Psychologist Saliha Afridi. Image Credit: Dennis B. Mallari/GNM


Saliha Afridi, 34, American-Pakistani

Don't be strong, be emotional"At the end of your life, you won't want to be remembered as a strong woman who never let her emotions show, but as a happy, expressive, present, and intensely alive person. If you're not having this experience now, figure out what is blocking you."

Accept pain

"Life involves suffering. Instead of avoiding it, make meaning of your suffering as it will help you to evolve and self-actualise. Wisdom comes packaged as pain."

Have silent time

"Make time for reflection, connecting with your life's meaning and purpose. It helps you to live your life with intention rather than rushing through it in a numb, detached way. This will not happen naturally... We live in an age of information and interruption - you have to dedicate time for silent reflection."

Prepare for motherhood

"You don't just pass your DNA on to your children but also your soul-wounds. Discover your attachment style, understand how you came into being, learn what you can change and what you can't, so that you don't pass your ‘stuff' on to your children unconsciously. Doing this before you have kids is ideal."

It ain't easy

"Overcoming issues is hard work and won't always feel good. Therapy is meant to be time spent on understanding yourself, learning about your dysfunctional patterns, acquiring coping skills, and ridding yourself of toxicity."

Learn about your mental health

"We take lessons for all sorts of skills, but we do not give our emotional quotient, or our mental health the same importance. I wonder why? Understand yourself so you can find healthier ways of being. It will impact every single area of your life."

Examine your values

"Awareness is key to living a good life. Being aware means examining, questioning, learning and unlearning, over and over again throughout your life. Don't take yourself, your beliefs, or even societal traditions, on face value - they lack depth and meaning - and don't numb yourself, or distract yourself, with shopping, entertainment or socialising. There is a force within seeking to actualise and, until it is satisfied, it will gnaw away at you, not letting you be happy."

Be a wholesome being

"Seek integration between your mind, body, soul and heart. Familiarise yourself with these different realms of yourself. Don't let any one of them take command, but aim to balance them to achieve harmony. Something unlocks inside you when all of these parts are aligned within you."

Look after yourself

"The number one issue I see women suffer from is ‘caretaker burnout'. Women are raised and socialised to put their needs last, behind their family, friends, children, and colleagues. This can result in women depleting their resources and not really being any good for anyone. As caregivers, you have even more of a responsibility to care for yourselves, so you can maximise your caregiving and benefit the greatest number of people."

Face your fears

"Don't be afraid of rejection, or humiliation. Actually, be afraid, but then do it anyway. Seek out the things you fear and take them down one by one. If you conquer them, then you have overcome a fear. If you get hurt, then know that you are closer to knowing the truths about yourself and about life. Take risks, believe in your ability to be resilient, adjust and grow."


Sarah Queen, 43, British
Nutritionist and founder of Nutrition Matters Arabia

Never say ‘diet'

"A diet is perceived as a short-term goal, after which you will return to your old ways of eating. How many times have you said ‘I'll go back on that lettuce diet?' If it had worked for you then would you need to be losing weight again?" 

Get good advice

"A bit of nutritional knowledge can be dangerous - ensure your information is from a reputable source. I see people who've been given advice, or read information, which is incorrect and as a result they've exacerbated their issues." 

Just eat

"Never skip breakfast and eat regularly throughout the day. Skipping meals does not help with weightloss as it slows the metabolism down so your body holds onto fat." 

Put the guilt whip down

"Do not feel guilty about eating certain foods and avoid classing foods as ‘good' and ‘bad'. Healthy eating is about a varied diet and consuming foods in moderation." 

Give carbs a chance

"Not all carbohydrates are the enemy. Cut down on white breads, pastas and rice, and limit your sugar intake, but ensure you eat wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereals and brown rice, sweet potatoes and other sources of healthy carbs daily." 

Go nuts

"A handful of nuts and seeds is not fattening and can easily be included in your daily eating pattern. They provide fibre and are a great source of essential fats, vitamins and minerals. Research also suggests that they can help with weightloss." 

Take Omega 3

"Omega 3 is not only essential for brain function, but can also help lower your susceptibility to depression and heart disease, decrease cholesterol levels and prevent dry skin. It is found in oily fish and flax seeds." 

Get fresh

"Have at least five portions of fruits and vegetables every day - they provide fibre and essential vitamins and minerals, which help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduce heart disease and prevent certain cancers." 

Be a role model

"Your children will learn their eating habits from you, so ensure that you sit down and eat with them and snack on healthier foods in front of them." 

Enjoy it

"Enjoy your food and be happy within yourself. Too many people have negative feelings about eating and about consuming certain foods, and this can impact their personal life and their self-esteem."


