Self-Care Rituals

gunderson_image_blog_tpLyndsey Hays and Calyn Gunderson, Certified Herbalists

Living in a world that demands every ounce of your energy and attention requires radical self care. The art of self care has been overlooked and lost in the western world due to the high expectations placed on every one of us to be more productive, successful, and exceedingly rich. What most of us don’t realize is that without taking care of ourselves we won’t be able to climb the ladder of life without wobbles, which, if not steadied, will eventually lead to a fall.

The good news is that radical self care does not have to be complicated or take several hours to achieve! It really is all about perspective. Something as simple as being mindful during your typical daily routines can help bring awareness and appreciation for your mind and body, resulting in a new appreciation for life in general. Some self-care rituals I find enjoyable and suggest are: take five minutes every morning to walk around barefoot outside and soak up the sun, make and drink nourishing herbal tea, mindfully take a hot shower and immerse yourself in herbs via an herbal hair rinse, turn on your favorite music and dance to your heart’s content.

Everybody has different wants, needs and desires — a nourishing ritual for one person could do nothing for another. Saying a prayer of gratitude upon rising, meditation, journaling and personal expression through word, positive mental affirmations and mantras, actively practicing forgiveness for yourself and others, gardening, spending time in nature, practicing yoga, regular exercise, reading, singing, playing, getting adequate sleep, taking herbal baths, hydrotherapy, pampering yourself, creating an alter or sacred space in your home, lighting candles, smudging and setting daily intentions are all examples of self care rituals.

You may be wondering, where do I start? Start by choosing one self-care ritual. Just one! Try to incorporate it into your daily routine and then check in at the end of the week and see if it has made a difference. Do you feel lighter, less stressed or more nourished? If so, continue and slowly add another ritual, one week at a time. If not, start the next week with a different ritual. Repeat the process until you find one that works for you and fits your lifestyle. Good luck and may you find rest, peace and inner joy in this busy and demanding world!

Body Scrubs

One self-care ritual to start experimenting with is body scrubs. Aside from exfoliating and making your skin deliciously soft, there are a number of other benefits to be gained by using a body scrub:

  • Increase in circulation of blood and lymph
  • Improvement in cell turnover
  • Improvement in absorption of topical creams, oils and lotions
  • Relaxation and Stress Relief
  • Increase in detoxification through the skin

Making a homemade scrub eliminates any unwanted ingredients and lets you set the intention for what you are looking to improve with your body scrub. While making your scrub make sure to think about what you are looking to accomplish with your delicious scrub. You will need:

1 cup exfoliant

1/3 cup oil

Up to 20 drops essential oil of your choosing

Exfoliant: Something gritty, you may stick to one or combine more than one together.

  • Salt: Relaxes muscles: Epsom salts contain magnesium, sea salts contain differing amounts of trace minerals
  • Sugar: For sensitive skin
  • Coffee: Vasoconstrictor, may reduce appearance of varicose veins
  • Oatmeal: Very gentle, hydrating and softening
  • Others: Almond meal, Ground flax or chia seeds

Oil: Moisturizing. If you have a nut allergy please avoid putting that nut oil on your skin topically. Avoid using rancid oils.

  • Almond oil: Penetrates well, used for all skin types especially dry, inflamed, and itchy
  • Castor oil: Softens rough, dry skin
  • Coconut oil: Softens skin, healing
  • Hazelnut oil: Highly penetrative
  • Olive oil: Rich, moderately heavy, softens skin
  • Sesame oil: Penetrating, relaxing, useful for normal to dry skin
  • Sunflower seed oil: Deeply nourishing and moisturizing for all skin types except oily

Essential oil: add your favorite essential oils for fragrance or focus

  • Acne: Juniper, Lemongrass, Basil, Rosemary, Grapefruit, Sweet Orange
  • Pain Reducing: Bergamot, Chamomile, Lavender, Marjoram, Rosemary
  • Anti-inflammatory: Bergamot, Chamomile, Lavender, Myrrh
  • Uplifting: Bergamot, Clary Sage, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Geranium, Mimosa, Melissa, Mandarin, Sandalwood, Neroli, Orange, Ylang-Ylang, Rose, Petitgrain
  • Aphrodisiac: Clary Sage, Jasmine, Neroli, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood, Vetiver
  • Stimulates mental activity: Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Grapefruit
  • Detoxifying: Birch, Fennel, Juniper, Rose
  • Strengthens nervous system: Chamomile, Lavender, Marjoram, Melissa, Rosemary
  • Calms the nervous system: Rose, Neroli, Chamomile, Bergamot, Frankincense, Lavender, Marjoram, Melissa, Ylang-Ylang, Clary Sage
  • Dry skin: Carrot, Cedar, Chamomile, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon verbena, Neroli, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rose, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Ylang-Ylang
  • Oily skin: Basil, Bergamot, Cedar, Chamomile, Clary Sage, Eucalyptus, Cypress, Geranium, Jasmine, Juniper, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Orange, Patchouli, Rose, Rosemary, Sage, Tea tree
  • Sensitive skin: Chamomile, Helichrysum, Jasmine, Lavender, Myrrh, Neroli, Patchouli, Rose
  • Stress and overwork: Angelica, Anise, Basil, Bergamot, Cardamom, Cedar, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Clove, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Frankincense, Helichrysum, Jasmine, Juniper, Lavender, Lemon, Lemon verbena, Marjoram, Melissa, Myrrh, Neroli, Nutmeg, Orange, Lime, Peppermint, Rose, Sage, Sandalwood, Thyme, Vanilla, Ylang-Ylang

 

Resources:

Self Care Guide for Counseling Professionals, Leah Rhodes, 2013

Self Care Techniques Handout, CSCH, Luna, 2016

The information contained in this article is not a substitute for the medical care of a licensed healthcare professional, any health concerns should be discussed with your primary care provider.