Taking time in your day for you, and only you, is not a selfish act, it’s a necessity… we need to take care of our own being; mentally, spiritually and physically, in order to give ourselves, the world, and those that surround us, the best we have to offer. You can’t pour from an empty vessel, so it’s important to understand that giving yourself time to rest, recover, grow, blossom and re-energise is vital to not just you, but those you surround yourself with. So, in essence, self-care actually benefits much more than just you… it gives the world the best of you and your energy.
‘If you feel ‘burnout’ setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself’ – Dalai Lama
Nobody benefits when you are worn out and run down. Not only will your own health suffer, but then you can’t be there for those you love either. I’ve come to realise this now more than ever. I need to be in tip top health, mentally and physically, in order to live my best life and give my most precious loved ones that same benefit. Without my own good health, I can’t give the best of ME to my pack either!
So, with this in mind, August 2020, I started to really think of ME a lot more than I had been in recent years. As I already wrote in my last post, I changed my diet to become a Raw Vegan Fruitarian… one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and as I write this, in January 2021, I’m still going strong on the new RVF lifestyle and loving every day. On top of this, I’ve been carrying out daily routines and giving myself the time I deserve to be happy and healthy… mind-body-soul.
My top 10 daily acts of ME love and self-care:
10. Familiarising Myself with the 8 Limbs of Yoga – Ashtanga (ashta=eight, anga=limb)
Yoga is so much more than just being flexible and arranging your body into different poses. Beyond the poses, there is a whole other world which benefits your life, giving meaning, purpose, self discipline, spiritual awareness and emotional health the attention they require in order to practice living in an internally calm state, as well as a physically fit state. When carrying out yoga, you are practicing not just physical body awareness, but just as importantly, inner mind and soul awareness… all of which, in turn, not only benefit you and your health as a whole, but also everything that surrounds you. The 8 Limbs of Yoga are (very briefly) as follows:
- Yama – Ethical Standards
- Niyama – Self Discipline and Spiritual Observances
- Asana – The Postures Practiced (e.g. Downward Facing Dog pose – Adho Mukha Svanasana)
- Pranayama – Breath Control
- Pratyahara – Sensory Transcendence
- Dharana – Concentration
- Dhyana – Meditation
- Samadhi – Connection to the Divine – A State of Ecstasy
I’m sure you can appreciate there is a whole world of knowledge behind each category above, but this gives you a glancing idea. I’m enjoying learning about, and putting into practice, these different areas. You’ll see below, a couple of them have made it into my top 10 and I dedicate specific time to them on a daily basis.
One of the Niyamas I like to put into practice everyday is Santosa, which, in a nutshell, means being content with what one has; accepting life in it’s totality and not overly depending on external situations for our own happiness. I find this inner contentment, peace and independence so beneficial as, reaching my mid 40’s, I was really starting to put myself down for not being like my old 20 something younger self, or having fulfilled the life I thought I was going to at that point. Santosa gives me the freedom to accept and flourish from my growth and appreciate my years of wisdom at the same time. Every year we are alive is a year we have been fortunate enough to enjoy this beautiful planet, it really seems quite insignificant to worry about a few wrinkles and grey hairs, or how ‘successful’ (depending on your version of success) you’ve become, when you start to appreciate LIFE itself.
Why not take a look into the 8 limbs of yoga yourself if you’re feeling a little worn down, they are completely rejuvenating…
9. Dry Skin Brushing
A 5-minute process… but a very rewarding and satisfying one! Before I take a shower, I spend a few minutes with a natural bristle brush with a removable long wooden handle (the removable handle makes work easier in hard to reach places, such as the back area) and I work from the toes towards the head, gently brushing towards the heart all the way up my body… feet, legs, bottom, front, back, and arms. The bristles feel super relaxing, yet invigorating at the same time, and the benefit from dry skin brushing is huge. Not only does it help to detox your body by stimulating your lymphathic system, it also encourages blood flow to the surface of the skin along with essential nutrients. On top of this, it also energizes you, removes dead skin cells and helps to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
I’ve actually been a fan of dry skin brushing for many years, however, I got a bit lazy and stopped doing it at one point. With my new zest for life and health, I’m ensuring that I enjoy this invigorating process every morning. Why not take a few minutes out of your morning and try it yourself, trust me, the feeling is extremely satisfying! So much reward for such little effort.
