Following Therapy Directory’s campaign ‘Self-care Fortnight’, wellbeing warrior and founder of the self-care affirmation ‘I Can Cards’, Amy Holland, reveals how the power of positivity and the practice of self-care helped her conquer postnatal depression.

When and how did the I Can Cards venture begin?

I had postnatal depression and my relationship had broken down. I didn’t feel like anyone understood me. I had started mindfulness and was training to be a facilitator, when I started to have an idea around affirmation cards for wellbeing, and a positive reminder every day.

The single parent pack of I Can Cards was the first pack and it was brainstormed with a group of lovely single parents, who got the concept and idea straight away. I wanted the cards to feel like they ‘got you’ and what you were going through, as well as giving you a mini boost each day.

I saw many irritating affirmations like ‘choose happiness’ or ‘good vibes only’ and clearly the people that created those had never experienced depression and anxiety. The cards have this little magic attached to them, where the card you really need is revealed, I thought it was just me but lots of people have contacted me to say the same!

Amy Holland

Why is self-care important to you?

For me it saved my life, which sounds dramatic and like you’ve paid me to say that, but it was. I was in a deep dark hole, but then started taking time out for myself, doing things that made me happy and now it’s a daily ritual that is ingrained in my life, it’s also part of my job.

You’ll often hear me reading my daily affirmation card with my children or saying to them, ‘I’m just having a hot cup of tea and five minutes,’ which is a sign to them that I need to recoup - before being referee to them, fighting over who’s having the blue cup, and reminding them I am just one person, not a robot. I get tired, angry and sad too. They respect this, they give me the time I need, then I’m refreshed and ready to be a human horse or take in the one million questions that they have.

I work yoga into my working week now. I recognise and embrace the impact that self-care has on my mental health. For me, it’s allowing myself to feel loved and cared for, especially as a single parent - I was missing that. It sounds totally cliche but first and foremost, you have to love yourself and make a commitment to yourself.

Why do you believe self-care is important for everyone?

I think self-care is a bit of a ‘buzz word’ and a fashionable thing to say at the minute.

It’s about taking control. It’s about showing yourself and others that you are important, worthy, and loved.

It’s also bloody essential! It reboots the brain and lets us settle our thoughts and feelings.

I also am Co-Founder of Warrior Women Events (@warriorwomenevents) and we hold regular Self Love events in Cardiff, Wales where you get to practice and immerse yourself in self-care for the evening - it’s lovely to be able to share this with other women.

Why is it important to have an affirmation of self-care?

A daily reminder and commitment to self-care is important. Which is why I developed the pack of self-care I Can Cards so that we could all do this as a daily ritual.

I put mine by my kettle, so that I automatically do it every morning. Even the action of taking time to fully absorb the I Can Card and letting the power of positivity rule your day will have an impact.

What would you say to someone who struggles to practise self-care?

I would say that you are important too, and if you started practising self-care then, not only you, but everyone around you will feel the ripple effect.

The most important thing I absorbed was when someone said to me about being in a plane crash, the feelings and sensations are often the same as becoming a single parent! The safety instructions are always the same; attend your own oxygen mask before putting on those around you as if you aren’t in a healthy resilient position. Who will look after your children? Make sure you’re fit for work? Maintain relationships and be able to slide down that large inflatable safety slide with a few humans under your arms?

I Can Cards

I also run a Social Enterprise (by the way I know I am mad and do too much) called Single Parents Wellbeing. We get our single parents to take this plane crash situation on board and many struggle with this, there is always a debate that takes place, but in the end, they all have a light bulb moment and something clicks.

Remember self-care is not selfish, when you realise this you make time and build it into your life, like having lunch or a morning cuppa.

Amy's top three self-care tips:
  1. Build it into your week somehow, as it’ll just become a part of your life. Make a commitment and dedication to self-care, see it as an essential part of your life. Sometimes, I think I haven’t done any self-care, but then I recap on the day, and I took time to have a nutritious lunch, I text a friend as I needed some advice and I put my best pants on. It doesn’t have to be that you climbed to the top of Mount Everest or had a bubble bath at the peak.

  2. Self-care changes based on you, it’s very individual. One walk a week, daily affirmations, a hot cuppa, writing a list and yoga might be enough. But then something might happen, you need to bring out the ‘turbo boost’, that might mean arranging a night away to get rest, long-term counselling or time off work etc.

  3. Be kind to yourself, it’s my mantra and something I say to those around me and to myself every day. If you didn’t do self-care today, how you’d planned, then be kind to yourself, look at what you have achieved. Tomorrow is another day with new possibilities.

Has Amy’s story inspired you to practise self-care? You can buy your own set of I Can Cards on her online shop, plus more self-care goodies to help kickstart your own routine of self-care.