If I asked the average person in the US what routines and practices they implement in their life to take care of their physical health, something tells me at least 3 out of 4 people would have some answers. Even if they aren’t considered to be at their healthiest, most people can at least share general ideas of steps to take towards improving their physical health. If I asked the same questions, and replaced physical health with mental health, I’m not too confident that one would be able to share information as quickly or thoroughly.
With so much information about mental health and major mental illnesses available to the masses, why is the topic of mental health still not integrated into our thought process about general health management? It seems that mental health becomes a trending topic when an atrocity is exposed in the public eye, e.g. a mass shooting, a suicide or substance induced death of a public figure, and then gently fades from peoples’ attention until the next time. Because mental illness (not mental health) becomes a circumstantial topic, I presume it can only be understandable why mental health is a back thought, but it is a personal focus of mine, to change that.
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Life is always happening. Stressors are constantly coming our way. Under heightened periods of stress, it is so easy to either throw ourselves into staying busy or completely vegging out on unhealthy foods and mindless activities.
However, there are practices and tools we can utilize to support our self care. When one thinks of self care, you can be inclined to think of massages, nail spas or hair salons. Yes that may be one form, but there are simple, affordable and natural tools that you can utilize to combat stress.
When it comes to stress, it is important to know, that your body is responding to external stimuli on a neurological, physiological and energetic level. Most of the time when we are "stressed", we do not even perceive it because consciously we are built with protective factors and operate thru resilience. Regardless if our conscious selves process all of our stressors, its beneficial to have tools that stabilize us neurologically, physiologically, and energetically.
-Burn Something Edifying
Burning herbs, woods, and incense to clear energies, bless bodies, and purify the atmosphere of the home is an ancient practice utilized indigenous, African, Asian, and LatinX cultures.
Look for these scents which are known to have a positive effect on the nervous system. They may reduce feelings of nervousness, anxiety and stress. Lavender, eucalyptus, jasmine, vanilla, and sandalwood.
Sage, Palo Santo, or Incense
These are shorter burning items, that only require a little bit at a time. You can purchase and look up how to burn white sage or palo santo. Sage and palo santo are used to smudge (clear energies and toxins) so you would burn the tips and let their smoke fill the air for 30 seconds to 2 minutes (depending on how much you have). Incense will surely burn longer but not as long as a candle.
-Meditate and/or Pray
Meditation is essentially the practice of focused breathing, typically done in silence. In meditation, you become mindful of your thoughts, and as you deepen your meditative practice, you develop the strength to quiet your thoughts. Because we are so overstimulated, the thought of meditating can seem challenging, and initially it is. Fortunately there are tons of apps and wellness channels on YouTube, that support meditation, no matter how fresh or seasoned you are.
The goal is all about stillness and awareness.
The same goes for praying. Praying is a time where people talk to their respected higher power and that power responds back and guides that individual on their life journey. Prayer time, allows you to shut the outside world down, and focus on your intention in that moment.
-Practice Sound Healing
Listen to binaural beats, meditative music, music that stimulates your chakras.
Every object and every person is composed of energy. As the great Sir Isaac Newton theorized thru the law of conservation of energy, energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but it can be converted from one form to another and it can be transferred from one object to another. This means that you, during times of stress emanate certain energy. Therefore, one energy based tool you can utilize is sound healing. All that "sounds" are is energy captured in frequency form. Of course there's a science to it, but for the sake of this conversation, just know that there are specific sounds that you can listen to that scientifically enhance your mood or relax you.
You can simply use YouTube or your favorite music app to search for binaural beats, meditative music, sound healing songs, chanting, or chakra balancing hymns.
An essential oil dropper or roll-on, a tincture, or a tea
As herbs come from the ground, we humans have mastered various ways to ingest them. Either on your skin or thru your blood stream, utilizing the power of herbs works. Some herbs can be used for cooking as well as aromatherapy. Others can be used for tea. When herbs are doused in rubbing alcohol, they become what we call tinctures, and can be placed in water or tea. No matter if the herbs are in a form of an oil that can be burned, rolled on you, in a tea bag, or in a tincture, utilizing the different forms are great for your well being. You can locate herbs in various forms at your local farmers market, health food store, alternative healing store/clinic, or online.
Look out for the following
- Lavender -Licorice root
- Chamomile - Holy Basil
- Eucalyptus - Ashwagandha root
- Kava - Eleuthero root
- Vanilla - Rhodiola root
- Cinnamon - Bergamot
- Lilac - Jasmine
Your breathe is the most centering tool for self care that you have. Taking intentional moments to practice 6 second inhalations and exhalations can center your body, improve your oxygen flow, and stabilize your fight or flight system. Focus on inhaling thru your nose and exhaling thru your mouth or breathing in and out of your nose.
When it comes to self care, there are endless tools you can use, however these are tools I have utilized in the last couple of years that have helped me.
Of course other steps you can take include quality rest, having a diet full of live foods, physical activity, practicing boundaries, being in nature, and taking quiet time.
In BE Love: Daily Intentions Guiding You to Self Love, I provide you with 35 activities and steps to practice self care and support you on your journey of self love.
What self care tools do you utilize?
Self- care is one of those words, at one time, that had a high level of regard in terms of how one could describe the way in which they tend to their mental, physical, and spiritual needs. Within the last 3 years, as the word has been ever present in the main stream, the strength or value of the term has shifted magnificently. It somehow became equivalent with pamper driven, cost directed products, routines, and services. Self-care has become commercialized and capitalized.
Both fortunately and unfortunately, the world is going through a major shift, and whatever privilege's that people had in terms of their monetized self-care, has been put on hold. All over the world, nations, towns and cities are on quarantine, as an act of protection against the Corona Virus which began to impact our world in November 2019. 5 months later, over a 1.3 million people have been impacted directly as hosts of the virus, and about 75,000 have died.
With quarantine, has come closure of all non-essential businesses, and for many, that includes the businesses they would frequent in the name of self- care. Salons, spas, gyms, restaurants, concert halls, performing arts centers, movie theaters, museums, and I could go on. For some, that even includes traveling, but we know the danger and impact of any person-to-person or outside surface contact at this time.
On top of stressors such as changes in employment, financial security, and adapting to being inside, there may also be the existence of stressors on both interpersonal and interpersonal relationship dynamics. Some are managing relationships within their home, or facing difficulty of not being in the physical presence of relationships that matter. Needless to say, if there was a time to really understand and implement self-care, now is surely an important time and opportunity.