“It's not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It's necessary.”
– Mandy Hale
With the excitement and resolutions of the new year firmly behind us and the prospect of spring flowers and warm sunshine still in the distant future, March is often, at least here in New England, a gray and rainy limbo month. Spring may technically arrive this month, but more often than not, it still looks and feels a whole lot like winter. If I’m not careful I often find myself falling prey to the gloomy depression that plagues so many people during the gray months. And when that happens, my self-care routine often falls by the wayside as well. Knowing this about myself, I try to set helpful reminders to keep me on track. I set an alarm on my phone to remind me when I should begin winding down for the day in order to keep a regular bedtime. I’ve signed up for a new exercise class, with a friend, to keep me accountable when I just don’t feel like working out. I usually make at least one massage/facial/spa appointment for a little pampering, and I make it a point to keep my body brush for dry brushing right where I can’t miss it before I hop in the shower each day. Knowing our own personal successes and struggles with self-care, we’ve decided to write this month’s newsletter focusing on simple self-care strategies we can all use to improve our mood, boost our energy and nourish our mind, body, and spirit. We’re calling it,
“Self-Care for a Happier, Healthier You”
What is self-care?
According to psychcentral.com, “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” Simple, right? Yes. But while it may seem simple, self-care is something most of us very often overlook. We (particularly women) tend to focus on everyone but ourselves. Yet good self-care reduces the negative effects of stress, improves our mood, reduces anxiety and helps us be the best version of ourselves, which in turn, allows us to take care of our loved ones successfully.
What isn’t self-care?
Self-care is not something that we force ourselves to do, or something we don’t enjoy doing. It’s not a competition, a one-size-fits-all routine, or a list of have-to’s. It’s something that makes us feel better. It doesn’t add to our daily stress load. And it’s not a selfish act either. Self-care is ideally, a simple routine consisting of small, regular acts that keep our body, mind, and spirit nourished.
In a nutshell, self-care is the key to living a balanced life.
“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
– Eleanor Brownn
Incorporating meditation into your daily or weekly schedule is one of the simplest ways to care for and nourish your body and spirit. As little as two minutes of meditative breathing can reduce stress and anxiety, lengthen attention span, improve sleep, decrease blood pressure and improve mood. And best of all, it can be done anywhere, anytime, by anyone.
Aviva Romm, MD (avivaromm.com/quick-meditation/) offers this great meditation technique she calls “A Quickie” that is perfect for seasoned meditators as well as first timers.
1. Sit or stand comfortably, feeling your feet on the floor. If you’re in a place where you can do so safely,
close your eyes for this exercise.
2. Now take just a few normal breaths in through your nose, out through your mouth.
3. On your next inhale, breath in deeply through your nose for a count of 4 while saying to yourself “I
4. Then exhale out deeply through your mouth for a count of 4 while saying to yourself “At Peace”
5. Repeat 4 more times, then open your eyes.
6. Take a few seconds to feel the difference.
Movement is necessary. It gets our blood flowing, improves circulation, reduces stress, improves mood, boosts our physical health drastically, improves self-esteem, and even improves sleep. It can be a 30-minute walk outside, an intense workout at the gym, or a gentle yoga class. The key is finding the right movement for you and doing it regularly.
Sleeping Well and Sleeping Enough
Sleep, or a lack thereof, is a struggle for many, many of us. In fact, according to the CDC, 1 in 3 American adults is chronically sleep deprived. Not sleeping well wreaks havoc on our body both mentally and physically – setting us up for chronic health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease as well as depression and anxiety disorders. Lack of sleep also causes poor memory and focus, lowered sex drive, premature sagging or aging of the skin, and weight gain.
While we can’t add more hours to our day or completely rid our lives of our ever-growing To-Do lists, there are a few strategies that can help maximize the amount and quality of sleep we do get.
1. Avoid screens 1 hour before bedtime. Set an alarm to remind you that it’s time to power down for the
2. Invest in an old-fashioned alarm clock instead of using your phone alarm to wake up in the morning. In
fact, plug in your devices to charge for the night somewhere other than the bedroom
3. Resist the urge to check emails or respond to texts after your “power-down” alarm.
4. Create a bedtime routine – shower or take a bath if you can, brush your teeth, spend
some time reading, turn down overhead lights in favor of a lamp– this sends a signal to your
brain that it’s time to settle and prepare for sleep.
5. Use aromatherapy to help your brain and body reduce restlessness, encourage relaxation,
and prep for sleep – we have an excellent DIY rollerball recipe for just that in this newsletter.
