Thank you for joining me your host Liz Clifton and my wonderful take34u Self Care Series: Creating Calm Confidence Guest Laura Kingdon as we share selfcare secrets, top tips and stories of our experiences.

It's an absolute pleasure to support you with your own self-care journey as you take34u and enjoy our chat below:

Laura Kingdon & Liz Clifton Interview

Laura Kingdon
Laura is the founder of Clarity at Work. She has been a project manager, operations manager, coach, and facilitator for over twenty years, working with private, public and voluntary organisations.  Laura is an accredited Coach with the Association for Coaching (AC). She is also accredited with the ANLP (Association of Neuro Linguistic Programming) as a Master NLP Practitioner and Coach.  As a coach Laura strives to balance being supportive while also challenging the individual to create a clear vision, confront their beliefs and develop a pragmatic strategy to deliver the desired outcome.  Laura has over 20-years experience of working in change and operational management. Delivering difficult, high-profile change in a dignified and timely manner within the social care, local government and health sectors.

Connect with her here

Laura Kingdon & Liz Clifton Interview Transcription:

Liz Clifton: Hi, and welcome to the amazing Laura Transformation Coach and Founder of Clarity at Work. Thank you so much for being with us today.  

Laura Kingdon: Thank you Liz, I'm really glad to be here.  

Liz Clifton: You're so lovely. Okay. So first question. What does self-care mean for you?  

Laura Kingdon: I think, but I know they're essentially, for me it means it's an expression of how I live myself. When I think if I take the self off and I think about how I care for others, taking my children, people that I, I love, it's how I live them. It's it's not just about me saying I love you. Although that's part of it is about the things that I do. The things that I say, but also how I am around them. So equally self care. It's about, while I say to myself, how I treat myself and how I am when I am myself. So yeah.  

Liz Clifton: Oooh yeah, I love it. Just about that overall, like holistic care.  

Laura Kingdon: Yeah. Yeah. It's interesting because, my, my, when I was younger thinking about self care, I would like love long bubble baths. And that traditional sort of that's what self care is. But I think as I've got older, I've realized that actually it's a lot more than that. And, there's a lot more to me bubble baths and face masks.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah, we go deeper don't we.  

Laura Kingdon: Yeah, it's taken a bit of a while to scrape that off and start digging and actually discover that.  

Liz Clifton: So how did you start thinking about your self care journey? What was your very fast memory of self-care that you can recall?  

Laura Kingdon: I think being, a child may be like 11, 12 as you've come, what, a tween. My mum would always enjoy like a bubble bath on a Sunday night and she'd look at herself. So that was my first sort of realization that, you know, it was important to look after yourself in that, in whatever way that was at that time. So, you know, and I can remember, using creams and, and that traditional sort of idea, self care and taking time for myself. But I think maybe I hadn't realized at the time, but part of that self-care was about giving myself space to read and to spend time by myself. And acknowledge that I didn't want to be life and soul of the party, but I actually really liked being by myself. and just accepting that. So I think about it, that's probably been the earliest part of my self-care is accepting that, I am who I am.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. I think that's such a big, you know, a big lesson for all of us from when we get to that point where, you know, it's a self acceptance. And then it's a self-care because you can care for yourself because you've accepted yourself.  

Laura Kingdon: Yeah. Well, I think I was more willing to do that when I was younger. I think that changed them when I got into like university and into my twenties, because then I was comparing myself to others. And what did other people do and, and how were they showing up in the world. And why am I not doing that? Maybe I should be more like them? So I think that I may have been doing the actions of self care. So going to the gym and, looking after myself in that way. But I was, I didn't have the, the messages that I have now, may have had when I was much younger. so there was lots of mixed messages going on. I was doing one thing, but thinking and saying another, yeah, so I got lost for a little bit.  

Liz Clifton: I think that's easy. Easy to happen. Yeah. So when you then began to find yourself again, how did your self-care change?  

