6 Steps to Self Care
This is the second in a three-part summer self care series dedicated to self care, focusing on caring for yourself through caring for your home and space. All of these suggestions certainly might not fit your fancy but perhaps trying one or two might improve your daily care routine.
SimpleLionHeartLife says clutter can add to housework, time and stress to tracking down what you own, make inviting houseguests stressful and embarrassing, and make rest and relaxation difficult. Furthermore it makes for visual clutter – never giving the mind white space to rest on.
There’s lots of different ways to rid your home of clutter but this tends to be one of those acts of self care that is not fun or something that we want to spend time doing. Yet, clearing the clutter can be so freeing, make us feel lighter, and make our home a more peaceful space to be.
I personally utilize a professional house organizer to help out with decluttering my home about 4 times a year. I find not only do they have better ideas for organizing and decluttering than I ever could, but setting the appointment and having he/she there in my home encouraging me to purge things holds me accountable to both take time to organize in the first place and to get rid of more stuff. The investment of my time and money is totally worth the level of organization and peace of mind I have around my space for months to come.
There’s also the option to DIY and the Konmari method is super popular these days. Grab Marie Kondo’s book and dedicate some time each week or month to attacking different areas of the home or consider this local Marie Kondo certified organizer who will help you along the process.
Lastly, whatever method you take to organize you’ll have to commit to the maintenance of the process as well. In our home we practice “Community Clean-Up,” an idea borrowed from my daughter’s preschool, where regardless of who made the mess, everyone takes some time to collectively contribute to cleaning it. Things tend to get in order more quickly and with less complaint. 30 minutes of community clean-up on a Saturday morning keeps our space pretty tidy.
Smudging is a symbolic exercise found in feng shui, Native American traditions and alternative healing practices. It involves burning herbs to fill a space with the fragrance of the smoke, and is thought to clear out negative energy. The idea is that over time, from visitors, negative experiences, etc. the home begins to accumulate negative vibrations. Smudging is said to clear that energy out and refresh the space.
Smudge sticks can be found in most new age shops, crystal shops, or healing arts retailers. They are often bundles of sage, palo santo, cedar and others. It is advised to smudge in a ‘mindful’ way, finding a time you won’t be disturbed and taking it slow, mentally focusing your energy or even creating an intention for the release of negative energy. Light the tip of the smudge stick and wave the stick in the air (ideally over a fireproof container) and direct the smoke towards doors, windows and any other exits, sending negative energy out and away.
In Feng Shui the smudging is done in a clockwise direction around the home and be sure to open closet doors and smudge in dark corners. Once complete, your space will be purified, and a sweet smell will linger. This is also a fantastic practice I use when my children are having fears of ghosts or monsters – together, we smudge all the bad energies away!
Distilled from plants, essential oils are compounds said to capture the plant’s essence. Historically used for aromatherapy, oils can be diffused into the air or diluted then rubbed on the skin. Available through direct order or in most health food stores like Whole Foods, I like to use essential oils for purposes such as: lavender for sleep and relaxation, panaway for sore muscles, peppermint and eucalyptus for stuffy noses, lemon for purifying the kitchen, frankincense for cuts and scrapes, copaiba for teething babies, and tea tree for yoga mat cleaner!
Sleep is maybe the MOST important of any of the self care practices I preach, but in our busy lives, when things finally begin to wind down in the evening, it is easier said than done to prioritize sleep. Some experts have dubbed ‘sleep hygiene’ as different practices and habits necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness. Below are a few of my tried and true suggestions on creating a welcoming and restful sleep space and improving sleep hygiene:
- White noise machine: Lots of us moms swear by white noise sound machines to get the kids to sleep and keep them there, so why haven’t we considered for ourselves? According to the National Sleep Foundation, our brains continue to process sounds even when we’re asleep, making us susceptible to sleep disturbances – especially those of us living in noisy cities! Even if you don’t wake up, sounds can cause you to toss and turn leaving you more groggy. I swear by my white noise sound machine for home and iPhone app for travel. There are plenty on the market to choose from, including machines that vary music, natural sounds, and white noise.
- Weighted blanket: Quite the rage this year, weighted blankets regulate sleep by providing ‘deep touch pressure stimulation’ – a firm but gentle pressure that can release serotonin. This type of pressure has proven to relieve anxiety, reduce cortisol (stress) levels, help with pain, and help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- Sleep mask: I have always been very susceptible to light during sleep, making me a poor excuse for a napper. That is, until I discovered sleep masks, which close out all light be it early morning this time of year, or mid-day. I prefer a scented (lavender!) sleep mask with a band so it stays on and smells sweet.
- Blue light glasses: Digital Eye Strain is the eye discomfort that can stem from looking at a screen for more than two hours at a time. Too much exposure to artificial (blue) light all day in front of our computers, then in the evening using phones or watching TV, can suppress the secretion of melatonin, which regulates sleep. Blue light glasses are gaining popularity, allowing the body to still become sleepy when worn in the nighttime hours while viewing screens. This can be a helpful fix if we insist on keeping our phones close in the nighttime hours. Another helpful trick I’ve tried is setting the iPhone to “night shift” from 9pm to 7am, altering the colors of the phone’s display, and exposing you to less blue light.
- Linen spray: as a nighttime boost I like to spray my pillow / linens with an essential oil spray that encourages relaxation. I’m currently using a blend of geranium, rose and sweet orange by Saint Olio, but you can absolutely make your own blends using essential oils.
- Himalayan salt lamp: Salt lamps are said to provide health benefits because they are natural ionizers meaning they change the electrical charge in the air. Suggested benefits include assistance with allergies and asthma, mood regulation and improved sleep. While not all benefits are proven, the lamps can also be an alternative to bright lights at night, aiding in sleepiness.
- Magnesium spray: Research shows that magnesium increases the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain which is responsible for slowing down your thinking and helping you fall asleep. It also regulates melatonin to guide your sleep/wake cycles. In general, our US population is deficient in magnesium which can be cause for fatigue, muscle cramps, and more. Magnesium is available by supplement, but I prefer to spray a magnesium spray on my heels before bed, as nutrients can be absorbed more quickly through the feet.
- CBD oil: By now you’ve probably heard of CBD (cannabidiol), the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis. Among other benefits, research shows that when taken an hour before bedtime CBD can improve insomnia and promote restful night’s sleep. Especially when combined in a cocktail with components like chamomile or valerian root, CBD can be a nice, natural sleep aid that is certainly legal and doesn’t offer any of the other effects of cannibis.
CREATE A SELF CARE SPACE
No matter how small, carve out a small space for you to practice your self care rituals – yoga, meditation, journaling, etc that feels good. For now, I’m practicing yoga in a small space next to my bed, but the combination of natural light, a wall of plants, burning incense and my favorite playlist make it a welcoming spot for solo time and practice.
This article was submitted by Haley Purdy. Practice with Haley on Mondays at 4:30pm and Fridays at 4:15pm. Register here.
Haley found yoga in 2013 as a means of self care after the birth of her first daughter. After more than 10 years in the corporate marketing world, she soon decided that her career path and soul path were not in harmony. She completed her 200-hour teacher training at Maha Yoga under the teaching of Justicia DeClue. Today she is a mom of two girls, and an English Bulldog, Bodhi, all die-hard Eagles fans.
As a champion of self care, Haley encourages her students to use their time on the mat to get out of the mind and into the body; to take breaks from the grind to appreciate the breath. Haley enjoys the motto, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”