DIGGING DEEP INTO: THE ART OF SELF-CARE
What is the definition of self-care? According to the Oxford Dictionary:
1. The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.
1.1 The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
Studies at the Oak Ridge Atomic Research Center revealed that about 98 percent of all the atoms in a human body are replaced every year. You get a new skin every month and a new liver every six weeks. The lining of your stomach lasts only five days before it’s replaced. Even your bones are not the solid structures you might have thought them to be. The bones you have today are different from the bones you had a year ago. Experts in this area of research have concluded that there is 100 percent turnover of atoms in the body at least every five years.
This research is empowering and enlightening as we are constantly changing, evolving and de-evolving. You know that you existed seven years ago; you were there. You also know you exist right now. The same you, or self, who existed then also exists now. This is why taking care of the mind and spirit is as important (or possibly more) as taking care of the temple that houses them.
By the time we are a young adult we all have to learn how to take care of ourselves. Prime example: you are on an airplane and the flight attendant tells you if cabin pressure changes to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. No one is going to take care of you the way you can. Or can they know what is innately beneficial for you during times of stress or even joy.
Life long ways to have self-care:
Health Coaches look at the complete spectrum of a person to assess and improve self-care. At different times in life we all need a partner in our health and well-being that keeps us moving in the right direction, or even helps us to chart a new course. As a health coach, I have listed several ways below that I work with clients to foster and integrate more self- care into their lives.
- Know yourself. Practice stress management. Become knowledgeable about your habitual reactions to stress, and work towards mitigating negative habits.
- Meditate daily. Train your mind to live in the now and how to be mindful in daily activities.
- Laugh often. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Journal about your feelings and experiences.
- Learn new things. Keep your mind active and engaged with new skills, languages, word games and puzzles.
- Prioritize sleep. Foster positive sleep hygiene habits. Rest when you need to.
- Stretch your body daily (yoga). Learn deep breathing techniques and use these when stretching.
- Exercise. Choose an exercise you enjoy so it’s not a chore.
- Massage your body. Do regular self-massage with nourishing body oils. Give your partner a massage or get a professional massage.
- Take baths with Epsom salts
- Drink warm water with lemon in the morning, and sip room temperature water all day long.
- Eat three balanced meals a day at the right times, properly with attention and reverence.
- Eat fibrous foods for proper elimination.
- Keep sugar, caffeine, alcohol at a minimum.
- Remove toxic chemicals from your home and work.
- Find ways to renew your spirit. Friends, family, faith, animals.
- Put your feet and hands into the earth. Connect to the source.
- Be out in nature as much as you can.
- Have positive affirmations “ I am powerful”.
- Take a Sabbath day.
- Pray and live in gratitude.
- Filter toxic people and create healthy boundaries. Say “no” when you need to.
MAY’S AYURVEDA/YOGA CORNER
Dincharya – a Sanscrit word translated to mean “The Daily Routine”. This daily routine is in essence self-care and a powerful way to improve ones health. Having a Dincharya brings awareness to habits and choices that we make daily.
Dincharya, just as all of Ayurveda, follows the rhythms of nature. This is the perfect Ayurvedic day full of Dincharya: Waking up before the sun rises to meditate in the calm of the day. Removing toxins that accumulate over night with tongue scraping, oil pulling (swishing oil in the mouth for several minutes, then spitting it out) and warm lemon water. Exercising when the body is physically the strongest (6 to 10 am). Following a Dosha (your inherent constitution) appropriate diet. Eating the largest meal during the peak times for digestion and absorption (10 am to 2pm). Doing mental work and then calming activities when the nervous system is most active (2pm to 6pm). Eating a smaller dinner hours (2-3 hours) before you retire for proper digestion. Taking time to unwind before bed with a book, journal or even a conversation with a loved one over a cup of tea. Rubbing the soles of the feet with oil to calm the nervous system with essential oils such as valerian, vetiver or lavender. Finishing the day with mediation and breath work. Allowing for 7-8 hours of deep sleep to restart the next day.
It might not be possible to integrate all or most of the above into your day, but as you can see there is great benefit in all of them. Try adding one or two of these for a month and note how it made you feel. Then try different ones or even add more in subsequent months. When you add self-care rituals to your day and move with the rhythms of nature you find your mind, body and soul are all impacted positively.
