn’t the stress, but the lack of quality sleep that was sending me off-kilter. I get it!

Since taking the test, I’ve tried to give myself one hour of obligatory work ‘clean up’, when I tackle the most pressing loose ends once the kids are asleep, and then I shut down, even if things are not finished (shock horror). That’s a pact I won’t break now, and yes, it’s important to accept that things will never ever be absolutely finished. The moment you respond to one email, you generate a new email in response to that… so, it’s important to embrace the ‘undone-ness’ of most things, just so long as you are making steady progress.

I now know how crucial my night-time self-care rituals are for balancing my wellbeing. Skimp on them and I am not much good to anyone. My small steps are a nightly 20 minute meditation before I go to sleep – I’m lucky in that meditation really soothes and calms me (it can really energise some people!).

I’ll make time once a week for a long bathing and skincare ritual. And I also make time to do a couple of short yoga sessions, with my candles burning, deep breathing and deeply relaxing using NEOM Tranquillity fragrance.

I know I am not alone in not sleeping perfectly every night – and that’s before we’ve factored in children, who have been my main source of sleep deprivation for the last 6 years! – but I do think it’s important to start with the simple stuff. If you’re waking repeatedly, you need to trace back… did you eat/drink something too stimulating? Did you eat enough to keep your blood sugar stable (as dips will wake you up in the night)? Did you switch off at least an hour (ideally 2) before bed?

For me, I’ve found meditation to be the biggest help, because it tackles and clears those underlying worries that can also surface in the middle of the night. I need something that will allow my mind to transition from fragmented and anxious to calm and peaceful… meditation is that thing, and increasingly helpful to so many around me too, including many of my work colleagues, and closer to home, my husband, who’s now religious about his pre-bedtime med!