Working too hard, feeling overwhelmed by family responsibilities, or dealing with an ongoing challenge?
Maybe it’s time to turn your attention back to yourself and to your own self-care.
Although we often brush it aside, self-care is not optional if you want to be happy and healthy, and stay the course. Regular self-care ensures you feel grounded, think clearly, and dwell in a comfortable emotional zone. It helps you to modulate stress, which, in excess, can quickly deplete your joy, upset your relationships, and compromise your health.
I do my best to make self-care a priority. Over the years, Iʻve gathered a wonderful repertoire of self-care practices and resources, that Iʻd love to share with you today. Think of them as gifts to yourself, which you so deserve, and as gifts you can bestow on others whom you love.
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Self-Care Gift #1: Epsom Salts for Your Bath
These days, self-improvement bloggers rush to point out that self-care is far more than a relaxing bath. I agree.
But please, let’s not get hasty and throw out baths altogether! Instead throw two cups of Epsom Salts into your bath three times a week and make it a highly healing and restorative experience.
Epsom salts are inexpensive, pure, and fragrance-free, perfect for most sensitive souls. The healing properties of Epsom Salts result from the combination of magnesium and sulfate, both of which can be absorbed through the skin when you bathe.
That’s important because the average American is deficient in magnesium. I imagine this might be the case in other parts of the world as well. Magnesium deficiency may contribute to any number of modern day maladies like heart disease, muscle and joint-pain, and stress-related illnesses.
Epsom Salt baths taken on a regular basis can help:
- Ease stress and help you sleep better.
- Relieve muscle soreness and pain.
- Flush toxins from the body.
- Support muscle and nerve function.
- Positively impact heart health.
- Improve the use of insulin and decrease the risk or severity of diabetes.
- Assist the proper functioning of more than 300 enzymes in your body.
You can ditch the plastic bag or waxed box and store your Epsom Salts in a large wide-mouth jar for a more attractive look. Tie a ribbon around it if you would like to gift all this goodness to a friend.
Self-Care Gift #2: Adult Coloring Books
Have you tried coloring for its stress-relieving, happiness inducing benefits?
In one groundbreaking study, anxiety levels dropped when subjects colored mandalas, round images with geometrically balanced patterns inside. The famous psychotherapist Carl Jung recommended coloring mandalas to his patients decades ago. He saw a link between the mandalas and an individual’s move toward wholeness.
Coloring has the potential to ease stress, improve mindfulness, and enhance focus. If you want to see what all the hubbub is about, download these beautiful coloring pages for FREE (some with sign-up) and try it out for yourself:
- Wander Coloring Pages
- Beautiful Doorways
- Free 28-Day Gratitude Journal
- Brené Brown’s 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living
If you get hooked, you might like one of these:
- The World’s Best Mandala Coloring Book: A Stress Management Coloring Book for Adults
- The Tarot Coloring Book – Rider-Waite Deck with card-by-card explanations of the symbols, meanings, and hidden wisdom.
Add a good spectrum of recommended colored pencils and you are good to go:
- Marco Raffine Fine Art Colored Pencils, Set of 48
- Marco Affine Fine Art Colored Pencils, Set of 72
- Tombo Irojiten Colored Pencils Woodland, Set of 30
- Staedtler Egosoft Colored Pencils, Set of 24
Self-Care Gift #3: Rescue Remedy
I keep a vial of Rescue Remedy in my bag at all times.
Rescue Remedy Natural Stress Relief is a Bach Flower mix especially for emergencies and crises. That can mean anything from nerves before an exam or job interview to the shock of a car accident to the arrival of unexpected news. Rescue Remedy calms you, but it doesn’t make you sleepy or groggy.
Put four drops on or under your tongue and prepare to chill out.
Self-Care Gift #4: A Gratitude Jar
Research has shown that cultivating gratitude can lead to greater happiness, more optimism, a reduction in physical symptoms, and lower levels of depression and stress. Who can argue with that?