Abyhanga: Ayurvedic Oil Massage
One of the most powerful way to foster health in the Ayurvedic Dinacharya routine is a practice called Abyhanga. Abyhanga is a massage with dosha appropriate warmed oil. Accumulated stress and toxins in the mind and body are removed during the daily Abyhanga massage. Abyhanga is mostly done by oneself and is part of the daily Dinacharya. If you are able to find an Abyhanga massage practitioner you can enjoy this massage completely relaxed and it will lead you to a trance like state through the warm oil and long, centering stokes.
Yoga Nidra: Yogic Sleep
Yet another powerful tool for self-care is Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra occurs in the state of consciousness in between wake and sleep. Yoga Nidra has been said to give the student the benefit of several hours of sleep in just 20-30 minutes of practice. Other benefits have been reported such as reduced anxiety and PTSD, improved stress response and glucose levels. During a Yoga Nidra session the brain moves from Beta (awake and active) to Alpha (relaxed yet awake) to Theta (lucid mind, body is asleep).
This powerful meditation technique doesn’t require flexibility or a current meditation practice to gain the benefits. All you have to do is lay down with a warm cover over you and close your eyes while you are guided to another dimension. This practice was my go-to when I was over-exhausted with my newborn son being up numerous nights in a row feeding. I did Yoga Nidra every day during one of his naps and I always felt more refreshed. I also practice Yoga Nidra in the middle of the night if I wake up and cannot fall back asleep.
Below are two Yoga Nidra CDs you can purchase to experience these benefits at home.
UPCOMING NOURISH YOUR HEALTH CLASSES
Elimination/Provocation Diet May 3-June 6
The elimination/provocation diet removes food groups for two weeks then adds them back in one by one, determining your body’s reactions for sensitivities. Food sensitivities cause your body produces a low-level of inflammation which leads to any of the below examples.
- Weight Gain / Weight Loss
- Fatigue / Lethargy
- Foggy Thinking / Memory Issues / Lack of Focus
- Moodiness / Anxiety / Depression / Racing Thoughts
- Aggression / Hyperactivity
- Gas / Diarrhea / Constipation / Bloating / Cramping
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Reflux (GERD)
- Recurring Nausea & Vomiting
- Muscle Pain / Joint Pain / Chronic Pain
- Headaches / Migraines
- Sinus Congestion / Chronic Coughing
- Skin Rashes / Eczema / Psoriasis / Hives/Acne
- Heart Palpitations / Rapid Pulse / Rapid Breathing
- Numbness / Tingling
I will give you a guided step-by-step plan to complete this diet in a supportive group setting. You will receive weekly menus, recipes, grocery lists and wellness guidelines for six weeks. Days 1-2 are a cleansing detox, 3-14 are elimination diet meals and 15-42 are reintroduction meals.
MAY’S NOURISHING RECIPIES
Endive Beet Bites
Prep Time: 5 min | Cook Time: 20 min | Servings: Yields 20-30 bites
Ingredients: 2 medium beets, tops trimmed, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 heads of endive (purple or green), 1/4 cup crumbled walnuts, 1/2 cup of tahini dressing (2 tbsp of tahini, 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper all mixed well) 1tbsp of fresh herbs to garnish.
Directions: Place beets in a medium saucepan with a metal steam insert and one bay leaf. Put enough water in the pan to just the base of the insert. Place the lid on the pan. Bring water to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, (keep an eye on the water level and add more if need be), or until beets are tender when poked with a fork. Remove from heat and drain. Once cooled enough to handle, remove skin by rubbing with paper towel or by using a vegetable peeler. Slice beets into thin wedges.
Top each endive leaf with 2 slice of beets, walnut crumble, tahini dressing, and fresh herbs.
Asparagus Basil Salad
Servings: Serves: 4-6
Ingredients: 1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces, 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved, 1 ripe avocado, cut into cubes, 1 cup sliced basil leaves, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 tsp. lemon juice, 2 tsp. dijon mustard, ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions: Steam asparagus for 5-7 minutes until fork tender, Place asparagus, tomatoes and basil in a large bowl. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, and mustard in a small container. Top the asparagus, tomatoes, basil with the dressing. Add the avocados at the end and lightly toss.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Until June’s Nourishing Newsletter……
“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” translated to mean “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
Have a great month friends and enjoy your health!