Helen Williams, 62, New Zealand
Counsellor and founder of LifeWorks Counselling and Development Centre,

Be real, not romantic

"Real love starts where romantic love stops... It's a choice, not a feeling, and means extending your ego boundaries to care about someone else's growth as much as you care about your own." 

Forget the Prince

"Prince Charming exists in fairytales. If you spend your life searching for him, you will end up living within the same fantasy and wondering why you never seem to find him." 

Know yourself

"The relationship that will bring you the deepest satisfaction, that will heal your wounds and open your heart to all other relationships, is the one you need to learn to have with yourself." 

Look in the mirror

"Most of the emotional criticisms you find yourself heaping onto your partner are actually disguised declarations of your own un-met emotional needs. The sooner you and your partner both learn this, the more your personal and relationship growth can be achieved." 

Grow up

"It is your responsibility to communicate your needs to your partner. Believing that your partner should instinctively know what you need shows you are clinging on to a childhood belief that your needs will be taken care of automatically." 

Beware the three negatives

"Making assumptions, projecting disowned parts of yourself and taking things personally can cause damage. Working on these three parts of yourself can change the way you relate to others." 

Be honest about yourself

"Take an honest look at the beliefs you have created about yourself as you have grown up and take responsibility for the choices you have made based on those beliefs." 

Be an individual

"Maintain your own space, your own friendships, and your own interests while in a relationship. That way you will not get lost, give yourself up, merge, or drown in the relationship. This also prevents resentments arising." 

Heal each other

"Recognise that both parties enter a relationship carrying childhood hurts, wounds and un-met emotional needs. So, instead of focusing on surface issues and needs, know that your relationship has the hidden purpose of helping you both heal from these childhood wounds." 

Put some effort into it

"The early years in your relationship can never be repeated... recognise that the exciting, fluttering feelings are caused by hormones, our biological way of attracting a mate. When these subside, the real business of the relationship begins. Loving is not for the faint-hearted!"


Natasha Bennett, 31, British
Dermalase Clinic,

Change is good

"In the same way you change the clothes you wear, as the weather changes, you need to change what you apply to your skin. Use a serum in colder months, switch to a product that prevents pigmentation in hotter months." 

Watch your ageing zones

"Don't forget your body's skin ages too and needs attention. Hands and chests are neglected areas and can quickly give your age away." 

Start young

"If you are 24, it's not enough to just cleanse, tone and moisturise. Your essential beauty buy is a good-quality eye serum/cream, along with regular facials to keep you looking young." 

Use SPFs on your children

"If your child's skin is damaged by the sun, it will be with them for life. In adulthood, they can reduce it with de-pigmentation products or treatments, but the damage may come back." 

Prevention is better than cure

"Most people tend to abuse their skin in their youth and try to make amends when they see the wrinkles getting deeper. It is easier to delay the ageing process than reverse it." 

Be your own therapist

"Use a good-quality skincare range at home and make sure you always cleanse, tone and moisturise. Sunscreen is your best friend - especially in this part of the world!" 

Know your therapist

"It is OK to ask questions when you go for a skin treatment. Always ask about the qualifications of the doctor/practitioner, the kind of machines they use and when they were last serviced." 

Eat for your skin

"MSG, artificial colours and many preservatives can affect people with sensitive skin. Try to eat food that is organic, close to nature and avoid canned, frozen, or boxed meals." 

The liquid of life

"If there is one thing that works for everyone it is good old-fashioned water. Try using mineral water to wash your face and hair, or invest in a filter for the shower. Not only will your face look brighter, but your hair will look healthier." 

Check the dates

"Just like food and medicine, skincare and makeup products also have expiry dates. Make sure you check the labels and finish the product before it expires."


Sandi Saksena, 60, Indian
Financial counsellor at Nexus Insurance Brokers,

Set goals

"Understand your priorities - set goals for the short and long term and map out how to reach them. Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you'll land among the stars. The dream makes it possible, the commitment makes it happen." 

Plan, plan, plan

"Careful planning is needed, not to make you rich, but to make sure you don't end up poor. As we are living longer, proper planning has become crucial for future happiness." 

Take risks

"You may worry about the risks of investing, but the real risk is that you will outlive your money. There are two kinds of financial risks: the risk of losing your money if you act; and the risk of losing money if you don't act." 

Be in it to win it

"Investment success isn't really determined by investment behaviour, but by investor behaviour. It's about whether you actually get started, or not, and whether you keep going."

Ask questions

"Seek advice on matters that confuse you, whether opening a bank account, or college education funding. Chances are it won't seem that difficult once you know how." 

Start now

"Tomorrows have a way of becoming today. Over time, if you don't put money to work for you, eventually you will have to work overtime for your money." 

