Exploring Self-Care Rituals

As we approach the halfway mark of 2017, it can be a perfect time to reflect on rituals and practices that we partake in that are both productive and some that may be counter-productive.

As summer approaches, I’ve been reflecting on rituals that I would like to implement or improve upon throughout the rest of the year. Because who says there needs to be a resolution involved to begin caring for ourselves?!  Using the term “ritual” may sound formal, but a ritual is simply an action or procedure that is followed consistently.

We all practice rituals, most of the time without realizing it. Some of these may be impacting our lives positively, and some may be doing the opposite. I would surmise that a ritual of having my phone on me at all times is not serving me positively or allowing me to be the best version of myself throughout the day.

The intent of bringing those potentially counter-productive rituals to your attention isn’t to make you feel ashamed of your social media time, or time for yourself – keep in mind, the key to self-care and health is balance. However, change is not possible without being aware of practices we implement in our lives that are both positive and negative.

If you’re interested in exploring this within your own journey, I’ve listed some of my favorite self-care rituals below, in the hopes that we can explore this world of self-care together!

Another item to note before moving forward: Although it can be tempting to begin a multitude of new rituals at one time, I challenge you to focus solely on one ritual at a time. Our culture has taught us to be competitive in all that we do, and self-care is not meant to be another item on your to-do list. By taking time to fully explore each ritual at a time, this will make each ritual more manageable, and will allow you the time you need to fully immerse yourself into each practice, before adding another, if you so choose.

I would also suggest spending at least 40 days exploring each ritual before adding another practice into your routine. It is a long-held spiritual belief (with research to back it up) regarding the number 40, the philosophy behind it stating that it takes 20 days to break old habits and 20 days to form new ones. So be patient and gentle with yourself when beginning a new ritual; if you miss a day (or a few), accept this without judgement and simply return to your practice.

Meditation

The scientifically proven benefits of meditation are endless. Some of these benefits include anti-aging, reducing stress, increasing attention span, increasing the immune system, assisting in better sleep, and improving brain function. So if that doesn’t make you want to plop down on a pillow and start zen-ing out, I’m not sure what will!

Even if you only have 5 minutes of quiet time in a morning. Even if the only space in your home where you can be alone is in your bathroom, make that bathroom your meditation oasis for the few minutes you can sparse together.  

If you are beginning a meditation practice, I would highly recommend starting with guided meditation. Guided meditation is basically what it sounds like: there is someone guiding throughout your practice, including when to close and open your eyes, what to focus on, how to breathe, etc. I personally use the meditation app Head Space, which is free for the first 10 days of use. Other great guided meditations apps include Stop, Breathe & Think, Calm, The Mindfulness App, and Buddhify.

Meditation changed my life, and if you stick with it I guarantee it will change yours too!

Yoga

Where do I even begin with the benefits of yoga and the impact that it’s had on my life?!

Yoga saved my life.

I know that sounds dramatic, but I truly believe that to be true. Yoga allowed me to find myself again in a time of my life in which I was completely lost. Without finding yoga, I know that I would have relapsed into my eating disorder, and who knows how differently my life would look now if that had happened.

If you’re new to yoga, start with some YouTube videos. You can practice in the comfort of your home, and get a feel for what is comfortable for you.

If there’s no possible way of finding a zen-like time to practice in your home space, hit up a beginners yoga class at your local studio.

Although anything can be intimidating when first starting out, it’s important to keep in mind that in yoga, we’re all practicing. There is no way to “win” at yoga, and just because your classmate on the next mat over can do a handstand, that doesn’t mean she is more in-tune with her mind/body/spirit than the person in child’s pose throughout the entire class… in fact many would say the classmate in child’s pose is much more in-tune with what their mind, body, and spirit may need in that particular moment.

Yoga has given me permission to be vulnerable and to re-discover myself.  When I’m celebrating, I go to my mat; when I’m scared, I go to my mat; when I’m mourning, I go to my mat. It’s a sacred place for me to seek my inner voice. I found myself on my mat, and it’s my hope that a regular yoga practice will do the same (or more!) for you.

Journaling

Journaling is a ritual that I will be striving to implement more into my routine this year.

When I journal I feel more connected to myself and become more aware of triggers of stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Rather than reaching for an unhealthy comfort or distraction such as social media, TV,  or food,  when I pause to journal, most of the time without realizing it I am able to process the reasons behind my desire to distract.

I don’t know about you, but all too often my “monkey brain” can get in my way of processing what I may be experiencing internally. My mind is able to rationalize actions, thoughts, and feelings, while journaling allows me to recognize that thought, process it, sit with it, and then deal with it appropriately.

I typically prefer to journal in the evening before going to bed. This gives me a break from the light of the TV and phone before bed, and also gives me space to decompress and process my day. I find by spilling everything onto the page before hitting the pillow, I sleep more soundly than if I don’t journal before bed.

 

It is my hope for you that you are able to allow time and space for you to discover yourself again, and begin a journey of healing and empowerment.

 

The light in me honors the light in you.