With the holiday season upon us, you are more than likely focused on the art of giving to others. This is a wonderful state of mind to be embracing, which not only provides thoughtfulness for the recipient, but also results in "feel-good" high vibrational benefits for you, the giver. I would like to suggest that equally important this holiday season is the practice of giving to yourelf through small acts of self-care. So, as you celebrate the joys of the season, remember to shower yourself with some benevolent, Christmas cheer as well.
1. Relaxing Detox Bath
As you run about doing holiday shopping, planning meals and attending parties, put some time aside to enjoy a relaxing soak in a soothing, bath. With all that we take in from our environment, the processed food we eat and the emotional stress we feel, a steamy bath can prove quite beneficial. In fact, the warmth of the water can promote sweating, which may help the body release toxins from the pores. Adding simple items from your pantry such as epsom salt and baking soda can turn a basic bath into one that provides healthy detoxing. Epsom salts are made of magnesium and sulphate, both of which are critical nutrients for the human body, but can be poorly absorbed from our food. A twenty minute soak allows these minerals to absorb readily via the skin. Baking soda is a mixture of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions which are helpful for the skin and "can aid certain skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis," according to Medical News Today. So, light some candles, play some soft music and soak to release built up stress and toxins.
If you are like many, sleep has become one of the most valued commodities. Long to-do lists, crazy schedules and general worry can all add to not getting enough sleep. increasing the quality of your sleep during this busy season can make you feel more merry and bright.
A recent meta-analysis published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, found that participants who took a warm bath one to two hours before bedtime reported that they fell asleep more quickly and had higher-quality sleep than usual, so consider bathing at night. Additionally, making your bedroom environment the most conducive for the best possible chances of a restful slumber include keeping your room cool, dark and quiet with minimum exposure to light at bedtime. This includes avoiding prolonged use of light-emitting screens just before bedtime. One of my favorite things to do is to play sounds such as a rain storm or 432 Hz frequency music, which, according to Sleep.com, is ideal for use as a sleep aid as it is known for its relaxing, calming effects. It can help instill feelings of peace and tranquillity after a hectic day and slow down the heart rate. Good sleep is an important gift for our wellbeing and health.
3. Manicure and Pedicure
Just think about how much we use our hands and feet and how honoring these appendages with self care can make a huge difference. Whether it's typing on a keyboard, washing dishes, holding a steering wheel, chopping vegetables or carrying things, our hands are always in use. Likewise, our feet get us where we have to go, but, more times than not, they are cooped up in heavy socks, tight shoes, without getting the respect they deserve for transporting us where we need to go daily.
Instead of viewing a manicure and pedicure as a decadent, unnecessary beauty regimen, reframe this as an activity that enables good health. Did you know that manicures and pedicures improve blood flow? This reduces cellulite, tightens your skin, and strengthens your muscles, which can improve the visible appearance of your hands and feet. Additionally, the massage you receive on your hands, arms, lower legs, and feet promotes healthy blood circulation, thereby reducing muscle tension, any pain you may be experiencing, and improves joint mobility. And lest we forget that taking the time to treat yourself with a manicure/pedicure can do wonders for your stress levels!
4. Regular Short Walks
If you are thinking, "I don't have time to breathe this holiday season, let alone walk," let me assure you that you do not need huge blocks of time. Often, we get intimidated when we associate any kind of movement with "exercise" and the need to carve up our day to accommodate such activity. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Shorter walks are just as good as longer walks. In fact, according to mypacer.com, it may even be more beneficial to work in short bursts of activity during your day. "Studies have shown that a 2-5 minute walk after an hour of sitting can go a long way towards combatting the health risks of long periods of inactivity." With this in mind, try combining an invigorating step outside into the wintery air for a quick stroll up your block, or walk around indoors around the office. The obvious benefit is the movement for your body, increasing your daily steps and stretching sedentary muscles. Equally beneficial is the stress-reducing effects of walking. Research shows that a brief walk, especially one outdoors lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol not only increases with stress, it also mobilizes fat and deposits it on your waist and tummy.
5. Moments of Mindfulness
If you noticed, I used the word mindfulness instead of meditation. If you are like me, the connotation of meditating conjures up thoughts of a time-consuming ritual - find a place to sit, get a candle, put on music, make sure no one is around to disturb you - it sounds like more work. However, if we swap out "meditation" for mindfulness, it becomes more easy to incorporate into our daily lives. Mindfulness is merely paying attention to your sensations, feelings, thoughts and the environment in the present moment without judgment. Add a few deep, refreshing breaths and you've got yourself a formula for lowering stress, decreasing depression, improving memory, and strengthening your relationships, among other things.
Think of all those nooks and crannies of your day - a short walk to and from your car, stopping at a red light, waiting on the drive-through line of Starbucks or the bank, walking the dog, in your bed getting ready to fall asleep or in that infamous self-care detox bath! Studies suggest that mindfulness practices help people manage stress, cope better with serious illness and reduce anxiety and depression. People who practice mindfulness regularly report an increased ability to relax, enjoy a greater enthusiasm for life, and improved self-esteem. Wouldn't you agree that these are a few wonderful gifts to bestow upon yourself!!
Love & Light,
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HOLISTIC BEHAVIORAL PRACTITIONER
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