Every role a woman is called to perform whether at home, work, or in the community has its cycles of intensity. Inevitably we have those days (or weeks) when we just want to hide. If we're lucky, though, we have that friend or colleague who reminds us not to try pouring from an empty cup. Rather than succumb to depletion and exhaustion, try cultivating your own self-care practices.
Here are my top five restorative practices to clear the mind, engender calm, and keep me going when busyness and stress encroach.
1. Listening to calming music
A Google Scholar search of the keywords "calming benefits music stress" returns 43,000 results! If you're already too stressed to read about the research on the healing benefits of music, try it out for yourself instead. Take a moment to open a doorway to calm with spa, instrumental, or ambient music. If you're looking to clear the mind and lower your blood pressure, a concert (even of your favorite band) probably isn't what you need. Take a few minutes to align your breathing to the music and then leave it playing in the background.
2. Buying myself flowers
I'm a fairly organized person and my office is lovely, but last week I looked around and every pile, file, paper, or book represented work yet to be completed. It was visual overload and my eyes didn't have a place of calm to rest. So I took ten minutes at the end of the day to clear the table, reorganize the to-dos on my desk, and then went out for flowers. Sunny yellow Gerbera daisies and sunflowers enlivened my space for a week. And the bright yellow/orange tones just delight me. Pick a bunch in your favorite colors and brighten your day!
3. Using essential oils
I'm grateful to have a friend who mixes essential oils and is somehow able to drop off a vial for rejuvenation, relaxation, or healing just when I need it. I know some people think aromatherapy is hokey, but the olfactory sense is our most primal. Aromas can evoke latent memories, cause you to salivate, attract the attention of a passerby, and impact mood and motivation. I keep calming lavender oil at both my desk and bedside for moments when I need that aromatic reset. I also highly recommend skin care facial sprays which are refreshing at home, work, and especially when traveling. My favorites are rose water and aloe, cucumber, and green tea by Mario Badescu Skin Care.
4. Reading (or re-reading) favorite texts
Nothing is better for redirecting negative energy or mitigating impacts of stress than reading powerful words. Whatever those may be for you, take half an hour to curl up with an old favorite and re-center yourself. Mark that passage that guides you and start each day for the next week with it. For me, I find that Jack Canfield's short narratives in Success Principles can reframe my negative attitude or low energy very quickly. Women looking for guidance on tuning in to the power of your own voice should check out Playing Big by Tara Mohr.
5. Being in or near water
Ideally, I would be able to escape to the coast every Friday. I'd settle for a lake at dawn or a rushing river while sitting in dappled sunlight under an oak tree. Since my current reality doesn't allow these escapes for a weekly reset, my self-care routine includes a warm soak in the tub several nights per week. For me, this happens because I prioritize it. After putting my son to bed and chatting with my husband, I head for the bathroom, often with a cup of tea. No interruptions. This coincides with my before-bed hour which I've committed as a time with no digital distractions. This self-care time is solely for calming practices like meditation, yoga, reading restorative texts (no news!), and soaking.
What are your top five restorative practices? Please share in the comments below. And if you're interested reading more about the power of scent, check out How Does Scent Drive Human Behavior? in Psychology Today.