I developed my work ethic at the knee of my single father, who regularly worked 12-hour days and then, like every good single parent, came home and cooked dinner, went to teacher conferences, and helped me with homework. I learned to think of “self-care” as something one did as a reward, those minutes you might give yourself only after all the work is done.
By this logic, the more work there is to do, the less time there is to take care of yourself. So, that’s the way I rolled in life, until I found myself in the position of simultaneously having a career, three teenage children at home, and an elderly father living with me who now had dementia. I didn’t carve out any time for me, and it wasn’t long before the tank of resources I had been pulling from in order to take care of everyone else went dry. Although I maintained good habits like eating well and calling upon the benefits of herbs to support my overall well-being, I had failed to adequately replenish my own reserves in other ways.
That was when I first heard the airplane analogy about self-care: when we fly, we’re taught that in the case of an emergency, we should secure our own oxygen mask before we help others, because if we can’t breathe, we can’t serve the people around us.
What is Self-Care?
The idea of self-care is that we need to do things for ourselves that have a positive, strengthening effect on our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. What those things are depends on the individual, but the goal is to set up the kind of work/life balance that nourishes our bodies, our minds, our emotions, and our spirits. It can be as simple as giving yourself a few minutes of indulgence in the morning and evening.
Here are some strategies to explore...
Start Your Day Right
Starting your day stressed out is never good, and when this is your modus operandi day-in-and-day-out, the constant stress starts to chip away at your overall well-being, happiness, relationships, and productivity. If this is the way your mornings work, the beginning of your day may be the first place to make a change. Even small changes can be significant.
If you’re a shower-in-the-morning sort, slow down and enjoy it. Take the time to make and use your own herbal shower spray or add a few essential oils to the shower. Choose a scent that makes you think of the woods, or grandma’s rose garden, or that vacation you took in Hawaii—something that starts your day off right.
For folks with beards, give yourself a couple minutes to use a woodsy-smelling beard conditioner. Your beard will thank you, and the scent will carry you out the door feeling good.
How about a cup of tea? Setting your alarm just 15 or 20 minutes earlier could mean you have time to drink a cup in a favorite chair before everyone else gets up. A classic black tea is always a beloved and time-tested option, but explore new teas too. A great morning alternative to a classic cup o' joe is our Herbal Coffee.
Whatever you do, remember it’s all about the ritual of giving yourself this time, even if all you have to spare is 15 minutes.
End Your Day Right
A hot bath with some readymade relaxing bath herbs is a great way to round out a long day. Just half an hour of soaking can do you a world of good. You can also combine herbs of your choice to make a bath blend that you can keep in a jar by the tub. All you have to do is fill a cotton muslin bag with your herbs and throw it in.
Not a soak-in-the-tub person? Try a facial steam instead. It doesn’t take long, and you’ll come away rejuvenated and relaxed.
- Put a little of the herb blend into a bowl of hot water.
- Drape a towel over your head.
- Let your skin absorb the pure essence of the herbs rising on the steam.
Even if you can only give yourself a little time at either end of the day, it’s a great first step to finding the work/life balance that self-care helps us achieve.
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