Let’s begin with a story by Babaji Isha Atmananda. Once upon a time, seven monks were sent out to travel the world and preach love and harmony. Delighted, they travelled mountains and valleys and, having been warned to always stick together, the seven monks decided to count one another at dawn and dusk to make sure they were all there and well. One day after a difficult river-crossing, they feared one of them might have drowned, and so they started to check. ‘One, two, three, four, five, six…’ the first monk counted. One was missing. He asked his companions to count as well, but none surpassed the number six. Each time the seventh monk was missing.
Dismayed by their discovery, the monks shared their concern with an old man passing by and asked him to count them. To their surprise, the man counted seven. ‘Each of you,’ he said, ‘counted only the others and forgot to include himself. This is why the seventh monk was always missing - he was the one counting.’
Oftentimes, we forget to include ourselves in the picture. We pride ourselves in caring for others, extending endless amounts of patience and consideration to those around us, but how often do we grant ourselves the same guilt-free kindness, attention, and care?
Self-care should be at the top of everyone’s list, and especially so during a pandemic. And yet taking care of ourselves - inside and out - can feel far from a natural habit. The fact that nourishing the body and mind benefits mental wellbeing and physical health is nothing new. Self-care makes us feel good naturally, boosting our mood and upping our abilities to manage stress for ourselves and others.
Burnout, on the other hand, lowers our immune systems, our energy, and has physical impacts on things like our complexion. Instead of overlooking your needs, now is the time to make space for that extra time to be kind to yourself. By feeding your body with love and seeking natural nourishment, you can connect all parts of yourself and look after your being as a whole.
Types of self-care and how to harness them
Physical: Your body is your temple – look after it if you want it to run efficiently. Remember that there is a strong connection between body and mind. Caring for your body means you will think and feel better in general. Get enough sleep, make sure your diet is balanced and includes plenty of seasonal, fresh and organic produce, drink pure water, dance to your favourite music and remember never to reach dusk without having exercised a little.
Mental: The way you think greatly influences your psychological wellbeing. Mental self-care includes filling your mind with wonder and inspiration, and acknowledging that your glass is three-quarters full. Yes, three-quarters, as half full is not enough these days!
Spiritual: Nurturing your spirit can involve anything that helps you connect deeper with your inner self and the Universe. Meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises are important tools to prove that there is more to life than just what you experience on a sensory and physical level.
Emotional: We all develop strategies in life to cope with our emotions. Emotional self-care means finding healthy coping mechanisms to deal with uncomfortable feelings like anxiety, anger, sadness, or loneliness. Allow yourself to feel your feelings instead of running away from them. Confide and share with someone - chances are, they’ve had similar experiences. Daily positive affirmations can boost morale and give focus, too.
Social: Socialising is key to self-care. We need to share our emotions; make connections. Lockdown has of course prevented face-to-face interaction, however we do need to thank technology for allowing us to find other means to interact in these bizarre circumstances. As restrictions ease, find the time to see people again in the fresh air – even if from afar to start with! Make plans to look forward to.
The power of skincare rituals
Pampering our skin on a regular basis is an important part of self-care. By creating pleasant experiences connected to caring for our skin, we can self-send powerful messages of kindness to ourselves. Self-care has a wonderful knock-on effect on body and mind; it boosts confidence and gives us a sense of control. It’s all connected.
Love your skin more by creating a daily routine and sticking to it religiously. Cleanse, tone and moisturise daily, and treat yourself to a weekly face mask and body toning massage (firm strokes on your body will boost circulation and leave your looking radiant and feeling energised). Opt for products made with natural ingredients where you can - Mother Earth has so much to offer our skin and wellbeing. It’s full of skin loving antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Everything you need to feel your best.
Read more of Dr Spiezia's articles in Sublime Magazine