Save, don't spend

"Your future happiness is not based on how much you earn, but on how much you save. If your outgoings exceed your income, your upkeep will be your downfall. Put your saving plan on autopilot and eliminate your monthly dilemma about whether to save or spend." 

Take control

"There are certain four-letter words that have no business in life. Eliminate them to become financially secure. They are: can't, debt, busy and fear." 

Golden rule

"Pay yourself first." 

Wise up

"When it comes to finances, ignorance is not bliss and having only a little knowledge is a dangerous thing."


Natalie Trevis, 32, British
Stylist and founder of

Know your body shape

"Learn tips and tricks to help accentuate your assets. Whether it's a V-neck to create a frame for the face, or an A-line skirt to skim the hips, take time to find out which silhouettes suit you. Once you've got this right, you can play with colours and trends, knowing you have the basics sorted." 

Be brutal

"We wear 20 per cent of our wardrobe 80 per cent of the time. Improve those stats by ensuring everything in your wardrobe fits you and can be matched with something else. If not, be brutal and recycle. By creating a smaller capsule wardrobe, you'll make getting dressed in the morning a breeze." 

Have a tailor

"Find and make friends with a good tailor. That way you won't have to get rid of that perfect pair of trousers because they're too long. Ever wished that clothes came in a size 11, 13 or 15? You won't have to when you've got your tailor on speed dial." 

Have investment pieces

"Invest in clothes you wear the most. It's crazy to spend the most money on evening wear that you will rarely use. Instead, invest in the best-quality basics you can afford, such as tees, blazers and jeans." 

Wear your clothes

"Don't save your most prized fashion items ‘for best'. Your beautiful bags, shoes and dresses deserve to be seen and the enhanced cost-per-wear ratio will justify future spending." 

Ditch the mantras

"Don't get caught up in fashion ‘rules'. Fashion has moved on since the days of matching shoes and bags, and not wearing certain colours together. Anything goes these days and your style will look more organic if you take cues from your outfit when accessorising. Pick out one of the colours in your print top and add a few accessories in that colour." 

Shop online

"Keep an eye out for online fashion sales. If you love a certain brand, visit the store so you know their sizes and then hit up the seasonal sales online to pick up the items at a discount." 

Less is more

"When accessorising, less really is more. Unless you love an eclectic look, pick one or two stand-out items - for example, a bold necklace and one cuff - and keep earrings and rings minimal and sleek."

SOS fashion kit

"Keep an emergency fashion kit in your car, or handbag, including a needle and thread, double-sided tape, small scissors, safety pins, wipes, and gel cushions for feet - just in case of any wardrobe malfunctions." 

Be groomed

"A basic makeup and hair routine takes only a few minutes, but makes the world of difference to polishing your look. Add a slick of red or fuchsia lipstick for a modern evening look."


Elly Rivett, 29, British
Regional group fitness manager, Fitness First

You need weights

"The best way to burn fat is to combine weights and cardio exercise - neither one is enough on its own. Complete your weights workout before your cardio exercises to see more visible results in less time." 

Get real

"Be realistic in what you want to achieve and the time it will take you. Gradually increase the amount of exercise, or the intensity, over a few weeks. It takes time to get results, so be patient and stay consistent. Pushing too hard too soon could result in injury, while setting unachievable goals could leave you demotivated." 

Mix it up

"Change your workout every four to six weeks, so that your body doesn't hit a plateau and stop responding to training. Keep challenging yourself and keep your training exciting." 

Try a class

"If you struggle to get motivated, try group exercise classes. You will have an instructor to keep you going and between 10 and 40 like-minded people - fitness and friendship." 

Have fun

"Enjoy what you do - the exercise that will work best for you is the one that you enjoy doing and will stick to." 

Don't make excuses

"Everybody has time to exercise. If you can't get to the gym, exercise at home. All you need is 20 to 60 minutes, so plan your week to fit your fitness around work and home life." 

Ditch the scales

"Muscle weighs more than fat - ditch the scales and use the mirror and your clothes as the best indicator of how well your training is working for you." 

Set goals and commit to them

"Everybody knows where they want to be in terms of fitness and health, but in order to get there, you have to set time frames and keep reminding yourself of them. Once you've hit one goal, set another, so you always feel you are moving forward and that there is a point to the training." 

Just two hours

"Just two hours of activity a week is enough to achieve health benefits. Occasional exercise is better than no exercise - and once you start, you will find more time for it as you see the benefits and improvements." 

Quality over quantity

"People believe the more time they spend in the gym, the quicker they'll get results. In fact, it's more important to exercise for less time, but to an intensity that fatigues you, so you go home and rest. During recovery periods, our body repairs itself - that's how we become fitter and stronger." 


