Creating Self Care Rituals in an Over-scheduled World
Self-care has become a wildly popular concept in the last few years and despite its wholesome aim, self-care has a darker side. Social media, magazines and even TV ads are packed with "chores" to add to our already busy lives. We're spending more money than ever (self care has become a multi-billion dollar industry) and anxiety and depression are at an all-time high.
“Give yourself a face mask! Go to yoga! Buy this new meditation app! Get out in Nature! Talk with your counselor!"... on and on. Just thinking about all the self-care things we "should be" doing is exhausting and anxiety producing!
How do we create and cultivate self-care rituals without burning out?
Self-care is not just about vacations and face masks, no matter what you’ve heard from "influencers". Self-care the practice of cultivating habits to preserve our mental, emotional, and physical health. And we need to integrate these habits into our lives in a consistent, fundamental, and ritualistic way.
Historically, humans practiced rituals as a way to connect to each other, to Nature and to the divine. Ritual celebrations are still a big part of our society, but they're usually confined to annual holidays, sporting events and church on Sundays (if you're religious).
Some of my favorite daily rituals
I'm a very "type A" person- overthinking, overachieving, constantly tending towards anxiety and burnout. I'm raising a family, running multiple small businesses, building a farm and a new home and all while trying to get out in the mountains as often as possible. I love it all, but it can easily become overwhelming. It doesn't help that I have ADHD and memory problems. Over the years, I've learned to create little rituals to invite calm into the chaos that I tend to create.
It may sound strange, but breathing is the #1 way that I stay centered and serene. Just writing this reminds me to check my breath. Taking slow, deep breaths is something we can do anytime and anywhere and it make's a huge difference in almost every activity.
DO A BODY SCAN
This is another anytime-anywhere ritual I do as often as possible. Start by taking a deep breath. As you exhale, relax the muscles of your face. Between the eyebrows, unclench your jaw and draw the corners of your mouth ever so slightly upwards. With another deep exhale, relax your shoulders down and back, lifting your chest. Breathe into your mid-back, expanding the rib cage and releasing the muscles there. With each deep exhalation, consciously relax and release muscles throughout your entire body, one section at a time. You can repeat this "body scan" as many times as you like. I find it helps enormously in sressful situations, when my mind is racing or I can't get to sleep.
GIFT YOURSELF A FEW MOMENTS WHILE APPLYING SKIN CARE
As you massage your facial oil or moisturizer into your skin, close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Massage your facial muscles slowly and consciously relax them. You'll find this deeply quieting. We hold a great deal of mental stress-induced tension in the muscles of our head, face and neck. Take a little time each morning and evening (even just a few breaths) to let go.
There are also many types of rituals that can be done on your own. Some people create daily routines that help them take care of their minds or bodies. All rituals have the common thread of engaging in self care with intention and mindfulness.
Whatever rituals you choose, the sense of sacred ceremony imbues self-care with an extremely empowering message: my well-being matters. It becomes less about buying products and services, and more about taking the time and space to tune into oneself. Becoming more aware of our inner world is a gentle invitation to deepen our understanding and compassion. It also opens space for us to facilitate changes in other parts of our lives.