One way to practice gratitude is to make a gratitude jar. You can use any type of glass jar to hold your gratitude notes, but if you pick a special one it might uplift you even more. Decorate it with a sweet ribbon if you wish. Get a small pad of paper for your gratitude notes and grab a pen. Youʻre ready to go.
Make it a habit to write down anything and everything you feel grateful for at least once a day, and place these gratitude notes in your jar. Keep your jar in an easy to access place so you can be spontaneous as well.
As you think about what you’re grateful for, try to really feel the gratitude and joy in your body. When you make gratitude an embodied experience, you unleash a stream of positive energy that can change your body, mind, and spirit in lasting ways. Just watching your gratitude jar fill up will bring a feeling of happiness too.
And, if you’re ever feeling down, you can go through a few of the gratitude notes in your jar for a lift.
Self-Care Gift #5: Illuminating Audio Programs
At the moment, I’m listening to inspiring audio programs on a daily basis. This practice keeps me out of dark places and tuned into the larger perspective.
These audio books by the amazingly popular Pema Chödron will help you soften troubling emotions, move through obstacles, and get in touch with who you really are.
- Getting Unstuck, Breaking Your Habitual Patterns and Encountering Naked Reality
- Making Friends with Your Mind, the Key to Contentment
- Awakening Love: Teachings and Practices to Cultivate a Limitless Heart
- Unconditional Confidence: Instructions for Meeting Any Circumstance with Trust and Courage
- Noble Heart, A Self-Guided Retreat on Befriending Your Obstacles
Or you could learn to meditate with Sharon Salzberg.
Self-Care Gift #6: Relaxing Audio Meditation
The Bone Dreaming Meditation by Giles Marin is one of my favorite relaxing meditations, perfect for reducing stress, calming the mind, and increasing your body’s capacity to heal. It’s based on Taoist healing principles. I absolutely adore Giles Marin’s soothing French accent.
Self-Care Gift #7: A Good Mystery Novel
For those times when you want to relax or distract yourself, I recommend the Charlotte Anthony mystery novels. Intelligent, modern, and satisfying, these mysteries will captivate you for hours.
Self-Care Gift #8: Self-Discovery Courses and Classes
I love online learning and these are some of my favorite self-discovery courses along with my own self-paced course as well.
- Journal Your Life, Writing Your Dreams Into Reality with Susannah Conway
- Daily Guidance, Using the Cards as Creative Tools with Susannah Conway
- The Inside Story, Running a Heart-Centered Business
- Softly Wild with Victoria Smith
- The Heart of Self-Care with Liz Smith
- Dress with Less and Create a Capsule Wardrobe with Courtney Carver
- Living with Ease, the Mindful Way to Less Stress, my self-paced course
Self-Care Gift #9: A Blank Journal
Create a safe refuge for yourself in a journal, where you can privately express all your thoughts, feelings and dreams. Journaling is a good way to get to know yourself, process through difficult emotions or patterns, and keep track of your practice.
I love the elegant Leuchtturm 1917 notebooks, which feature:
- Excellent paper quality, bleed proof and acid free
- 5.75 x 8.25 inches
- Lays flat
- Two ribbon bookmarks
- Index pages at the front
- Numbered pages
- A total of 249 pages (in my current one), making it one of the most generous paper-wise
Self-Care Gift #10: Tarot and Oracle Cards
I donʻt know why or how it works, but the cards never fail me. Here are some of the benefits I personally receive from consulting either oracle or tarot cards on a regular basis.
- I more clearly see the life lessons gifted to me each day.
- I observe recurring patterns in my life, and thus can take steps to heal and resolve them.
- I’m less likely to get sucked into emotional drama and more likely to respond with clarity and compassion.
- My actions are better informed and therefore more effective.
- When I’m uncertain, the cards help me to see more clearly or affirm what I already know at the deepest level.
