LOCKDOWN LOVE PART 2 – EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL SELF CARE PRACTICES
For many of us, moving our bodies is a lot easier than sitting with the turbulence of our emotions and constant self-talk of the mind.
Feelings and emotions can provide clues about what’s missing in our life. Emotional self-care revolves around getting in touch with our feelings, learning to understand what they have to say, and using this information to better protect and nurture our emotional health.
Here are some tips on how to nurture your emotional and mental energy and my own morning and evening practices to create a mindful daily routine.
Breath your way to balance
Pranayama or breathing techniques were prescribed in the Vedas (an ancient collection of written knowledge and science) to move Prana or life-force into the body and the mind.
With Prana moving through the body and also the subtle energy channels called nadi’s and chakras, we have the ability to drop into a state of deep meditation and transcendence beyond our physical selves.
I love practicing mindfulness as often as I can. Mindfulness as a practice has been shown to increase our mental wellbeing and is something that is so simple to bring into our day.
The way I bring mindfulness into my day is by practicing Pranayama or breath regulation every morning and evening lying in bed as I awake and just before sleep; and also during stressful times during the day or whenever I feel anxious. It was taught to me many years ago when I was 14 as a way to manage pain without pain killers (as I had horrible period pain) by a family friend who was an experienced Yoga teacher.
The 4 2 4 2 Breath Sequence for Stress Relief
Here is the simple breath exercise I have been doing for over 30 years.
Place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest or heart center. You want to feel the hand on your stomach move in and out more than the hand on your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose. As you inhale count in your mind 1…2…3…4 and imagine using the air you breathe in to expand through your chest all the way to your ribs and down to your stomach. Hold this inhalation for a count of 2. Then exhale through your nose for a count of 1…2…3…4 and pause again for 2 counts before starting again.
Doing this breathing exercise slows down your breathing to just 5 breaths a minute. On average we breathe about 15-20 breaths a minute, more when we are anxious or stressed. Ayurveda teaches us that when we slow our breath we slow our heart rate and when we slow our heartbeat we increase our lifespan.
Deep mindful breathing gets more oxygen to your brain and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which sends a signal to your brain to tell the anxious part that you’re safe and don’t need to use the fight, flight, or freeze response.
If you want to learn more about mindfulness practices, Mindful in May is a program I have personally engaged in and enjoyed. You get access to guest speakers from around the world and they also have some short courses. Find more about it here
Mental and Spiritual Soul Care
All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
I love this quote from the 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal. Sitting quietly in a room in silent meditation is a gift to our emotional and mental wellbeing.
I love meditating every morning. It’s a routine I’ve had for many years and so simple to do. If you are new to meditation start with just 2 minutes and you’ll be rewarded with a sense of peace and calm.
I use a personal mantra which I repeat during my meditation. You may choose a mantra or an affirmation to say silently to yourself or simply close your eyes and focus on your breath.
If you are looking for a meditation teacher I highly recommend Laura Poole who is a Vedic Meditation teacher and someone I know personally, a beautiful soul inside and out.
Here’s a link to the Laura Poole Website
My Morning Meditation Ritual and Journaling
I wake up early between 5.30 am and 6 am which is a magical time of the day when night gives way to dawn. I make a pot of tea, sit by the fire in winter or outside on my decking in the warmer months and have all this magnificent time of day to myself while I meditate, journal and create the intention for my day in peace and quiet.
I create a sacred space for my meditation by lighting a candle and incense at my altar and carry more incense around the house to bless it and all of us that live here and all who enter my home. I then sit quietly and meditate for 20 minutes. I love seeing the sunrise after my meditation and I follow with journaling and writing down all the things I am grateful for, feeling into my core values and dreaming about my goals and what I want to achieve for the day, how I want to feel during the day while I am going about it and what my intention is for the day.
My Night Time Retreat for Peaceful Sleep
I like to spend the evening unwinding from the day by going for a long walk with my dogs to the local part or beach. Breathing in the fresh air after being indoors is so recuperating. I like to cook dinner and then follow the 3:2:1 rule during the weekdays. I eat dinner 3 hours before I go to sleep, 2 hours before bed I turn off bright lights and switch to a Himalayan salt lamp and candles from 8:00 pm to support my body’s production of melatonin the sleep hormone for a great night’s sleep and 1 hour before I go to bed I turn off all electronics and I’m usually in bed by 10:00 pm.
Just before bed, I perform my 3-step Aika Retreat Ritual which I have created in line with our body’s natural bio-rhythms and chosen herbs and aromatherapy specifically for reducing stress and infusing a sense of calm and peace for a great nights sleep. Each dosha is catered for with what they need for nighttime rest and renewal.
I cleanse and massage my skin with a Deep Cleanser and this winter I’ve been using the Kapha Deep Cleanser for its warming, uplifting and detoxifying effect. I then follow with compressing my skin with the Pitta Ayuressence and taking deep healing breaths of its gentle aroma. This really soothes my skin and mind and brings about an immediate sense of calm. It is one of my favourite products and helps to regenerate my skin while I sleep and the plant essences help induce deep sleep. I follow with the Pitta Elixir for deep cellular nourishment and repair with a boost of anti-oxidants and vitamins and finish with the Eye Balm for firming and nourishing my under-eye skin and also my lips.
Tailoring self-care for yourself is an act of deep love and celebration of your individuality. It is something we can all do with consciousness and awareness that we are taking good care of ourselves inside and out. Planning your self-care and adapting it to what works best for you and then making a commitment to do this consistently will lead to your whole body wellness – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
As always take good care of yourself.
Love and wellness
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