by Rachel Koontz of Alive In The Fire
What happens when you choose to hold your own well-being as sacred? When you put self-care at the top of your list of priorities?
With the end of Daylight Savings Time and the arrival of darker, colder days, this is a wonderful time of year to prioritize self-care and incorporate meditation into your daily or weekly routine.
Here are a few simple ways to reduce stress, gain energy and find balance using meditation and self-care practices.
- After your shower in the morning, do a five-minute self-massage using warm coconut oil. This is the Ayurvedic practice known as abhyanga. Simply by taking some time early in your day to focus on slowing down, relaxing, and nourishing your body, you have a positive effect on your entire day. Abhyanga is also excellent for calming the nervous system and stimulating circulation in the body, and it's amazing for your skin!
- Write yourself a simple mantra, and then meditate on it for 2-3 minutes in the morning. "I am calm," "I am grateful," and "I forgive myself" are a few of my favorites. Take a few moments to notice what space you are in. If you're feeling emotional, acknowledge that. See if you can do this simple meditation without forcing anything. Just notice what comes up. If you have a mala, you might consider using the beads to count the mantra, repeating it 108 times.
- Try three-part breathing. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and place one hand over your chest and one hand over your belly. Exhale completely. As you inhale, fill your belly first, then continue into your chest, and into your throat. You can count to three for each of these sections of the body: belly, chest, throat. Continue with this three-part breath for 5 minutes.
- Practice 30 or more minutes of restorative yoga in the evening. If there's a yoga studio near you, look for a yin class. Or, create your own soothing space at home with candles, pillows and blankets to support your practice. If you want to simplify, just do legs up the wall pose for five minutes before bed.
- Use a soothing essential oil at bedtime. Lavender, vetiver, chamomile and sandalwood are lovely options. You could also find a blend that's specifically made to help you wind down and sleep peacefully. If you're having trouble sleeping, consider taking melatonin, a drug-free sleep aid to help you relax, sleep through the night, and wake more rested in the morning.
Give yourself permission to make small changes, and go easy on yourself if incorporating these changes takes a little time. You are beautiful, worthy, wonderful and deserving of self-care! Be kind to yourself.