Wellbeing Warrior interview #2 with Melissa Hemsley
Posted by Nicola Elliott
Melissa is the author of bestselling foodie book Eat Happy. Melissa talks about her belief in the old saying ‘you can’t take care of anyone else, if you don’t first take care of yourself’, and about feeling “contentedly comfortably me”. Plus find out what exacerbates Melissa's anxiety.
Define good wellbeing for you?
Feeling ME! Feeling contentedly comfortably me. Safe in myself, happy to just be me and sit with me.
What does a day of optimal well being look like to you?
Waking up with the sun, in the summer – it’s easy isn’t it? Waking feeling rested, cuddle with my dog Nelly who sleeps between my knees - oh, and my boyfriend! We’d start with a mug of ginger tea (I brew a big pot once a week) or an iced ginger tea if it’s hot, and we’d water the plants and my veg patch together, which I find so relaxing (currently growing tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, chillies and as many herbs as I can! I had a good round of rocket and I was thrilled at the thought of never buying salad leaves again, but now it’s died!).
Before we eat breakfast, I’d roll out my mat in my kitchen and get my yoga on, it might be power yoga for 15 mins or if I have time, 30 mins. If I can move my body in the morning, I really feel the difference.
Breakfast would maybe be a quick green frittata, filled with any leftover veg that needs eating up and herbs from the garden – as many greens as possible. If I’m in a rush, I’ll make it the night before and grab a big slice to go.
Fast forwarding over a morning of work, ideally work would work around me! I’d work intensely and in a focused way – I’m a recovering perfectionist so I make an effort to say to myself ‘it’s not perfect, but it’s done’.
Lunch would be a simple soup, even in the summer, I love soup with chicken broth. Maybe with miso stirred in at the end. And I’m talking a hearty satisfying soup, not a wispy soup!
In the evenings, if I’m not doing a demo event or talk, which is often the case, I try to keep evenings clear to really switch off and to cook with a few friends. I try and turn my tech off at 6pm and I’ll always suggest a ‘grandma dinner’, nice and early.
If I can get a bath in, that would be heavenly. I pretend my bathroom is a spa, I’ll candle it up, get the lovely Bath Oils out (no more saving them ‘for best’ as my Mum used to make me!), body brush, hair mask, face mask, and get into the bath with a page turning book, and a glass of wine!
When I’ve got time, I’ll watch some really good TV or a film. I love a crime thriller but it just gets my heart pounding and exacerbates my anxiety so I try not to do it to myself too often.
I try to meditate twice a day. It doesn’t always happen but when it does, it makes things better tenfold. There’s no ideal time or place to meditate, that’s the beauty of it, so I try and turn a sweaty tube ride into the chance to meditate or I’ll put my dinner in the oven, set a timer and grab 20 mins then.
I’ve started counting my blessings more and writing in my ’gratitude book’ at bedtime. My friends used to make fun of me and now they enjoy it too. One minute of counting your blessings can make such a difference. Then I spray some Pillow Mist and read until I fall asleep.
Who inspires you the most? And why?
Every day, I find someone else to fall in love with! But I’d have to say my Mum, she keeps surprising me with her strength, her new hobbies (she’s retired now after my Dad got sick), she’s just brilliant and fun to be around and after years of rolling my eyes at her when I was a teenager, she was ALWAYS RIGHT!
What tech rules do you have (if any)?
Get Flux or whatever app works for you that gradually tones down the blue light on your tech. Especially if you work from home or need to work late, make a promise to yourself that you’ll work until Xpm then honour that promise when the time comes – turn off your laptop and phone; especially if you work from home, put them away in a drawer or cupboard and change your dining table from an office back to its original purpose (!), get some music or a podcast on and start making your dinner / water the plants / do 15 mins of stretching / run a bath, something that’s a pleasure. Oh, and buy an old school alarm clock so you don’t kid yourself that you need your phone on for your alarm!
Favourite food tip/recipe you recommend with wellbeing hat on?
We know life can get too busy and we tend to eat later and later. To avoid last minute weeknight stress or takeaways on jam packed social weekends, always make double (and sometimes triple!) when you cook. This means you can invest in yourself by investing in something delicious in the freezer for a rainy day. Or make a big pot of quinoa, a pan full of boiled eggs or a jar of a great dip or dressing that’s ready to go and becomes the base of your quick dinner. You’ll love your past self for thinking ahead! And in terms of a speedy recipe in 15 mins, make a frittata with whatever you find in the fridge like a little cheese, some leftover roasted veg, last handful of herbs of spinach, maybe some peas from the freezer or if you’re craving pizza, try my pizza omelette in Eat Happy which has all the best bits from a pizza (aka the toppings) and takes 10 mins to make!
What’s your wellbeing challenge?
Perfectionism. Taking on too much and people pleasing and…the list goes on. I make time for me now, as much as possible. It’s a work in progress. And as the old saying goes, you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself.
Wellbeing trends/ideas/practices you’d like to try?
I’d like to give a silent retreat a go, NOT a long one though! I’ll try a day to start with! I’m a chatterbox, I think I fill silences when I’m nervous so I’d love to try seeing what that feels like for me.
Favourite NEOM product?
Any of the Candles. The second I light the De-Stress, it signifies ‘home time’ in terms of the working day (even though I’m already home). Working from home and for yourself has so many pros, but I know how important it is to separate work time from home time, so I clear my kitchen table of work, light the candle and shut down tech and embrace REAL LIFE!
Check out Melissa on Instagram