These are my favorite decks:
They each have a guidebook, so you can learn as you go. The Wild Unknown guidebook is a tiny leaflet, but the others are full on books.
If you donʻt feel ready to dive into the cards on your own, but have a question, decision, or dream to explore, you could try a tarot reading. I recommend Carrie Mallon.
I had a remarkable reading from Carrie at the beginning of the year, which continues to serve as my touchstone, bringing me back to whatʻs really important, again and again.
Self-Care Gift #11: An Interactive Adventure Journal
Are you due for more adventures? Tammy Stroebel enriched her life by embarking on regular tiny adventures. She created an interactive adventure journal to encourage you to get out in the world and experience more.
Hereʻs the description:
Everyday Adventures: Tiny Quests to Spark Your Creative Life is an interactive journal. It includes twelve tiny quests that will enable you to explore what your community has to offer, document your adventures, enjoy tiny beautiful moments, and find beauty and magic anywhere. Photographer and writer Tammy Strobel encourages journalers to record observations about their daily adventures with words, photos, drawings, watercolors, and more. Discover that your adventures can be tiny, yet extraordinary!
Self-Care Gift #12: Lavendar-Scented Eye Pillow
An eye pillow can help you fall and stay asleep at night, give you a quick pick-me up during the day, or help you relieve stress in moments when life feels too much.
This all comes to pass through the gentle pressure the pillow places on your eyes, which stimulates the vagus nerve and by so doing allows you to rest more deeply. The aroma of lavender is known for its relaxing properties as well.
Self-Care Gift #13 – Sunshine
Vitamin D deficiency is widespread, with the majority of the population weighing in on the low side.
Vitamin D contributes to bone health, blood sugar regulation, protection from cancer and heart disease, hormonal balance, healthy immune response, mood regulation, and better concentration, learning, and memory.
Sunlight remains the best source of Vitamin D. Spend at least 10 – 20 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen. You can build up the time gradually. You will need more time if you are darker skinned, live further from the equator, or it happens to be winter. Some people need up to an hour.
If you have sensitive skin or concerns about skin cancer, talk with your doctor first about the best ways for you to get sun exposure.
Ask a friend to join you for outdoor time, if you would like to give sunshine as a gift.
Self-Care Gift #14 – A Simple Self-Healing Treatment
According to the ancient art of Jin Shin Jyutsu acupressure, you can harmonize your emotions and nourish your body by holding each of your fingers in sequence. This is a subtle yet powerful self-help approach I’ve personally used to great effect for several years. It only takes 10-15 minutes!
Each finger is associated with an attitude that can imbalance a corresponding function and organ system via the subtle energy channels that invisibly course through your body. A practice as simple as holding a finger can be one of the most powerful ways to pacify your emotions and balance your organ functions.
Try it out for two weeks and see if it makes a difference in your sense of well-being. You’ll find the instructions in my article: A Simple Way to Balance Your Emotions and Revitalize Your Body.
Once you learn to do this for yourself, you can give this gift to others by offering to hold their fingers just like you would give a gentle massage or you can show them how to do it for themselves. This is powerful medicine!
Self-Care Gift #15 – The Women’s Comfort Book
The Women’s Comfort Book is a classic self-nurturing guide, which contains more than 200 self-care prescriptions. It’s designed to help you move through any feelings of guilt you may have about self-care as well. With all these ideas, you’ll be able to continue a happy and healthy flow of self-care throughout the year.
How do you feel after reading this list? Do you feel excited about some possibilities that could work for you? Or do you still feel some hesitation or guilt around the idea of self-care?
If it’s the latter, please take some time to explore what’s holding you back. Or experiment with tiny doses of self-care for a start. Remember, self-care is not a luxury. It’s a vital nutrient that everyone needs to be happy and healthy and to serve others from a space of wholeness.
Tell me, what are your thoughts and feelings about self-care? I would love to hear.
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra