How do you practice self care?
Self Care has become such a cultural theme that I see everywhere these days. It is being used to sell everything from retreats, spa treatments, vacations, and consumer products but I’m not thinking about pleasures as in treating yourself to a new haircut, or a mani-pedi with a glass of champagne (although, that’s a super fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon)… The kind of self care I’m referring to isn’t a four hundred dollar hand bag or the two hundred dollar pair of shoes. It’s not having a prestigious job or a house in the West Hills… The type of self care I’m referring to is knowing yourself. Knowing yourself enough to know how you want your life to feel and are taking actions to create the kind of life you want. Far to often people spend their entire life on auto-pilot and never develop a relationship with themselves. The type of self care I’m referring to here is taking radically good care of yourself…
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action thats important.” ~ Mahatma
In school we’re learning about Vitalist practices which are practices of self care. The principles of Vitalism views that the body has an innate intelligent life-force based on the healing power of nature and has the ability to heal itself and mend our pain(s), physically and emotionally. The vital force exists in all living things. Similar to chi in Chinese Medicine or prana in Ayurveda, the vital force serves as a protection against disease and is a channel connecting us to our higher self. Vitalism recognizes the relationship between the healthy spirit and the healthy body. A self care practice is the same, it is knowing when you are depleted and knowing what to do to heal. Self care is knowing when to say no when something doesn’t feel right for you. It is knowing that you’re relationships are no longer supporting you. Its knowing that the job and your lifestyle no longer serves your beliefs.
Vitalist practices are actions that you can incorporate into your daily life that will help to improve your overall vitality, energy level and health. When we have more of these qualities, eyes shine brighter, hearts crack open, we have more creativity, more drive, more energy, and even more control over our emotions… There are many benefits to incorporating rhythms and ritual into our daily life, and these practices listed below are great options:
1. Water and Hydrotherapy
- Drink 12-16 oz of filtered water upon waking in the morning, before eating or drinking anything else. Adding lemon juice or a splash of apple cider vinegar will boost energy, stimulate digestion, enhance immunity, adjust blood sugar and start metabolism which is important for weight management.
- In the morning, while washing your face, splash cold water over your face. This closes up the pores, stimulates and brightens the skin, and helps alleviate puffiness.
- Before going to bed, fill the tub with hot water and take an herbal bath. Bundle fresh herbs together with a rubber band or use dried herbs in a muslin sack. The herbs I recommend for this is Lemon balm, Linden, Valerian, Lavender, Rose for soothing relaxation. You can order dried herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs.
- When taking a shower, alternate 3 minutes of hot water to 30 second of cold water turning completely around under the cold water. Doing this two or three times to increase circulation and stimulate your immune system.
2. Sleep and Rest
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than your regular time. Lights off with no extra brain stimuli
- Take a short nap during the day when you can
- Take 10-15 minutes once or twice during the day to lie down in savasana (lie on your back and simply relax your mind and muscles entirely)
- Simply increase the amount of sleep you are getting overall.
- Upon waking, give thanks for another day. Set an intention for the day, add any other prayers you may have for that day.
- Upon awakening or retiring, make a list either mentally or in a journal of 5 things you were grateful for that day.
- Make a prayer before and after eating for the nourishment to your body that you’re receiving.
- Ask for forgiveness for any hurt you may have caused anyone and send forgiveness out to those who have hurt you..
- Sit quietly, relaxed, and contemplate on the life flowing through you, your heartbeat, your breathing, your warmth. Then feel the reality that you are surrounded by a Great Life Force that also runs through all things.. Affirm: “The Sprit that Moves in All things Lives in me.”
- Sit quietly, breath in, saying “I breathe in Life” and exhaling, saying “I relax into Life.”
- Pick a mantra (an affirmative and positive saying) of your choice and sit in meditation, repeating this mantra to yourself for at least 5 minutes.
- Do any other meditation of your choosing or sign up for these helpful apps; Headspace, Calm Mind App.
- Meditate while sitting out in nature contemplating on the sounds you hear around you
- Journal your experience after you meditate. Over time, recurring thought patterns will be revealed for further reflection.