Dr Maria Ridao Alonso, 46, Spanish
Medical director at Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre (dubaihtc.com)

Evolve your habits

"Our bodies change as we age - we need to take an active part in the ageing process by adapting our lifestyle and habits to fit." 

Respect your body

"Most women don't love their bodies. When it comes to weight and diets, there is no such thing as ‘one diet fits all'. We have individual needs. What works for one of our friends might not necessarily work for us." 

Stay safe

"All women should do regular gynaecological check-ups and a full blood test (including blood sugar, cholesterol, liver and kidney function, and anaemia) once a year."

Have belief

"Many people are unaware of the body's capacity to self-heal or don't think enough scientific research has been done to prove alternative therapies, but the results are evidence-based. If alternative therapies help people feel better and get healthy, that's proof the therapies work." 

Listen to your body

"Be in tune with your body so you notice any changes or impairments early on. To do this, you have to reach a certain level of health and be at a healthy weight." 

Prioritise your health

"Woman tend to take care of their children and husbands before themselves. Make sure your own health is high on your agenda." 


"The body takes time to recover after pregnancy. Mothers should take supplements - at least while breastfeeding - and get their thyroid checked if they notice any difficulties, such as fatigue." 

Daily me-time

"The balance between work and rest is important. Every woman should have at least 30 minutes of me-time per day to regenerate, relax, exercise." 

Stop disease

"Prevention is better than cure and CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) is able to strengthen the immune system and improve general health, to prevent diseases." 

Resist antibiotics

"Overuse of antibiotics is a fact of society and has serious health risks as people develop resistance, weakening the immune system. In many cases they are not necessary and herbal alternatives can be effective instead. Before dosing up, find out if there are less damaging alternatives."


Louisa Coates, 51, British
Qualified executive coach, director of Davos Consulting Group (davosconsult.com) and an associate with Woodthorpe-Wright

Be prepared

"When going for an interview, show you really want the job by doing your research. But above all, be enthusiastic and ask for the job." 

Move around

"Make the first five years of your career really count. Move around so that you get more experience." 

Keep growing

"Optimise your qualifications - a degree is no longer enough. Keep learning, but only go to a leading college, or training provider, and get the certificates." 

Find a mentor

"Acquire two, or three, mentors in your early years. Ask people who you respect to be your personal mentor - many people will relish the chance to nurture talent if you ask them." 

Have future vision

"Think ahead all the time. Where will this job take me? Is this a good career move to gain wider or deeper experience and visibility? Where is the next rung on my career ladder?" 

Focus on your goals

"Actively look for and seize opportunities. Be flexible and prepared to put your career first for a few years at least. Your career progression is up to you; no one else cares about your career as much as you do, so take ownership." 

Dress up

"Presentation is as important as content - look and act the part. Dress as a professional, not for attention." 

Take feedback

"Keep asking for feedback from your boss and people you trust - and really listen." 

Be a boss

"As a boss, take the tough decisions early and don't try to be liked by everyone - you will come across as a wimp." 

Get political

"Being good at your job, and even being better than the men, doesn't mean that you will get noticed. You also need to learn how to play the politics."


Shana Kad, 43, British
Master NLP life coach and founder of Life Effective Coaching (

Know yourself

"Learn to love and understand yourself first, The rest will follow with ease." 

Appreciate yourself

"You are the heart of every home. Learn to appreciate yourself and live by example." 

Recognise your achievements

"Most people compare themselves to others and don't value themselves enough. They often assess themselves on the things they have not yet achieved, instead of those they have already made a success of. This negativity causes them to have limiting beliefs about their potential and it can end up ruling their existence, sabotaging their goals and aspirations." 

Accept yourself

"Learn that your perception of the world will be projected as your reality. Accept yourself for who you are and, by default, you will feel and see more acceptance from others." 

Don't settle for less

"Success does not need to come at a price. You can be happy, successful and fulfilled." 

Take time out

"When you're feeling unsure about life, give yourself a break from what you're focusing on and realign yourself to focus on what you really want." 

Leave the past

"Let go of the yesterdays and embrace all of your todays and tomorrows." 

Examine your beliefs

"Every so often, audit your belief system - the beliefs you have about yourself and the world around you - and make sure they still work for you." 

Have a morning moment

"When you wake up in the morning, take a few moments to think about the woman who lives the life you have promised yourself, and want. Ask yourself what would happen if you actually got what you wanted from life. Live your dream life in your mind and then watch it become your reality." 

Listen to your heart

"Give yourself permission to be a child again and listen to your heart's desires without guilt or condemnation. This will not only allow you to grow, but also to teach and inspire others."