MY SELF CARE ROUTINE FOR STRESS ANXIETY & DEPRESSION
The COVID-19 pandemic brought up a lot of anxious and depressive feelings for me, which came to a head in the form of a stress induced sciatica flare up. These uncomfortable feelings + injury forced me to slow down and focus on my needs. A major part of my recovery included radical self care and self love. I realized I feel my best when I take the time to check in with myself and self care on a regular basis.
Since creating a routine self care practice I feel more at peace, I’m able to work through difficult emotions faster, and have a better outlook on life. Whenever I start to feel a negative emotional shift, I hold space for these emotions, and self care with one of these activities to clear my mind. This process helps me get to the root of my issues, and move past whatever’s bothering me, in a productive way. This Self Care Routine was created around balancing my mental, physical, and spiritual health. I partake in at least one activity a day and several throughout the week. I hope by sharing my self care routine, you'll be inspired to create your own self love ritual with whatever makes you feel good. We all deserve a life of peace and ease and it doesn't have to be complicated or expensive.
A simple but effective way to get through difficult moments is to just breathe. Something so natural is often forgotten during anxious moments. Whenever my chest feels tight or my heart is beating fast and i feel myself getting overwhelmed, I take a deep breath in through my nose and a long audible breath out through my mouth. Repeat three times In...Out... Try it while mentally repeating the following: "It's a bad moment, not a bad life”.
For a more structured breathing exercise, I'll find a quiet place to sit and set 5-10 minutes aside for a guided meditation; using an app like Headspace, Calm, or Youtube ( search guided mediations).
2. CHANGE THE VIBE:
Whenever the "vibe" in a space feels off, I'll clear the air with herbs. I love burning sage when I’m feeling negative or heavy, especially after a tense or stressful situation. Sage has been proven to remove bacteria from the air, improve intuition, and relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. In addition to sage smudge sticks, I'll burn lavender incense to create a calming environment, the scent always makes me feel at ease, especially when meditating or practicing yoga. On occasion I'll smoke dried lavender combined with cannabis to change my internal vibe and calm anxiety.
3. EAT A NOURISHING MEAL
Sometimes when I'm feeling sad and unreasonably irritated i'm just hungry and/or dehydrated. Drinking a few cups of water and cooking a nourishing meal, while singing along to my favorite music, always lifts my spirits. Studies show unhealthy eating patterns can cause mood swings. I'm guilty of missing meals on days where i'm super busy and always feel it emotionally. Blood sugar fluctuations and nutritional imbalances are often to blame. Without a steady source of fuel from the foods we eat, our mind and bodies don't function well. I try to eat a whole food, plant based, balanced diet and supplements to make sure I’m getting everything I need to feel my best.
I also incorporate what I consider "happy foods" into my everyday meals. These are foods said to contain vitamins for balanced, uplifted moods.
4. MOVE YOUR BODY
It's no secret movement releases stagnant energy. Yoga is my favorite way to move around because it exercises the mind and body, leaving you more cool calm and collected after each pose. Yoga with Adrienne is my go to channel for all things yoga but when i just want to flow i'll do a sun salutation or restorative hip opening moves like childs pose, and cat cow, which are great for my sciatica.
Random dance sessions are also a great way to just move your body and feel good fast. Play some Kaytranada, City Girls, or your favorite soundcloud mix and get moving whenever you need an energetic pick me up.
5. SPEND TIME IN NATURE
Sometimes we get caught up on the little details of life and nature reminds us there are bigger things at play. One time I was in an unpleasant mood/headspace, deep in my thoughts, in a downward spiral, worrying about stuff I can't even remember now. I went to the beach and saw dolphins and I imagined I was one of those dolphins just swimming along the Malibu coast and suddenly I felt like all the things I get anxiety over just weren't that deep.
If you can go for a walk around your block or go to a near by park, look at the flowers/trees, watch the birds, squirrels, insects and remember there’s a force that created these beings and created you. There’s a reason we’re all here, we all play a role in this lifetime.
6. WRITE IT DOWN: JOURNALING
Whenever there's a lot on my mind I like to grab my journal to sort it out, I love brain dumping where i just write whatever is on my mind, even if it doesn't make sense. Other days when i'm drawing a blank on what to write, I look to journal prompts to get my feelings out in a structured, productive way. Journaling gives you a chance to air out your feelings without opinions, I encourage you to just write whatever comes to mind without judgement.
The goal of journaling is to go inward, write down my thoughts and emotions. I encourage you to have a daily writing practice. Start with a prompt or freestyle. All the answers are within you, but it may take some time and practice to hear your inner voice. We get distracted by tv, social media, work, family, love lives and our voice can get lost in the shuffle, journaling is a great way to get in touch with your authentic self. Ever feel like you're just going through the motions of life ? Journal about it, meditate on what comes up during your journaling or meditate and journal what comes to mind during meditation. Give yourself 5-10 min just to free write. I always feel an energy shift, like a weight has been lifted, after a journal session.
7. PAMPER YOURSELF
I believe in the saying when you look good you feel good, so I take the time atleast once a week to pamper myself. I like to run a warm bath and whip up a face mask tailored to my skin care needs, giving myself the full spa experience. I love adding epsom salt and essential oils like lavender to a bath, setting an intention of peace, lighting candles and playing my favorite soothing music, usually Sade or Erykah Badu.
When I don't feel up to the full pamper experience, I've been finding joy in maintaining a simple skin care routine. Simply washing, moisturizing, and giving myself a facial massage with the GuaSha, all while admiring my skin, makes me feel so beautiful. This is my way of romanticizing my life and It feels like i'm in my own serene world, allowing me to be present in my body and love on myself.
8. TAKE SOME TIME TO DO NOTHING
Rest looks different for everyone. Rest is any activity aimed at improving physical or mental health. Lately I've been practicing mindfulness when doing too much. I try to take a break before feeling overwhelmed versus feeling overwhelmed and needing a break. I used to add so many things to my to do list but since prioritizing rest over finishing minor tasks, my moods are more balanced and I have more energy overall.
Resting for me looks like cuddling up in bed or on the couch with a good book or watching a comedy, something lighthearted. I like to give myself at least 1 day a week, where I just lay around for a few hours and either watch an old favorite or try something new. We all need guilt free rest, you know you deserve it!
9. CREATE JUST FOR FUN
Art can act as an emotional release. I've been into watercolor lately, because it's so easy to start and reminds me of my childhood art classes. I know I'm not the best artist but i'm not worried about the outcome, since its for my eyes only. I find it fun and relaxing to manipulate the colors and I like to create whatever is on my heart. Creating art can be a great stress reliever whether its doodling, painting, or making music. Getting your feelings out and expressing yourself without judgement.
10. LISTEN TO MUSIC
One of my favorite simple self care techniques is creating an experience out of listening to music. I'll put my phone on shuffle or find a curated playlist ,usually Alternative R & B or Neo Soul, light a joint or burn some incense, lay down and just vibe. Focusing on the words of the songs to get me out of my head and just zone out into a state of bliss.