It’s my opinion that by the time we are thirty, we need two hours a day of self care; if that isn’t in place, we will be feeling it somewhere, either emotionally, or physically, or both.
The physical benefits all come from the fact that this practice enhances circadian rhythms, and helps to turn off the sympathetic nervous system.
A daily self-care ritual has so many benefits for psychological and bodily wellness, and we’ll assume here that you’ve already bought into the idea, and want some practical tips on getting started.
No One Size Fits All
A morning ritual is varied and individual. For example, mine includes a hot cup of chai, watching the sunrise, taking customized herbs, intention-setting at my altar, chanting, meditation, and sometimes a morning stretch. That’s a lot for some and an easy routine for others. What matters is that it’s my best fit now.
As long as your self-care ritual cultivates pleasant feelings and includes an opportunity to examine your thoughts, decisions and feelings, you’re golden.
This could look like journaling, sun salutes, staring at the clouds over a hot tea, or an austere ashtanga practice; it just has to feel nourishing to you, on that morning or evening.
At Least 30 Minutes
I’d recommend setting aside 30 minutes at minimum, for at least one of your morning or evening self-care times. An hour is best to not feel rushed (and not feeling rushed is important for your mind and body).
Morning is the most fertile time of the day for all spiritual and subtle energetic body shifts. Your morning routine allows you to set the tone of the day, as opposed to the day’s events setting your tone.
Have A “Plan B” Version
We all have variations in our day-to-day lives that necessitate adjustments. However, when you get out of your routine, it’s easy to landslide into not showing up for it.
I have a five-minute version of my morning routine (chai, altar) that allows me to be flexible but still feel like I showed up, allowing me to anchor my rhythms.
20 Ideas for Self-Care Practices
This is not an all-inclusive list, but a good starting place. Simply choose one or two from the list for each morning and evening self-care time.
I recommend trying the same practice for a two week period to really feel the effects of that practice and to connect with it. Once you’ve connected to a few practices and know how each one feels for you, you can customize and choose your daily blend of practices based on what you feel is a best fit for that day.
Any of these ideas could be appropriate for the morning, or evening; however, the quality of your practice would need to match what is balancing for you at that time of day.
For example, I may choose a more invigorating pranayama or yoga practice in the morning, but would choose a more calming, grounding and relaxing practice in the evening.
In general, evening is the time to prepare the body for good sleep and relaxing, while the morning is a great time to stimulate, activate, and do spiritual practices. In the morning, our practices help us to set a tone for our day, while evening practices are more about recovery, and coming back to homeostasis.
- Yoga asana (including digestive series, sun salutes, restorative sequences or other practices)
- Self massage and oiling (whole body or just a focus area)
- Communing with nature (such as sitting outside while drinking tea and listening to the birds)
- Taking daily herbs
- Using a neti pot
- Reading that builds awareness of self
- Upashaya (drinking hot water with lemon and honey)
- Sipping on herbal tea
- Gratitude exercises
- Oracle cards
- Listening to guided meditation
- Sitting in silence and reflecting