Elizabeth Finch
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7 Self-Care Practices To Ramp Up During the Holidays

Posted by on Nov 30, 2017 in Featured, Self-Love + Self-Care | 0 comments

Elizabeth Finch

Last week, my two daughters were home for Thanksgiving break. I was incredibly excited to spend a few days with them with no itineraries and no deadlines. But two days into it, I woke up feeling resentful of them being in my space and disrupting my daily routine.

Of course, the resentment was immediately replaced by the feeling of guilt, because what kind of mom resents having her children around?

The kind of mom who lets her self-care slide for a couple of days, that’s who.

I was able to get a 30-minute jog around the neighborhood, and I came back in a much more positive mindset, with more energy to enjoy the day with my kids.

As a certified health coach, so many women come to me wanting advice around how to eat healthier and lose weight.

And that’s great! It excites me anytime someone wants to better themselves.

But one of the most important things for all women, and especially moms, to understand is this: You can’t skip the self-love and self-care part.

Especially during the holidays. I have found that the more pressing life gets — like when we have more commitments, less free time, less sleep — the more important it is for moms to ramp up our self-care.

Your self-care (or lack of) has everything to do with your relationship with yourself, and that includes your relationship with your food choices, as well as your overall daily happiness and fulfillment. Having a healthy, positive mindset is where it all starts.

Just like a healthy eating plan looks different for every person, a self-care practice will look different for every person, too. What feels good and self-nurturing to me, might not feel good to you and vice versa. You’ll have to figure out for yourself what does feel good and nurturing for you.

Here are 7 self-care practices that I’ll be ramping up this holiday season:

1. Regular daily exercise.

My personal favorites are yoga, HIIT, running and walking. It depends on the day and what’s going on in my life at the moment. When I have a lot of extra energy, I find that I need to exercise my body more vigorously to move all that energy around, so I’ll take a 45-minute run with sprint intervals, or a super hot and sweaty hour-long power yoga class. When I’m feeling less energetic but still want to move, I’ll go for a nice, easy 30-minute jog or walk, or do some gentle yoga at home. The most important thing is just to move regularly, and daily if possible. Our bodies were built to move and exercise, and we feel better mentally, physically and spiritually when we do.

2. A reasonable bedtime.

I used the word “reasonable” as opposed to “early”, because I have found that many people have resistance to the idea of an “early” bedtime. It’s important to get around 7 1/2 – 8 hours of sleep at night for optimal health and wellbeing. If you have to be up by around 6 am, that would mean a 10:00 or 10:30 bedtime at the latest. Getting 7 1/2 – 8 hours of sleep each night has been shown to benefit wellbeing in numerous ways such as improving mood, helping us to lose weight and maintain it, greater energy, keeping our immune system strong to fight off illness, and more. For me personally, it negatively affects my mood, my mindset and my hunger levels when I drop below the 7 to 7 1/2 hour mark.

3. Daily breathing and meditation.

Taking a few moments to focus on my breath every day calms my central nervous system. I also like to blend my meditation sessions with talking to my higher power and listening for spiritual guidance. Some people like to turn on relaxing, meditative music, some like guided meditations. Again, find what works best for you. There are loads of free meditations out there — try out the Insight Timer and Headspace apps or look at the Hay House meditations on YouTube. Just keep in mind that you don’t need to sit for meditation for 30 minutes for it to be effective. Even just 5 minutes a day can be very beneficial, but the most important thing is that you’re doing it consistently.

4. Journaling my thoughts and feelings.

For me, after I’ve done some breathing and prayer and connected with my higher power, I find that I’m very in tune with my feelings and emotions. And what I find helpful to do next is to journal and get it out of my head and onto paper. I also find it incredibly therapeutic to give my emotions a name. Sometimes when I feel “off”, I can’t always identify right away what’s causing it. When I take a few moments to journal out what’s going on, I often find that I can put my finger more on the root cause. For instance, it might be something like, “I had that negative conversation with so and so and she complained about something I did, and now I’m feeling down because I feel like I can’t please her”. Then I’ll continue to journal my thoughts and feelings around the fact that I can’t please everyone and that the way she feels has nothing to do with me. I always feel better when I take the time to identify negative emotions and take steps to work through them and upwards on the emotional guidance scale.

