I'm not going to lie 2022 has felt more overwhelming at times than 2021 did.
Between the state of our climate and the world politically, right down to the community/neighbourhood level, changes are happening all around us. I definitely get overwhelmed by it all at times, as I'm sure many of you do.
So how do I cope? I turn to self-care first and here's why.
You can't fill up someone else's cup from an empty one. The same reasoning behind the rule of put on your mask before someone else's mask when on a plane. When you aim to fill from the overflow, and it allows you to give without depleting yourself. Chronic depletion leads to burnout. If you are here, I see you. Every journey begins with the first step. It's never to late to try again and take that first step.
Layer on your self-care practices involving more than 1 sense, because it magnifies the experience and heightens your cellular memory of the experience. This is game-changing because it helps your body remember to come back to it more often if it was a good experience overall. This helps us build resilience.
These are some of my favourite self-care practices that I turn to when I'm feeling overwhelmed. They are also practices that are gentle and holistic, making them the perfect medicine for preventing overwhelm from rooting itself into us. I love how self-care can bring us back into our body but also helps us get ready to give to others from a more nourished state.
Self-care is a broad topic involving many many aspects of ourselves and our lives. I wont be going into all these right now, but know that it is definitely bigger than what you see here. There may be a specific practice that you love that isn't listed here and that's okay! If it makes you feel less overwhelmed and brings you back into your body, congratulations! Keep going!
Top 5 self-care practices for overwhelm:
1) Oil Hydration with Body Oiling
In Ayurveda, body oiling is called (RASA) meaning to oil the body is to love the body. It's very calming for the nervous system, nourishing for the skin and lymphatics. Oil hydration is just as important to our cells as water hydration. Oils are also essential for nerve cells to effectively fire messages to one another is depend on lipids to allow the firing along our ganglion fibres running all through our body. When our oil hydration is low, it makes it harder for our nervous system to send messages around the body effectively. We can feel off, anxious, out of sorts, low in the self-love category, hav trouble making decisions, or feel distracted.
Body oiling helps me calm my nervous system in a practice that encourages me to express my love to myself, feels sooo good! I wish I would have learned this years ago! It's so simple to sit down with yourself and a body of oil and give yourself a massage. No special or expensive equipment required. Just your hands, oil, and time. This practice helps us tap into our bodies and how we are feeling in that moment. Helping us to bring tenderness to our tender areas. Breakdown that feeling of overwhelm or anxious feelings and replace it with calm and loving feelings with a sense of groundedness, can give you a sense of feeling back in your body.
How to oil?
Choose any oil that you are comfortable with. You can purchase one of our body oils, or create your own body oil with ingredients from your kitchen such as extra-virgin olive oil, almond oil, avocado oil to make a basic but effectively and nourishing body oil. It can be scented or unscented. I prefer to use herbal oils scented with essential oils For a couple reasons: The herbal infusion levels up the oil by providing that oil hydration we talked about above, but also nourishing the skin with nutrients that encourage cell repair, collagen production, and help decrease inflammation. Experience body oiling with our Body/Bath oils or facial oils such as the oil cleansers + serums.
2) Salt Water Hydration
When you can't be in the ocean, bring the ocean to you and create a nourishing, mineral-rich salt bath. Right beneath or skin, is most of our lymphatics, which is a salt-rich solution that works to protect the skin, acts as a highway for your immune system, and carries nutrients to your cells as well as takes toxins and waste away. Salt water is naturally softening to the skin and rich in minerals. Salt actually helps our body absorb water more effectively hydrating us deeper into our tissues.
You may have spotted the instagram (IG) trend of sprinkling a little Himalayan Pink Salt into a glass of water to improve cellular hydration. It is true, it can help for sure. It's an ancient Ayurvedic practice to sprinkle a small pinch of Himalayan pink salt in water before you drink it. I shared on a past blog post about how to make your own electrolyte drink using pink salt, lemon juice, and honey, that is very refreshing. When we aren't making this, we add nuun tabs to our drinks on hot days or after workouts, or when spending long stretches outside in the sun like when camping. I also find because my my Lymphedema, I am lower in magnesium than the average person, so this helps me. The nuun tabs replace the electrolytes without added sugar, which can be great for those avoiding sugar or have diabetes.
Other ways to hydrate with salt include having a salt soak in the bath or a foot or hand soak. Salt softens the skin and helps protect it from infections as well. Or Boreal Forest Salt Soak is a favourite! Inviting in the plant friends and aroma of the Forest is so soothing and grounding. Perfect for fall when we can feel ungrounded with the dry air.
3) Connect to nature
This can be as simple as appreciating a houseplant or herbs you are growing, or finding some dandelions pushing through the cracks in the sidewalk, or going for a city walk and looking for nature on your route. Nature is all around us if we look for it. Taking a moment to be present with plants can bring us back into a whole state and reduce our anxiety. Forest bathing therapy has been proven to help reducing stress levels, improve calm, focus, and overall well-being. This works because it brings us back into a compassionate and loving state by spending time with plants seeing them, smelling them, walking amongst them. They help fill up our cup within as well as mindful movement in nature is essential for lymphatic health. Go with the flow and create flow.
When there is no flow, there is no glow. Our light inside us literally dims when we are out of flow, stagnant in body or mind. When we feel stuck, anxious, or overwhelmed.
You know that glow you get after a good workout? It's your lymph moving and flowing, bringing fresh energy to your cells! Water is life my friend! Water is the medium of how Prana moves around our body. A simple practice is to stop and pick.a flower or leaf, notice the petals, colours, texture, how are the veins formed that you can see? Smell it, taste it (if it's edible). Another simple practice is to ground in nature by laying on the earth. The earth is full of vibrations and healing. By laying for a moment and feeling the ground hold you with the sky above, it can bring you out of a state of overwhelm, activate your parasympathetic nervous system and improve lymphatic flow. Stay here for 5 min or more practicing deep breathing techniques, smiling up at the sky, putting your hands on your heart.
4) Yoga and Meditation - Yoga is a mindful way to move your body that connects your body, mind, and spirit. It is something I really enjoy for the physical movement, mindful connection with myself, and I find it improves my Lymphedema too! Before any yoga session, I take a moment and perform a self-massage sequence to open my Lymph channels and encourage drainage. This is a layering technique I have learned over the years that helps me get the most our of any form of exercise, whether it's a walk, bike ride, aquafit class, or time on my yoga mat.
5) Journaling - I know this practice helps so much, from all the evidence around it, to trying it personally myself. I have to admit, I have trouble sticking with it, or remembering, or making time like i'm sure many of you do. Especially when I'm feeling overwhelmed, but it is often the thing that I need most in that moment that I resist. Does that happen to you too? I get on a good streak and fall off again. I used to be so hard on myself when I broke my streak, but I'm working practicing self-compassion and focusing on getting my streaks longer and not beating myself up when I break my streaks. I'm choosing to 'find on the good' as I often tell my kids and I am practicing it here. When we give ourselves grace and space, it allows us the freedom to try again and love ourselves through it all.
Tell me which practice resonates with you. Which ones are you including in your daily/seasonal rhythms already?