A Self Care Gift Guide for Well-Being
A self care gift guide for you. Why? We know the holidays are filled with Joy. But preparing for all that celebrating can leave you feeling less-than wonderful. And let’s be honest: life in these pandemic times hasn’t been normal. For 12 days, we hope that you’ll give yourself - or someone you love - the gift of well-being.
Day 1 - CALM + RELAX
Weighted eye mask
A weighted eye mask can help you fall asleep faster and relax more deeply. These types of eye masks create enough gentle pressure to block out light and signal your brain that it’s time to wind down and surrender to slumber.
Get a plant
Plants not only oxygenate the air around you, they also filter out contaminants in your environment. Peace lilies and spider plants are two little green buddies that are especially talented at cleaning up indoor pollutants. And then there is the calming aspect all that greenness will add to your surroundings.
Get out in the garden
Speaking of plants, getting out in the garden encourages you to move your body, feel the earth, and get your beneficial daily dose of vitamin D from the sun, among other benefits. Whether you choose to have a small porch container garden, a flower garden in your yard or a vegetable garden, the simple act of hands in dirt helping something to grow is naturally calming and relaxing and a real boon to self care.
It can be hard to get out to a massage therapist under normal circumstances. Doing so in a pandemic has been especially challenging. Why not try a self-massage? You can massage your scalp, arms, hands, feet - anywhere you feel the need. It doesn’t take much time, either. As little as ten minutes of mindful attention given to your body can melt away tension you didn’t even know you were holding in your muscles and leave you deeply relaxed.
Give yourself the gift of nature
One of the best ways to relax is to take a walk in the natural world. Thirty minutes spent in the forest not only fills you up with the beautiful perfection of the world around you, it also exposes you to beneficial chemicals released by trees that have been found to calm your nervous system and clear your mind. A stroll on the beach or spending time in the desert also have their own innate gifts to share with you. And if you decide to take that walk sans shoes that is even better, because you will be grounding and recalibrating your energy field.
Meditate for well-being
Meditation is one of the best ways to cultivate lasting calm in your body and mind. The wonderful thing about this practice is the more you do it the more profound the changes will be in your awareness. All you need is the desire and commitment to devote at least 20 minutes a day to something that will gift you with the ability to remain calm even when faced with unexpected situations. If you are just getting started, you can find YouTube videos of guided meditations that will help. And if you want to solidify your commitment, the purchase of a meditation pillow will send a signal to your subconscious that you are putting your money where your intent is. Plus it will make your sessions more comfortable… and that is always a good thing.
Long baths with scented candles & essential oils
Who doesn’t like a nice hot bath on a cold winter’s night? Okay… maybe the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz (that film has the power to scare the living daylights out of me to this day), but she is the “don’t get me wet or I’ll literally melt” exception. And if you enhance the ambiance by adding the soft glow of candles and the heavenly scent of essential oils like lavender and rose in the bathwater, you will feel deeply relaxed and the only thing that will have melted away is any tension or stress you were holding in your overworked muscles and overactive mind.
Day 2 - CLARITY + FOCUS
Too much partying, Zoom-calling and online shopping coupled with too little sleep… It’s the perfect formula for massive mind meltdown. Before you know it, you’re sitting there beyond exhausted with a foggy brain, unable to string together two intelligible sentences or remember your great Aunt’s name. On Day 2, what you need is CLARITY and FOCUS to burn off the fog and get your brain back up to speed.
Disconnecting is a great form of self care
Take a break from all those devices that have been monopolizing your time and attention. Too much screen time can muddle your mind, fry your nervous system and eviscerate your ability to sleep. Make a commitment to limit your interaction with virtual reality to 4 hours or less each day. Set a timer if you have to. Then turn off your router and put your phone in airplane mode at least 1 hour before bed. If you DON’T receive the gift of greater well-being from this, I owe you two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree!
Get some exercise
Move that body. Get your blood humming through your veins. Oxygenate all those millions of cells that serve you so faithfully day in and day out… even if you have been basically ignoring them by sitting around 24/7. Your brain loves oxygen. Your body adores it. You can’t live without it. There is nothing that will invigorate you faster than a heart pounding sweat-inducing session of dancing with yourself in the middle of the room to the Rolling Stones (you remember those guys, don’t you?) Or how about a run (or a swift walk will also do the trick) through the crisp winter air, your breath creating clouds of mist to mark your progress?
And hey, if you need some motivation to get moving then invest in a pair of good running or walking shoes. Happy feet will only add to the pleasurable endorphine reaction of a vigorous exercise experience.
