Life can sometimes feel like such an intense juggle of rushing from one thing to another, upholding our commitments to work life, friends and family, that trying to squeeze in a li’l somethin’ somthin’ for ourself can end up falling to the bottom of the list.
One of the best ways I’ve found to incorporate acts of intentional self-nourishment, which ultimately communicates a message “You are worthy of your own energy, love and care!” is to build it in to your daily rhythm. Make a habit out of it!
If you try to squeeze it in “somewhere” or think “I’d do it whenever I get a free moment”, you’ll likely wait far too long before you finally tend to yourself and your needs. I see this happen again and again, and before you know it, you’re completely run down, overstretched and frankly, in a self-care emergency.
Practicing intentional self-care, little and often is incredibly powerful! By creating simple rituals at the beginning and end of your day, you begin to create carve out a new habit. Like all habits, your creation of a daily ritual for self-love and care, will take clear focus and intention to begin with, but once you are in the flow, you’ll be doing it automatically!
Before we go any further, let’s talk about ritual. What is it exactly? A ritual is an intentional act that creates meaning in our life. The intentions embedded within the actions of self-care are as important, if not more important than the activity itself.
What’s the point of taking a bubble bath at the end of the day, if you’re laying there worrying about an argument you had with your husband, or listening to some audio related to your work in the process? Umm, no. Ritualizing the acts of self-love and care will ensure that you are crystal clear on your intentions for the activity, to give it more deep meaning (and boundary it from the rest of your life!)
One of my favourite practices to initiate ritual is to light a candle. This simple act creates sacred space. In the example of taking a bath, I fill my bathroom with candles, soothing music and nice smells. This creates a “bhav”, which is Sanskrit for mood; all the elements in the environment are creating meaning and aligning with the intention of: relaxation.
I use the bath example only because I know so many people enjoy baths for relaxation and self-care (myself included) but today I am sharing 3 even simpler rituals you can explore at the beginning, or end of your day for cultivating self-love and care.
3 Simple Daily Rituals for Self-Love and Care.
Wake Up and Align with your Heart’s Desire.
In the same way you choose clothing to for the day, choose to begin the day aligned with your most heart felt desire, in Yoga practice the Sanskrit word for heart’s desire is “Sankulpa” (also sometimes translated to mean, Intention).
When you wake, light a candle, signaling your presence here and now; awake and ready for the day. Take 10 full deep breaths, coming more deeply in to presence, feeling your chest and heart space expand with the natural fullness of the breath. Ask yourself: “How Do I Want to Feel?” (Full credit to the Goddess who is Danielle La Porte (link to http://daniellelaporte.com) for this verbage) Allow the answer to come to you, rather than thinking/ going hunting for it. Stay open, present, clear and listen for your heart’s desire to emerge. If you enjoy meditation, you may wish to then sit for your meditation practice, as I do.
Loving touch is an incredibly powerful way to stimulate the brain with the love hormone; oxytocin. It feels so good, we can give it to ourselves right now, and it’s free!. When you offer your self the care and nourishment of a self- massage you are giving yourself a pre-verbal message that you are taken care of, and loved. Choose a completely pure, organic if possible, oil that suits your skin type. As someone who runs warm, I like to use coconut oil as it has cool properties; if you tend to feel the cold, you could choose sesame oil, which is warming for the body.
I absolutely love self-massage with oil (in Ayurveda we call it Abhyanga) it feels so good, and as a self-care ritual, you can make it flexible. You can do a full body oil massage just before you get in the shower in the morning (the body absorbs most of the oil, then the warm shower rinses off the residue, so your skin gets hydrated but you aren’t left feeling oily.) Or if you are shorter on time, once you are dressed and ready for the day, give yourself a hand massage. Don’t underestimate the power of giving yourself your full presence while you massage, it can will turn the application of some hand-cream in to a divine moment of connection to self and the ocean love that exists within us all. Breathe, feel and be present to your touch. You could even add in a self-love affirmation, or chanting while you do it! Remember, it’s a ritual, and ritual is all about intention.
I prefer to do this one in the evening, as it feels like such a positive way to end the day before tucking in to bed. But you may prefer to do it in the morning, if that fits better with your routine. Light a candle to create your sacred space and take 10 full deep breaths, coming more deeply in to presence, feeling your chest and heart space expand with the natural fullness of the breath. You may even like to lie down in bed to do this.
Place your hands on your body, you may like to cup your face as you would a small child or a lover; you may like to place your hands over your heart, over your belly or anywhere in your body where you have felt pain or tension recently.
Once you have that connection with yourself, hands on your body in an act of tender loving touch, speak some words of gratitude for your body or your life in general (silently or our loud) if nothing comes to mind you may like to try “Thank you, thank you, thank you for this life. Body-Mind-Spirit I am. So worthy of love and care” Lay with yourself breathing and allow the gratitude to flow.
You may like to try all 3 practices out at least initially, but a common mistake people make when forming new habits is that they try to do too much! So once you have decided which practice you want to incorporate as a Daily Ritual (and hey it might not be one of these three, maybe, you’ve been reminded of something else that works even better for you- do that!) make a little chart with dates for a 30 day period and boxes to check off. Place it where you will see it, and each day you do your ritual place a STAR in the box! Keep that chain of stars going and after 30 days you are well on your way to creating a habit.
I hope you enjoy having a play with these practices and let me know how you go in the comments below!
By Kate “Self-Care Evangelist” Clugston
Kate is the Founder of Radical Self Care Project (Link to http://radicalselfcareproject.com ) runs a small yoga studio (link to http://katealexandra.com.au )based in Sydney Australia. Kate’s gift as a teacher is in creating for space for wholehearted learning through embodiment; encouraging students to explore and apply yoga teachings to the wisdom of their own body. She is the mother of two young children and a passionate advocate for women’s health and empowerment through the practices of self-care, self study and conscious activism.
Connect with Kate through her online offerings, including the free Radical Self Journal (link to : http://radicalselfcare.katealexandra.com.au/radical-self-journal Radical Self Care Stories Podcast (link to: http://radicalselfcare.katealexandra.com.au/radical-self-care-stories and Guided Meditations