Today I’m sharing my unique self-care ideas. 2020 has pushed me to work harder on my mental health and self-care is a cheap and easy way to improve all areas of my life.
As well, I feel more mentally prepared for the future and ready to take on new challenges, as I am learning how to just relax and lean into change.
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic.
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life.
You want a quality long life.
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. As well, there may be affiliate links in this post. Read more here.
Why Women Need Self-Care
I ignored my self care for…forever basically. And I paid the price with mental health issues that compounded over a period of about 7 years.
Now I am on cleanup and damage control.
After being treated very poorly by a person, I went looking for why I had people like that in my life. How did I attract that and how can I fix it.
In my research, I found the book “Why Mars and Venus Collide” by John Gray.
This book really opened my eyes to the fact that women require self-care to function optimally.
As women, we MUST take time for ourselves.
Physically, if we continue to ignore our own needs, we deplete our body’s supply of Oxytocin. Women understand the power of Oxytocin as that “cuddle hormone” that kicks in after sex.
Oxytocin balances Cortisol, the stress hormone. Low Oxytocin = high Cortisol. We need to switch this to a more 50/50 scenario.
For women, if your Oxytocin is getting low it is usually from pushing yourself to help/fix things for others without recharging it.
Symptoms of low Oxytocin are:
- Sugar cravings – Yup.
- Apathy – You just stop caring.
- Anti-Social – You don’t want to go out or visit people. Interaction with other people seems like work.
- Wary/Distrustful – You are paranoid that people are out to get you or push you aside.
- Low Libido – If your Oxytocin is low, sex is depressing, and you may feel like you are doing a favor rather than receiving something.
There is also a link between low Oxytocin and Schizophrenia.
So if you’re stressed and feel crazy, you need to start taking care of yourself. Or, if the guys you are dating call you crazy take that as a sign to do more for yourself.
Conversely, increasing Oxytocin as much as possible has a calming effect. It helps you deal with people from a calm place, regardless of the circumstances.
Boosting Oxytocin is something you must do for yourself. Other people cannot boost it for you.
Consider your Oxytocin as a “love” tank that needs to be filled up to 90% capacity by you and you alone.
When it is filled that much, others can do things for you that may top you up to 100%, but you cannot rely on other people to get you to that point.
It’s your job. And the fuller your tank, the simpler and easier your life will be.
The benefits of high Oxytocin:
- Eases stress – You are generally more relaxed. Other people’s actions don’t bother you as much.
- Improves mood – You feel content and have more trust.
- Induces sleep – Increasing your Oxytocin balances cortisol, which is a stress hormone, allowing you to relax and rest.
- Boosts sexual arousal – If you can raise your Oxytocin before sex, it will be much more pleasurable.
- Improves social skills – not only do you want to get out there, you enjoy the event more because you are more tuned in to positive social cues. These cues help you differentiate between people who are good and people you should be wary of.
So use as many self-care ideas as you want to try in order to fill your tank.
As well, doing relaxing things with other women, like going for lunch or shopping, can give you a boost. Problem-solving, such as at work, does not help; relaxed and informal fun times do.
Self-care for women is a “women thing”. It just is.
DIY Home Self-Care Ideas
Self-care boosts Oxytocin. If you want 75 self-care ideas that you can can squeeze into your day, read my post Who Needs Self-Care?
Reset Your Brain for Self-Care
When your brain feels fried, it’s a good sign it’s time to sit back and rest for a while. In fact, if you feel frazzled, even if you think it’s temporary (i.e. holiday shopping), that is a sign that Oxytocin is getting low.
It’s so important to learn how to reset your brain and let go of some stress.
Create a list of self-care ideas that you want try, and keep doing the ones you like. If your Oxytocin is quite low, doing self-care here and there will help to raise it.
Keep in mind that the more time you actively do self-care, the faster you will feel more balanced and better able to help others.
Exercise is great, but it only helps to a certain extent. Sometimes we just need a bubble bath.
Do what you love to do.
It doesn’t have to be a gym membership and heavy weight-lifting. You can focus on working out by jogging, taking walks, doing yoga, dancing, playing ball with the kids.
Do something you enjoy, and focus on pushing yourself. Just when you think you can’t forearm plank another second in yoga, push yourself to do another three seconds.
Pushing yourself in a healthy manner while working out helps you focus on your body and your mind rather than everything else. It helps reset your brain for happiness.
If you’re overwhelmed and your brain is totally fried, why not focus on something positive?
Try something new or something you’ve been wanting to accomplish, and work for it. When you have something positive to focus on, your mind is able to replenish.
Once you’ve accomplished this task, you feel empowered. When you’re empowered, you’re less stressed.
Don’t forget to acknowledge that you completed your task. Mark it on your calendar as a “win” for that day.
At the end of the month, count your wins and pat yourself on the back for helping yourself, which is also a win!