A steaming hot cup of the good stuff
Your brain loves coffee. No, really… it does, and multiple studies have proved it. Coffee can help you think better, lift your mood, improve your reaction time, sharpen memory and focus, and enhance your ability to remain vigilant and ready for action. There is even a growing body of evidence that seems to indicate that a cuppa joe can prevent alzheimers.
If coffee is just not your thing, then treat yourself to the bean’s fancy cousin, Matcha - a green powder made from ground-up leaves of specific varieties of green tea. Matcha delivers all of the benefits of coffee, and it has a special gift for older folks, who experience improved mental ability when they add Matcha to their daily routine.
Warning: Be sure you choose the organic form of these eye opening elixirs or you risk negating all the benefits of your mug of coffee or cup of Matcha. Non-organic varieties can have adding concentrated amounts of horrifying ingredients like arsenic and pesticides to the mix. Using things like cinnamon, chocolate or a bit of local honey rather than sugar to sweeten your sip will earn you five stars and the best possible outcome. Finally, don’t overdo it. This is a case where more is definitely NOT better. Limit your intake to three 8 oz. cups of coffee or 2 reasonably sized cups of Matcha a day, consumed before noon. Otherwise sleep will elude you when the darkness falls.
An unexpected and kind of weird present you can easily gift to yourself is a big ol’ yawn. And in this case, the more yawning action the better. When you yawn, your diaphragm expands, your lungs fill up and any toxic gases that may have been building in your body are released. This leaves your brain zinging with oxygen molecules that go to work lowering the actual temperature of your brain (a good thing) and firing up all those neurons to allow for Olympic level feats of mental agility and ninja-like alertness. Okay, maybe that is a slight exaggeration.
However, studies have found that your body will naturally produce yawns when your brain is working hard, in turn, improving focus and mental clarity. Yawning also can trigger a relaxation response and lower your stress level. Who knew?
Day 3 - INTEGRATE + OCEANA
The holidays can leave you feeling scrambled and chaotic, out of touch and disconnected from both your inner and outer realities. So on Day 3, it’s time to INTEGRATE your energy centers and re-experience your connection to the mythical yet very real timeless world of OCEANA that lives in our collective consciousness.
Yoga is about so much more than being able to twist yourself into a pretzel or bend over backwards to touch the floor from a standing position. For many it is the perfect way to not only remain supple and healthy into those golden years, but also to open and align energy centers and neural pathways so that you are firing on all cylinders all the time.
There are many varieties of yoga to choose from: yoga to calm you down, to heat you up, to open your mind, build muscle and endurance, and to heal your body. The wonderful thing about this practice is you are never too old to start, and there is no special equipment needed.
It is a practice that has been around for literally thousands of years… and there is a reason for that! So whether you decide to find a virtual Zoom yoga class or go it alone in your living room with a YouTube video or DVD, this is one great way to work out while integrating your energy centers at the same time and an incredible self care tool.
Reflexology is the practice of massaging feet in a specific way to create wellness and balance in the rest of the body - basically a foot massage on steroids. And who in their right mind doesn’t like a foot massage? It can be intense but it is sooo worth it. This experience can deeply relax you, reduce body aches, relieve headaches, improve circulation and nerve function, eliminate toxins, and clear your mind.
There are practitioners trained in this methodology, but if you do not have access to a reflexologist you can teach yourself to do this. Reflexology charts - maps of the soles of the feet showing which zones correspond to which parts and systems of your body - can be found on the internet. This is another easily available ancient technique that works like magic to harmonize what is out of balance in you. Once you have mastered how to gauge the degree of pressure and kneading patterns on yourself, I’m pretty sure your loved one will not mind at all being your guinea pig when it comes to perfecting your new skill!
Saltwater Flotation Therapy
I guess you could say a sensory deprivation flotation tank experience is the closest we can come as adults to re-creating the experience of being back in our mother’s womb. The tank is filled with less than a foot of water in which six pounds of epsom salts per gallon have been dissolved. This gives the water an extraordinary buoyancy.
Something remarkable happens when you are floating weightlessly in a pitch black environment. Your mind slows down until you are in a theta state. This is the same brainwave state you get to right before you fall asleep. You can also get there in deep meditation, where you can experience vivid visions, clarity of thought, creative inspiration and insight as well as feelings of deep peace and ecstasy. You can lose all sense of self and reconnect with the timeless oneness of all that is. You can thank your endorphins for opening the mind gates to all that magic!
