Self-Care Tips For Winter and Spring
By Menna Olvera, March, 2015
Self-care means taking time for yourself so that you can find a sense of wellbeing and balance in your life. There are three basic types of self-care: foundational self-care, which gives meaning to your life; structural self-care, which gives your mind, body, and emotional life stability; and practical self-care, which supports your daily functioning.
Few of us take care of our whole being (though many of us are good at maintaining our superficial needs). Plagued by anxiety, stress, poor nutrition, insomnia, and exhaustion, we get sick. I have worked in hospital settings in New York City and Haiti—and I teach three restorative classes a week at Shanti—and the one thing that everyone I work with has in common is a lack of balance. Everyone I meet is striving to be the best that they can be, but very few people are asking the question, “How can I work this hard and still maintain a level of balance in my life?”
Self-care can be just another item on your to-do list, or you can create new patterns in your life that include self-care as a way to maintain health, balance, and longevity. Here is one way I like to take time for myself:
I lay a soft blanket on the floor with a second blanket folded once to support my head. Then I swing my legs up onto the couch so that my calves are resting on the cushions, and my thighs are perpendicular to the floor. After that, I cover my eyes with an eye pillow, and put a few drops of a nice essential oil like lavender on a cotton ball nearby. If I have some time alone, I set a timer for 10 minutes, and just let my breath be easy. (If my son is around, I stay in that position until he jumps on me.)
We have asked our team of Urban Zen teachers at Yoga Shanti to share with you some of their go-to self-care techniques to regain balance through the winter…
Certified Holistic Oncology RN, NP-S & Lead Teacher
My favorite home remedy for fatigue, exhaustion, and over-stimulation? I start with a cup of herbal tea, like chamomile. Sounds good already, right? Here’s what you do next: to a bathtub full of hot water, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda mixed with a generous amount of Young Living’s eucalyptus and lavender oils—about 20 drops each. Make sure to pre-mix the oils in the powder before adding them to the water (oil and water don’t mix, and will sit on top). Then slowly step in. If candles are lit around the tub, even better! Set the timer and begin your self-Reiki practice, taking in the scents of the gorgeous oils: eucalyptus to clear out the lungs, lavender to decompress. Come out of the tub like you do after savasana.
Then head to your yoga mat for a 30-minute restorative practice. Keep the lights low. Start with supported child’s pose for 3 minutes. Then side-lying pose for 5 minutes. From there move into a simple supported twist for 3 minutes on each side. Then an easy supported backbend for 5 minutes. After that do constructive rest for 5 minutes, and finish with legs up the wall or calves on the chair. It’s the best gift I can give myself, and I feel so much more spacious and at peace afterwards.
When I’m wiped out but need to keep going, I do some gentle movements, set myself up in a flat-back version of supta baddha konasana, cover myself well, apply the essential oils Joy or Valor to my hands, and do self-Reiki. It’s a no-fail 15-minute pick me up!
Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I rub massage-quality sesame oil into my feet, put my socks on, and go to bed! After that, I usually wake up feeling much better. Sesame oil is very warming, and draws toxins out of the body. Try it. (It works with my kids too!)
Maggan Soderberg Daileader
My favorite home remedy is using the therapeutic-grade oils for kids: peppermint on the stomach for bellyaches, PanAway for growing pains, and Peace and Calming when waking up from a bad dream.
I’ve made this remedy a ritual two or three times a month. I do it in the afternoon, when I know I have a chunk of time. I lay down towels on my bathroom floor, and run a hot Epsom-salt-and-lavender-oil bath. I get out of the bath the same way I do from savasana—trying to move as a little as possible as I make my way to the floor and warmly wrap myself in my towels. In constructive rest, I run through the self-Reiki positions and finish with a belly massage. I stay until I’m ready to come out. I do not set a timer!
Staying healthy during the cold winter months in New York City is a challenging proposition. One of my favorite tools for staying healthy is Young Living’s Thieves essential-oil blend. This powerful blend combines some of nature’s most potent remedies: eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, lemon and clove, which, according to the FDA, has the highest antioxidant rating of anything they’ve ever tested! This is a powerful oil, so I suggest you diffuse it. Using a diffuser in your home or office can kill many airborne microorganisms, and the cinnamon-y/clove smell feels like the holidays!