Create A Good Habit
Bad habits are hard to break, but you can focus easily on creating a new, happy habit that changes your brain.
For example, you can focus on waking up earlier in the morning and starting your day before the rest of the world.
Set your alarm a little earlier every day until it’s habit.
Use that extra time to meditate, to breathe deeply, to stretch, or to enjoy the quiet before the storm.
I don’t get up earlier, but I do actively work on my mental health first thing. Even a quick 5 minutes of journaling what kind of day I want to have helps a lot.
This is the kind of healthy habit that changes the way your brain is wired so you’re calmer and more relaxed.
It’s not a big change or a major habit to introduce, but it’s an effective one that makes a big difference.
Changing the way your brain feels is not always easy, but it is always possible.
Sometimes you just need a break.
If you can listen to your body and hear what it’s trying to tell you based on how you’re feeling in general, how you’re reacting to situations in life, and how you’re functioning, you can easily tell when you need to reset and refocus.
Listen to your body, and you can change your life.
Years ago, I burned my feet walking on super hot sand at the beach. I had cracked heels for a few years, and nothing I did resolved it, including cream from Avon or trips to the spa. I rubbed lemons into my heels and tried salt scrubs too.
I used to be so embarrassed by my dry and cracked feet, but no more.
I do stay-at-home pedicures, and I’ve developed a routine that gives me the results I want…soft feet that look attractive. And for next to no money! win-win.
You will need:
- A plastic dishpan: I like this kind because it fits both my feet
- Dawn dish soap – or whatever kind you use.
- A double-sided foot file, like this one.
- Towels: one for under the dishpan and one to dry your feet after.
- Coconut oil – the cheap stuff will do. I keep a plastic container of coconut oil just for this purpose.
Fill the bin half-full of warm water.
I like to use water that is slightly hotter than is comfortable, because it cools off quick. Add a squirt of dish soap, for the bubbles.
Lay out a towel to set the pan on; I like to do this while I watch TV, but you do you. Throw your foot file in there. Set your coconut oil nearby.
Soak your feet for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, use the coarse side of the foot file on your heels; use the fine side to file the sides of your arches and the rest of your foot.
Soak another 10 minutes. Feel free to repeat this if you have time or your feet are in rough shape.
When you are done, dry your feet and immediately rub coconut oil onto them.
I set my feet on the previously used towel to air-dry (it takes about 5 minutes). Put cotton socks on after to maintain moisture.
I suggest doing this once a week until you get the desired softness. You get results right away, but for my heels it took me about 6 to 8 good soaks to make my feet soft again, with no cracks!
Maintain your results by using coconut oil on your feet after a shower/bath. I don’t use nail polish for…reasons. But if you do, go for it.
The Cheap Facial That Makes Your Face Baby Soft
I thought this was cray cray, but dang if my face wasn’t baby soft after! Any skin type can do this facial.
Experiment with any “clean” oil that you have like olive or avocado. Avoid industrial seed oils like soybean, canola, corn, safflower, or cottonseed.
You will need:
- Good quality oil like Jojoba, or Almond. I like the NOW oil products because it’s a smaller bottle and stays fresh.
- Carrier oil like castor oil – use this to help spread your good oil on your face and so you use less of the good stuff.
- A facecloth and towel
Do this in the bathroom.
You will want to pull your hair back with a head band or twist it up in a towel.
In the palm of your hand, mix a dime-sized splash of each of your oils (carrier and quality).
- Spread all over your face, using gentle movements.
- Try not to pull your delicate facial skin with harsh movements.
Put the plug in your sink, add your facecloth and half fill your sink with the hottest water possible. Let your cloth get nice and hot.
Being very careful, remove the cloth and squeeze out as much water as possible.
TIP: I’ve used clean rubber gloves to pick the hot cloth out.
Place that hot cloth over your face, like a face mask. Do not rub the oil off; just use the cloth to warm it up.
When the cloth cools, repeat heating it and putting it on your face. Then repeat for the final time (three times total). You can wipe off any excess oil at this point.
Go ahead and moisturize with whatever you normally use.
Or do like me and use coconut oil.
Baby soft skin with no chemicals!
Empower Your Mind
Whether you’re young or old, you’ve probably noticed that your mind can feel like it’s cluttered with too much information at times.
It can be overwhelming, and it can impact how you focus during the day and how much work you can get done whether it’s a job or at school.
Fortunately, you can follow a few strategies to tidy up your mind so that you can begin to think clearly once again.
Take time to slow down in life.
- Go for a walk with your family.
- Shorten the list of things that you have to do during the day.
- Try to let go of some of the negative feelings that you have in your mind.
- Take time for yourself instead of trying to do so many things for other people.
Once you begin to focus on you, then your mind will begin to follow suit.
While breathing deeply in and out of your mouth might seem like something that you would do at a doctor’s office, it’s a technique that can help to clear your mind.
First, take some deep breaths so that you can clear your lungs.
