As the year comes to a close, with some relief; and some anxiety about the state of our world in the future, we can turn to some simple routines to nourish ourselves. Sometimes it feels like time is moving too quickly, and the sense of longevity dwindles with the daily checklists and the demanding reality of our jobs, family lives, and social responsibilities. Time seems to speed up and the practice of personal time isn’t high on our lists. Living in a world that demands every ounce of your energy and attention requires radical self-care, particularly at the New Year and after the holidays. It builds the foundational blocks for the rest of the year and re-establishes a relationship with our deepest self and a genuine meaning of who we are and what we love.
Self-care not only builds our reserves and keeps our systems healthy and well, but it also de-clutters our mind and allows for more positive thinking to take place.
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to turn inward and refocus on our needs. We will be better people for it. And our world needs strong and fiercely passionate people to be engaged and connected.
We all know what happens with elaborate New Year’s resolutions: they aren’t very lasting, and then we feel worse about letting them slip a week into the new year. Focus on small, tangible habits that will sustain the core of who you are and the changes you’d like to see. Everybody has different wants and needs— a nourishing ritual for one person could do nothing for another, but I have found that getting clear on what self-care means for you is helpful. Make a list that you can go to when you need a little support.
Start by choosing one self-care ritual. Incorporate it into your daily or weekly routine and then check in after a few days and see if it has made a difference.
Here are a few self-care rituals that we look forward to practicing:
Get serious about breathing
This means yoga, meditation, 5-minute desk breaks to stretch and inhale some fresh air. Do whatever works best for you and your life, but push yourself a little to stop a few times a day and BREATHE. Not only does deep breathing get more oxygen to our brains allowing us to think better, but it also gives us a chance to center into our body and allow for more personal connected work.
Focus on living a meaningful life
Volunteer and help others. Create a gratitude list, or altar. Find ways to be thankful for what is working in your life, or what areas of your life are abundant and fruitful.
—just enough to be thoughtful in your daily life so you don’t miss out on the little things.
As Kurt Vonnegut once said, “enjoy the little things in life, because one day you will look back and realize they were the big things.”
Detox baths and hydrotherapy
I love taking baths year-round, but nothing is more relaxing in the wake of the new year than a good soak. Epsom salts make a great base, along with herbs and essential oils.
Immerse yourself in hot water for about 20 minutes and finish with a quick rinse in cold water. The use of water for therapy has been around for thousands of years, as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans, and forms an integral part in many traditional healing systems. Switching from hot to cold (hydrotherapy) supports proper blood circulation and healthy detox and awakens our bodies. It’s a beautiful ritual that is easy to do at home, once or twice a week. Practicing hydrotherapy has a way of waking up your entire body, and leaves you feeling alive and bright.
Rely on adaptogens
Adaptogens have a special place in our act of self-care, and creating the longevity we long for. Adaptogens produce a state of resistance in the body to physical, emotional, or environmental stress. They have a normalizing effect on the body and help to restore normal function that has been altered by stress. They never have one particular action, but will act in balance to support our whole body.
A few favorites:
Tulsi, or Holy Basil is one of the many amazing adaptogen plants we use, supporting the body’s natural response to physical and emotional stress and aiding as a tonic to the body, mind, and spirit. It’s a favorite because of its aromatic properties.
It is thought to have originated from India where it is known as “The Incomparable One,” and is used as an “elixir of life.” Tulsi has been employed in spiritual rituals and lifestyle practices that are just beginning to be noticed by modern science. Tulsi is found in many forms these days, such as aromatherapy, tea, extracts, and in our Simmer Down tonic. It has a lovely synergizing sweet taste that makes it easy to use daily.
Schisandra– or the five flavor berry is often referred to as the ultimate super berry. It gets its 5 character reference from Chinese medicine because ancient healers felt that it embodied the five flavors: sweet, salty, pungent, bitter and sour. When you eat it, your mouth is almost instantly filled with different flavors. Schisandra is well known as a potent tonic and adaptogen. It helps to maintain healthy energy levels, supporting our response to fatigue and our physical performance and endurance. Because of its balancing tonic effect, it is also an excellent immune and endocrine system tonic. Perfect for this time of year!
Eleuthero– Due to the threatened ecological status of organic American Ginseng as well as the increased difficulty of finding the herb from reliable, ethical sources, we recently made the decision to stop using it and have been replacing it with Eleuthero, as its action is very similar to that of Ginseng.
Eleuthero root is used to invigorate our qi, strengthen and nourish the spleen and kidney meridians and balance the vital energy that we have had with us since birth. Eleuthero is now widely utilized in western herbalism to support general health, reduce fatigue, and to improve endurance and stamina.
They are also equally amazing in tea form or used to make medicinal honey. Try incorporating one or all into a daily routine to build resistance and strength as we enter into the New Year.
We hope you find some time for heart-filling activities that make you engaged and passionate. We certainly need strong hearts as we head into 2017.
Here’s to feeling alive and grounded as we ring in the New Year.
Love, from all of us at Urban Moonshine