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While we continue to live through these strange and unsettling times, I wanted to share my 10 top self-care routines that can help and support your mental and physical wellbeing.
1. Invest in your health
When we do things on a daily basis that enhance our health and wellbeing, the positive effects will gather momentum and become the basis of preventative medicine for us. The current situation has reminded us how precious our health is and how some of us neglect it through eating nutrient poor, manufactured food and drinking water that is contaminated with chemicals.
Eating a balanced healthy diet can go a long way towards restoring any physical, mental or emotional imbalances that may be taking place. A healthy diet involves eating the right amount of properly cooked (and properly chewed!), natural foods sourced from our surroundings, suited to the season and our health. Chew your food thirty times or more and eat organic, eco-friendly food.
Consume enough fiber, so that your intestinal flora is in good condition. Avoid or reduce your consumption of meat and dairy products. Buy organic, seasonal and local produce. Challenge yourself to ‘eat a rainbow’ each day. The colour of your food can tell you a lot about its nutritional value, and eating a variety of colors is a great way to maintain a healthy functioning digestive tract. Add spices to your diet to improve absorption of key nutrients and strengthen gut immunity. Fennel, cumin, basil and most aromatics will stimulate gastric juices. Thyme and rosemary will boost immunity amongst other health benefits. Ginger and chilies will warm you up and improve circulation, whilst also enhancing your defences against infections. Finally, turmeric is a super spice that possesses all of the above-mentioned properties. To increase its bioavailability - mix it with a pinch of black pepper and fat (like oil or milk), or simply make a delicious and nutritious curry! Make sure you hydrate sufficiently with filtered water.
Cook with love. The eating process starts from food preparation. For optimal metabolism twenty percent of digestion should happen before we start eating, when we are thinking, smelling or seeing the food. Eat away from computer or TV. Stop eating 2-3 hours before bed.
Spend some time on your skin and invest in good skin care products and protocols. Too often we get up or head to bed without giving our skin the attention it deserves. Skin is the last organ to receive nutrients from the food, herbs or supplements we take. If our body is toxic or we are stressed, most of the nutrients may be used up by other organs, therefore never reaching the skin where it’s needed the most! That’s why spending time on your skin health is a wonderful way of looking after yourself, not only are you nurturing your physical self, but you are also manifesting self care.
2. Importance of routines
Structure and routine is very good for those who find it hard to stay focused and have a creative mind. For over-achievers, structure enables them to cope better with the many things that they want to undertake, and to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. For those who prefer a slower pace of life, structure helps to energise and motivate them. In other words, routines are great for everyone!
Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. It feels incredible to realise we have achieved something we didn’t know or think we could do before.
3. Honour your body’s need for rest
Rest is essential to life. Your body works so hard for you all day every day, you need to give back and give it some time to replenish. Recognise and accept your limitations and make sure if you come close to burnout, you never cross that line and give yourself sufficient rest immediately to restore your vitality. Pushing your body into overdrive will also manifest physically through poor concentration, anxiety, fatigue, tight neck and shoulders and usually digestive malfunctions such as acid reflux and an imbalance of gut flora.
4. Put yourself first
It might sound like a cliché, but you need to be selfish in order to be selfless. Whether your relationship, kids, or job is your priority, keeping yourself in good physical and emotional shape will allow you to be the best at all of those roles. Be selective about what you take on and say no to things that will unnecessarily add to your load.
5. Find a mindful activity that supports your emotional, physical and mental balance
Researchers have documented the benefits of regular mindfulness practices which include reduced anxiety and depression, stronger immunity, lower/stabilised blood pressure, increased energy levels, muscle relaxation, decreased feelings of stress and mental exhaustion. There are many ways of practicing mindfulness, including reiki, earthing, breathing exercises, yoga and meditation. Any activity that focuses your brain in the present moment from guided meditation to paining or knitting can be considered a form of mindfulness.
6. Self massage
Self-massage of the body with warm sesame or coconut oil and then leaving the oil on the skin for 15 minutes every day before a bath or shower improves the skin, tones muscles and blood vessels, and has a soothing effect on the nervous system. If short of time, you can simply drop a little sesame oil in your ears and massage the neck, head, spine and soles of the feet. Even done three times a week, an oil-massage will have a beneficial effect, particularly for stress.
Regular exercise increases stamina and resistance to disease by enhancing immunity, clearing the channels, and promoting circulation and elimination of wastes. It can also reduce the tendency toward depression and anxiety by releasing endorphins and curbing our desire for alcohol!
8. Sleep Hygiene
Good quality sleep allows our body to self-heal, detoxify, recover from stress and restore any imbalances that may be taking place.
Start going to sleep around 10pm when melatonin production starts to rise.
Melatonin is a natural sleep hormone made by your body's pineal gland. If you fall asleep after 2am, you will have missed the peak in melatonin production, which will affect the quality of your sleep. Factors inversely affecting melatonin production: age, shift work, alcohol consumption, evening exercise, caffeine, pharmacologic agents such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Additionally, melatonin is a naturally occurring anti-oxidant and protects against DNA damage, acting as a scavenger of free radicals. So don’t miss out on its anti-aging effect amongst other benefits!
A regular nightly routine helps the body recognise that it is bedtime. This could include taking a warm relaxing bath with essential oils or Epsom salt, reading a book, meditating, listening to reiki music or doing breathing exercises. To make sure you have a restful sleep in a pleasant environment, the mattress and pillows should be comfortable, the bedroom should be cool – between 16C and 19C degrees – for optimal sleep. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, "white noise" machines, humidifiers and other devices that can make the bedroom more relaxing.
9. Enjoy yourself
Participating in activities that you genuinely enjoy will release dopamine, the feel-good chemical in the brain. Positive physical contact - cuddling, kissing, hugging can all help relieve stress. Leave gaps in your schedule to do something you want to as opposed to something you need to. Treat yourself to a spa day or buy a new outfit. Get creative and express yourself in whatever way you like. Painting, writing, sculpting, building, music, whatever takes your fancy!
10. Self love
Self-care cannot be achieved without self-love. Don’t save self-love just for the moments when you approve of yourself. Accept your limitations, allow yourself to do nothing from time to time. Love yourself when you are tired, sad, angry or bloated. There is an inner critic inside of us trying to keep us small and safe. The downside is this also stops us from living a full life. Find your happy place. Where’s the one place you feel totally at ease, calm, happy, positive, high on life? Go to that place when you are going through hard times, or imagine yourself being there. Think about how it feels, what it smells like, what it looks like. Celebrate your wins no matter how big or small. Find something to be grateful for every day. It’s inevitable that you are going to have your down days. This is fine and very human. It’s especially important on these days to find at least one thing you are grateful for as it helps to shift your mind and energy around what’s going on.
Jenya Di Pierro
Herbal Medicine Practitioner, BA, MA, AMH, ANP
DISCLAIMER This program is not designed to provide medical services nor is a health and nutrition consultation being provided as a substitute for a consultation, diagnosis, and treatment by a licensed primary health care professional, such as a Medical Doctor. Products or treatments recommended in this program are not intended to diagnose, prescribe, or treat symptom, defect, injury, or disease. The information contained herein is intended to inform, not provide individual medical advice or care.
Tags: Wellness | Author: Jenya Di Pierro, Herbalist & Naturopath