Taking good care of ourselves should be a top priority, but because of never-ending “to-do” lists and packed schedules, it is easy to let self-care practices slip to the bottom of the list. Being consistent with herbs and supplements every day is a good start, but our bodies, minds and spirits need more than that. That’s where these tiny pleasures come in—twelve easy-to-incorporate self-care practices to bring balance and well-being to busy lives.
Try weaving these simple rituals into your day to feel more nourished, grounded, and at ease.
1. Drink a cup of tea. Allow yourself the few minutes it takes to prepare a cup of tea, pausing to notice the aroma and savor each sip. Tich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist Monk and meditation teacher said it best, “Tea is an act complete in its simplicity. When I drink tea, there is only me and the tea. The rest of the world dissolves. There are no worries about the future. No dwelling on past mistakes…. There is only the tea, and me, converging.”
2. Light a candle. On your desk or at the kitchen table, the burning flame provides a focal point, a reminder to be present in the moment. I find a burning candle especially helpful when I need to use the computer for long periods of time. It’s uplifting and helps me stay connected to something greater, something more important than the words and images on the screen.
3. Take a bath. This is my go to ritual after a long day. I add bath salts to ease muscle tension and essential oils, like lavender, marjoram, and frankincense to quiet my mind and lift my heart. A bath is the perfect reset when I’m feeling stressed, irritable, or fatigued. Turning down the lights and lighting a candle makes this tiny ritual extra special.
4. Burn incense. In many cultures and traditions, incense is burned to evoke the sacred. The gently burning ember, the smoke rising, and the fragrance cause me to pause, slow down, and appreciate the beauty of the moment. Palo Santo, Frankincense, and Sandalwood are some of my favorites.
5. Go for a walk. Get up, take a break from your routine and move your body, preferably in nature. It always surprises me how refreshed I feel after a walk, even if I’m feeling tired or sluggish beforehand. It’s a little counter intuitive, but it works. When you get out for a walk, even a short one, fresh air, sunlight, trees, and flowers nourish every cell in your body.
6. Drink water. Did you know that dehydration can cause fatigue, irritability, and food cravings, among other things? Drinking plenty of water is a simple way to take care of yourself. Adding fresh herbs like mint or rosemary, or a little fresh seasonal fruit to your water bottle makes this self-care practice feel luxurious.
7. Oil your body. I learned the transformative practice of self-massage with oil from my friend and colleague, Rachel Peters when I took her Embody Ease course. In the Ayurvedic healing tradition that Rachel teaches, daily self-massage with oil is considered an act of self-love. In fact, the Sanskrit word for oil, sneha, can also be translated as “love.” This daily self-care ritual has many health benefits. It reduces the effects of aging, increases stamina, improves detoxification, and calms the nerves, just to name a few. I find that this nourishing ritual also encourages me to slow down and notice how my body is feeling. Read more about the practice of daily self-massage with oil here.
8. Go to bed early. Sleep plays an important role in our mental and physical health. Going to bed early is one of the most delicious, and beneficial self-care practices I know. It’s hard to describe the simple pleasure of snuggling into bed, knowing you’re in for a quality night’s sleep.
9. Get up before the sun. Especially if you have a family or live with others, getting up before the sun and before everyone else begins to stir, allows quiet time and space for you. This is the best time to drink water, move your body, and meditate. I make the most of it by abstaining from my phone, computer, news, and email during this sacred, pre-dawn time.
10. Breathe. You can do this anytime and anywhere. Stop, pause (put down your phone and step away from the computer), take a long, slow inhalation followed by a gentle, slow exhalation. And repeat, as many times as you like. Deep breathing, called diaphragmatic breathing, invites the body to relax. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your body’s ability to “rest and digest.” Slow, deep breathing slows the heart rate, relaxes muscles, and promotes digestive and glandular activity.
11. Do less. Have you noticed we live in a culture addicted to busyness? Ask almost anyone, a stranger or your best friend, how they’re doing and you’ll likely hear about how busy they are. Notice if that’s how you respond to the simple greeting. For a deeper understanding of what drives our addiction to being busy, I recommend this article, The Disease of Being Busy. So, do less. Learn to say, “no, thank you” without feeling guilty or talking about how busy you are, and relish in your newfound freedom.
12. Be grateful. Say a prayer. Pranam. Taking a moment to acknowledge what we are grateful for has a pronounced effect on our overall sense of well-being. It makes us happier and improves our health and relationships. Some people keep a gratitude journal to record their daily observances. It helps to be regular, intentional, and mindful in your gratitude practice, but it need not be elaborate. Consider a moment of gratitude before you get out of bed in the morning, before each meal, or when you climb into bed at the end of the day. I like to remember what I’m grateful for when I get on my yoga mat and bow close to the earth in child’s pose. To pranam is to bow in reverence. This practice always leaves me feeling grounded and receptive.
Regular self-care is a practice, a skill to be encouraged and cultivated over time. If you’ve been putting everyone and everything before your own self-care, I hope you’ll find something in these simple rituals that you can do every day to nourish your beautiful self. If you know someone who struggles with self-care, please share these tiny rituals with them, too. What self-care practices are most powerful for you? I’d love it if you would share them in the comment section below.
With love and gratitude,