Almost every thing will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes … Including you.
Between our jobs, family, friends and kids (if we have them) we are often left with little time for ourselves. Placing everyone else’s needs above our own happens all too often and before we know it, we’re suffering the consequences. Self care is the new buzzword but it is important. So I’m sharing some quick ways to unplug and take care of yourself.
I speak from experience, as I just recently realized how much it was costing me. It had been a slow progression; little aches and pains here and there, not enough to cause any alarm but enough to build up over time.
Last year, I went to my doctor, whom I’ve been seeing my whole adult life, complaining of an itchy rash on my left side that wouldn’t go away. Upon examining it, she immediately seemed alarmed and started asking me questions about the rash and testing my sensations on either side. After just five minutes she told me that I had shingles. SHINGLES?! My mind went into the clouds. Shingles, which occurs when the dormant chickenpox virus is reactivated, is a disease that affects the elderly or those with weakened immune systems got; not healthy women in their mid-30s.
She looked at me and point blank asked, “What’s going on with you? Are you stressed?” To be honest, I didn’t really have an answer for her because nothing out of the ordinary had happened recently that I could think to attribute this to. She asked me, “What are you doing for you, to take care of yourself?” and I didn’t even know what she meant.
Sure, I would occasionally get massages or do a face mask but never anything consistently. This made me realize that taking care of myself was dead last on my list of priorities. I started looking at all aspects of my everyday life and figuring out what my stressors were and how to combat them. I looked for ways to unplug that would be easily incorporated into my busy life. Since I’ve done the work for myself, I thought it would be helpful to share them with you here.
The sense of smell is one of our most powerful tools because they can have an immediate affect on our moods. So it’s important to find ones that help us to unplug. Some common scents that people often gravitate towards are fresh cut grass, rose and lavender, cookies, and fresh laundry . My favorite is orange blossom. I like incorporating aromatherapy into my life a few different ways; using an essential oil diffuser, scented candles, bath/shower bombs and linen sprays. The best part about these is that they don’t take any extra time out of my day because I prep them and then can do other things.
*Tip: Use only distilled water with your diffuser to avoid mineral buildup or fungi developing*
sparoom Natura Diffuser, $80 | Scented Candle, $15 | Level Naturals Shower Bomb, $8 | Bath & Body Works Lavender chamomile pillow mist, $16
Music has the power to make us feel happy or sad, full of energy or relaxed. This is an easy way to change the vibe of your environment and requires almost no work. Sure, you can spend time curating the perfect playlist but there are easier ways to do it.
Plugging in key words like zen, meditation, and relaxation into music player apps (Spotify, Pandora etc) will bring up playlists of preselected music for whatever you’re looking for. I also like to use the Soundcloud app to record songs I hear in restaurants, spas and stores I visit so I can add them to a playlist later.
I like to separate my music into moods, so that whenever I need to change my energy, I simply click on a playlist and let the music do its work. Here is my playlist (you’ll need Spotify) for when I want to chill out in the car or relax at home … leave suggestions for songs in the comments!
A few other ways to use sounds to help you relax are by using machines/apps to simulate soothing sounds. I have always found the sound of moving water, ocean waves or rain, very soothing. My first machine combined sound options with the aromatherapy element so it was perfect! Now I use one that creates white noise, which helps to block out other noises that could disrupt my sleep or peace. I discovered the Marpac Dohm when getting a massage at The Now and became obsessed with how it relaxed me so well. I use the smaller portable version so I can take it with me when we travel.
Marpac Rohm, $30 | HOMEDICS SOUNDSPA, $25 | Sleep sounds iphone app, free/in-app purchases
Our sense of touch also brings us comfort and can help us relax. I’m sure everyone has that one comfy outfit that they put on whenever they need to chill out, I know I do. This is necessary because tension doesn’t just disappear; it keeps building until you wake up with a kink in your neck or get a migraine in the middle of your workday (both have happened numerous times to me).
Investing in fabrics for robes and bed linens are always a good idea. Something I’ve been hearing about lately are weighted blankets that function to decrease sleep anxiety (that moment when you feel so tired but when your head hits the pillow your brain won’t shut off).
Using a dry brush to manually exfoliate your skin is also helpful at aiding in lymphatic drainage, meaning it helps clean out your body of waste and decrease inflammation. In-shower body scrubs are also great for feeling rejuvenated and can be easily added into your shower routine a few times a week. Applying a face mask is a treat for your skin and because most need time to dry, you can apply it and continue on with another activity. I like to apply mine with a synthetic flat foundation brush to keep my hand clean and not waste any product.
Getting a massage is an obvious way to release tension and The Now is a massage boutique chain that offers quality massages at an affordable price in beautiful surroundings. Currently they are only located in the Los Angeles area but I have heard they are looking to start opening boutiques in New York City as well. A good substitute that’s more affordable is muscle rolling, using either a foam roller, massage ball or handheld muscle roller.
barefoot dreams robe, $127 | weighted blanket, $30-165 | Glamglow supermud clearing treatment, $69 | Muscle Roller, $18
This is by far my favorite. I hold a lot of tension in my muscles and heat therapy helps them to relax so well. I love doing hot yoga and going into saunas at spas to relax. But, unfortunately, those are things that need to be planned out and add up in cost. A few accessible ways to use heat therapy are placing a hot pack in tense spots, using a facial steamer, drinking a hot liquids, or using an herbal steam blend in a hot pot with a towel tent.
*Tip: Steam is really good for your skin too – it opens up the pores and makes every skincare product you apply after penetrate deeper, so incorporate your steam into one of your skin treatment sessions.*
Therapearl hot/cold neck wrap, $15 | Facial steamer, $139 | Fig & Yarrow Facial steam blend, $26 | Dynasty chinese restaurant tea, $5
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years is to deal with problems as soon as possible; the longer it festers the worse the outcome and more pain I’ll be in because physical manifestation of mental/emotional tension is a real thing! Finding a friend to vent to, writing out problems or seeing a therapist are all excellent ways to release that negativity.
Once you’ve let it go you will be able to approach the issue with a clearer mind and gained some perspective on how to best deal with it. The most important take-away is to not strand yourself with anything because eventually you will become overwhelmed, as I did, and you will start manifesting that negativity in the physical form. My manifestation was not only in shingles, I had constant pain and discomfort in my back and was becoming extremely sensitive to lights, sounds and even the slightest touch.
Since I’ve started paying more attention to myself, I have much less pain and a way to distract myself from things that make me anxious. Ask questions in the comments and I hope this will help you out!