“Self-care is not about indulgence. It’s about self-preservation.” – Audrey Lorde
Providing ourselves with sufficient self-care is the most potent way to use life as medicine.
Self-care is synonymous with self-love. It is the heartbeat, the very breath of how we are able to make a sustainable stamp on this world. I find self-care is the most overlooked, yet essential form of medicine.
Self-care requests that you make yourself a priority rather than an afterthought. Self-care asks that when you make a list of everyone you love in this world, your name stands first on that list. Self-care is self-love and recognizes that every other form of love is an extension of the love we have for ourselves. Much of our striving, catering, working, and giving is an appendage of our inner most desire to love and be loved in return.
We must love ourselves first. Giving is good, but we can only give what we have. We must nourish ourselves with attentiveness and care that matches what we want to extend to others.
I’ve been to many “Satsangs” – spiritual gatherings or discourses in both India and the US. It’s funny because when the Guru or leader opens the forum for questions and answers, it seems to be that no matter what the question is, the Guru will respond, “just meditate”. I find it in equal parts – both humorous and true.
An exceptional publishing house that publishes renowned books on motivation, spirituality, and health – HayHouse Publishing, is operated by a ninety-year-old woman named Louise Hay. She is a spectacular woman with the spirit of a child and health and charm of a lady in her prime. She reminds me of the Gurus because she has a singular cure for every ailment too.
Hers, however, is, “Love Yourself”. If you are tired – Love Yourself. If there’s a controversy at work – Love Yourself. Your kids are acting out – Love Yourself. If you’re diagnosed with a disease – Love Yourself. If you are always late for appointments – Love Yourself. No matter what the disturbance, her advice is as simple as it is profound – Love Yourself. The best way to practice loving yourself is through the daily practice of self-care. Nowadays, many of us wear multiple hats and juggle several roles. It’s vital for the sake of your health and sanity to carve out time for yourself. Everything is interconnected with everything else. If we deplete the earth’s resources, we will be depleted. If we neglect ourselves, we neglect the whole. The enormity to which this entanglement extends is both alarming and enlightening.
5 Easy Ways From Stress To Serenity
A lack of self-care equates to stress; conversely, sufficient self-care equates to serenity. Here are five practices that will help you fall into a daily healthy self-care routine.
1. Take A Relaxing Bath
I know it sounds like a novel idea, but you deserve it. Go to the bathroom, lock the door, turn on ambient music, light a few candles, and run yourself a bath. Add 1 cup of Epsom salts and a few drops (6-10) of organic lavender essential oils. The restful atmosphere will calm your senses and relax your nervous system. You’ll feel your shoulder melt away from your ears as the warm water, Epsom salts, and lavender oils untangle your muscles. It only takes about 15 minutes out of your day, but it’ll make the reflections from the rest of the day so much sweeter.
2. Drink Golden Milk Before Bedtime
Golden milk is an ancient Ayurvedic elixir. You can buy it pre-made or make your own by adding 1/2 tsp ground turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp ginger powder, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cardamom, and a pinch of nutmeg to piping hot almond milk. The turmeric and ginger work as anti-inflammatories to counter balance wired nerves, the cinnamon and cardamom soften and smoothen your digestive tract, and the nutmeg works as a mild sedative. The combination of the five spices will feel like a big hug to your nervous system and spirit.
3. Try Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb. It is an adaptogen, which means it adapts to the biologicals needs of your body. If you’re tired, it will give you energy, and if you’re too energetic – it’ll help calm you down. Ashwagandha is respected as one of the best herbs for helping to combat stress. It targets your adrenal glands, which are often exhausted due to the daily demands of life. I’d recommend you visit an Ayurvedic Practitioner before taking any herb, as she will be able to guide you in the correct dosage for your personal constitution and needs.
4. Indulge In Warm Oil Massages
An oil massage is one of the easiest ways to calm and ground the nervous system. When the nervous system is frazzled, we feel flighty, fatigued, and easily frustrated. When the nervous system is calm, we automatically feel calm.
If you live in a cold environment – use sesame oil, as it is heating. If you live in a warm environment – use coconut oil, as it has a cooling effect.
- Just rub a generous amount of oil into your hands until it feels warm.
- Start from the clavicle bone and work your way down towards your feet.
- Take your time.
- With a firm and thorough touch, massage long strokes on the long bones practice circular movements on the joints.
- Be especially considerate to areas around your hips and lower back.
- Knead deep into the arches of your feet.
- You’ll feel stress almost lift right out of the body.
- If you feel oily after, you can rinse off in a warm shower.
If you have dry skin, your skin will most likely soak up all the oil – consider yourself moisturized and grounded. You can practice oil massage, or Abhyanga (the Sanskrit word for self-massage) either in the morning or at night depending on your convenience.
5. Practice Pranayama
Try this stress-relieving breathing technique, or Pranayama (the Sanskrit word for breath control). Breath through the nose only: inhale for 3 counts (1-2-3), retain your breath for 4 counts (1-2-3-4), slowly exhale for 5 counts (1-2-3-4-5). Repeat this technique at least three times. You’ll instantly feel the positive effects. You can repeat this technique for as many cycles as you like. You can’t really overdose on it. This is nice to do first thing in the morning, or right before bed. This stress-relieving breathing exercise can also be practiced spontaneously throughout the day in times of anxiety or tension.
Making yourself a priority does not take away from anyone else. Everything you do for yourself is a reflection and catalyst for everything you are able to do for others. Self-care is not a luxury. Self-care is a necessity.