Laura Kingdon: so in about 2016, I wasn't very well, so essentially I had burnout. I couldn't work any longer. And it presented itself as physically. I was just so exhausted, but also I couldn't think straight, I've I had depression, lots of anxiety. And I've been aware of things like, self-hypnosis and meditation for a while. And I'd tried it on and off for a while. but it was then that I, I, I think I took a course in mindful meditation. And, and then I started to see a change in myself and that was only doing maybe 10 minutes a day and I felt a shift. So I did some more. I felt another shift and I thought, oh, this is quite interesting. and I think once I built up a little bit of emotional resilience. I started thinking about other things I could do to, to care for myself and look after myself.  

Laura Kingdon: Then I did some more courses. and you know, I started to physically look after myself a bit better. Yeah, at that time I was, I weighed nearly 20 stone. It was a, a physical representation of how I was feeling inside. And it wasn't until I, I was actually practicing self care for my mind and that how I was speaking to myself. That I was able to actually address that and makes the changes that I wanted to change. And, yeah, so I, I think 2016 was when I started. And by 2018 I felt that I had good self-care practice in place. And that was from a physical, but also from a mental health perspective and also from a spiritual perspective as well.  

Liz Clifton: Thank you for sharing with us.  Thinking about yourself care. Now, do you check in with yourself on a regular basis, like daily or otherwise like spiritually, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or does that vary?  

Laura Kingdon: I would say I more easily check in with myself on, a mental and a physical basis, probably several times a day. I'm very in tune with how I'm feeling physically, and, and addressing that. I I've got good habits in place in that I wake up in the morning. I do stretches, I do some yoga. I do some breathing, I have my mindfulness practice. I always start with a big cup of warm tea and a big glass of water because I know that makes me feel good. I take my vitamins so physically I'm doing things that make me feel good. And I, said that meditation helps you feel good mentally as well. And I have lists and things of that so that, I can help manage any scattered thinking. And avoid any feelings of overwhelm. I think something I'd like to work on more is about what a spiritual practice would look like about developing that side of me.  

Laura Kingdon: And that is something, I'm thinking about it at the moment. So, but I think I check, I do check in with myself several times during the day. I'm far more aware of how my emotions are showing up and just having that knowledge now. But actually for me, quite often, they are physical that I can feel them in my body. I know where anxiety will sit, if it comes. I know where worry is, or if I'm feeling a bit sad. And I know now know what to do in order to, to help them to move on.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah clear them out.  

Laura Kingdon: Yeah goodbye. 

 Liz Clifton: Yeah. I acknowledge you and thank you.  

Laura Kingdon: Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: Oh, I love it. So when you think about like your very favorite self-care thing that you do now, what would it be?  

Laura Kingdon: I think because being overweight and eating, figured so significantly, in my life. And some things that I did, with food, weren't helpful to me and were actually quite hurtful towards me at times. And you're using food to, self-sabotage myself or using food to comfort myself. The biggest thing that I do now is eat food that I love. But also food that I know nourishes me and makes me healthy. And I know is setting down foundation for a long and healthy life. So that has been, that is absolutely awesome, that I know that what I put into my body is, is there to help me. And it there's no, no underlying agenda below it. And that's been a huge breakthrough for me. Yeah. So, yeah, it's, it's, and it doesn't mean that I don't eat cake because I do. And I love ice cream, but, I love how my body feels now. And the, and how clear my mind is as well. And that is down to me looking after myself.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah, I love it. And I can, you know, you can see glowing, like beautifully say what you're putting in is obviously working great. And you mentioned about meditation, like mindfulness being like a really big part. How did you begin with that?  

