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self-care

2017: The Year of Self-Care

Happy New Year, everyone! As 2017 commences, I’m sure many of you are doing what I’m doing: trying to mindfully come up with a tangible wellness goal. My usual go-to is “I won’t drink any alcohol in January!” or “I will work out every day no matter what!”

But you know what? Those goals usually become stressful because they may not be realistic. And when your new year’s resolution doesn’t come to fruition, it can be depressing. Which starts the cycle of feelings of failure and disappointment!

Ugh.

So instead, this year, I’ve decided to focus more broadly on self-care. This means no hard rules, but it encourages me to remember that being mindful about all facets of my health is important. Here are 5 ways in which one can focus on self-care (and this is my personal plan; what I’ll be doing):

Eats

The first thing most of us think of when adopting a self-care routine is a diet tweak. And fair enough! I mean, you are what you eat, right? The fuel we choose to put into our body directly correlates with mood, behaviour, weight, aging, and more.

So what should we be eating?

I think the trick is to not be strict and deprive yourself. (Because most of us can’t stick to an all-or-nothing plan.) Instead, a healthy balance is optimal. In general, tons of fresh vegetables, lots of whole grain carbohydrates (like yams and sprouted grains), and lots of plant-based or lean protein.

Basically, anything that makes you feel good and gives you energy and lends to quality sleep and rest is what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a new healthy cookbook, try Vegetarian Comfort Foods!

Drinks

Water, water, water. That is all. (Haha…) Here’s the thing: we know that caffeinated beverages and alcohol are dehydrating and affect mood. We know that sodas and juice contain way too much sugar, which spike our blood sugar and then leave us feeling sleepy after.

And more recently, I’ve discovered my go-to non-alcoholic drink of choice (club soda with lime and cucumber) makes me bloated because of all the carbonation. So I’ve come to the conclusion that water and herbal teas should definitely make up the bulk of what I drink during the day and night.

To find out how to make your own herbal teas, check out The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea!

self-care

Movement

Movement is so essential to our bodies and growth and development, and yet we forget to move! Most of us intentionally schedule in time for movement (which is great), but ideally, our bodies should be moving a lot more. Small ways to incorporate movement into our daily lives, include taking the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator, parking on the outskirts of the parking lot so that you’re forced to walk a little more, getting up from your desk and stretching every 45 minutes, and so on.

Think about what you can do to incorporate more movement into your life, and your body will thank you for it.

Sleep

Fresh off of reading The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington (which I mentioned in a previous blog post HERE), I’m really beginning to understand (and I mean REALLY understand) just how much we should all be appreciating and emphasizing better sleep.

Our culture has somehow evolved to think of being busy and sleep-deprived as something to be celebrated or respected, and yet, being sleep deprived is basically the same as being intoxicated. Would you go to work drunk or drive home from a business meeting while under the influence?

I hope not, and yet we all do it in the form of being exhausted. Let’s start NOT doing that. Let’s just remember to place appropriate emphasis on sleep, and celebrate what it feels like to not be tired!

Mental

As in mental health, that is. Although everything that’s listed above contributes to better mental health, we can a couple more things to really give a final push.

  • Meditate.
  • Be grateful.
  • Say thank you.
  • Breathe deep.
  • Love yourself.
  • Try aromatherapy.

And that’s it. By committing to general improvements in your own self-care routine, you become more in tune with parts of yourself that you can’t possibly reach when you’re not as well as you could be.

Happy New Year, friends! Cheers to self-care, and to living life with intent and grace. Give yourself a break, and tune into YOU!

You deserve it. xo

Better Sleep

The Unanimous Cry for Better Sleep

We Need Better Sleep

A while ago, I read a blog post titled “Yoga Doesn’t Take Time; It Makes Time.” At the conclusion of my read, I remember thinking that it sounded like it made sense, but in literal terms, to do an hour’s worth of yoga meant that an hour was taken away from my work day.

So how could yoga ‘make time?’

Flash forward to yesterday. I was completely exhausted but I had a ton of work to do, and although I don’t ever nap (it’s been years), I fell asleep for about 90 minutes.

The result was this: instead of being tired and dragging my feet until bedtime, barely getting anything done due to my exhaustion, I woke up around 5 pm and did everything I wanted to do. I had renewed energy for every task I charged myself with, and it was because I let my body rest and restore.

So lately, there has been a huge movement towards publicizing the absolute need for better sleep. Pioneered greatly by Arianna Huffington, this cry for better sleep is becoming more and more relevant as we, as a society, try to take on way too much. (Her book is called The Sleep Revolution; I currently have it ordered from Amazon.)

Her theory is that sleep deprivation “has profound consequences – on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness.”[1] Arianna writes “Only by renewing our relationship with sleep can we take back control of our lives.”[2]

I, for one, am fascinated. We insist that our children slow down before bed and get enough sleep to sustain them throughout the day. But what about us? Why don’t we place the same importance on rest, restore, and repair for ourselves as we do for our children? We forget that sleep is a necessity. Not unlike shelter, food, and water, proper sleep is not a luxury; it’s a basic need.

How to Get Better Sleep

So tonight, try to prioritize sleep. Some ways to help you get a better sleep include:

  • Read a book for an hour before bed; don’t replace that time with the TV and internet
  • Meditate
  • Take a bath with calming essential oil
  • Keep your bedroom clean, dark, and cool
  • Don’t eat or drink a lot in the hours leading up to bedtime
  • Practice conscious breathing
  • Try light yoga, but not vigorous exercise
  • Don’t consume anything alcoholic within 2-3 hours before bed, or caffeinated within 10 hours before bed (try herbal tea)

Good luck! xo


References

[1] https://www.amazon.ca/Sleep-Revolution-Transforming-Your-Night/dp/1101904003

[2] https://www.amazon.ca/Sleep-Revolution-Transforming-Your-Night/dp/1101904003