8. Pranayama | Breath Control Exercises
Pranayama, meaning life force extension in Sanskrit, is designed for the being to gain mastery over the respiratory process, connecting the breath, mind, body and emotions. Yogi’s believe that not only does Pranayama give the body rejuvenation, but it also extends life aswell (hence the name). It is believed that Pranayama throws out harmful toxins through the breath as well as boosting your immune system at the same time. It is said to calm the mind, help improve memory, virility and strengthen our neurological system. The benefits are endless.
Pranayama can be practiced in isolation, or you can incorporate it into your yoga practice, depending on how experienced you are. I’m currently quite a newbie to this so I only occasionally use it during postures, I mainly sit cross-legged as I try to gain mastery of some of the various techniques, such as; Dirga Swasam; Ujjayi; Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing); Khumbaka and Viloma, amongst other techniques.
I never realised how involved breathing actually is! I mean, we do it every day without consciously realising that we are doing it, however, when you start to practice these different techniques, you realise how little we actually appreciate the capabilities of our bodies. Some techniques are really quite challenging, but they all have their own benefits to our mind and body.
My Dad (now at age 80) has just leant me his ‘The Wim Hof Method’ book to read, which focuses on The Iceman’s methods of breathing for mind, body & health control. I’ve only just started it, but it already has me captivated and I’m sure it will only enhance my new love for experimenting with different breathing techniques.
Having turned raw vegan fruitarian, I believe my lungs have become much more capable which seems to help during these exercises. This is a practice you can spend your lifetime learning and benefitting from.
7. Meditation | Dhyana
This one is kind of linked to Pranayama, but because I’m practising various breath control techniques and I’m still a beginner, I tend not to relax quite as much as when I’m simply meditating, so I currently separate the two practices (but hopefully I can blend them together over time). The benefits of meditating are far beyond what I can write in a blog, but to be brief, if you can spare approximately 30 minutes each day (or longer if you are lucky enough to have the spare time) you will help yourself become a more grounded and stable person for the day ahead. Meditation is the skill of focusing your direction onto a single point; this could be various things such as a mantra, mandala or even just your breath. It’s simply amazing for dealing with stress, anxiety, mental health issues or pain management as it actually changes the structure of the brain to support self-awareness. This simple process takes you to another calm realm reducing negative emotions and enhancing a new positive perspective, giving you the ability to focus on the present and build skills to manage your mind; increasing imagination, creativity, tolerance and patience. Some experts even believe that it can reverse the aging process!
Treat yourself to a nice meditation cushion or blanket, sit cross-legged or lay down and give it a go! I like to perch cross-legged on a cushion as the height helps me to maintain proper body alignment/posture, bringing me more comfort and the ability to focus on the process rather than an aching bottom! You then use breathing techniques to relax your entire body as you start to let go. I sometimes like to use a Mandala to focus on and there are different Mandalas for different types of meditation. Cassandra Lorius has written and illustrated a lovely book called ‘Mandalas and Meditations for Everyday Living’, but there are also plenty of other online sites or books to read to get some more information on meditating if you are a beginner. Occasionally, I like to log into my online Yoga Club and enjoy a meditation with others using Tibetan singing bowls. Regardless of how you like to meditate, all styles are beneficial and will only bring you positivity in your life. What have you got to lose?
6. Face Yoga
Ok, this one might initially seem a bit out there, but let me explain and you too might be making hilarious faces in the mirror by the end of the day! As I already mentioned, I’ve not taken enough care of my skin, especially my face, over the years and, having also lost weight, I was starting to look a bit gaunt and less structured. I’d been researching natural ways to prevent sagging skin and this was when I discovered face yoga. Basically, I carry out a series of face exercises throughout the day which target all the muscles around your face. There are 57! As we age, we lose collagen in our skin cells, but we also lose muscle strength and the result is that the covering skin is given less structure to sit on. By targeting and exercising your face muscles, you tone, strengthen and build these muscles under the skin in order to give the top surface a more plump and firm look. As well as this, by increasing bloodflow to the surface of the skin, you increase circulation which delivers extra nutrients to that area. On top of that, you help create lymphatic flow which is essential for removing toxins from the body. If you achieve all of this, AND, feed yourself a diet of fresh raw foods, your skin will love you for it!