Laura Kingdon: So I, just used one of the apps you can download. and it was Headspace and they had like a, a free 10 day introduction and I just did that. And then, so I did that and then I did that for 10 days and felt better. So I subscribed and carried on doing it. And I must've subscribed for about a year carried on doing the mindfulness. And then I, I took a course, a six week course in, in mindfulness. And then later on, I, I, I took another one with an organization called Breath Works, specifically to do with supporting people with, with chronic pain conditions. And that was really insightful to seeing how, how using our minds can actually change how we experience feelings in our body. and that was, that was really, really helpful. And that's what I use now to, to support the people that I coach.  

Liz Clifton: Ooooh amazing. And I love how it began as like small.  

Laura Kingdon: But I it's realizing that actually meditation, isn't it, it's about sitting down in a nice yogic pose and you're doing it. It is about, I can be sat here and be mindful with you right at this moment of time being absolutely present and aware of how I feel. I'm connected to my chair, how my feet are resting on my foot rest. And being aware of the atmosphere and the connection that we have with each other that is on mindful. So being mindful when I'm walking the dog in the morning, taking money for a walk on the beach and being really present and in the moment. And maybe doing some meditation by walking and having that rhythm going, and you get, you know, into that, like you would be using your breath to get into a meditative state. You can use other things as well, like taking steps. 

Laura Kingdon: Yeah. So it's, it's been really interesting to see how mindful meditation can, can take you to a much calmer, more clear place. as part of the reason why I called my business clarity, cause that's why I felt I had achieved was clarity. And whereas in the past I used to have lots of thoughts and shoulds and maybes running through my mind. My mind is really quite still now. And that doesn't mean that sometimes I'll get like worries popping in just to say, hello, I'm still here. But I've got the tools just to let them go. And I know that I can just bring myself back to the place that I am at this moment. So yeah.  

Liz Clifton: It's beautiful. And it's just the way that you're speaking the rhythm that you were speaking, then it brings you into the moment. So it gives that kind of mindfulness and that calmness and yeah, it's beautiful. Thank you.  

Laura Kingdon: Thanks Liz.  

Liz Clifton: And so, thinking about someone that's perhaps coming to self-care for the very first time, where would you suggest that they begin?  

Laura Kingdon: I would say that it's important for them to understand which bits of their life do with the most, level of self-care. So for me, I was already doing the gym and, and I knew that sleep was important. So, and I think for many of the people I work with, the place that I start is about building some emotional resilience in. So even if it is doing some breathing once a day and getting into a practice of just having five minutes where they focus entirely on themselves. So I'll get them to do, something called seven 11 breathing, which is to breathe in for a count of seven, right into the belly. So right deep down, and then breathe out for count of 11. because what we know is that, our heartbeat slows on the out-breath. So if we can lengthen our breath, then over a couple of breaths or heartbeat slows. And that is particularly helpful. If you're in a place where you're feeling a bit uptight and anxious, you can just bring your heart rate down. When we bring our heart rate down, it sends a message back up to the brain saying everything's okay. So that's, that's almost like an instant way of just chilling out and calming down. So that is probably where I start with all my clients just to get them to do some breathing. And in that moment, just being aware of themselves, being in their bodies and being themselves.  

Liz Clifton: Ooooh that's lovely. And I love breath work for that. Just bringing you into you.  

Laura Kingdon: Yeah. Yeah. It doesn't mean that anything else stops just means that for a few fleeting moments, you can let everything else go. And I think that's really, that's really powerful because then once you've got that practice down. That is the foundation of meditation practice that you can take wherever you want. And that's the lovely thing about meditation is something that you take with you, so you can do it. You can do it on the train, you can do it while walking, you can do a waiting at the bus stop or at work. Nobody needs to know that you're doing it. You don't have to have your eyes yet. you know, it is about something that you just get into the habit of, and it just becomes part of you. So yeah, I love meditation. And I think when you really get into it and pay it some attention and, and have it as a practice. That's when you can start to integrate it into your, your self care and your self-love. And it just takes you to new places that maybe you didn't realize existed. And you in your, in your mind and maybe elsewhere.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah, it's beautiful. And I think, you know, like you said, you can, you can take it anywhere and it really does just become part of who you are, you just end up being. And I think, you know, with transformation, self development, any kind of healing and awareness. It's just coming back to you and just remembering like you matter. And the everything in that moment is okay, you know, you're still there.  

