I was on a walk with a friend the other day and she asked me whether I moisturize my body. “Yes,” I could safely reply. Maybe some days I don’t take the time, but I usually give a quick slather at least to my elbows and legs.
“How about your belly?” she asked. “And your butt? Your thighs?”
And the answer is “sometimes.” The times when I’m feeling really good in my body. The times when I’ve been doing yoga and biking and hiking and just want to love up all those tired muscles. The times when the candles are lit, I’ve taken a (quick, drought-friendly) shower (instead of my beloved baths), and I’m getting ready to cozy into bed.
But it got us talking. Which got me thinking. How about loving up that belly in the broad daylight and giving myself that generous act of devotion and acceptance? Which only takes 1/2 minute. How about putting the intention into loving those parts of myself that are less than perfect? What if I see the wrinkles and bulges and choose to love this body that takes me where I need to go, let’s me do the things I love to do, and hugs my kiddos with such affection?
My mental and physical health depend on me making great choices when I like what I see and when I don’t. This means being resilient in times of stress and in times of joy, in the bright light of noon and in the glow of the candles. I’ve assembled a giant personal toolbox full of tools that help me stay true to my path and have the energy to take care of my family and patients.
I thought I’d share a few of mine here to inspire you toward radical self-care in this changing season. And I would love to hear from you. What’s in your toolbox?
1. Downward dog. A commitment to one stretch usually leads to a little more time on the mat. Or a class…taking that step to walk into sacred space allows me to be more aware of the constant chatter in my head. If you need home practice inspiration, I can’t recommend yogaglo.com highly enough.
2. Dancing. With friends, to live music, zumba . . . just dancing.
3. Getting out for a walk or bike ride with a friend. If I’m stressed and busy or feeling down and lethargic, exercise can be the first thing to go. Which doesn’t help. At all. Having a friend along with whom to vent the stresses and appreciate the beauty of this day, this moment can uplift my perspective.
4. Pulling out that journal. A half-hour with pen and paper takes all those thoughts that were spinning knotted in my head like a messed up ball of yarn and turn them into a neatly rolled skein, possibly even a logical little knitted sweater woven of thoughts and feelings that makes a little more sense.
5. Soup! Having a batch of soup on the stove and another batch in the refrigerator is how I like to roll as soon as there’s a bit of chill in the air. I can heat it up for breakfast, lunch or dinner and have something warm and nourishing in front of me in minutes.
6. Asking for help. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to reach out to a trusted friend or therapist and share what’s going on with you. They will likely appreciate the gift of your sharing yourself with them, especially if you aren’t expecting them to fix it for you but just to listen
7. Taking herbs. I make mason jars of tonic teas to drink throughout the day, harnessing the powers of nettles, raspberry, clover and such to keep me in balance. I also keep tinctures in obvious spots in my kitchen and bathroom to remind to take a few squirts to support my system and cycles.
8. Massage, acupuncture, and network chiropractic care. Of course I would say that, yes? I love bodywork and find that if I get treatments when I start to feel out of balance, I stay healthy and vital through the seasons.
9. Breathing. Yes, I know. Of course we breathe. That’s how we stay alive. But a few conscious breaths throughout the day can completely change the way I’m holding my body and even my thoughts.
10. And let’s not forgot . . .moisturizing. Everywhere. With love.
There are so many more little things we do each day. Doing something kind for others, cooking a nourishing meal, connecting with loved ones, getting a nasty project off the to-do list, playing music. This barely scratches the surface. Please let me know what’s in your toolbox!