Yes, the faces do make you look ridiculous and you won’t be able to stop yourself from laughing (and anyone watching you) when you first start, but you get used to it. The benefits, however, hugely outweigh the hilariousness of it… not only is it free, but it’s also not invasive and doesn’t involve using chemicals like when you inject yourself with Botox or Fillers. The risks are extremely high when using more unnatural methods such as these. The outcome of face yoga (or facial exercises) is beautifully natural, allowing you to look the best for your age, which should be celebrated. No forced plastic surgery looks. Face yoga is a natural process which you can build up and keep on top of for life, benefitting your health rather than risking ruining it with strong chemicals.
Well, you work out the muscles of your body, why not your face?! Go on… give it a go!
5. Reading a Book
I really enjoy this one, which is why I have categorised it under self-care, because any similar hobby you enjoy taking the time to do is good for your health. Normally I reserve a small amount of time to read before I fall asleep in the evening as I like to disconnect from electrics; TV, phone etc, and my bedroom is a calm zone. Occasionally, I also take some time out during a quiet day to enjoy this little act of self-love. I have a few books on the go at once, all on different (but linked) topics, and although over the years I’ve enjoyed reading fiction books, I’m currently spending a lot of time studying new areas of my lifestyle, divulging as much knowledge and information as possible. Some of these topics include the fruitarian diet, herbal healing, health & human anatomy, yoga, meditation, pranayama, chakras, crystals and the power of the mind. They are not intense readings which is why I’m able to do them in the evening and because I enjoy the learning aspect of them, they relax my mind enough to switch off after a while and fall straight to sleep. I confess I’m a complete book nerd and I love studying. I completely understand that not everybody loves reading, but why not take some time out of your own day to do something relaxing that you enjoy in life?
4. ME Facial Skin Care
Oh my, have I been lazy over the years with my daily face skin care routines! And boy, has it caught up with me! I’d spent a year or so eating vegan junk food whilst I got settled into Little Wing (check out my last post ‘Vegan Transitions’), and I’ve spent many a Summer sunbathing without much protection from UV rays. On top of this I’d ignored daily facials and, along with me now reaching my mid 40’s, the result… aging skin. As I mentioned above, I’ve also lost quite a lot of weight in the last 6 months which, although my body is revelling in the loss of pounds, it doesn’t help with puffing out those face wrinkles, and I was left looking a little gaunt. And let’s not forget the neck and decollete area as these are just as important and require daily love and attention too.
So… no more laziness! The past few months I’ve been dedicating time to carry out organic facials every single day. I use a few different organic face products, but I really do love (and always have) Neals Yard Covent Garden products. I began using these about 30 years ago when I used to jump on the tube to Covent Garden and stroll down Neals Yards to grab some of my favourite products. I’ll always love the first class natural goodness of them. So… morning and evening, I cleanse, tone and nourish, and on occasion I treat myself to a refreshing mask or gentle scrub. I simply love the organic essential oils that Neal’s Yard use in their products as they benefit us physically and mentally. I also use a Jade Roller and Jade Gua-Sha to help move lymphatic flow and bring blood vessels to the surface. It’s such a luxurious feeling smoothing the jade onto your skin and I tend to sit and use the roller whilst I’m relaxing in the evening.
The result… my face is once again starting to love me! I haven’t performed miracles and I don’t look 21 again, and neither do I wish to. My simple goal is to just feel refreshed and get my glow of glorious health back. The most important thing is that I’m hydrating my skin from the inside out with fresh organic fruit juices and I’m nourishing my skin externally with natural organic ingredients.
This is such a simple and quick daily routine to carry out… but such an important one!
3. Yoga – Asanas | Stretching | Muscle Strength Training | General Fitness
Although I’ve spent my whole life keeping fit and practicing good health, it was only last year I started to really take Yoga very seriously. I’ve dabbled in Yoga most of my life, but I feel I’m at a stage where it needs to be a big part of it. It fits in with my beliefs, life practices and just seems to have become a part of who I am. And don’t be misled, you certainly don’t need to be the fittest or most flexible person in the world to enjoy the practice of this art because, that’s the beauty of it, anybody can get involved, whatever stage you are at in life. There are many different props you can use which help custom the moves to your ability; yoga blocks, straps and bolsters for example. These props can be accustomed to use in different ways to help you grow from complete beginner to expert. Yoga is for everybody.
