Self-care Tips: Part 2

We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It is our privilege and our adventure to discover our own special light. – Mary Dunbar

If you follow my Facebook page, you probably have noticed occasional self-care tips. These are the tips that I have most recently shared all in one place! Let me know what works for you in your own life in the comments below.

1. Get outdoors! Being in nature can be a very healing experience. Even better if you get moving…walking, hiking, biking, swimming, doing yoga, climbing…so many options. We are part of the natural world, let’s not forget that!

Yosemite National Park

2. Cut back on using electronics, especially before bed. This is something that is a real struggle for me! We all have demands (and more likely desires) pulling us to pick up our smart phones or be online until the minute the head hits the pillow.

Ideally, we would easily put away electronics after 8 pm and take a day (or at least an afternoon/evening) away from the internet/tv/laptop/phone each week. Maybe this isn’t possible at first and that’s ok. However, how could we be more mindful of how much we use electronics? Is it possible to keep them out of the bedroom?

Maybe just bringing some awareness around the issue is enough to initiate small changes: no electronics at meal times, turning off the wifi at night, reading at night instead of tv, leaving your phone at home from time to time, etc. We have lots of options. Find something that feels right for you.

3. Epsom Salts. These are easy to find and great for adding to a hot bath (1-2 cups) or even just to soak your feet. Epsom salts are a good source of magnesium, which can be absorbed through the skin and help promote relaxation, decrease muscle pain or tension and promote a healthy nervous system.

Unfortunately, even if we are eating a clean, locally sourced diet rich in a variety of vegetables, we are often still missing some magnesium due to the condition of the soil that food is grown in. Epsom salts are just one way to bring some of this vital mineral back to optimal levels in the body.

Kirtan

4. Sing + Dance. The spontaneous movement of dancing helps us come into the physical body and the present moment. Singing helps us become more expressive in our communication and has been shown in research to lower cortisol levels (decrease stress).

5. Meditation. Although for some meditation may imply sitting comfortably in silence for a certain amount of time, meditation comes in many forms. While seated meditation can be helpful, so can 5 deep breaths, walking in silence, repeating a mantra, coloring or any activity that brings the mind to one-pointed awareness (known as dharana in yoga). One teaching around meditation that always sticks with me comes from my yoga teacher in India: “We cannot DO meditation. We can simply prepare the body and mind for meditation to happen to us.”

With that in mind, meditation becomes more easeful and less about doing it right or wrong. So start small, try 5 minutes sitting with your awareness on your breath, then increase it slowly from there.

Meditation

6. Find a moment to pause. When you are feeling yourself getting stressed over something pause long enough to ask yourself what you need right now. This not only helps to break out of a cycle of reacting to perceived stress, but also gives you a chance to address any immediate needs that you have. Are you hungry, thirsty, tired? Need a 5 minute break? Don’t forget to meet your basic needs in times of stress! Lighten the load for yourself!

7. Get restful sleep. According to Chinese Medicine, it’s important to get to sleep before 11pm. This is the time when blood begins to return to the Liver for detoxification and rejuvenation, which is vital for good health. So be sure you are getting rest between the hours of 11pm and 3am, as this is the most important time to sleep! For more tips on sleep, click here.

8. Oil pulling. This simple practice is great for your teeth and gums. It also benefits the voice, strengthens the jaw and promotes general well being.

All you need is a few teaspoons of coconut or sesame oil. You “pull” (or swish) the oil through your teeth for up to 20 minutes {work your way up to 20, start small} and then spit it out, rinse and brush teeth as normal. You don’t want to swallow the oil because it’s being used to pull bacteria and toxins out of your gums and mouth. This Ayurvedic practice has been used for thousands of years.

9. Abdominal Massage. I recently had my first Arvigo abdominal massage. A big part of the Arvigo technique is self-massage daily, which the massage therapist explained during my first session.
Even if you don’t know this technique, you can still benefit by gently massaging the abdomen in a clockwise direction. Ideally, you would want to do this either first thing in the morning or before going to bed. Use a small amount of coconut oil to make it more comfortable. It’s a great practice for digestive and pelvic health.

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