Hello dear friends!
I’ll admit- I’m a sucker for routine. Over a dozen little rituals propel me through my mornings, and at least a dozen more wind me down at night. We’re all creatures of habit, but some relish those seemingly insignificant things more than others!
On any adventure to wellness, one picks up some tips and tricks along the way. We usually read or hear about something new, give it a try for a few days, and see if it sticks. And over time, the ones that we enjoy or get some benefit from are naturally folded into our daily lives like they were always there. It’s definitely true for me, nearly six years into CFS at this point; I’ve developed a good handful of quirky health habits that I feel give me a little boost along my healing road.
The thing is, especially when you’re dealing with things like fatigue and brain fog, you have to pick things that are realistic for you to incorporate in your life. If you struggle to even take a shower, making a commitment to do ten sun salutations every morning probably won’t get very far (it’s not like I’m speaking from personal experience or anything…cough cough). And I’ve had plenty of time to weed out the newfangled health fads or fitness trends that just weren’t plausible for me with my energy level, income, and free time. Which is why my list is pretty, well, chill.
With that being said, if you’re looking to fold in a little more wellness to your days, I encourage you to give one (or all!) of these a whirl. You never know, you may find one that sticks.
So without further ado, here’s my list of seven things I do every day to feel better. No judging! :)
1. Dry body brushing
Okay, maybe it sounds more like a silly thing you might do at a spa (I’m pretty sure I thought this too in the beginning), but it’s actually a fantastic and easy little act of self-care. Some people even become addicted to it because it feels so…damn…good! Especially if you’re a highly tactile person like me.
Dry brushing is great at encouraging lymphatic drainage (extra awesome when dealing with colds/flus), exfoliating your skin, boosting circulation, and relieving minor stress. It’s like a mini massage, and I indulge every morning before I get dressed for the day. The brushes should be made of all-natural bristles, and pleasantly rough to the touch. Use long slow strokes, starting at your feet and legs, and always brush towards the heart to encourage proper blood/lymph flow!
2. Tongue scraping
This may sound like some weird hippie fad, but I think they might be on to something. Tongue scraping is an ancient Ayurvedic ritual aimed at eliminating built up toxins and bacteria at the most common entry point from the outside world (your mouth, silly). If you’ve ever seen a practitioner in traditional Chinese medicine or Ayurveda, chances are they examined your tongue and could make certain diagnoses or health predictions based on what it looked like.
It only takes a few seconds every day, and can help cut down on bacterial load, fight Candidiasis, improve your breath, and stimulate the flow of healthy cleansing saliva. It may take a few tries to get the hang of things, especially if you have a sensitive gag reflex, but once it’s part of your routine you’ll start to notice the benefits! Oral hygiene is IN people!
3. Child’s Pose
Yes, there are absolutely days when I just can’t get my usual yoga in. Sometimes I go weeks without it, even. But child’s pose has somehow stuck in my daily routine regardless of where I am or what I’m doing (or not doing), and helps to bring me calm and grounding. If you haven’t already, check out my other post about my top five yoga poses to do even when you feel like crap- this is my favorite one of them.
I use a variation, with the knees separated wide and the hands extended in front. This opens my hips, which is sorely (pun intended) needed from all the couch and bed sitting I do, and lengthens my spine. Plus, it’s the default resting pose in yoga classes for good reason; it is incredibly calming to the nervous system and it doesn’t require any special skills or experience. I’ll usually pop into this for several minutes for an afternoon break, before I go to bed, or when I get home from a particularly stressful event and need to “de-frazzle” myself.
4. Misting my pillows
You probably know about my affinity for essential oils by now, and maybe you even know that I sell custom blends in my Etsy shop. But you may not know about all the ways I use them each and every day. Every night before I crawl into bed, I spray my homemade essential oil mist on my linens and have done so for years now. Which means that the scent is strongly associated with going to sleep, and automatically helps my brain start to wind down.
My go-to pillow mist these days is a dilution of my Get Earthy blend, with an extra boost of lavender. I mix it up in a blue glass bottle and keep it on my nightstand. Also super helpful for those afternoons when you know you need to just take a freaking nap already but can’t make yourself relax enough!
5. Pulling cards
One of the biggest things I’ve been learning over the last few months is to tap into my intuition, and really try to pick up on the messages the Universe/God/Spirit/Divine is giving me. And I’ve found oracle cards to be a beautiful and enlightening tool that really resonates with me, and has become a lovely ritual that I do every day to connect with the higher wisdom and energy around me.
When I ask for general daily guidance, I’ll usually pull a single card, but if there is something pressing on my mind or something big coming up, I’ll pull a spread of three. This helps me tune in just a little more during the day, put events into perspective, and hone my intuitive voice. Right now, I’m loving on my Goddess cards, but also just bought some Energy Oracle cards that I can’t wait to play with!
6. Counting breaths
Something that really stuck in my brain from my Headspace meditation program is the counting of breath- something we learned at the very beginning to ease into a mindfulness practice. And there’s no shame in going back to square one! I always at least use this technique when my head’s on the pillow at night and my thoughts are racing, but I often drop back into it if I’m really stressed during the day or just need a mini-break.
It’s about as basic as you might think: you simply count 1 on the inhale, 2 on the exhale, until you reach a count of 10, then you start over at 1 again. It’s even better if you can close your eyes and maybe place a hand on your abdomen to physically feel the breath coming in and out. It’s simple, but incredibly calming, meditative, and great when you can’t fall asleep or you’re in the middle of something scary (I did this all throughout my 45-minute MRI…did I mention I’m claustrophobic?).
7. Sipping tea
There’s just something about a warm beverage before you go to sleep, isn’t there? You cradle the mug in both of your hands, inhale the fresh herbal scent, and already start to feel better. Now, I’ve experimented with lots of teas over the years, and tend to change my flavor of choice every few months or so, with the seasons. It’s a nice ritual to turn on the burner to heat up the tea kettle, maybe fix a healthy snack while you wait for it to boil (or get in a few last throws of the tennis ball for your dog…), and gently carry your favorite mug to the couch or bed at the end of the day.
I love teas with natural calming herbs in them, like chamomile, lavender, or lemon balm. At the moment, I’m digging on Yogi Tea’s Calming blend and it’s become a central part of my long wind-down routine every evening.
These seven things may seem insignificant at first, but they really do add up. And when you want to do everything you can to get well, the little things matter.
So, what about you, friend? What little acts of self-care are part of your daily routine?
~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~