Hopefully, you’re reading this because you realize self-care is important. As a new mama, it can be hard to make time for myself but I realize that when I do invest in myself, I’m a better human overall. I’m able to show up as my best self and be more present. Of course, I love self-care in the form of manicures and facials but I’m always on the lookout for natural ways to cultivate healthy habits. Especially if they keep me well, happy and thriving. The below rituals aren’t new by any means, actually, some of them are gaining in popularity but I thought it would be fun to roundup some of my favorites to share with ya’ll.
- Dry Brushing: Dry brushing is a classic ayurvedic ritual that involves brushing your full body with a special bristled tool. It’s your call on what type of brush you buy. Just make sure the bristles are stiff but not too abrasive. You want good exfoliation but you don’t want the process to feel painful. I bought this brush after reading all the reviews. I like to dry brush 1-2 x a week in my shower before I turn the water on. The goal is to start at your feet and work upwards towards your heart. Using medium pressure, you want to move along each limb with short and long strokes making sure to overlap so that you don’t miss anything. You can do several passes if that feels reassuring. Once you’ve done most of your body and you’ve reached your chest, start on your face (yes you can dry brush your face) and work your way down to your heart again making sure to get under your jawline, behind your ears and neck. Make sure to get under your armpits and under your boobs as well. Finish by going over your heart in a circular motion to end your routine. This will help clean the body of the dead skin cells that have come loose during the brushing process. When choosing a bath soap, be mindful. Your pours are now much more open making soaps more permeable. Choose a less-toxic option that is more natural — free of harsh sulfates, parabens and phthalates. I love products from Shea Moisture. Benefits: it enhances blood circulation and promotes cleansing of the lymphatic system, rejuvenates the nervous system, exfoliates the skin (goodbye dead skin cells!), which may smooth, tighten and help with cellulite. The main reason I dry brush is to help my body detox: when the lymphatic system is cleansed, extra water and toxins that may be stored in the lymph nodes are expelled.
- Cold Rinse: After getting this tip from my Naturopathic doctor in Portland, taking a cold shower rinse is something I do nearly every day. I generally end every hot shower or bath with a cold rinse. The key is to make sure the water is cold enough and I let it run all over my body for at least a minute. It sounds crazy but with little effort, you reap a lot of benefits. Just check out Wim Hof’s IG for more inspo. Benefits: energy boost, less inflammation, increase circulation, reduce muscle soreness (have you tried ice baths?), boosts weight loss and helps revive skin.
- Detox Baths: I have always loved baths. As a runner, a hot bath sounds like pure bliss when my body is sore from a long run day. Detox baths go beyond just soothing and boosting our well-being by strengthening our immune system and preventing disease. A detox bath is an easy and gentle healing therapy we can do to support our body’s natural detoxification system. I actually stumbled upon this remedy because it’s said to help toddlers with eczema. To read more about detox baths for kiddos, check out this article. First, fill your tub with hot water. For adults, the hotter you can go the more you’ll create a nice sweat, which will really help you detox. Next, fill the tub with detox agents. I personally like to do a mixture of baking soda, Epsom salt and sometimes bentonite clay. Bentonite clay is a naturally-forming clay that magnetically pulls toxins, heavy metals and wastes from the body. I typically do a detox bath once a month or if I’m feeling a cold come on. For colds, grated fresh ginger or pure apple cider vinegar agents are great too. Once you are done soaking, rise out of the tub very slowly and cautiously. You may feel a little dizzy and light-headed, this will go away as you shower off quickly in cool water. Benefits: flush out toxins, boost the immune system, promote sleep and relaxation, can help with skin ailments like eczema and psoriasis. Tip: if baths aren’t for you, try a sauna or infrared therapy.
- Oil Pulling: Oil pulling is an oral health routine that involves swishing coconut oil around in the mouth in a similar way to mouthwash. Some suggest swishing a tablespoon of oil in the mouth for 15–20 minutes to reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth and on the teeth. Once you’re done, spit the oil in the trash and brush your teeth per usual. Benefits: kills harmful bacteria, helps combat bad breath, might prevent cavities, reduce inflammation and may whiten teeth.
- Gua Sha: When done at home, this is a form of gentle self-massage adapted from traditional gua sha that uses a stone tool to help improve circulation and drain the lymphatic system. The foundational practice of gua sha involves slow, steady strokes vs. the more aggressive traditional ones used by professionals. Want all the details? Check out this tutorial from Melissa Wood. She also has a great video on how to do the full-body paired with dry brushing using this unique wooden paddle.
- Castor Oil Packs: I’ve done castor oil packs for a few years now. It requires a bit of prep and can be quite messy but that shouldn’t detour you from trying it out. A castor oil pack involves the use of a cloth soaked in castor oil which is placed on the skin (I place it on my belly). Then you place a hot water bottle or heating pad on top of the cloth. Because this can be messy, I typically would place the castor oil all over my belly directly and then wear an old t-shirt on top and then relax in bed with a heating pad on my stomach for a few hours while watching netflix. I would use the same t-shirts over time and just make sure to wash them. It made the process more seamless for me. Because after I was done, I could just take off the heating pad and go to bed as the oils would be absorbed by bedtime. Benefits: It’s used by some alternative practitioners to enhance circulation and to promote the healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin. Alternative practitioners also use it to improve liver function, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and to improve digestion. I did them regularly before Logan was born to detox my liver and help balance my hormones.
This is just the tip of the iceberg people. There are a lot of other fun ways to proactively advocate optimal health. New science shows promise for treatment of inflammation via the lymph, which may explain why alternative modalities like acupuncture, massage, craniosacral therapy, and reiki improve symptoms for people with chronic inflammation and chronic illness. I hope you found at least one of these rituals interesting enough to give it a shot. I know wellness can be overwhelming but I hope to make it more down-to-earth for y’all. Happy relaxing!