Then, create a mental image of the air entering your nose and coming out of your mouth.
This will allow you to focus on something else besides what’s on your mind.
Many people also like to give meditation a try when they want to practice self care without spending a lot of money.
This is something else that can be free or possibly cost a small amount of money, depending on your method.
For example, if you want to purchase a meditation CD to follow along to, naturally you will be spending a small amount of money. However, for the most part, this is minimal and a one-time cost.
Meditation involves breathing exercises and sitting in a quiet space alone while you relax your mind.
You want to try to think about as little as possible, using imagery to think of something that brings you peace and happiness, instead of using this time to think about what is causing you stress in the first place.
Try this meditation that I learned from Bob Doyle, of The Secret movie:
- Breathe in for a count of four
- Hold your breath for a count of four
- Exhale for a count of four
- Hold it for a count of four
Easy no? I will do this once or twice if I feel overwhelmed, or if I just want to “re-set” my brain.
It does take a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, you will realize just how beneficial it can be.
Take a Bubble Bath
As long as you have the bath supplies, this isn’t going to cost you a dime.
Draw yourself a hot bath and pour in some bubbles, essential oils, or baths salts, like epsom salts.
Soak in the tub with some music playing or just sit in silence, maybe with a few candles burning and the lights off.
Music is a good distraction if you have kids in the house that you want to tune out for the time being.
Lock the door so you have no distractions and let the dogs out so they don’t bother you either.
Remember not to bring your cell phone in the bathroom with you!
Journal Your Thoughts
One way to express what you’re thinking about without others knowing is to write in a journal.
I always thought that keeping a journal meant writing great long thoughts and filling pages and pages of hopes and dreams.
Pffftttt. I mean, you can do that if it works for you.
My journals are a hodge-podge of bitch-rant writing and affirmations for better things.
If something is bothering me, I write it out. That seems to help quite a bit…just emptying my mind of “crap”.
Update your journal each day or at least a few times a week, jotting down some of the concerns that you have and some of the things that make you happy.
When you see your thoughts written down on paper, it makes it easier to see what you can change in life and what is really bothering you instead of what you have no control over.
Get Enough Sleep
When you’re going through your day after only a few hours of sleep each night, it can be hard to think clearly.
Your mind is exhausted from a lack of sleep, which can decrease your focus on the tasks that you perform each day.
When you begin to slow down at work or at school, it can have an impact on your success, which further clutters your mind as you begin thinking about the consequences that might ensue.
Try to get at least eight hours of sleep each night as the various sleep cycles help to rebuild your energy and clear your mind.
Home Neck Physio – Dr. Ho
I bought Dr. Ho’s Neck Pain Bundle from our local shopping channel, but you can get the individual pieces.
The piece of the bundle that helps my “tech neck” is this:
You put it around your neck and use velcro straps to keep it secure. Then pump it up like a blood pressure cuff until you feel the pressure on your neck start to lessen.
Then just sit and relax for 10 minutes.
Do this while you soak your feet.
For me, it increases my range of motion. I had a car accident about 12 years ago, and my neck gets stiff and won’t turn all the way to the left. This unit gives me more range.
The other piece that helps my condition is:
I was stoked to discover that you could get home TENS units.
TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and is used by physiotherapists everywhere.
The TENS unit works by delivering small electrical impulses through electrodes that have adhesive pads (to attach them to a person’s skin).
The electrical impulses flood your central nervous system reducing its ability to transmit pain signals to the spinal cord and brain.
At the same time, it also stimulate the body to produce natural pain relievers called endorphins.
The TENS unit has 3 modes, depending on how intense you want your therapy.
It also has 3 timers (10 minute, 20 minute, 40 minute). The pads are reusable, the bundle comes with plenty of gel for the pads, and you can put the pads wherever you need relief.
I just love mine. I use it in conjunction with the neck comforter for less tension headaches.
If you have lower back pain, the TENS unit helps. It sends a mild electrical shock (you control how intense it is) with or without pulses, to stimulate your muscles to release pain. It’s brilliant.
My Current Self-Care Routine
These are the self-care routines that I do, more or less on the regular now. It took me a while to figure out which things I liked as well as what fit into my life, as it is now.
Remember to check out my blog post for 75 self-care ideas. It’s good to have a variety of ideas, so you can shoe-horn them into your available time.
- Journal my dream life, things I want to change, and how I can improve personal relationships
- Meditate – Your brain can only focus on one thing at a time, so if you do the “4 x 4” meditation, everything else you were thinking about fades away
- I also do EFT/Tapping with Brad Yates videos on YouTube, like this quick gratitude tapping:
EFT looks weird, but it works like acupuncture for emotions. I cannot explain it any better than that.
Once a week (or as needed), I do:
- The cheap-and-easy oil facial
- A Home pedicure
- While I do the foot soak, I use my Dr. Ho Neck Comforter
Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit. Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!