“It’s the season of giving.” That’s a phrase we hear thrown around a lot this time of year. Yet, with all the gift wrapping, holiday baking, party planning (and party hopping), donating to our favorite causes, and spreading all-around good cheer, we often forget to give to ourselves. Take a moment to ask yourself honestly: how much time, attention and loving care have you given to your Self lately?
During the holidays, self-care is more crucial than ever. With all that giving, it’s important that we take time to replenish and give our bodies, minds, hearts and spirits what they need to feel healthy, peaceful and balanced. This is especially important for people who are energy sensitive or identify as empaths.
Below are some of my favorite ways to recharge your energy, refuel your body and refresh your Spirit, whatever your mood.
If you feel anxious, scattered or ungrounded:
- Spend some time in nature, soaking in the healing energy of mama Earth. Walk barefoot in the grass. Hug a tree. Smell some roses (or whatever flowers happen to be blooming nearby). Feel the warm rays of the sun energize your body and the cooling beams of the moon calm your soul.
- Give yourself a massage (in Ayurveda, we call this practice abhyanga). My favorite oil to use in the winter is sesame oil, but you can use almond, coconut or jojoba as well. Simply massage it into your skin 10-20 minutes before a shower or bath, so the oil has time to soak into the skin. Don’t use soap to wash it off; just rinse with water and then pat your skin dry. A quick tip for those of you who have trouble sleeping is to rub oil onto your feet before bed (you can add a few drops of lavender oil to make it even more relaxing) and then tuck them into a cozy pair of socks; this practice really saved me a few years ago when I was suffering from a really bad bought of insomnia.
- Pour yourself a healing cup of tea or mix up a supercharged herbal latte, using adaptogens like Ashwaghanda, Maca, Reishi, Licorice Root and Tulsi (which support the nervous system and help the body adapt to stress) and healing spices like Turmeric, Cinnamon and Cardamom. I like to drink a warm herbal latte about 20 minutes before bed, because it relaxes my body and soothes my mind, helping me fall asleep. My favorite recipe is below:
Alicia’s Nerve-Calming Nightcap
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (I make my own, but Califa Farms also makes a great one)
1 tsp Ashwaghanda Powder
1 tsp Licorice Root Powder
1 tsp Raw Honey (or more, to taste)
Warm the almond milk on the stove, then remove from heat. Whisk in the Ashwaghanda and Licorice Root powder (I like to give mine a whir in my Nutribullet). If I’m looking for an extra immune boost, I’ll also add in 1 tsp of Reishi or Chaga mushroom powder. Stir in raw honey, to taste. Sprinkle with cinnamon and fresh grated nutmeg.
If you feel heavy, depressed or legarthic:
- Get an instant dose of joy and inspiration by expressing yourself creatively. Dance, sing, write, draw, sculpt, cross-stitch, finger paint…whatever calls to your spirit. It’s important to allow yourself to just play, without censoring, judging or expecting perfection of yourself.
- Wear or work with healing crystals. Celestite, Amethyst, and Rose Quartz are some of my favorites for bringing in positive, loving energy. Selenite, Black Tourmaline, and Smoky Quartz are my favorites for clearing stagnant or negative energy (or energy that you’ve taken on from other people).
If you feel physically fatigued or emotionally drained:
- Take an Epsom salt bath (if you don’t have Epsom salts, any natural sea salt will do). These salts will detoxify the body and clear your energy field. For an extra healing boost, try adding some essential oils to the salts before you add them to the bath water. Some of my faves are lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint. If you don’t have a bathtub, soak your feet in a tub of salt water or simply take a shower and allow the water to wash any negative energy away.
- Nourish your body with gentle movement (yoga, Tai Chi, walks, etc) and brightly colored fruits and vegetables, which not only give the body vital energy but also balance the chakras (energy centers of the body).
- Netflix and chill. Curl up on your couch and watch a feel-good holiday movie. My faves are Elf and Muppet Christmas Carol (trust me on this).
If you feel unclear, indecisive or stuck in a mode of pleasing everyone but yourself:
- Spend some quiet time alone with your Self to tune into your own needs, wants and emotions. Meditation and journaling are particularly helpful practices for this.
- Allow yourself to receive and let others give to you. I woke up sick this morning, and when a friend offered to bring me soup, my first inclination was to say no. But I decided to say yes instead to this thoughtful, loving gesture and ended up sharing a lovely meal and heartfelt conversation that I wouldn't have had otherwise.
- Take some deep breaths to clear your mind. My favorite breathing practice is called Nodi Shodana, or alternate nostril breathing. This breathing techniques balances the masculine and feminine energy channels in the body. It also balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain and is very helpful for headaches. Here’s how:
Sit comfortably with a straight spine, open chest and closed eyes. Extend your right palm forward and fold down your index and middle fingers, leaving the thumb, right finger and pinky extended (Vishnu mudra). You have now made a space for your nose to fit in between your thumb and ring fingers. The ring finger can press on the left side of the nose, closing the left nostril, and the thumb can close the right side. In this practice, you will alternate back and forth, inhaling and exhaling through one nostril while covering the other, then switching sides. Begin on the left side, by covering the right nostril with the thumb. Inhale through the left nostril, then cover the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, then cover the left nostril and exhale through the left nostril. This completes one round. Do at least 3 or 4 rounds, if not more.