Category Archives: Self-Care

Sweet Sunshine

I finally got outside yesterday. Our poor landscaping has been under inches of snow all winter and looks like it needed some love. A few days previous I noticed that the weeds were abundant so I decided it was time to get after it. It didn’t really matter what I did in the yard, the task is endless. While I was out I contemplated my favorite thing that day. It wasn’t too windy. It wasn’t too hot. The birds were chirping- it’s been a long time since I paid attention to that.

photo_9780_20090316Then I got excited! It’d been so long since I was out in te sun!  I remembered how good it feels to have the sun on my skin. Has winter been that long? How could I forget this?I have alway been so careful to shield myself from the sun. I always heard how bad the sun is for you, that is causes skin cancer, you will get wrinkles (egads!) and so on and so on. In my early 20s, I of course disregarded that nonsense but after some time I became religious about slathering on the sunscreen and always sat in the shade.  A good line of defense to be sure, but as it turns out, a little bit of sun exposure is really good for you.

With some sunlight we can enjoy:

  • Increase in Vitamin D levels- don’t forget this is a fat soluble vitamin so we need to eat fat in our diet.
  • Lower Blood Pressure due to an increase in nitric oxide productionwhich will reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Improve sleep – morning exposure gets your circadian rhythm on track.
  • Elevate Mood– sunlight therapy is used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, but you don’t have to suffer from SAD to reap the benefits
  • Other lesser known benefits include: pain relief, treatment for skin diseases, & regulating body temperature

The takeaway here is to make sure you get back outside but be smart about it. Indirect sunlight is okay! In fact it’s probably the preferred way for a lot of people. Some people can only be outside for 10 minutes before their skin starts to get damaged. If your pink, you’ve been out too long. Take your sun exposure in increments. If your skin can handle a bit more, go for it! For more specific recommendations on sun exposure, this Dr. Mercola article is a good resource.

I’m pretty sure I will be singing a different tune once the Summer gets here, but I will try to remember this feeling.

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Experiments in Body Products

I finally found some motivation to concoct some body lotion. I have been using sweet almond oil for some time and while I find it satisfying, I was ready to try something different.

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I pooled all my yummy resources and over a double boiler on low-ish heat I mixed:

  • 1 part coconut oil
  • 1 part sweet almond oil
  • 2 parts organic shea butter.

I added a few tablespoons of vanilla extract for some perfume, or as we like to call it in our household, “smellum.” Once it was mixed to my satisfaction, I placed the bowl in the fridge with a large sign that it is no longer a consumable product (lest someone mistake it for some delicious fruit topping or something bizarre that I haven’t imagined yet).

Once it’s been chilled, read: firm, take a hand mixer to it and whip it good! I put mine in a glass jar for display amongst the many jars already found in my bathroom.

Here’s what I like:

It’s easy. This didn’t take much time to put together. I happen to have all these products. All I needed was inspiration.

It smells amazing. I love the smell of vanilla.

Here’s what I perceive to be the downside:

It’s kinda greasy. I expected this though because the sweet almond oil lingers on the body for a bit. I just put my fancy robe on after I slather it on my body and pretend I’m in a luxury spa. I brew a hot cup of tea and sip on it until I feel it’s soaked in my skin. This can be tough if you are in a hurry in the morning, but it forces me to slow down and enjoy the process of easing into my day. That might sound a bit hippy-dippy but it truly makes for an enjoyable morning. I do not apply lotion to my feet at all unless I put on slippers. I’m terrified that I’ll slip before it is absorbed by the skin. I just don’t want to hit my head on the tub or something. That could be a disaster.

My dog loves it. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t like to be licked. It’s just icky to me.

The amount of lotion that is made should last for quite a bit of time because I don’t apply a ton of it. I particularly like the vanilla smell. I found some neat facts about vanilla that just reinforces my feelings about vanilla:

  • The vanilla plant is an orchid, native of Mexico- it’s the only edible orchid.
  • Vanilla is the world’s most second most labor-intensive agricultural crop.
  • The flower only blooms for 24 hours. If it doesn’t get pollinated, it will die.
  • Historically, vanilla is described as an aphrodisiac
  • Additionally, it is a remedy for fevers.
  • Vanilla is the most popular flavor of ice cream in the United States.
  • Mr. Thomas Jefferson brought vanilla to the United States in 1789. Hats off to you sir!
  • Adding a few drops of vanilla will cut the acidity of tomato-based foods- this is a useful tip!

Obviously the vanilla in the recipe is optional. Maybe you substitute essential oils. How about some herbs? Lemon zest? What’s your flavor?

