Dubai-based yoga teacher Melanie Swan, lead teacher at Fairmont The Palm, shares her top mindfulness tips on finding balance in a busy, demanding world

Learn to say no: Women often find it hard to say no, to friends, colleagues, family, but this is a life skill which is vital to protecting your physical and emotional energy.

Understand that you are not ‘selfish’ by doing something for yourself: There is good reason that on a plane you’re told to take care of your own gas mask first. Once you’re safe, you are able to fully take care of those around you. Allocate specified times in the week when you ‘gift yourself’ time. Maybe it’s a once a week yoga class, maybe it’s a once a month massage, but remember that when your glass is empty, you have far less to give and share with those who need you.

Pause: The stress of working, being a mother and managing a home, can be huge. Sometimes just finding a quiet space for five minutes or so, closing your eyes and breathing, can be enough to help reset things. Set a timer on your phone to just sit and focus on your breath.

Eat yourself calm: There is so much scientific evidence out there to show us that we really are what we eat, and not just physically either. Our emotional and mental health i.e. the brain, is also fed by the nutrients we absorb from our food, so prioritise nutrition for you and your whole family.

Exercise yourself happy: It doesn’t take much to find a plethora of research to show us that exercise triggers our happy hormones. So even if you put the kids on their bikes or the baby in the pram, get out for a walk, take a swim, find a dance class you love – just try to find a way to move.

Get into nature: Psychologists have found that nature is a healer. Bare foot walks on the beach, a dip in the ocean, a walk round the lakes at Al Qudra, these things are beneficial to our soul. Try it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help: For many women, they feel proud or shy to ask for help. It’s not a failure to ask for support and if anything, is more essential than ever living far from home and your familial support network as an expat. We have an amazing community around us so utilise it as people here are all in the same position. On a more serious note, sometimes we also need professional support, and we are very lucky to have some wonderful life coaches and mental health professionals in our midst. I would highly recommend the teams at Lighthouse Arabia and Human Relations Institute and Clinics.


Melanie is a yoga student of 11 years and teacher of 5.5. She has a daily meditation practice and studies the philosophy of yoga in addition to practicing the physical. Come and learn more with her in her classes at Fairmont the Palm on Sunday and Tuesday evenings at 7pm and at Zen Yoga Dubai Media City at 9.30am Fridays.