Laura Kingdon: I think that has been hugely important to me. As well as knowing that even though I am doing this, because for me, I am the most important person in the world. It's taken a huge amount to be able to see that. But because I believe that I am, the best mum I can be. I'm the best wife and best partner and my best friend and best sister. And it just gives, it just facilitates me in being the best Laura that I can be. Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: And you are an amazing Laura, I'm so grateful for you. And so you thinking about you being the best Laura, that you can be, How do you celebrate yourself? What do you for joy for you?  

Laura Kingdon: Yeah, it's interesting that there's, cause I don't, I don't know if I need to celebrate myself anymore because I am just content. I think, I think sometimes I'll do something a little bit extra just to try something new. So I just started, stand up paddle boarding and I stood up for like 10 minutes on the board, no shaky legs or anything. And so how else have I done this year I've been surfing. And so I live by the coast. It's quite easy, but I think for me every day is a celebration, which sounds really cheesy, but it is. I, you know, I get up, I take Molly for a walk. I care for myself. I care for my family. I I'm really grateful for the life that I have. I'm really grateful. I love the people that I support and I coach, and others that I learn with and that I'm associated with. And I know that I see as friends and my wider family, I think just being alive as a celebration and that feels really good. And sometimes I get into bed at night. I'm like, oh, I need this. So maybe that's my celebration going to bed satisfied.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. I think that's lovely. And like you said, getting to that point where every day is a celebration, that's like a huge celebration in itself. And to then look back at the day and go, and the contentment that you said. Yeah. I think that is a celebration.  

Laura Kingdon: Yeah. I, I will like, we are going on holiday this year. And I'm, I'm already excited about Christmas. Oh, what am I gonna do Shit, what are we going to go So I guess that is a celebration, but that's a celebration of life about being with the people that I love. About another year of being happy and content and, being awesome. So I think there is, there are times that we traditionally celebrate like new year's like mark in the end when you end the opportunities in the next. So, so yeah, maybe I do have separations of those times because they fit in with traditional celebrations, but I think I'm quite, practical in terms of setting goals for myself. So I use 90 day planning. I love a goal at the end of that goal. I, I won't have a reward it's achieving the goal. That is the reward in itself. And I will have an acknowledgement that yeah, I did that. And that's a celebration, I guess, so. But yeah, it's, I think maybe in the past I will, I would have had moments where if I did achieve the goal, I would have gone bought myself a new bag or new pair of shoes or, or going out for a meal or something like that, but I don't need it anymore. So yeah. Like, no, like you said, life is a celebration in itself. Yeah.  

Liz Clifton: Yeah. And I love how you said about like the end of the year and, the beginning of the new being a traditional celebration. It sounds to me as you condense that into each day, so that each day you're kind of doing those mini celebrations. And then setting your goal, your intentions for the next day so, yeah, I like it. It's beautiful. Yeah.  

Laura Kingdon: And sometimes it's listen, listening to what you need to, sometimes I'll sit and I'll do some journaling. Or I'll ring up a friend or usually my mum. And, and have a chat and, and decompress in that way as well. And maybe that is part of a celebration, but also bit of acknowledgements and learning as well. It's, it's, a celebration of what I've learned today. Or the people I've connected to. So I'll celebrate you later as well. I'll celebrate you too. So yeah, but I do nice things for myself all the time because I just do. Because they deserve it.  

Liz Clifton: You do!  Whoo. And like I said, it's obviously working what you're given because there's such a happiness, like a calm serenity with you. but then celebrate you. Woop, woop, woop, woop, woop. Oh, I thank you so, so much for your time. You have been absolutely amazing.  

Laura Kingdon: My pleasure. It's been lovely to speak to you Liz.  

Liz Clifton: Thank you.