How to navigate the ‘pandemic of overwhelm’ and find your peace | plmubl.com

How to navigate the ‘pandemic of overwhelm’ and find your peace

A former glossy magazine beauty director, Samantha Silver, shared health and wellness advice as part of her day job, until she realised the work and motherhood juggle had led her to the verge of burnout.

She quit her job and set up This is Mothership, the Instagram platform, with fashion stylist Gemma Rose Breger. Six years on, and the pair have written a fashionbeauty and life hack guide to help busy women navigate ‘the pandemic of overwhelm’, while also finding time for self care.

Here, in an extract, Samantha shares her positive wellness takeaways and where not to get sucked in to the wellness BS…


“I have an issue with the wellness industry and the way that it’s commercialised our need to slow down. Even finding calm costs you these days.

Giselle La Pompe-Moore, author of Take It In, speaker and slow-living advocate, agrees. ‘If well-being practices are supposed to help us to be well, then they really shouldn’t be an extra source of stress and expense for us,’ she says.

‘Quiet joys are always available when we slow down for long enough to notice them. It might be the voice note from your friend that made your ribs ache from laughing so much. It could be a tuna sandwich that took your breath away. It might be taking your bra off after a long day or the sunset from your garden. This is a precious reminder that the beauty of life often exists in the small moments.’

According to a 2023 study conducted by Sanctuary Spa, women get only seventeen minutes of ‘me time’ a day. To some, even that may sound like a lot. To others, it’s laughable. It’s less time than an episode of Friends.

Is it any wonder we’re turning into an army of zombies? ‘We swallow life; we say we’re fine when in fact we aren’t,’ explains facialist Anastasia Achilleos, whose words will ring true for many. ‘We’re so unconnected to ourselves that we don’t even know it.’

Following the pandemic, during which we were forced to forgo the spas and salons as a place to relax, a new breed of beauty products emerged that promised to do more, healing us from within our own bathroom walls.

Beware of marketing hype. ‘Although largely well-intentioned, the term “self-care” has unfortunately been overly commodified and commercialised since its inception around ten years ago and, as such, has lost much of its core meaning,’ Joanna Ellner, an award-winning beauty editor and acupuncturist, points out.

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‘“Self-care” is now synonymous with cheap, throwaway beauty culture: bath bombs, panda eye masks, hashtags and two-for-one deals, most of which are highly wasteful. Beyond that, it’s also infused with notions of being self-indulgent, superfluous and a bit silly. I absolutely refute that. If anyone could benefit from “self-care”, it’s the over-achieving, thirty-something, working mother.’

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In traditional Chinese medicine, ‘self-care’ is not seen as remotely indulgent or lazy. ‘Yang-sheng, or “self-cultivation”, is seen as an indispensable daily practice that enhances our longevity,’ says Joanna.

She describes it as ‘any daily practice that busies the hands and quiets the mind, traditionally taking the form of slow-moving practices such as Tai Chi, gardening or painting’.

However, Joanna strongly believes that Western notions of ‘self-care’, including bathing, skin practices and rituals, and even applying make-up can be considered as forms of yang-sheng. ‘And,’ she notes, ‘they’re some of the few remaining activities available to us that remove the need for a digital screen. And that’s something worth protecting.’

Giselle points out that it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed, distracted and disconnected when it feels like there’s so little time to just be with ourselves. But that’s exactly where the medicine is.

She is adamant we can all do it, and uses meditation as an example: ‘Throw out the rule book.’ You can’t get meditation wrong; you’re going to think a whole lot of thoughts as soon as you do it, and that is perfectly okay. You don’t have to meditate for twenty minutes. If your schedule only allows for two minutes, then set a timer, breathe in and repeat the word “in” in your mind, then breathe out and repeat the word “out”; keep doing this over and over until the time runs out. You can do it in your pyjamas in bed. You don’t need a twenty-five-step morning routine. If your well-being practices only last as long as the ad breaks between your favourite shows, then it’s enough.’

My message is: take some time out for yourself, even to lock yourself in the bathroom. Rather than simply adopting a ‘slap and go’ approach, look for specific formulas and rituals that can have a huge impact when it comes to balancing, calming and restoring the body, skin and mind.

Life coach and mentor Charlotte Silver recommends these tips to help keep your mind calm in those moments where you feel like you could explode.

