With all the chaos, uncertainty, and stress of this year, we need to prioritize self-care more than ever. Let?s put it at the top of our list this holiday season.
We all know that if we don?t first take care of ourselves, it?s harder for us to take care of others. We simply can?t pour from an empty cup. And we can all agree that there is no better gift, holiday or otherwise, than helping others. So how can we make sure that we stay healthy, present, and supportive for those we love the most in the uncertain days ahead?
It all starts with carving out a little time to take care of ourselves. It goes beyond taking a bubble bath or escaping to the gym for a quick cardio. It?s about pursuing vitality in mind, body, and spirit.
Let?s take advantage of this upcoming Thanksgiving break to focus on our own wellbeing, so we can be restored and ready to pour into those we love all season long.
This year, the holidays are bound to feel very surreal and stressful, more so than any other year before. The pandemic will prevent many of us from enjoying large family meals and gatherings, and instead leave some of us feeling alone, isolated, and disconnected.
It definitely won?t be easy, but we can choose to make the best of a challenging situation, focusing on the good and counting our blessings. We can also use the extra space to care for our physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
Here are a few self-care practices you can do before and during the holidays to keep yourself healthy inside and out.
Be still: Find between a few minutes to close your eyes and sit perfectly still. Pay attention to your breathing and notice any place in your body that feels tense. Sit, breathe, and be still. You?ll be surprised how rejuvenated you will feel after this simple practice. You can start with one minute, and work your way up to 10 or 15.
Smell essential oils: Engaging our sense of smell is really important when we want to activate our body?s relaxation response. The aroma molecules that float past our olfactory receptor cells in the back of our noses trigger a whole cascade of neurological and hormonal responses that impact our whole body, unconsciously and consciously. Sitting quietly and smelling different essential oils can not only improve our sense of smell, but also help regulate and balance both the emotional and physiological responses to external stressors. If you are new to essential oils, I recommend starting with Lavender, Sweet Orange and Atlas Cedarwood. Just sniff them straight from the bottle! Click here to get these oils, and use discount code SAS5 for 5% off!
Sleep more: Studies show that most Americans simply don?t get enough sleep, which leads to everything from mood swings and cognitive difficulties, to poor academic and professional performance. Sleep deprivation also further exacerbates stress and anxiety. It?s best to shoot for 8-9 hours of shut-eye per night, but start with shooting for one extra hour if you can!
Moisturize: Our skin needs attention and care. It?s our first line of immune defense, and is often the first place where we show signs of stress, in the form of breakouts, dry skin, rashes, itchiness. Nourishing and feeding our skin has a direct impact on our overall health and wellbeing. Reach for plant-based products that include butters and oils like shea, cocoa, jojoba, sunflower, coconut, to name just a few. Credo Beauty sells some lovely plant-based body butters that are sure to leave your skin feeling nourished and loved. Check them out here.
Drink Tea: Teas can be powerfully nourishing. They are also calming for our bellies, which is often one of the first places we feel our stress. Teas like ginger and peppermint can support healthy digestion and soothe our nervous systems. Brewing and steeping tea also requires time, prompting us to slow down, sit, sip, and be mindful. It offers our minds and bodies time to relax and be still.
Stretch: Stretching doesn?t need to be a full yoga practice, but think of small ways you can help improve your circulation and ease body stiffness. For example, try flopping over in your chair to stretch your lower back, or raising your arms high above your head and reaching toward the sky. Shoulder, arm, and ankle circles can help ease movement and disperse stagnancy and soreness.
Move: Exercising even a few minutes a day can help you produce endorphins that fight and eliminate stress. Whether it?s hiking, fitness classes, pilates, or weight lifting, find an activity you love and make it a daily priority. Walking is really one of the best things we can do. At whatever pace works, just moving our bodies can offer great relief from emotional and physical tension. In addition to your mind, your heart, lungs, and muscles will thank you!
Opt outside: It might sound overly simplistic, but research proves that connecting with creation reduces stress and helps regulate emotions. Take a brisk stroll, or just spend a few minutes outside noticing and feeling grateful for the beauty of nature. It will do wonders for your soul.
Read: Pick up a good book and get lost in it! Stories aren?t just a means of escaping the real world, they help us identify with and connect to something bigger than ourselves. A great novel can build empathy and combat isolation.
Write: If you don?t have an outlet to express what you are feeling and thinking, write it down. I prefer putting a physical pen to paper in a journal, but typing it out also works! Since it?s for your eyes only, resist your inner perfectionist and just brain dump.You?ll be surprised how cathartic it feels to release your thoughts and feelings in this way.
Do a media fast: The media we consume has a major impact on our wellbeing. Studies link social media use with anxiety, so it?s no surprise that resisting our constant tendency to tweet, share, like, or post has a direct impact on better mood, less worry, and higher self-esteem in all ages. Pick at least one day per week to fast from social media and the constant news cycle, and then monitor how it impacts your sense of well-being.
These are just a few of the practices I?ve learned to incorporate throughout my day to help me check-in with myself and become more mindful of what may be threatening to throw me off balance. They are simple rituals, but they can have a lasting positive impact.
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I wish you all a peaceful and restorative holiday!