5. Spending time outside.

Nature is the great healer. The sounds and sights of nature help to refocus our attention, lessen stress, and heal our minds, bodies and souls. For me, just sitting outside for a few minutes on my deck, which is high in the trees, calms me and brings me back into balance. The sounds of the birds and the rustle of the trees, the beautiful sunlight or starry sky — it’s truly quite magical and I can feel myself relax when I’m outdoors. It’s even better if I can go for a walk or jog (no earbuds). I also try to practice earthing (or grounding) a few times a week. This is when you walk barefoot in the grass, or in sand if you have access to a beach, and allow the soles of your feet to connect directly with the surface of the earth. A lot of experts believe that earthing can be beneficial for health by decreasing oxidative stress, lowering stress hormones, and decreasing inflammation and pain. It’s definitely worth looking into. And when it’s too cold outside to walk barefoot, I make sure I take weekly…

6. Hot baths.

Yes! So simple and easy to do anywhere, anytime…but many of us underutilize this incredibly healing tool, don’t we? The minute I get into a hot bath, I can literally feel the tension melting off of me. It relaxes me, calms my nervous system, and soothes my tired and sore muscles. It only takes about a 10-minute soak to feel the benefits, but stay in 15-20 minutes if you can get it.

Here’s how I do it: I fill the tub up with water as hot as I can stand it ( I like to sit in the tub as it fills up), and add a few drops of essential oil (try lavender to relax, sage or clary sage to balance, peppermint to invigorate and soothe muscles, or a combination of your favorites) as well as about 1/2 to 1 cup of sea salt or Epsom salt (detoxifying and grounding) and a few drops of a skin-nourishing oil like grapeseed, almond or jojoba. I either read a few pages of a great book while I sit and soak, or a listen to some good meditative music and just close my eyes, breathe, and relax. Of course when I do this I have to keep my journal and pen close by, because when we allow our brains to stop thinking and just be, so many great ideas start to flow in. Jot those down! That’s when your best, most creative ideas will come through (it also happens when you exercise). Also, when it’s too cold outside to walk barefoot to get grounded, a sea salt or Epsom salt bath can serve as your way of earthing. Sea salts and Epsom salts are grounding and cleansing, and help to clear away negative, toxic energy. Plus, hot baths just feel amazing…why not do them more?!

7. Saying “no” to anything or anyone that isn’t serving me.

That’s right, oftentimes saying “No” is a great act of self-love. We are all guilty of taking on too much to please others or because “it’s the right thing to do,” but often that winds up being at the expense of our health, happiness, or overall wellbeing. And that’s simply not okay. I believe that so many of us get wrapped up in this because we are all taught to be people pleasers, to be self-sacrificing to make others happy or more comfortable. But for me, and over the course of the past six or so years that I’ve been on my journey to greater self-love and optimal wellbeing, I’ve found that taking on too much and overcommitting myself leads to greater stress, less joy and fulfillment, burnout, and eventually, illness. And it’s something that I’ve been working very hard at recovering from.

As a former people pleaser, let me tell you that it is possible to shift the focus and still be able to support other people. In fact, we are better equipped to serve others when we take care of ourselves and our own needs first. The new motto I live by? “If it’s not a hell yes, then it’s a hell no.” I no longer commit to people or things that don’t absolutely light me up when I think about them, and this frees up more time and space for me to spend time with the people who do light me up (like my husband, kids and like-minded girlfriends), and on the things that light me up (yoga, healthy food and cooking, meditation, and learning as much as I can about those things).


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