Stay present

We all hate being told to ‘slow down’. It’s easier said than done when we have busy lives and families to care for. ‘The past is history; it’s gone. The future is unknown. Bring yourself into the present moment because that’s all we have,’ says Silver.

‘We can’t control our circumstances and we can’t control our thoughts. What we can control is our response in the present moment, to both of these things, which impacts how we act, feel and, most importantly, who we’re being.’

Be curious

We don’t all come from the same perspective; we don’t all see life through the same lens. No one is against you, although it may seem like it at times.

‘Become curious about where the other person’s viewpoint is coming from,’ says Silver. ‘Understand your own viewpoint and why you see things the way that you do. How could you see and do things differently? Navigate others with the same curiosity. It’s okay to not always agree.’

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From burnout to beauty breakthrough, these are the products that This is Mothership think really work and are worth your £££…

ReOme active Recovery broth

£75 AT SPACE NK

A unique healing serum backed by traditional Chinese medicine, this balances yin and yang to soothe tired, stressed skin, restoring it to health. Expect calm, nourished, hyper-hydrated, radiant, plump skin within weeks. Press into the skin, concentrating on pressure points.

Aveda Chakra Balancing Mist

£30 AT JOHN LEWIS

This was the scent of the office at a busy, bustling, weekly magazine with tight deadlines. At least daily, when dealing with a particularly stressful scenario, someone would shout, ‘Get out the Chakra spray!’, and we’d all spritz with wild abandon. The blend of pure essential oils is linked to the root chakra in Ayurveda, an Indian form of healing medicine that brings good energy.

Mio Liquid Yoga Bath Soak

£26 AT CULT BEAUTY

Another product I relied on heavily when working in a high-pressure environment, this was created to inspire the same sense of tranquillity found post-yoga, with scents of lavender and eucalyptus to calm and soothe. Add a capful to running water and breathe.

Beauty Pie Goodie Two Chews

£30 AT BEAUTY PIE

Vegan, chewable daily supplements blended with chamomile, L-theanine and vitamin B6. These help support the nervous system, and reduce tiredness and fatigue. Take two a day.

Cramped commute? Long meeting? Looming deadline? Try an on-the-go scent solution. The ritual of rolling this on to wrists is as good a calming factor as the soothing scent.

Spacemasks Spacemask

£16.50 AT CULT BEAUTY

A self-heating eye mask that releases tension around your eyes and temples, and really does help you relax. Bonus points; you can’t look at your phone/reply to emails/do housework while wearing it – it’s forced relaxation. Zone out.

Bed of Nails Acupressure Mat

£70 AT CULT BEAUTY

Eastern wisdom meets Scandinavian modernity in this acupressure mat, which has more than 8,800 non-toxic plastic spikes. The spikes work in a similar way to acupuncture needles, helping release endorphins (the body’s own ‘happiness’ drug) and oxytocin, to help you stay calm and relaxed. From soothing sleeplessness and easing stress to alleviating aches and pains, the spikes help the body rid itself of toxins, increase blood flow and help you get a heavenly night’s sleep.

FireflyFormula Face Yoga

£30 AT FIREFLYFORMULA

If you find that you hold a lot of tension in your jaw, grind your teeth at night or suffer from tension headaches, you might want to try gua sha. Carelle Rose (@fireflyformula) offers a monthly online face fitness tutorial, from £30 a month, but her Instagram page is packed with easy tutorials you can do at home, and her before-and-after images of facial structures are mind-blowing.

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Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir Travel Candle

£28 AT LOOK FANTASTIC

This is the ultimate candle to cosy up with. Sometimes just the act of lighting a candle and watching the flame flicker is enough to distract you from what’s whirring around your brain. To me, lighting a candle after I close my laptop at the end of the day is a signal: ‘the evening is now yours’. The ‘me time’ can begin. When we gaze at a flickering flame, the brain begins to shift out of the beta brainwave state, which is associated with thinking and alertness, and into the alpha brainwave state, which corresponds to a relaxed and creative state of mind.

Fraicheur Ice Globes

£29.95 AT AMAZON

Twitchy eyes are often a sign of being over-screened and over-stressed. The relief that comes from rolling a set of these over your eyes, cold from the fridge, is incomparable. Not only do they de-puff (soothing after a night of broken sleep or a crying session), but they also help boost circulation, giving skin a glow.

This is Beauty, This is Fashion, This is Life, by This is Mothership, £20Little, Brown Book Group

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