Whatever side of the aisle you fall on, this was a hard week for a lot people. We're all searching now for a little peace in this increasingly chaotic world (or maybe you're still protesting and that's okay, too). We're wondering what we can do to get through this, to heal, to understand, and to move forward in a place of strength and solidarity. I want to make this space comfortable for any person from any party to be able to bring who they are in an open dialogue, so I will only touch on politics to say I'm still in denial. I still feel as though I am in a dream, still sitting and watching it all unfold at an election party. But I'm not there and we must move forward. How? Day by day and step by step.
One step I would like to offer up is self-care. You may be hearing that word a lot right now, mostly coming out of the wellness industry. I think Renee Byrd from Will Frolic for Food said it best, "Self-care, for me, is about developing comprehensive, preventative, daily practices that lead to improved long-term emotional and physical wellbeing." It's the little things or habits that we incorporate into our daily lives to bring a sense of calm or do something meaningful for our future health. When I add fermented ginger carrots to my food, my digestion doesn't miraculously feel amazing, but I know that it is improving the way I will feel further down the line.
It may be reading your Bible before going to work. Repeating affirmations to yourself before you step out of bed. Making a cup of coffee in your special mug and enjoying it before frantically trying to get dressed. Spritzing lavender pillow spray before going to bed. Spending a few minutes petting your cat or dog. Maybe it's adding a few drops of a flower essence, tonic, or tincture to your morning cup of water. Holding a crystal in your hands or putting your feet in grass to remember your connection to the earth. Whatever it is, repeat and repeat again. The amazing thing about our minds is that they are malleable. New neural pathways can be created and we can interrupt our way of thinking and put in a new thought to create positive change.
Here's a few things I do to create a practice of self-care:
Ashwaganda, turmeric, and lemon tonic in hot water made in my special bowl and mixed with a chasen (bamboo whisk). This adaptogenic (stress-balancing) and inflammation-calming tonic is good for my body, but also is a small dose of meditation. Japanese tradition says creating a bowl of matcha refocuses your concentration from your thoughts to the movements with the whisk.
Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic form of full-body self massage that not only stimulates the lymphatic system, but connects you to your body. I use cold-pressed sesame oil or calendula-infused apricot kernel oil, but you can use any oil you like. I also occasionally use Naturopathica's lavender body oil as it is extra stress relieving. The practice is usually done before a bath, but can be done before or after a shower. *Beware of slippery tubs if massaging before the shower. (See more here.)
I touched on this earlier, but fermented foods are finding a big place in my self-care practice. I am in love with Hawthorne Valley's fermented ginger carrots to throw on EVERYTHING or Miso Master's chickpea miso to add into soup. Building up my gut health is so important for my overall health. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said "All disease begins in the gut," so I'm taking good care to build up happy, healthy bacteria for my mind and body. Kombucha, kefir, yogurt, or sauerkraut are also great additions to any daily food routine (although I would limit kefir and yogurt to 2-3 times a week because of the dairy).
Pet my cat named Patches. This is going to make me sound like a crazy cat lady and that's okay. I'm usually alone in my apartment and having another creature here is so comforting. We've been together since I was in 7th grade and my sister will tell you we have a weird connection (at least I think she will). She knows when I'm hurting and knows when I really need a snuggle. Petting or combing her, especially her favorite spot, the head, is a way that I honor her place in my life.
These are just a few ways I'm starting to practice self-care. However this practice manifests for you is perfect. It's all about what works best for you, what fits into your schedule and creates calm, and what brings you the most joy. I've been trying to strive for perfection in this and do these things everyday, but some days I forget and that's okay. You'll know to do it when you need it.
I'd love to start a conversation with you and help you find a self-care practice to incorporate into your daily life. Or maybe you're an expert at self-care and want to share your practice with others. Use the comments below and let's start a dialogue of support. We're stronger and better together. Whatever you're feeling, please keep an open mind and utilize words of kindness instead of insult.