It’s too easy to get caught up in the busyness of springtime: we’re all so darn excited for warmer weather that we sometimes leave the rituals that keep us grounded behind. Without those self-care rituals, we leave ourselves at risk for stress. Chronic stress makes us more susceptible to health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. Yikes.
We wellness women often straddle a counterintuitive dynamic of working hard, and working hard to disconnect, so that we can keep giving our best selves to the world.
The hardest part of rekindling a relationship with your personal well-being is always the initial disconnect (buh-bye Instagram). Prioritizing yourself can feel strange, especially if you’re not used to it or haven’t done it in a while. We’re here to remind you that self-care isn’t selfish, it’s completely essential to functioning at your best. If you need a little pep in your step, here’s a self-care guide for spring, because everyone has five minutes and you don't need a reason to honor yourself.
With an influx of emerging research on the benefits of meditation, we have no excuse not to sit for at least five minutes a day—and there’s no right or wrong time to do it. The best meditation is the one you’ll do consistently. Taking a mindful walk, meditating after a yoga practice, or sitting for a few minutes at the end of the day is hugely beneficial for keeping stress levels at bay. Rosie Acosta, Nourish + Bloom’s meditation expert, agrees. "Being mindful or entering into a meditative state always begins with your breath. You can be sitting on the subway, or at your office chair and just take a deep breath in and a long exhale."
Here’s a quick meditation exercise Acosta says is perfect for stressful situations:
Take 5-10 breaths, exhaling for longer than you inhale. Long exhales activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows your heart rate. Focus only on your breath. If you feel your mind wandering, gently bring it back to the breath.
No, not the "Dear Diary" kind, unless that’s what floats your boat. There are new, more efficient ways to journal that can seamlessly fit into your life. For example, the 5-Minute Journal takes only five minutes (as promised) and has proved to infuse joy, generosity, community, and positive emotions. If you're visually minded, try bullet journaling. Or start a 5-Year Journal, which asks you to answer one question a day for 5 years. The key to making journaling successful, at least to start, is to give your reflections some direction.
3. Nourish your body.
Make sure you’re nourished on a cellular level, and don’t underestimate this one! No one is immune to vitamin deficiencies. If you’re a busy modern woman, chances are you aren’t getting all the nutrients you need from food, and especially not if you’re plant-based or follow any kind of restricted eating plan. The plus side? There’s no need to be the crazy vitamin lady! Nourish + Bloom, a women’s supplement company, has put together a collection of energizing essentials: probiotics, omega-3s, prebiotic powdered greens, fueling shakes, and a multi. Done and done.
See what we did there? Really though: two masks are better than one. Our new favorite way to mask is to apply a strong spot treatment where we need it most and another that addresses skin issues. Our current favorites include May Lindstrom’s Problem Solver for spots (any drying or clay-based mask is great for this) and Marie Veronique’s Probiotic Mask for overall brightness. We also love using Manuka honey as a second mask.
5. Shift the energy.
Sometimes when we reach for our vices (salted 85 percent dark chocolate, anyone?), what we really need is an energy shift. Obviously, we can’t always take an hourlong yoga class or make it to the gym, so we recommend starting a little essential oil collection to keep in your workspace or travel bag. It’s a great, simple way to reset that doesn’t take much time or effort. Our beauty editor, Kayla Jacobs, who is trained in aromatherapy, has made some suggestions based on your mindset goals. To utilize oils, she recommends simply wafting the contents of the bottle under your nose, as putting essential oils directly on the skin can be irritating.
- Grounding: Frankincense—it’s homey, calming, and complex enough to engage your senses immediately and facilitate grounding.
- Focusing: Lemon—it’s a sharp scent that immediately focuses the mind.
- Creativity: Florals, like jasmine, are excellent for creativity and has an uplifting effect on the mood.
- Relaxing: Vetiver is often recommended to people with insomnia, as it’s known for its soporific quality.
6. Try some inversions.
Whether you sit for a living or you're active, putting your legs up the wall is therapeutic because it brings the blood that’s been in your legs through the circulatory and lymph systems, and is calming for your nervous system. Nourish + Bloom’s yoga expert, Emily Louise recommends inversions after a stressful day. "Inversions reverse the effects of gravity. They allow blood to flood toward the brain, nourishing it. They improve circulation, venous return, and lymph drainage. It is understood that the primary intention of inversions is to gain the physiological benefits of this 'active reversal' known as viparita karani."
She suggests two variations of this pose:
- Placing a bolster or folded blanket up against the wall for your pelvis to rest on. This emphasizes the inversion aspect of this pose as the hips (along with the legs) become higher than the head and heart.
- If you feel like you have to maintain some sort of tension to keep the legs from splaying open, wrap a strap (or any other item) around your feet or ankles, so they stay together and you can relax.
If you’re feeling adventurous, combine this with meditation, essential oils, multi-masking...or all of the above.
Whether you’re feeling a bit run down, going through a transition, or feeling great, self-care is an important practice to cultivate. It grounds us, brings us back to ourselves, and almost always gives us insight that we wouldn’t have had without the time to reflect. Shake the notion that self-care has to be elaborate—it’s nice sometimes, but all you really need is a few minutes. It’s consistency that counts.