Walk or build a labyrinth
A labyrinth is a path that is kind of like a maze… only with no dead ends. It twists and turns back on itself many times until it reaches the center. There is only one path. The way in is the only way out.
Walking a labyrinth is an ancient spiritual practice to lead you back to yourself, to what is true, to the eternal calm at the center of all life. Your experience will be even more profound if you enter the labyrinth with a specific spiritual question or prayer and follow the path walking slowly and mindfully. It is not about reaching the end… it is about the journey there and back.
If there are no labyrinths near you, you can create your own in your yard with stones laid out in a traditional pattern that you can find through searching online. This walking meditation will help you gather together all the scattered pieces of yourself that have spun off during crazy times and reassemble them into a harmonious pattern.
Chant or tone your way to bliss
One of the best ways to harmonize dissonance that arises in body, mind or spirit is to use your voice to sound it out. Singing, chanting, toning… even humming… can put back together what has been scrambled or broken and restore a sense of peace, harmony and well-being to even the most frazzled among us. You don’t have to be “good at it” (whatever that means) for it to work. When you use your voice to express yourself in a melodic way, with intent, your entire being responds. Vocal sounds set up a vibratory response in your body that affects your vagus nerve in a beneficial way. Put on some of your favorite holiday tunes, or maybe special chants or hymns and sing, or chant, or tone or hum along. You will feel harmonized and groovy in no time!
Day 4 - REJUVENATE
Too much HOHOHO and non-stop planning, wrapping, Amazon surfing and tracking down packages that are MIA can leave you feeling drained and exhausted. Time to REJUVENATE!
Aromatherapy and Diffuser
Add an aromatherapy set and diffuser to your "feel good" toolbox. Did you know something as simple as the right scent can energize, revitalize and soothe even the most frazzled nerves? Especially if that scent comes from specially formulated essential oils that are dispersed into the air through a diffuser. Aromatherapy uses oils made from flower parts and petals, herbs, trees, roots, fruits and other members of the plant kingdom to create scents designed to beneficially impact parts of your brain responsible for producing serotonin and other feel-good chemicals. For example, lavender is proven to relax, while frankincense uplifts your spirit and leaves you feeling peaceful, grounded and alert.
Less stress and anxiety, increased energy and awareness, reduced headache and body pain, improved immune response, and a general feeling of happiness and well being are just a few of the gifts waiting for you when you give yourself the experience of rooms filled with healing scents from the natural world.
This is one of the best ways to rejuvenate: chowing down on food that is good for you, and there is no more nutritious source of replenishment than sprouts. The fresher the better.
Find a good old quart-size mason jar, a bit of cheesecloth (both available through online or at hardware stores), some organic alfalfa, broccoli, sunflower, or radish seeds - you can even sprout dried beans and nuts - and you are ready to get to sproutin’! Add another small handful of seeds, nuts or beans to your jar, cover with filtered or spring water, cover the opening with cheesecloth, punch a few holes in the top of the jar, screw it on and soak those babies overnight. In the morning, drain the water off and leave your mini farm in a place that receives bright indirect light (no direct sun). Then once a day rinse the seeds and drain the water. In as little as two or three days, you will start to see your seeds begin to germinate and grow. When you see little green leaves appearing, your sprouts are ready to harvest.
What you don’t eat immediately you can store in the fridge for up to three days. Wash your jar out with mild soap and water, rinse thoroughly, cut some new cheesecloth and your little farm in a jar is ready for its next assignment. Sprouts are a high-impact, easily digestible, good-for-you gift. It's great, big nutrition in a little bitty package! Your body will thank you.
Visit a Salt Room
Treat yourself to a salt room visit. Ever wonder why hanging out at the ocean makes you feel so GOOD? A big part of that feel-goodness comes from breathing in all that sea-salt laden air. If you find yourself nowhere near a beach then you can get the same benefit of inhaling sea-salt ion-laden air by visiting a salt room for an experience of halotherapy.
Halotherapy is the ancient practice of using salt caves as places of healing. Today there are specially designed rooms where you lie or sit comfortably in a dimly lit area while listening to peaceful music and breathing in the purifying salt ion-filled air. Some of these spaces even have walls covered with Himalayan salt tiles backed by softly glowing lights that warm the tiles and increase the beneficial ionic charge in the atmosphere.
Science tells us that salt ions purify the air and can reduce stress, improve your sleep patterns, open and help heal and strengthen your lungs, energize you and leave you feeling balanced. A salt room experience is especially the thing to do during the winter months, when colds and flues are lurking around.