You may be familiar with dry brushing. Many of you may already be incorporating this simple but transformative practice into your daily or weekly routine. But for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, please read on to learn about the easiest self-care strategy you can start doing right now.
Dry brushing is the practice of running a natural, stiff bristled brush along your dry skin from the bottom up to exfoliate dead skin cells and stimulate blood flow. It provides full body exfoliation without stripping the skin of important natural oils. The stiff bristles gently slough off dead skin and unclog pores making skin softer and improving skin tone. It also stimulates the circulatory system, improving blood flow and helping to deliver oxygen and nutrients to cells. Dry brushing stimulates the lymphatic system which helps your body get rid of toxins and excess water. And finally, it wakes up the nervous system by stimulating muscle fibers and nerve endings in the skin.
And the best part? The entire process takes only one to two minutes.
The ideal time to try dry brushing is right before taking a shower. Start at the bottom of your feet and move up the body, always toward your heart, using short sweeping motions on each body section, making sure to brush your whole body except for your face. Brush each area several times before moving on to the next part. And remember, this should feel good! Dry brushing is not meant to be harsh or painful. Your skin should be gently pink when your finished, but never red, sore or broken.
To encourage you to give dry brushing a try, HerbaliciousSkincare.com is running a special promotion in conjunction with this newsletter. For the month of March, we are offering FREE SHIPPING on your entire order with the purchase of a dry brush! We love this self-care practice so much that we want everyone to give it a try. The dry brushes offered by Herbalicious are professional quality contoured brushes made from natural boar bristles. They are ergonomically shaped to fit perfectly in the hand and have excellent medium stiffness bristles for easy effective exfoliation.
Enter Promo Code SELFCARE at checkout.
Our DIY recipe this month is a simple but very effective self-care tool that uses aromatherapy principles to relax the mind and body – reducing stress and encouraging deep, restful sleep. Small enough to be stashed in a purse, school bag, desk drawer or even a pocket, roll-on tubes make it effortless to use essential oils anywhere you are, whenever you need them.
Designed to calm the mind, body, and spirit, this blend is soothing for both the emotional and mental effects of stress as well as the physical components. Use during the day to get a restorative break from daily stressors and promote relaxation. Apply before bed to enjoy a deeper, more restful sleep.
Rest & Relaxation Blend
You will need:
10 mL roller bottle
*These can usually be found at your local health food store, in the Healthy Living section of many grocery stores, or on Amazon
carrier oil of your choice
*We typically use sweet almond oil, jojoba oil or sunflower oil
5 Drops Lavender essential oil
4 Drops Bergamot essential oil
4 Drops Hops essential oil
2 Drops Frankincense essential oil
Add essential oils to the empty roller bottle. Fill the rest with the carrier oil. Secure the roller/top onto the bottle. Store in a dark place. If stored correctly this blend should last up to 6 months.
Apply as needed to inside of wrists, back of neck, along spine and/or bottoms of feet.
A quick word about essential oils –
Essential oils are powerfully concentrated and need to be diluted for safe use. Dilution also encourages even distribution of the oils over the pores of your skin, increasing the speed and quality of absorption. When diluting essential oils, put drops of essential oil in a bottle and then top with carrier oil. If you are pregnant or nursing, always check with your health care provider prior to using any essential oils – many are perfectly safe but some are contraindicated for use during pregnancy. Recommended topical dosing for essential oils is 1%-5% for adults which means 3-15 drops of essential oil in 10 mL total volume. Standard size roller bottles are 10 mL. When using essential oils with children, the recommended dosage is .1- 1% dilution, which is .3-3 drops of essential oil in 10 mL total volume (reference: Tisserand and Young’s Essential Oil Safety 2nd Edition). Since this recipe is targeted for adults, the recipe was formulated using a 10 mL roller bottle with dilution percentages for an adult.
We hope as you read through this newsletter you were encouraged to make self-care a priority in your life this month (and every month!) and that you found a nugget or two of useful information. Make sure to head to HerbaliciousSkincare.com to score FREE SHIPPING (Promo Code: SELFCARE) on your entire order with the purchase of a dry brush! You won’t regret it.
We spend a LOT of time thinking about and talking about the info we want to share with you and the ideas we suggest. Every strategy we suggest is one we employ in our own lives and we truly believe it is beneficial. We figure, if it’s relevant in our lives it’s probably so for other people as well. If you have any ideas or suggestions for topics to cover or DIY’s to try, please drop us an email and let us know. We’re always glad to hear from you.
All the Best,
Carolyn & Robin