Slowing Down with Self-Care Practices
I woke up yesterday feeling really run down. It was my only day off last week so I had plans to do something fun with my husband but my body wasn't on the same page. I didn't exactly feel like I was getting sick, I just felt exhausted, even after a cup of coffee. I laid down on the couch around noon and ended up falling asleep, which is highly unusual for me. I wish I was someone who could take naps on the reg, but I'm just not. So if I fall asleep in the afternoon, it's definitely my body trying to tell me something.
In December, I wrote about the challenges finding balance during the holidays, but the reality is, it's not just the holidays - we live in a world where slowing down is frowned upon. When I wake up exhausted, my first instinct is to push through the exhaustion. I started to do this yesterday, and after I fell asleep out of nowhere, I realized I needed to check myself. Instead of going over to my best friend's house for the afternoon like we'd planned, I decided I needed to listen to what my body was trying to tell me and rest.
It's my job as a yoga teacher to hold space for students and offer them support. I love teaching so much that it rarely feels like work, so I often forget how much I'm giving on a daily basis. When I'm not keeping up with my self-care rituals, which happens sometimes when I get really busy (it happens to the best of us) I become physically and energetically depleted and then I need to spend my Sunday sleeping. Whether or not you're a yoga teacher, I'm sure you can relate. We tend to take care of everyone around us first, then justify in our minds that we'll figure our stuff out later. We give 100% to our jobs and our families all week, and then the weekend comes and we finally have some free time so we feel like we have to make the most of it. And for many of us, spending the day resting and/or sleeping feels like a "waste of time." That was my inner dialogue yesterday, anyway.
According to the wisdom of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of self-healing and sister science of yoga, we must take the time to nurture ourselves with simple acts of self-care every single day. Self-love and self-care are buzz words these days, which is really exciting. If you're feeling run down and you're not sure where to begin other than "treating yoself" with chocolate cake like you see everyone doing on Instagram, I've got you covered. Here's a few of my favorite self-care practices to get you started. I spent the afternoon doing everything on this list, combined with a good night's sleep, and I'm a new woman today. Had I pushed through my exhaustion and ran all of my errands and spent the afternoon celebrating with friends, I'd be even more exhausted today and wouldn't be starting the week as my best self. This doesn't serve anyone, myself included.
1. Give yourself permission to chill. This may be the hardest one, especially if you're type A or work in a fast-paced environment. But here's the deal: if you're feeling exhausted, your body is trying to tell you something. Take a few minutes to sit quietly and listen to your inner dialogue. If you're like me, your mind is probably telling you slowing down is not okay; that you have too many things to do and it's time to grab another cup of coffee and get moving. Take a few deep breaths and in your mind, give yourself permission to slow down. Tell yourself, as you would tell someone you love: it's okay to rest. Recharging is necessary. Slowing down is a power move.
2. Dry Brushing. Before you hop in the shower or bath, try this Ayurvedic dry massage technique that refreshes and stimulates the skin and lymphatic system, enhancing blood circulation and the release of accumulated toxins. It also feels amazing and gives me a little boost of energy.
3. Soak in an Epsom salt bath. I'm someone who usually opts for showers because they're quicker, so making the choice to take a bath instantly slows everything down. It becomes a ritual and a reason to relax for 20-30 minutes. I love adding Epsom salt and lavender essential oil. The magnesium in Epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and then binds with serotonin in the brain, helping you relax and usually makes me sleep like a baby.
4. Face Masks. This isn't a traditional Ayurvedic ritual, obviously - but it's one of my favorite self-care practices these days. Who knows if any of the face masks actually do any of the things for my skin they say they do, but for me, it's again about the loving act of slowing down. The instructions for most masks are to apply and then be still for 15-20 minutes, so I love using it as an opportunity to meditate. If meditating isn't your thing (yet), then just close your eyes and rest. You'll mess up the mask if you talk, so it's the perfect excuse to just chill.
Here are a few of my favorite masks:
5. Nourish your body with a walk or gentle yoga. Sometimes going for a 5 mile run or taking a strenuous power yoga class isn't the answer (but if that's what your body is calling for, then do your thing). If you're feeling run down, then some gentle, restorative yoga poses can really go a long way. My favorite is Legs-Up-the-Wall pose with your hips elevated by a pillow or blanket. It calms your nervous system, relieves tired muscles by draining tension from the legs and feet, helps to reverse the effects of gravity on the whole system, and helps regulate blood pressure. Going for a walk outside can bring your mind into a meditative state and boost endorphins. If you had plans to get together with a friend, see if they'd be down with going for a stroll together instead of meeting for coffee or wine.
I could keep going, but for now - this is a good place to start. Take care of yourself this week. You're really important and it's time to start offering yourself the same amount of love and support you give to everyone around you.
You deserve it, trust me.
Sending you love and nourishing vibes ~