‘While my kids were watching TV, I was hiding in the pantry drinking wine.’

Rule 1: Don’t drink on Monday. Rule 2: Don’t drink in secret. Rule 3: Don’t lie about my drinking.

And just like that, on autopilot without really thinking, I’d watched myself do all the things I knew I didn’t want to be doing. But I felt powerless. I couldn’t just magic another hour into the day to get through everything I had to do and I couldn’t ever seem to find the confidence to say no to all the extra demands. Alcohol, momentarily, made it all stop.

While I knew on a deeper level, that drinking wasn’t really the answer, I just didn’t know where to look to find any other solution. And the thing about alcohol is that because of the big dopamine punch it delivers, we get our feeling of reward while we are doing ‘all the things’. It’s a way of making ourselves feel just a teeny bit better when we feel like nothing more than glorified chefs, cleaners, waitresses, housemaids, Uber drivers and counsellors. Can you relate?

We have talked so much in the previous chapter about stress and the impact it has on our physical health, and why we need to prioritise activities that will soothe our dysregulated nervous systems. Yet the truth is, many of us find it incredibly challenging to actually do the things we know can help us, and instead are still relying on an evening wine for solace. Why?

The reality is that, so many women carry the lion’s share of the household work, while also working long hours, which leaves very little time for ourselves. And we feel guilty about even taking any time for ourselves, as we have been conditioned to believe that ‘self-care is selfish’. There are two main barriers I see again and again to reducing our stress and prioritising ourselves: time and guilt.