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Spring into Self Care: Daily Routine

We’ve had numerous reminders this Fall and Winter that Mother Nature is less than predictable. Spring seems to be no different.

While it is tempting to fantasize about getting away from it all, perhaps recuperating on a tropical vacation, it’s not always in the budget and rarely as relaxing one imagines.

A regular routine of self-care has been my antidote for life’s uncertainties and stresses. We all know we should do more of it, but when and how we fit it in to our daily life is a different story. Many of us have built in caring for others automatically, but don’t often include ourselves.

Below are a few simple things I turn to as ways to reduce the effects of a stressful life. When you hear yourself saying “Am I allowed to do that?” or “I can’t do that!” consider the response to be “Yes, I can!”

Your Daily Routine

1) Reclined Meditation: Set the alarm about 20 minutes before you need to get up. I have my alarm set to snooze for 10 minutes. The first time the alarm goes off, prop a pillow behind your back and get comfortable. Begin by consciously breathing in through your nose, feeling the cool air enter your nostrils. Breath out, feeling the warm air exit your nostrils. I may see remnants of my dreams or my mind begins to formulate how my day will begin. When my thoughts starts to wonder I bring my attention back to my breath.

Occasionally I find myself falling back to sleep and the sound of my snooze alarm wakes me. I simply reset my snooze and reset my intention for another round of meditation. When I first started practicing I remembered to do it once or twice a week. Slowly it has become as natural as brushing my teeth. Even on the days I choose not to set my alarm, I welcome the graceful transition from slumber to wakefulness.

2) Shake, shake, shake: Tension build-up is habitual in the body so the best way to combat it is with another habit. Shaking out your body confuses the nervous system and the muscular patterns will begin to reset. At first it doesn’t feel particularly comfortable, but as you practice regularly you will discover a whole new freedom of movement. One place I shake is while I’m taking a shower. Start by lifting your heels slightly and drop them to create a bit of bounce. Bend your knees gently and allow your arms, head and hips to move freely. Add in a little wiggle and feel the warm water wash the tension away. Feeling silly is an added bonus. Another favorite shaking technique for tight hips and legs is to lie on your back. Place a small towel or pillow under your hips and raise your legs up into the air. Begin shaking your legs gently and steadily. Sustain the shaking for about a minute and when done regularly increase the time up to three minutes. When you get fatigued, allow your legs to lower to the ground and breathe. The neuro-muscular patterns will shift and a new level of relaxation will be achieved.

3) Take a nap. It’s one of those things that you may say “I can’t do that”, but I have started to make it part of my routine and it’s replaced my afternoon cup of coffee. I like to start lying on the floor with my legs elevated on a chair but you can snooze effectively in your car down at the beach or even in the corner of a parking lot. If a nap just doesn’t seem to be in your near future, try using this time for a reclining meditation. My smart phone is already set up for that 10-minute snooze.

4) Eat Kale: I have recently discovered Kale and I love it. It’s packed with good nutrition and can be eaten raw or cooked with other favorite veggies. A friend turned me on to a fresh, raw kale salad that they serve at the Esalen Retreat Center in California. It’s fast and easy, can be made ahead of time and lasts all week in your refrigerator. I’m not a big onion fan so I usually leave them out and add a teaspoon of honey, 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and sprinkle goat cheese on top. Enjoy.

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