By Lauren Nixon
I am, without a doubt, a morning person. Every day, I slink out of bed before the sun rises to catch a bit of time to myself. In that quiet little span of time between me waking and the sun rising, it often feels like the rest of the world is asleep. I relish this time to myself when I can prepare a cup of hot tea, write in my journal, dance in my pajamas, or simply sit and daydream.
A friend of mine runs every morning. Another spends time alone in a dance studio improvising.
These are all rituals. Actions and practices such as these, placed intentionally within our lives, can really lift our spirits and provide a sense of purpose and wellbeing.
Taking care of yourself doesn’t need to involve anything particularly fancy or expensive. In fact, with a bit of planning, you can welcome a bit of decadence and ritual into your life quite easily. Each time that you make space to take care of yourself, you’re making room for a more whole, more balanced version of yourself. You’re making room for a rebirth, the shedding of your old skin, and allowing yourself the opportunity to transition into a healthier state of being.
There is, indeed, a space and a need for ritual. Here are some ways to bring self-care and ritual to the forefront of your life:
Transform a physical space: If you have a bit of space to yourself, (a room, a corner, an empty wall) transform it. Create an altar in your bedroom, design and hang a vision board, bring plants and greenery into your space, mist the room with a homemade essential oil spray, or fill your home with music that moves you. Visit this space on a regular basis to check in with yourself.
Spread the word: If you’re on a journey to take better care of yourself, let people know so that they can support you in this task. If the people in your life are on board, they’ll hold you accountable for taking care of yourself, and potentially share tools, resources, or a listening ear. Creating and participating in a ritual with a loved one can be a special practice, as well.
Nourish your body: Eat real, whole foods that will keep your body alert, awake, and full. Nourishing your body doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. A quick stir fry, eggs with greens, or oats with honey, can make a fine meal. Choose one day out of the week to focus on creating a nourishing, satisfying meal for yourself. Eat with music, candles, or a good friend. Whatever suits your fancy.
Take time away: Spending time alone is not just for introverts. Taking time away is necessary for reflection, self-reflexivity, release, and growth. Take 5 minutes, an hour, or however long it takes for you to get back to center. Spending a few quiet minutes on your front porch, browsing the poetry section at a used bookstore, laying in the grass in your backyard, or sitting on a park bench can be rejuvenating.
Pencil it in: Make a schedule that details your obligations. Your self-care practices should be listed. Want to meditate for 20 minutes? Schedule it! Want to take yourself out for a solo dinner? Schedule that, too. Creating a schedule helps to keep you committed to your wellness practices.
Move your body: Go for a walk, a swim, or a bike ride. Practice karate or fencing. Dance in your living room. Whatever feels good to you. Do it regularly.
Get lifted: Getting “lifted” entails doing something that makes your spirit hum. Attending a ceremony or a service, praying, dancing, and meditating can definitely all fall into the “lifted” category.
Reflect: Regular journaling sessions can help you to release emotions, get in touch with yourself, and to chart your personal growth. Commit to writing about your life and your experiences with honesty and respect for your process.
Inviting ritual into your life is a practice that can allow you to tap into your most basic needs as a human being. Give yourself permission to let go of preconceived notions regarding how you should be spending your time. Let go of the need to hustle and make room for more flow. Your mind and body will thank you.
Ritual In Practice
Sipping on a healing drink sometime during your day can create a sense of ritual and provide a bit of stillness amidst a busy schedule.
Nettle, a popular herb with a prickly, stinging leaf, has many health benefits and is delicious. Many people use nettle for their sinus and allergy issues. Others use nettle to clear their skin, to provide a boost of energy, to combat stress, or to ease joint pain. Either way, nettle is a gentle, healing, energizing tonic with an earthy taste that is adored by many. Creating and enjoying an herbal infusion, a large volume of herb brewed for an extended amount of time, provides a satisfying, nutrient-dense pick-me-up and makes for an excellent, grounding ritual.
Nettle Infusion Directions:
Fill a quart-sized mason jar with one cup of dried nettle and cover with boiling water. Place the lid on the mason jar and transfer the mason jar to a cool, dry area. Let the nettle sit for at least 8 hours to create a really potent, medicinal drink. This can be done before bed so that you have a nourishing drink to wake up to in the morning.
The next morning, strain the herb and drink the infusion plain, or reheat it on the stove. Adding raw honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, cinnamon, or ginger can jazz up your nettle infusion and make it even more delicious.
Lauren Nixon is a Food and Wellness Educator who guides youth and adults in creating healthy, nourishing relationships with local, sustainable food through cooking instruction and educational workshops. She has had the pleasure of working with sustainable food and environmental education organizations including FoodCorps, Urban Nutrition Initiative, Raices Eco Culture Micro Farm, Johnson's Backyard Garden, Hidden Villa, and many more. Follow Lauren on Twitter @LaurenNNixon or at www.laurennixon.com.