Day 5 - OPENING
The holiday season is the time of the Winter Solstice where magic permeates the air, the veils between our everyday reality and infinite possibility thin and the potential for OPENING on the deepest levels is close at hand. Here are a few tools to help you create a space for miracles.
Invest in Crystals
Nothing says magic quite like a crystal. These beautiful geometrically shaped sparklers are members of the mineral kingdom and grow slowly (yes, Virginia, crystals “grow”) over eons of time in the natural world. Not only are they a joy to look at, they also possess specific properties that have made them objects to be honored and used for healing, transformation and energy storage by many cultures throughout time. In the esoteric realm, different types of crystals are believed to have different gifts to give us.
Crystals like rose quartz, emerald and ruby crystals heal, strengthen and open the heart. Hematite possesses magnetic qualities that ground and protect you, connecting you with the power of the earth. Citrine increases energy flow in the body, strengthens physical endurance and connects you to the sun. Amethyst is known to facilitate the opening of the third eye, enhancing visions and speeding you on the way to enlightenment. Clear quartz crystal is the undisputed king/queen of the crystal kingdom, known for its power to store information, enhance the properties of any crystal it is paired with, open energy centers in the body, dissolve blocks, increase the flow of your life force, and open your awareness to the existence of other realms. Pure quartz crystals are even grown in laboratories for use in modern technology because of their unique capacity to store and transfer information as well as actually producing energy when they are exposed to vibration and pressure.
So whether you decide to treat yourself to a quartz-crystal pendant to wear around your neck, or you assemble a collection of crystals to add to your self-care tool box, this is one gift that will add to the magic and beauty in your life.
Try some drumming
Get a drum! Throughout time, in all cultures throughout the world, drumming has been used to reach into the depths of our souls, to release fear and contractions and reveal truths, to gather power and open the mind and spirit. The vibrating rhythm of the drum can shake loose the limitations put on us by modern cultural norms and connect us with the deep wonder, power and magic of the natural world and unseen realms. Drums come in all shapes and sizes, each with its own unique voice.
Before you buy, it is best to listen until you find the drum that speaks to you. That will be the one you take home. The most practical kind of drum is what is called a “traveling’ or hand-held drum. The best ones are made by indigenous craftsmen who have been trained in the holy art of drum-making. This drum will quickly become your friend and helper. Many cultures believe that drums have a spirit. After living with and using one for a while, I think you will agree.
Guided deep-breathing meditation
You can find lots of meditations over on YouTube, but have you ever tried deep breathing meditations? Coming back to the breath is a kindness your brain, heart, and lungs will thank you for, over and over. Deep breathing coupled with guided meditation focused on a specific intention can expand your consciousness outward beyond the ego and inward down to the cellular level.
The ancients believed that the breath held prana, life force that would increase longevity, clear the mind and open the soul to awarenesses not available in normal everyday life. Today we know this is more than true: without oxygen contained in the air we breathe we would die, and the more we get through our breath the better our bodies and minds function. So give yourself the gift of life and expansion by cultivating a regular practice of deep breathing meditation.
Day 6 - COMFORT
The holidays can be a challenge if you have lost a loved one. The glaring absence of someone you somehow thought would be there forever, whether that be a human or a furry friend, can create moments of deep sadness and grief in the midst of all the celebrating and leave you craving some COMFORT. Be kind to yourself, and remember the depth of your grief equals your capacity to love. With time the sorrow will fade and you will be left with memories of the beautiful moments and the love shared, indelible things that live forever.
Get a blankie
Go get your favorite blankie and enfold yourself in memories. We all have something… a favorite little blanket, our Dad’s old flannel shirt, a sweater our grandma knitted for us….These bring us comfort and make us feel safe and held. Yet we seldom give ourselves permission to pull these things out, wrap ourselves up and just sit there until the moment passes. This season decide to allow yourself to sit with your memories and feel the love that you shared with those you have lost.
Adopt a pet
There is no better way to heal than finding someone to love and care for who will love you back unconditionally. So time to head down to your local animal shelter and bring home a furry (or scaled or feathered) friend who will love you beyond measure and heal your heart. The act of giving love and care to a sentient being who needs you is one of the most healing things those with broken hearts can do. You will not only be comforting yourself, but you will also be giving comfort to another wounded heart. The benefits of this are incalculable.
