Lauren Sneddon is the Head of Marketing at Lived, an app that delivers free access to decades’ worth of lived experience, research and wisdom—to support people around the world to drink less, and live more.
What does self-care mean to you?
We have an extraordinary Guide on the Lived app who recently described self-care as making sure you can “give the best of you, instead of what’s left of you”—and I think that completely nails it.
Self-care is about drawing from the people, places and activities that lift you up and help you to perform at your best. It sounds a bit funny, but I genuinely visualise energy levels as an imaginary tank.
There are things in each day that will either energise (and fill your tank) or de-energise you (and deplete your tank)—and those things will be completely different for everyone. We’re so often on autopilot throughout the day, we rarely stop to consider whether something has made us feel pumped or drained.
Doing a bit of a stocktake to assess where everything sits for you in these two categories can be really useful, because having good self-care isn’t just about filling the tank, it’s equally about trying to minimise the amount of things/people depleting it. Understanding how your individual tank works can help you to make sure you always have a good amount of fuel in reserve.
The idea of self-care took a really long time for me to grasp though. I grew up in a household where my mother (like many other mums out there) put absolutely everyone else first. I idolised my mum (still do), and figured it had to be the best, most caring and selfless way to be.
But what I’ve since learnt is that a) self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity; and b) it isn’t selfish, it’s actually one of the best things you can do for others—because you’re able to give so much more when you have more in your tank.
The Oxygen Mask Rule is one of my all-time favourites: if you’re on a plane and the cabin loses pressure, oxygen masks will fall from above. You have to put yours on before trying to help others—because you’re not going to be in a position to help anyone if you’re unconscious! Self-care is that oxygen mask.
How do you know when you’re feeling stressed or burnt out?
My body lets me know in no uncertain terms when it isn’t happy with me! I have lots of weird food intolerances and sensitivities, so if I’m stressed, my body will suddenly reject certain foods, my skin becomes really sensitive and I can get quite sick.
So how I’m feeling physically is often a good gauge on where I’m at mentally and emotionally. But sometimes stress creeps up on me so gradually that I don’t always realise the pit I’m in. So I’m very lucky to be able to depend on some very open, honest and caring people around me that will usually give me a nudge (or shake!) to let me know what they’re seeing, so that I can course-correct.
Do you have a regular self-care routine? If so, what does it look like?
I sure do! There are so many things I do to fill my tank, from ocean swims to daily calls with my Wonder Woman sister, but one of the most important activities in my self-care routine that I’ve been doing for years is investing in my mental health and seeing a therapist every 3 weeks.
There is still so much archaic stigma around seeing a therapist that many people miss out on reaping the benefits—and it’s a damn shame because it can be pretty life-changing for you and those around you.
We really need to flip the script on mental health. What people often don’t understand is that you can see a therapist proactively, you don’t need to wait until something is ‘wrong’. I see mental fitness the same as physical fitness, and so I simply view my therapist as a personal brain trainer! And I am so much fitter for it. It’s something I try to be very vocal about too, because mental health is the number one killer in Australia for people under 44, and it doesn’t have to be this way.
The more accessible and common support becomes, the more we can change as a community. Therapy shouldn’t be a dirty word, it should be a fucking flex that you’re investing in yourself. So I encourage you to not only try therapy if you can, but share your experience with others if you do.
You wouldn’t believe how many doors you might open for others. There isn’t a single person on this planet that couldn’t benefit from being a better friend, family member, partner or colleague; or having more resilience, empathy, and mental strength—so there’s really no time like the present to give it a crack.
I also won’t ignore the fact that therapy is a luxury item in Australia (we are in desperate need of mental health reform), it’s a privilege that is not lost on me in the slightest. But if it comes down to booking a therapy session or a facial—you better believe it’s my brain that’s going to get the massage.
What bumps you off your self-care routine and how do you get back on course?
Getting sick. It’s the pits. I have a pretty shoddy immune system, so when I get sick, I get sick. So that means that the things that usually boost me up like swimming, sunshine, socialising and participating in all sorts of creative culture, come to an abrupt halt—and I very quickly lose motivation.
When this happens, I go back to basics and try to ease my way back from the inside-out. I double-down on eating super healthy (and cooking a lot more), get a lot more strict with my sleep, and start with more gentle exercise like yoga or walks. I’ll go easy on myself and be patient, but equally try to do as much as I can to start re-filling the tank. Before I know it, I’m usually back in business.
Where do you go for inspiration, ideas or tools for self-care?
My friends and family, mostly. I feel really lucky to have a broad community around me that includes me in their wild and wonderful self care endeavours. Without them I would never have discovered the joys of acupuncture, Thai massage, therapy, free diving, gua sha, cooking, hiking…the list is endless. Sharing what brings you joy or comfort with others has to be one of the best feelings you can experience. Sharing is self-caring!
What do you think you need to improve in terms of your self-care practice?
Just being a little bit more consistent with my daily investment in it. I’ve noticed since coming out of lockdown that I’m trying to cram a lot into my weekdays, and then waiting until the weekends to double-down and refill the tank.
I got into a really good and consistent routine during the pandemic, so once I get over the excitement of being out in the world again, I’d like to get back into that rhythm. But for now, I’m quite happy being back in sensory overload!
Before you go…
Self-Care is our new interview series exploring the different self-care routines and habits of people from all walks of life. Get in touch with us today if you’d like to talk about your self-care routine.