Every now and then on this blog, I like to bring it down to basics, and that includes one concept that is near and dear to my heart: self-care. I try to focus on it for DIY masks or scrubs to make at home, in the hopes that some readers will actually do it. Is it about skin care? Maybe. Is it about self-care? Definitely!
Like many of you, I take care of people. I have a loving husband and three children. When my children were young, I joined millions of parents across the world who suffered from lack of sleep. As I got older, my mother developed cancer, and moved in with me so that I could care for her. We had an alarm that went off next to the bed so that we could run in and take care of her. Whether you are young or old, you may be burning the candle at both ends…working all day, taking care of others, and then dealing with stress and lack of sleep.
Whether you take care of people at work, or people at home, we each need to have a deep breath and “take time for you.” And that means making time for self-care. Skin care can be an instrumental part of this, because it creates an occasion for moments of peace and ritual, and restores the body in its own right.
There may be many people out there who really don’t understand why self-care is important, so let’s clear that one up right now: Women like myself spend much of their lives nurturing others. Why is it then that we feel so selfish when we decide to take a few minutes to care for ourselves? If you find yourself starting to develop the telltale signs of stress (headaches, low energy, upset stomach, tense muscles, difficulty falling asleep), you will probably realize that you are overdue for some downtime to care for yourself.
For those of us who spend time helping and caring for others, it is too easy to neglect our own needs. It’s like “running on empty” when you don’t take time for yourself. That’s how we refuel. Putting some “gas in the tank” can mean something as simple as taking a bath or shower, or listening to music. So, when we practice self-care skin care, or self-care in general, it’s not even because we want to. We need to find those moments to care for ourselves for the sake of our mental and physical health. Once we have recharged, it is easier to take care of others.
Don’t Try to Be a Superhero
How many of you jump out of bed in the morning, splash some water about quickly, slap on some moisturizer and makeup, and dash into the kitchen? That’s not practicing good self-care skin care by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s understandable that it happens: Maybe there are children to wake; maybe there are dogs to feed, etc. There is breakfast to cook, before getting yourself and anyone else off to face the day. It can seem impossible to find a way to center yourself and “take time for you.”
If you work outside the home, you can add that to the long list of “extra tasks” like housework, laundry, volunteer activities, errands, family obligations, church choir rehearsals, Girl Scout meetings...and the list goes on and on. Soccer practices. You get the idea. We fall into bed at the end of the day, and try to remember if we even washed our faces!
Women, in particular, need to try to balance the stress and activity of daily life with activities that bring a sense of wellbeing to their minds and bodies. Remember, no one is going to show up at your door and hand you an award for being Superwoman. You are the only one who can monitor how much you do and when you need to draw the line and just stop. By stopping, we also stop any resentment that can arise when we take on too much and don’t ask for help or set limits for ourselves.
What Do We Mean by “Self-Care”?
For some reason, many people get all nervous when you ask them if they love themselves. It took me years to really understand what that meant to me. When I say that I love myself, it means that I am being as loving and protective of myself as I would be with taking care of my own child. Would I protect them from harm? Yes. Would I tell them when they need to go to bed because they have a big test tomorrow? Yes, I would.
When my children were young, they had a bedtime ritual which worked miracles to help me have a peaceful marriage. After dinner, about 6:30, it would be bath time. This was always met with excitement. We had special toys that remained in the bathtub, and we had alphabet foam letters that stuck to the tub. It was a lot of fun. The water was warm, and the towel was fluffy, and then it was PJ’s and story time. Story time involved three books, which started out fun, but always ended with them choosing one of the peaceful books. My personal favorite was “Goodnight Moon”. Then they got special songs sung to them, and off to bed.
The entire process from dinner to lights out took about an hour or a little more, but it was quality time, and worked like a charm. Not only did the little rascals get off to a nice peaceful sleep, but my husband and I finally got time to converse like adults, watch TV, listen to music, take a few minutes to practice good skin care self-care with my favorite beauty products, or simply relax. Having children in bed by 7:30 or so gave us three hours before we went to bed where we could actually feel like humans! I think about this often when I am taking care of myself. Back then, it was all about making time because it was important. A big part of taking time for you is using that time to spend it with the people you love, not by taking care of them but simply being with them. Having time together with my husband reminded me of why we were married in the first place.