When we are filled with sadness it is sometimes hard to see our blessings. Yet focusing on the things we have to be grateful for can pull us out of grief and wrap us in the beauty to be found in the present moment. There is always something to celebrate: the sun on your face, the fact that you woke up this morning, the limitless potential held in the beginning of each new day, the song of a bird outside your window, the steaming cup of tea before you, the beauty of the natural world, your breath, your ability to see and hear and touch and feel, the miracle of your body and its ability to regenerate given half a chance.
A great way to remind yourself of all your blessings is to make a Gratitude Jar. Get an empty jar, decorate the outside with stickers or paint and then every day for one year, whenever you find something to be grateful for, write it down and add it to the jar. Do not go to bed without adding something to that jar. I guarantee you, you will always find something to be grateful for if you sit with it long enough. At the end of the year pull all those individual records of gratitude out and read them mindfully, one by one, allowing yourself to feel how blessed you truly are. Gratitude heals and is a practice cultivated by the wisest among us.
Get a salt lamp
There is something so comforting about the warm golden glow provided by a salt lamp. These are chunks of pink Himalayan salt from ancient seabeds that are hollowed out to contain an electric bulb or other light source. This not only adds a beautiful, soft, relaxing ambiance to your surroundings, but the warming effect of the interior light source causes the salt to emit beneficial ions, cleaning and filling the air with good energy. You can find these amazing lamps at most natural food stores, as well as online.
Day 7 - SOOTHE
One unwanted gift too many of us find under the tree this time of year is a box full of anxiety and frazzled nerves. This is a challenge that can threaten to derail all our best-laid holiday plans. Finding ways to SOOTHE our soul is essential to rescuing the holiday spirit and restoring our good cheer.
Get some candles
The sight and scent of lighted candles is pleasing to pretty much everyone. Candles made from soy rather than petroleum-sourced regular wax and scented with essential oils like cedar, sage, pine, damask rose or jasmine is a healthy, beautiful way to fill the senses and nurture the part of us that needs soothing. Staring at the flickering flame of a candle is mesmerizing and can calm all those worrisome thoughts skittering around in your head like frantic little mice being chased by a tomcat.
Take time for tea
Brew yourself a cup of high-quality organic herbal tea and then go sit in your favorite spot - perhaps in front of a dancing fire in the fireplace or near a window where you can watch the birds and squirrels playing tag with each other - and enjoy the warmth of the cup in your hand and the rising scented steam. Sip it slowly and allow yourself this time out to just "be." You might want to try chamomile, rosehip, mint or lemongrass - teas to calm you down, open up your breathing, soothe your nerves, uplift your energy. There are so many choices offering individual benefits and unique flavors. Find the one that appeals to you and enjoy!
Cover yourself with a weighted blanket. Believe it or not, something as simple as the increased pressure of a heavy covering can lower anxiety and aid in relaxation and sleep. These blankets are made of several layers of fabric filled with glass or plastic beads to increase their weight. You can find several versions of these blankets made of cotton, wool, or soft faux fur online, or you can give yourself a similar experience by placing several blankets on top of each other and then crawling underneath to snuggle down into this soothing embrace.
Bring on the colors!
Remember when you were little and the best thing ever was to escape into the world you created with nothing more than crayons and a blank piece of paper? For that space in time, everything else was suspended and the only thing that mattered was the project in front of you.
Good news! You are never too old for colorful pens, pencils or crayons and a tablet filled with blank pages waiting to be filled to work their magic. You can find these ingredients just about anywhere. You can order them online. You will amaze yourself with what pours out of your imagination and onto the paper and you will walk away from every experience soothed and feeling so much better. Promise!
Day 8 - EXPAND + TRANSCEND
During the holiday whirlwind with its endless to-do lists and never-enough-time attitude, we can find ourselves in a state of contraction so intense that our perception of reality narrows and we lose our ability to tap into the mystery of this sacred time. Time to TRANSCEND the madness and EXPAND to encompass the spirit and soul of what is magical and holy to us.
Try some mala or prayer beads
Mala, or prayer beads, are traditionally used in prayer and meditation to help focus and center ourselves into the moment. They are always made up of 108 beads and made of bodhi seeds, carved bone, or unique wood, shell, coral or semi-precious stones such as turquoise or amber. Many people develop a special attachment to their malas as they hold the energy built up over many hours of prayer and meditation. The longer you have and use your prayer beads, the more power they will have to remind you to let go and transcend the concerns of the everyday world so that you can expand into the realms of spirit.
You can find your special strand of beads online from websites that feature Tibetan art and creations, or you can make one yourself by purchasing 108 beads made from material that holds meaning for you and then stringing them yourself. If you do this, remember to knot the string between each bead to hold it in place. This will not only prolong the life of your mala, it will also aid in the smooth flow of beads through your fingers during your prayers and meditations.
