10 of My Favorite Self-Love Restoring Practices
I’m all about showering on the self-love these days. And here’s why:
I realized the extent to which I self-abandon if I’m not engaging in regular, intentional self-love practices. If you've never heard of self-abandoning, once I describe it, I think you'll know exactly what I'm talking about:
Self-abandoning is the norm of the modern-day where we've grown disconnected from our bodies. We live more in our heads than anywhere else. The world almost demands that we exist in the past or the future, when our natural state is to just be in the present. There’s endless distractions, a rush to do things and "get things done."
It’s easy to become overwhelmed or want to tune it all out. It even seems easier to live in the rush or tune it all out. And it is...until it’s not. Eventually the disconnection shows up in some way or another. We become completely burnt out, experience physical illness or disease, cancers, anxiety, depression, gut issues, sleeplessness, and the like.
When we self-abandon, we’re avoiding emotions, particularly painful ones that are likely from childhood. At some point (or multiple points) we all felt unseen, unheard, lost, hurt, grief, sorrow, abandonment, or helplessness. Instead of feeling the feelings that were too much for our tiny bodies to handle, we learned to numb them. These numbing practices follow us into adulthood and manifest in various ways: the attempt to create an illusion of control, rumination or staying stuck in our heads, blaming others for our problems, using substances and/or addictions like work, television, social media, shopping, alcohol, sex to avoid feeling pain or discomfort.
For me, self-abandoning has shown up most in the form of people-pleasing or shrinking myself so as not to appear uncontrolled or “too emotional.” Another sneaky self-abandoning tactic my subconscious loves to employ is to avoid my own stuff by focusing on other people, helping them navigate their stuff. The tricky thing with that one was, I did this for a long time before I realized what I was actually doing.
Most of us don’t even realize when we’re self-abandoning or how we create disconnection within ourselves. Or--we’ve realized it, but haven’t put practices in place to rebuild the authentic, loving self-connection we crave. I experienced all of this...the complete blindness and also the knowing, but still dragging my feet to make the changes I knew I needed. The allure of avoidance is just so tempting.
What made me finally shift was a compounding of some of the heavier, existential emotions: heartbreak, grief, loss, sorrow (what a lot of people felt throughout the pandemic). I realized I was going to keep repeating painful cycles and limiting my potential if I didn’t get intentional presencing routines and practices in place. I knew I needed regular practices that honored and nurtured my mind, body and soul--practices that invite me to face anything I’m holding onto with actual love and compassion instead of the judgement I had learned as a protective mechanism.
It’s fun to explore and see what practices really work for you! I have a teacher who says everyone just needs to find their medicine--whether that be breath work, sound healing, meditation, making music, different types of yoga practice, tai chi, running, whatever! We’re all so unique and what works for one person may not be somebody else’s jam. But I believe that we all need daily self-love and centering practices if we want to get the most out of this life and give the most back.
Here are some of my favorite practices:
1. Making my bed first thing every morning
It is crazy how this one little activity just sets the tone for your entire day! I do this mindfully--not going through the motions but paying attention to the details and each part. I feel as though I’m organizing my brain and starting the day with purpose. Fun fact: It’s actually suggested that making your bed every day can make you happier! Gotta’ love the little things!
2. Taking extra good care of my mouth microbiome: Brushing, flossing, tongue scraping & oil pulling
I am a little obsessed with the microbiome and its connection to gut health and optimal brain functioning. I’ve added a little bit to my morning and night time routines, but I also don’t get sick anymore! This is definitely from a combination of factors--what I eat, my sleep schedule, and lower stress levels--but woah, I’m a believer in the power of these mouth-care practices passed down by Ayurvedic tradition. Plus, I just feel more fresh and taken care of--shedding all those toxins I don’t need!
3. Burning incense & cleansing my space
It’s amazing how Nag Champa can transport you to a calm, clear place. Burning this incense helps me set the atmosphere as I prepare for my centering practice. To me, it feels as though this aroma slows down time and prepares my mind and body for greater self-connection.