5. Pausing/Relaxing and Breathing
- When you get home from your day, or transition from one task of the day to another, take a few minutes to pause and settle yourself before starting the next thing. You may take this time to drink some warm tea, do a few light stretches, walk around the office, simply take 5 deep breaths, or take time to do a meditation or say a silent prayer.
- As part of you morning routine, practice a deep breathing exercise of your choice for 3-5 minutes. Do this at any other point during the day, like when you come home from work. This can even be done while you’re showering or driving to and from work
- At any point during the day, come back to the breath. Taking several more deep breaths.
- Set your alarm clock on your phone at random times during the day to remind you to breathe deeply. We often have shallow breathing which adds to stress and anxiety.
6. Physical Activity
- Before eating in the morning do some light stretching, a few yoga positions, or other light movement of your choice.
- Walk for 30 minutes a day, breathing in fresh air paying attention to your surroundings
- Park further away from your destination to increase walking or take the stairs instead
- If you tend to do vigorous workouts late in the evening, adjust the schedule so as to complete the workout once the sun begins to set. This helps with circadian rhythms which will help you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep
- Get up early to watch the sun rise and listen to the morning doves sing their song
- Spend some time in nature every day
- Spend a few minutes with your bare feet on the earth. This is grounding and reminds us we are connected.
- Five days a week, sit outside for 10-20 minutes in contemplation or meditation
- When moving in and out throughout the day, make a conscious effort to notice the eagle flying overhead, the buds blooming on the trees and the shape of the clouds…
- Eat alive vibrant fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably with every meal.
- Eliminate processed foods , refined sugar and hydrogenated
- Cook from scratch as much as possible
- Be conscious about emotional eating and eating while you’re bored. This will help to build a better connection with your body, and how you fuel it
- Drink before meals. Not during meals, or take small sips of warm water during. This helps with not diluting your gastric juices which aid in digestion
- Drinking before meals. Not immediately after a meal, helps to eliminate filling the stomach further, diluting stomach fluids, and causing reflux
- Take a small dose of digestive bitters 20 minutes before meals or a digestive enzyme daily
- Eat at least one meal per day in quiet, sitting down and with a restful state of mind.
- Chewing your food well reflecting on what you are eating as fuel and how it is nourishing you. Doing this helps to make you more conscious about what you eat and aids digestion
10. Journaling, affirmations, and other practices
- Add a creative activity to your schedule at least once a week, or if you already have a creative outlet, increase the amount you do it. For example, painting, drawing, writing poetry, playing an instrument, singing, dancing
- Take a flower essence. Each flower essence has an ability to activate and access a deep part of ourselves to shift prospective
- Have a life purpose and a meaningful life
- Journal each day, even if it is just to log how you felt that day, and anything else you want to journal about. You can be the only person to see this journal.
- Pick a positive affirmation to repeat to yourself throughout the day, in the morning during your meditation, at every red light, or when you begin to feel stressed, for example. The affirmation must be something that you truly feel and are able to accept.
All of these practices only take a few minutes and can easily be incorporated into your regular daily routine… Working with these principles will bring you closer to knowing what feels good in your body allowing you to know how you want to feel. Often times we don’t even know what it feels like to feel good, accepting the way we do feel as “normal”… Practicing these principles can end up becoming daily rituals that you can’t go without and over time, will end up doing automatically. Pick a few you resonate with (don’t feel like you have to do them all) and practice for 10 days. Do the work and let me know what changes for you.
Keeping in mind that a self care practice is also about being discerning. Seeing all the articles and media hype out there about everything you should and shouldn’t be doing to be a successful happy human and realize that taking care of ourselves is a very personal act; it is subtly different for everyone and there is no right or wrong way. I’ll just say this, for me, it doesn’t mean going all out trying to emulate some sort of celestial being or reaching enlightenment, it means practicing a little neutrality, kindness and love towards a self I’m not entirely satisfied with… its understanding that my practice is not about waiting around for the real, raw, alive part of someone else to show up for me… we have to show up for ourselves.. that’s real self care…
~ Take Care ~