Invest in a singing bowl
Singing bowls are wonderful tools for transcending our everyday reality and expanding our awareness from the TIbetan Buddhist tradition. These bowls are traditionally made of a special mixture of five to seven precious metals such as copper, silver, gold, tin and iron. Each metal corresponds to a heavenly body. For instance, gold represents the sun, silver the moon, iron Mars, copper Venus and tin relates to Jupiter. A new addition to this genre are crystal bowls made of an amalgam of crushed quartz crystal shaped into bowls of various sizes.
When you hit the bowl with a mallet designed for this purpose, and then press it against the rim while moving it steadily around the circumference, an amazing sound is produced. This sound and the accompanying vibrations have the power to balance left and right hemispheres of your brain, stimulate your pineal gland, deeply relax and renew you and expand your consciousness. You can find singing bowls online or through specialty stores that carry sound healing tools. Each bowl is different, so it is best to listen before you purchase.
Mindfulness card decks
There are endless varieties of mindfulness card decks out there just waiting for you to pick them up and start a journey leading to the discovery of doors you never knew existed. Profound realizations about yourself and the world around you, hidden meanings to be found in your experiences and a direct experience of connecting to an expanded awareness outside the rational mind are just a few of the gifts this experience can offer you. There are angel cards, tarot decks, decks holding sayings from holy teachers and saints, animal cards based on wisdom from Native America, decks of Bible quotes, decks for those in recovery….the list goes on and on.
The idea is you sit in a state of mindfulness or prayer and then pull a card or series of cards from the deck of your choice. Sit with what you have drawn and meditate on the message and meaning offered to you. Many people find that this practice has the power to clarify issues, offer a way forward, provide guidance, insight, inspiration and encouragement. The messages received are often chillingly accurate! The act of concentrating in this way can expand your thought process and put you in touch with the higher mind where you can access the ability to transcend feelings of helplessness, confusion and doubt.
Cultivate heart/brain coherence
Most of us are trained to think of our brain as the sole source of cognition, intelligence and wisdom available to us. Yet science has discovered what the ancients always knew: we have another “brain” that resides in our hearts, one that is much more powerful and more connected to all of Creation than our brains could ever be. When we shift our awareness so that our heart is the Master and the brain its servant, we can transcend linear reality and expand our understanding. One great way to do this is to cultivate heart/brain coherence. In this way you can harness the power of both brains working in harmony to access and create in more powerful ways than you can imagine.
Here is a gift of a heart/brain coherence practice that takes as little as five minutes and can be done literally anywhere at any time:
Find a quiet spot and sit comfortably or lie down. Close your eyes and put your hands on your heart. You can hold them palms together in a prayer position or lay them one on top of the other. It is important that you are directly touching your heart because your awareness will immediately focus on whatever spot on your body you are touching. Breathe deeply and slowly, in and out, until you feel yourself relaxing. Then focus your awareness on something - someone or some experience that evokes feelings of gratitude, compassion or love. Hold that focus and allow that feeling to grow in you until it fills your body and mind and you can viscerally feel it. You are now engaging your heart wisdom. This is where you receive inspiration, insight and intuitive knowings.
Let yourself sit with this experience for as long as you can. When you are in this space you can receive answers to questions that your brain has not been able to deliver. The more you do this the easier it will be to access and hold this profound expanded awareness and carry it into your everyday existence. The best freebie you will ever give to yourself! I mean THE BEST!
Day 9 - SERENITY
Life can be crazy, especially during those festive filled weeks as each year comes to a close. Who doesn’t need more SERENITY and peace right about now? Here are a few ways in this self care gift guide to give yourself just that!
Listen to nature recordings
Recordings of songbirds, nature sounds, classical music, chanting monks or the wordless meditative sounds of gongs, flutes, chimes, and singing bowls can zen down even the most revved-up minds. Filling your space with these sounds is one of the quickest and most pleasant ways to transform chaos and agitation into peace and tranquility.
You can find CDs (good to help you stay offline for relaxing!) of your favorite ear candy online or you can download mp3s from various online services. Our bodies, minds and souls - even our DNA - responds to harmonious sounds by returning to balance and inner harmony. Sound can send us straight into a state of serenity and bliss.
Treat yourself to a body scrub
Treating yourself to a body scrub made of sea salt or turbinado sugar, organic olive or almond oil, and scented essential oils can relax your body and mind and leave you feeling relaxed and at peace with the world. Not only will this exfoliate and detoxify your skin, increase circulation and cultivate a glowing complexion, if you give yourself this delight before bed you will more than likely reap the added benefit of sleeping like a baby!
I have never found anyone who doesn’t like to color. Give someone a coloring book and crayons or colored pencils, walk out of the room for ten minutes… and when you walk back in again I can pretty much guarantee they won’t even notice you’re back, so engrossed will they be in what they are doing. And now there are meditative coloring books designed specifically to create a sense of calm and well being in the filling in of the lines and mandala-like patterns, the images of the natural world that fill the pages. These magical books are available at just about any bookseller online or otherwise.
Day 10 - RELEASE
One of the best gifts you can give yourself - ever - is permission to RELEASE all the buried emotional baggage, fears and distorted thinking you have been carrying around inside your head and body that can cloud your perceptions and lead to you living a life in perpetual mute mode, rather than in full-throated joy and celebration. Here are a few things you can give yourself to help you let go of those things that no longer serve you and are holding you back from experiencing the best life you can possibly live.
Go on a retreat
This may be something you will choose to do once the holiday whirlwind winds down. But no self care gift guide would be complete without suggesting an all-out retreat! Whether you escape to an off grid cabin in the woods, a camper in the desert, a secluded beach house or create an in-house retreat by turning off all phones, TVs and routers, a retreat from all the distractions the world throws at us 24/7 can allow space for a deep dive into your inner world to retrieve all that doesn’t belong there. That will allow you to finally deal with all those feelings you stuffed away because they were too painful or because you didn’t have time to process them - all those memories you are holding on to that are better left to dissolve into nothingness, all the fears that keep you from saying “yes” to a life lived full-throttle.
Once they are up you can then release them by expressing all the sorrow, anger, fear, longing and regrets. This is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary if you want to access your true power and limitless nature. After you do this you will be left with the wisdom gained by facing your demons and forgiving the past. You will come out of this time with a new-found strength and confidence, feeling lighter and able to be fully present in the moment.
PS. be sure to tell your loved ones in advance you will be unavailable for these few days, so they won’t call the authorities to file a missing person’s report!
Write in a journal
Give yourself a journal and commit to daily entries. Cultivating this practice can allow you to pour your deepest thoughts and feelings onto the paper so they don’t build up inside and cause contraction and emotional pain. You can allow yourself to express things in this safe format that you would never say out loud. It is an easy way to work through uncomfortable, frustrating, hurtful or frightening experiences and then let them go and move on.
Relax in a sauna
A sauna session is a time-tested great way to release toxins that are held in the body, increase circulation, ease physical pain and improve immune response. You can find saunas at wellness centers, gyms and spas. You can also install a sauna in your house if you have the space. This is an ancient healing method used by many cultures with great success. You will greatly improve your health and add to your sense of well being by gifting yourself with sauna time.
Fear NOT the fire
Write down your fears and release them in a fire. This is a powerful ritual that sends a message to your subconscious mind confirming those fears are gone for good. Fear is the greatest limiter we have as humans, and ironically it does not originate from outside of us. We create our fears and the beliefs that justify those fears in order to protect ourselves from things we feel threaten our existence. And because we create these mental jailers, we can break them down and release them.
So get some paper and a pen, sit quietly until you can connect with your fears and then write each one down. When you feel complete, light a fire outside, in a fireplace or a fire safe container, say a prayer and throw them in the fire. Then sit there, watch them burn and turn into smoke and ash and let yourself feel them dissolve into nothingness. Make a statement such as “It is done! Thank you for making it so.” Then take a few deep breaths and fill yourself up with life force and good vibes.
Day 11 - RELIEF
All that running around, internet surfing, Zoom calling, hauling packages to the post office, dragging boxes of ornaments down from the attic and slogging through wet coldness can leave you sore and aching in places you didn’t even know you had. Time for some RELIEF.
Get some blue light blocking glasses
This year most if not all of our celebrating will be virtual, requiring hours of web time. Exposure to all that harmful blue light emitted from your device screens can give you headaches and make your eyes feel like they are on fire and heavier than bowling balls in their sockets. Your sleep rhythms can also get all scrambled up from this excessive exposure. Blue light blocking glasses equipped with special lenses to screen out the blue light wave-lengths can easily resolve this dilemma. You can order a pair online and in no time you will be Zooming with the fam all bright-eyed and eager to share all those quirky presents your Uncle Delbert gifted everyone!