4. Practicing a centering routine
The main pieces of this routine include yoga, prayer & meditation; sometimes I journal; sometimes I play with my tarot cards if I have more time, but every morning there’s yoga and prayer. Yoga is like a meditation in itself. And some mornings I just move to whatever music I’m feeling--something wild or something a little calmer. Either way, I’m in my body, feeling my way through the movement, and that’s what’s most important to me. In prayer, I go with some general sameness, but adapt to whatever is happening that morning or whatever comes up for me. I love prayer because a person can make it so personalized. You can pray to God, Source, Spirit, angel guides, other spirit guides, expressing gratitude for their guidance or asking for specific help in anything you’re experiencing. I also love how prayer segues nicely into setting daily intentions, stating how you want to show up for yourself or others throughout the day--or even just setting the intention to invite more goodness into your day.
5. Taking breaks when I need them & stepping away from screens (even when I don’t want to)
So I am a bit of a screen junkie as of late--ever since I decided I was going to work remotely. If I’m not working my day job, I am working on my coaching business, which more often than not is in front of a screen: writing, talking to people, creating content. And I zone into these projects because I love them. Zoning is okay as long as I’m still continually drinking water and not skipping meals. I take stretch breaks, or just getting up and walking around breaks on the hour. I take water breaks throughout the hour or just take a mindful moment to look away from my screen. It actually helps the eyes rest to simply take your eyes off the screen and look at the farthest point possible from you if you need a quick break!
6. Keeping my house clean and tidy
I’ve realized that how I treat my space is a reflection of how I am feeling on the inside. If my space becomes messy, it’s an indication that I’m trying to do too much and/or operating from a place of chaos instead of calm. When I see clutter, I know it’s time to take some mindful pauses. I could easily move throughout the day like a tornado going from one thing to the next to the next seeing how much I can get done. This used to be my norm! Retraining my brain out of this “doing doing doing” mindset has been a process--one I’m still working towards! But I’ll definitely say just the awareness around this tendency has increased the opportunities I have to notice when I’m trying to jump from one task to the next to the next when I really just need to take a break, breathe and chill for a sec...and then maybe do some quick cleaning or organizing.
7. Winding down with some tea
I love drinking a Yogi tea at night. Not only do I find this quenches my sweet tooth cravings (usually for chocolate…) but it’s so soothing and helps my body start preparing for rest. An extra plus with Yogi tea: They have these beautiful, encouraging messages attached to every bag! Reading those is always uplifting.
8. Doing face masks
This is a new practice I’ve adopted--also thanks to my research into Ayurveda! I make my own face masks that help calm my fiery body type, do them 1-2xs per week at night and my face loves it!! Taking the 10-15 minutes just to pamper myself is definitely worth it. I’m left feeling all happy and refreshed and I just do a simple aloe vera and green tea mask. Banyan Botanicals has a wealth of ideas on self-pampering for your specific body type! You can find out your body type (a.k.a. your "dosha" here!
9. Walking outside
When it’s warmer out I like to do 15-30 minute walks in the evening after dinner. I’ll use these for breaks mid-day and then on the weekends I like to get out in the morning. There’s a beautiful river really close to where I live and just walking by the river, listening to it flow, being near the water, breathing the fresh air in, feels rejuvenating. Even just thinking about doing this feels rejuvenating--but actually doing it is definitely better!
10. Nightly gratitude
Most every night this gets written in my journal, but if not, then it’s what I think about before I fall asleep. I note anything that happened in my day that I’m feeling grateful for--or anything about life in general I’m feeling grateful for that night. It’s such a peaceful way to end the day. At least for me, when I am intentionally doing this practice, I just go to sleep knowing that all is well.
While I was writing this list, I came up with an idea for a whole other post! What I didn’t include here are all of my eating and sleeping habits--which have probably been some of the biggest game-changers in the way that I relate to and honor my whole self.
There’s so many simple practices you can do to really love on yourself everyday--mind, body and soul!
What are your favorite self-love practices?