I tend to do a yoga class most days, even if it’s just a short one, and over the past few months I have become so much more flexible in my body. It’s actually a really nice feeling to be slightly looser and at less risk of strains or injuries. But not only does yoga help with stretching and flexibility, it also hugely strengthens your core and every muscle in your body. It helps with balance, posture, body alignment, heart health and breathing, as well as helping you to become more calm and in tune with your energies. So, you are looking at not only physical health, but also mind health.
I’ve never really been one for full-on cardiovascular, and I’ve never enjoyed running or sports that put great pressure on your heart or joints, so when I discovered Yoga, I just knew that this was MY form of exercise, incorporating spirituality with health. You can take yoga at your own pace… you don’t have to be super fit, slim or flexible… anybody can join in as there are levels for the very beginner all the way through to the more advanced yogi as mentioned above.
I encourage anybody to become more in tune with their mind and body through the practice of yoga and, even with public yoga classes currently being closed down, you can still enjoy it at home either through DVD’s, online videos or through Zoom classes live with an instructor and other people. And no excuses that you don’t have the space… if I can do a full yoga class in a caravan, you can do it in your home too! I just can’t wait until the warmer months when I can go outside and practice in the beautiful trees I’m surrounded by, truly within nature. For now, Little Wing is looking after me!
2. Fresh Organic Juicing
In at Number 2…
How much do I love my Hurom HAA slow cold press juicer? The answer… SO MUCH! Living in a caravan, every space needs to be utilised to the max and organisation of the few objects I own is key to simple living. Therefore, when I was looking to buy a juicer, I was dreading taking up the worktop space in my kitchenette as every inch is importantly organised. I’m so glad I did my research into modern juicers as they have come on a very long way over the years. Not only did I need to invest in a good quality juicer, it also needed to be a slow cold pressing machine (as these hold more nutrients) and not take up too much space. I can remember years ago when they were huge hunks of plastic and metal that took up half the kitchen and then forced you to spend 30 minutes cleaning all the parts afterwards… but not any more! Juicers now come in compact vertical worktop designs, and they don’t compromise on quality! The Hurom HAA takes up very little space and it’s quality is second to none. Along with this, I can wash the whole thing up in about 5 mintues… Heaven!
Thanks to my research and investing in a machine that fits my criteria and lifestyle, I can enjoy heavenly fruit juices all day, every day. These are essential to my health as a raw vegan fruitarian and self-student of Dr Morse. I love nothing more than waking up and pressing myself fresh orange juice for breakfast and prepping myself juice for the day… sometimes I juice enough for 2 days in a row storing the juice in glass jars in the fridge.
Juicing is self-love and I don’t compromise on it no matter what my day entails. The juice comes with me wherever I go!
1. Walking with the Fur Girls!
Well, this one has to be Numero Uno doesn’t it! My daily trip out walking around the fields with the fur girls is always, by far, the most enjoyable part of my day. I love these two girls so much and they are hilarious fun to be around. I’ve spoken about the benefits of walking in a previous post ‘Soul Walking’ so go check it out!
Not only is it a blast with the girls, sending healthy, happy hormones throughout your nervous and endocrine system, but it’s also very relaxing and calming at the same time. This little piece of daily enjoyment also gets you out into nature connecting your soul to our precious mother earth, which is such an honour to enjoy.
Faster paced walking raises your heart rate, pumping blood flow throughout your body, in turn sending valuable nutrients to your organs and skin cells. As well as this, it creates movement in your lymphatic system which helps to rid your cells of toxins and it’s also great for your respiratory system. On top of this, it tones and exercises the body at the same time. It’s an all-round fantastically healthy activity for both body and mind.
The big plus… if you’ve got fur babies like me, they get all the same benefits as you!
No matter the weather, there’s not a day goes by when we don’t enjoy our walkies around the fields.
So there you have it! Why not give one or two of my favourite acts of self-care a go, if you’re not already? I’ll finish off with something I read by the wonderful Dr. Robert Morse in his Miracle Detox book:
‘Love yourself, but not egotistically. Be like the sun, which shines it’s light and warmth on all life, without judgement or separation… You are divine and owe it to yourself and all life to get yourself healthy and happy. Be good to yourself and all life’
Go on…give yourself some well-earned love and inner peace and remember…
…be your own reason to smile
Written with lots of love by Jules – as writing helps bring clarity to my perspective of life
Photography by Pexels and Jules