With so much emphasis on staying in shape, it’s easy to forget that wellness begins at home. One of the surest ways to nurture our health is to practice self-care, not just when we’re on high alert when something’s wrong; for instance, when we feel the onset of a cold and hunt for immune boosting remedies, or during the holidays when we realize we’ve gained a few extra pounds and decide it’s time to quit sugar and gluten. Wherever we are, we can start now, by committing to self-care as a daily practice.
At first it may feel strange to prioritize self-care. It goes against much of what’s been ingrained in us since childhood; we’re taught its noble to focus on helping others yet greedy to crave good things for ourselves. We’re warned about the dangers of being selfish. Ironically, if we don’t care for ourselves, we suffer from neglect and become incapable of serving others, so nobody wins.
Author Elizabeth Gilbert, in her memoir, “Eat Pray, Love,” said, “I think I deserve something beautiful.” Coming from a place of wisdom, Gilbert knows that her needs, and desires are meaningful, and worthy of deep exploration. In a society that is constantly bombarded by information overload and high stress situations, self-care ought to be as commonplace as showering and brushing our teeth.
However, when it comes to self-care the first excuse is the notion that there is “not enough time.” If you can watch a video, or text a friend, there’s enough time to take care of you. Make yourself a priority. Start now. Celebrate your own self-worth, by incorporating these practices into your daily wellness routine.
After you wake up, before washing your face, apply a bit of apricot oil to your palms and give yourself a mini facial massage: start at your temples. Gently stroke the eyelids and the space below your cheekbones, along with your jaw and the space around your lips. This natural remedy removes tension and helps tone facial muscles.
When you get dressed each morning, select new music to explore. Or choose an uplifting podcast, such as The Happier Podcast by Gretchen Rubin, to refresh, awaken and stimulate your mind.
Violet, sage, cobalt… which colors are you attracted to? How does crimson make you feel? Seek out those articles of clothing or accessories, and wear one each day, or carry around an object in that shade. Allow the color to envelope you and alter your mood.
Don’t deprive yourself. Eat mindfully and with pleasure. Include plant-based fruits and vegetables in your diet, along with heart healthy fats and limit saturated fat intake. And… always remember to enjoy the foods you love. If your favs are on the sweet, gooey, less healthy side, indulge in small portions. Then eat slowly, experiencing each mouthful.
Socialize. Spend time with friends whose positive energy lifts you up. Be truly aware in their presence. Look them in the eyes. Listen. Experience these moments, from a heart-centered place.
Take time. Allow for quiet reflection throughout the day. Shut your phone off for extended periods. Use technology, instead of falling victim to it.
Stop. When the day seems to be zooming by, pause. Focus on one of your senses for a few breaths, then let yourself return back to the present.
Don’t underestimate the healing power of sleep. In slumber we give our organs a chance to recharge. When you’re feeling tired, listen to your body and allow yourself to nap, even if only for a few minutes. At bedtime, don’t pressure your body into sleep. Give yourself extra time to drift away each night. Instead of staying up late binge-watching Netflix, schedule your evening, and allow for at least eight hours of quality sleep.
As self-care becomes a daily practice, weave it into the tapestry of your life. Embrace an attitude of kindness towards yourself along the path. And if self-doubt begins to creep in… remember, like Elizabeth Gilbert, you too, deserve something beautiful. ■