Got aches? Feeling like everything has jumped out of line and left your body with contractions that stubbornly refuse let go so that everything can return to their proper places in the natural order of things? Are your stomach and liver screaming at you because of all that eggnog and champagne you’ve been guzzling? An acupressure mat may be just the thing for you. These mats are designed with protrusions strategically placed to provide therapeutic pressure on acupressure points, facilitating release of tension and blocks so that your body can feel like itself again.
Easy to use: just spread it out, lie down on the surface for a few minutes and rise feeling like a new human. Can’t get any easier than that!
Feel good with a neck warmer
Another unwelcome gift from the virtual world that pretty much all of us have to deal with is a stiff, sore neck. Neck warmers are great little tools for helping to relax all that muscle tension so that your vertebrae can slip back in line and your nerves will stop screaming, “Help me please!” These handy helpers are made of cloth into which has been sewn tiny glass beads, dried rice, or buckwheat. Pop them into the microwave for one to two minutes and then wrap them around your neck. Ahhhh! Find them online - there are lots of styles and fabrics to choose from, including warmers in the shape of bunnies and other adorable critters - or make one yourself. (Just be sure to use a natural fabric as some synthetic contain chemicals that could pose a fire hazard.)
Soak with epsom salts
When your muscles are screaming at you so loud that they are drowning out everything else in your awareness, there is nothing better to give yourself than a long soak in a hot epsom salt bath. The secret ingredient is the magnesium in the salt, which has a deeply relaxing effect when absorbed through the skin.
All you need are a tub, hot water, epsom salts - available at any drugstore or through an online retailer - your favorite essential oil and you are ready to go! Just add around two cups of epsom salt crystals to your bathwater (the salts will dissolve more efficiently if you add while the water is running into the tub), throw in a few drops of essential oil such as lavender or rose and then lie back and let this magic concoction do its thing. You will literally feel your aches and pains vanish and will emerge deeply relaxed.
Day 12 - GROUND
As the holidays come to a close we can be feeling a little out of sorts and disconnected from our “real lives”. Here are a few things you can do for yourself to repair the damage all that partying may have done and GROUND so you are ready to jump in and change the world in 2021.
Take a walk on the barefoot side
Take off your shoes and walk barefoot outside. Bare feet on grass or sand or good old dirt can do more to refresh your energy, reorient your awareness back into your body and realign your biofield back to its natural healthy state. If you live in a colder climate this may not sound like the most fun experience, but pick a sunny day and wear thick socks made from natural fabrics if you need to.
A 20-minute stroll will reorient you in ways you cannot even imagine. It is important to note that most of us never give ourselves this experience, choosing to wear rubber soled trainers and tennis shoes pretty much all the time. Rubber is one of the best insulators there is and so interferes with the discharge of built up static in the body and the ability for your body to align itself with the healthy resonant frequencies of the earth.
Commit to healthy eating
Time to get well and eat healthy foods. Try out a few new smoothie recipes. Eliminate all that junk food that worked its way back into your diet over the holidays and replace it with organic greens, root veggies, grains, fruits and nuts. You are what you eat has never been so true!
Don’t let this diet changeover stress you out. Break it up into sections: the first week say goodbye to sugary drinks, the second week all fried food has to go bye-bye to make room for more salads, the third week replace breakfast donuts with a hearty bowl of organic oatmeal topped with fresh berries, nuts and cinnamon or two organic eggs from local farms and whole grain sourdough bread. If you are really ambitious, challenge yourself to learn to bake the bread yourself - it’s the latest thing! Before you know it you will have completed the full court press of a changeover and you will reap the benefits of a stronger immune system, a happier outlook, a more alert brain, improved sleep quality, and well, you will just FEEL better all over.
Ground with clay
Working with clay is a great and really fun way to ground yourself. You can purchase clay online or through a local art supply store. You can get the powdered form and mix it with water yourself or receive it already prepared and ready to be shaped. Clay is really just mud with an attitude… and the act of playing in dirt holds great appeal to the child in all of us.
When you are kneading and shaping a wet warm lump of clay your entire being becomes focused and the moment is all that is. You don’t have to be good at it… you don’t even have to make anything in particular. Your body will respond on a visceral level to this direct interaction with the earth by becoming more calm and focused. Who knows? Maybe this will become a new found passion and the next thing we know we will have a new sculptor savant on our hands!
Conclusion - A self care gift guide to help you with your well being!
Whether you decide to give yourself every single one of these cool gifts or you just add one or two to your life, we hope they bring you health, happiness and well-being. We are sending best wishes your way for a new year filled with hope, optimism and determination to live your best life ever!