In the same scenario, let’s say you have no children, but you have a job that causes you a great deal of stress. You need to be the one who puts yourself on a schedule. You need to be the one who says, “After 7 pm I will not open e-mails”. That should be the time when you remember that you are a person who needs a cup of herbal tea, or the time to read your favorite book. Whether you are making time for your spouse when children go to sleep, or setting aside work to relax, it’s all about self-care. Self-care is self-love. And self-love means knowing that you are worthwhile enough to take care of, and that you matter to the world. That’s why you should take time for you. It’s nothing to be self-conscious of; it’s the respect and love you would give to anyone else that matters to you. You are worth it!
Ways to Nurture Yourself
Beyond simply practicing healthy skin care, self-care can take a million different forms. It can be almost anything you want it to be, from simple hygiene to big splurges. Here is a list of our favorites:
- Take a yoga class. Really “remain present” while you are there. Silence your inner voice
- Take a walk outside. Fresh air is so important. Take a walk, listen to nature.
- Eat well and get enough sleep. As we get older we don’t realize how sleep affects us. Lack of sleep can be stressful, and make us impatient and forgetful.
- Never underestimate the power of water. A warm bath, maybe with some Epsom salts or a drop of lavender oil, can soothe you off to sleep. Try doing your bath or a hot tub before bed.
- Take your vitamins! Self-care skin care needs to happen inside the body as well as outside. Most people do not get enough calcium and magnesium, and magnesium, in particular, is really getting a lot of press for its impact on sleep and mental wellbeing. Remember that those are fat-soluble vitamins, and need to be taken with vitamins K2 and D3 and dietary fat of some sort to work properly in the body. Take them with dinner or a snack at night for a good sleep.
- Ask for help. Remember why we have friends! A good friend can make your troubles seem much lighter. Meet a friend for lunch or Skype if you have to, but try to make eye contact and share a real conversation.
- Go commune with nature. Visit a garden center, go for a stroll in a horticulture garden, or spend an hour pulling weeds or planting something. Nature and the air will revitalize you and also give you inner peace at the same time.
- Give yourself some pampering. Like we said, skin care self-care is a great way to take time for yourself. Putting on a nice face mask is perfect: While you’re wearing it, you can’t go anywhere or do much of anything. Try to do these on a certain day of the week, every week. Also, remember to take time to take your makeup off at night. Removing makeup to allow your skin to breathe, and then applying something like a night cream or a few drops of Ayr Skin Care’s Virgin Marula Oil, will make you feel like a million bucks. Don’t forget hand cream or dry body oil. Tranquility Dry Body Oil works as a reminder when we come out of the shower: Rub some on and breathe deeply the aromatherapy of the essential oil blend.
- TV time can also be a time for self-care. Skin care can play a role in this too, since TV is such a forgiving activity. Our Tranquility Moisturizing Hand Cream and an emery board works as a little quality time. The first signs of aging happen on the hands, and as long as you are sitting there anyway, file your nails and rub some cream into your hands and nail beds to moisturize and relax.
- Soothing music cannot be overrated. Find an app for your phone with waves or gentle river noises, and use it to lull yourself off to sleep. Sometimes, when you take time for yourself, you don’t get to be awake to enjoy it. Sometimes, you just have to sleep, and that’s as it should be.
How Do We Find Time?
How do we find time in our busy schedules to take time for ourselves? It’s a habit. Here’s a good example: My friend and I started a routine where we meet once a month for breakfast. Before we leave, we schedule the next date. Before we did that, we used to go for months and not see each other. This simple trick has allowed us to take time to see each other.
Another trick to help you remember to pamper yourself with self-care skin care is to place a container of facial masks or hand cream where you know you will use it, and the visual clue will remind you to take that moment for yourself. I keep my hand cream and emery board on the table next to my TV area. I use it every night because of this routine. I keep another jar of Tranquility Hand Cream on my desk at work. After I go wash my hands, I apply cream. If the jar wasn’t there, I really would forget to use it.
It all comes down to prioritizing that special time for you. So take time for you! Practice self-love through sincere self-care. Skin care, quality family time, moments of luxury, and even a good rest are all great choices. I encourage you to take a look at how you are living, and see if there are windows of self-care that you can work into your schedule. Find little moments to get outside, to walk a little farther when you are parking at the market, or to just stop, look up at the blue sky, and have a moment of gratitude. And Breathe! Care for yourself like you would care for a dear friend.
Bye for now!