Daily Cleansing Routine

The internet seems inundated with information how to detox the body. That’s fine but for me, it was a bit overwhelming. With so much information is easy to forget that the human body already has an amazing system that detoxes and defends the body very well, particularly if the body is healthy to begin with. Our natural detoxification system is comprised of the skin, liver, kidneys, respiratory system, immune system, and intestines. You can check out more about it here.

I believe that everyone should do what they can to reduce exposure to environmental toxins, but I don’t have a lot of time to devote to ritual or any other labor intensive detox routine. There are a few things I do keep my body healthy, apart from a whole foods diet, so my detox systems can do what they are intended to do.

Warm Lemon Water

 It almost seems like what CAN’T warm lemon water do.  According to underground health.com,  daily warm lemon water maintains pH levels in the body (lemons are alkaline in our body), boost the immune system and flush toxins out of the system by stimulating enzyme function which stimulates liver function. After a few weeks of daily lemon water, I noticed that it energizes me to take on the day (read: reduced caffeine consumption) and my skin looks vibrant. That’s always a plus.

lemon

The recommendation:

  • <150lbs=  juice from 1/2 lemon per 8oz
  • >150lbs=juice from whole lemon

I keep my lemons at room temp and roll them on the counter with a bit of pressure to get more juice from them.

Dry Brushing

This will help to support your other detoxing organs. Sometimes dead skin and other toxins get trapped in our skin and can cause things like acne and other skin irritations. Taking the time to dry brush will help clear the skin out and boost the lymphatic flow.

To get started you will need a long handled brush with natural bristles. Using synthetic can really scratch up your skin. The ideal time to dry brush is right before your morning shower because it is energizing. Brush your dry skin in long upward strokes toward the heart. It may hurt at first, but you will get accustomed to it and find it rejuvenating. It really helps wake up on the days you may not feel like getting out of bed.

This is a good, short video that I found helpful:

Nasal Irrigation

This one in particular terrified me when my primary care physician recommended it to me (“I’m sorry, you want me to do WHAT?”). Since moving to the midwest I have struggled with respiratory/allergy issues and was really getting discouraged. I finally conceded that I would try using a neti pot only after my doctor satisfied the concerns I had. The answers are: use distilled water, buffered salt is available at your local drugstore, you will get used to it, you can still breathe through your mouth. You can imagine the questions.

My experience has been wonderful. Since starting this, I haven’t had any major respiratory issues. The normal allergies are much more manageable and I haven’t spent any money on allergy medication. When I don’t do it, I can really feel the difference.

In addition to clearing mucous, nasal irrigation clears any irritants that one may inhale during the course of the day  and the salt reduces swelling in the nasal passage.

Sweat

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I have a love/hate relationship with sweat. The easiest way to sweat is to exercise. That’s also the hardest because it takes quite a bit of dedication to make time for it. I figure some exercise is better than none. There are plenty of online resources that have short workouts that you can follow if you lack the inspiration, or in my case motivation, to make up your own. Check out the websites below (they are my faves):

  • Blogilates: Cassey Ho is so bubbly and cute, but make no mistake, her  Pilates workouts will leave you sore for days.
  • BodyRock TV: If you think you’re tough, I dare you to try BodyRock. I always panic just a bit before I press play. Lisa-Marie is really intense and I adore her for that.
  • Fitness Blender: There is truly something for everyone here. There isn’t any reason not find a workout for your mood on this website.

Another option would be to hit up a sauna. 30 to 40 minutes in a sauna induces a therapeutic sweat that eliminates toxins. This would be my preferred method of course, but there isn’t one near me. So I just dream about it…

Use Natural Beauty Products

The easiest way to support your body’s natural detox system is to just decrease the load from the beginning. Some easy substitutions to start with are:

  • Sweet Almond Oil for lotion. Check out the benefits here. I’m a little bit lazy, but there are plenty of DIY recipe for lotion that look neat.
  • Oil Cleansing Method to remove makeup and cleanse your face. This is so easy and my complexion looks fantastic. This article is great if you’re starting out and not sure which oils would be best for your skin. You can personalize as much as you want!  I just roll with Sweet Almond Oil because I’m wild.
  • I’ve switched my makeup over to a more natural brand: CARENminerals Pure Earth Mineral Gluten Free Foundation  and I like it pretty well. To be honest, I haven’t replaced every single piece of makeup but as I run out, I replace it with a different brand. Another brand I’ve run across and am eager to try is 100% Pure. Once Summer time arrives though, I plan on wearing my sunny glow instead. That will truly be all natural.

Those are some measures I take daily and to be honest, I feel better overall. I haven’t been sick, my skin is radiant, and I don’t run short of energy. In the big picture, I really can’t ask for much more.

What are some things that you do?

Are there any other things that you would recommend to someone who is new to this?