Last year I created a conscious holiday gift guide to suggest ethical items by independently owned brands for you to gift to your loved ones. I felt called to take a break from providing you with more gift ideas this year. We are so pressured during the holiday season to shop and consume, so I wanted to instead present a self-care tool guide for you to unwind and ground with. You can find most of these items already in your home. I’ve included a simple ritual you can perform with each object. The rituals are meant to be simple and fuss-free, for anyone to enjoy. While this is not meant to be a gift guide, if you do feel inclined to gift any of these items to friends and family members, consider hand-writing a note of the ritual listed (or create your own) to encourage self-care and nourishment this time of year to those around you or far away. Escape the whirlwind of holiday parties, unhealthy food, and uncomfortable family dynamics, and treat yourself to these acts of tension relief while listening to the dreamy playlist here.
One of my favorite simple practices is putting fresh, warm sheets on my bed. The act of doing so always makes me feel connected to the place where I recharge my body. While I do this once a week for all of the linens on my bed, I change my pillowcases every few days to keep where I’m resting my head clean. These pillowcases from Deiji Studios come in so many beautiful colors. They’re made from 100% stonewashed French linen and will soften with wash/use. They’re also hypo-allergenic and environmentally friendly.
Whether you’re grabbing pillowcases warm from the dryer or folded in your linen closet, familiarize yourself with the fabric. Run your hands over the material, lift it up to your nose to get a sense of the smell. As you slip them onto your pillows, set an intention for your evening of rest (regardless of the time of day). Your intention can be as simple as getting a night of deep, restorative rest, or asking for your dreams to reveal some truth to you.
Scent is a powerful yet often overlooked sense. It is known to trigger memories and emotions and can take us to nostalgic and/or new places. I love this incense from Haeckles - the only ingredient is lemon balm, which is used to reduce stress and increase calmness. I also steep lemon balm into my daily infusions for a full body effect. Read about Haeckles and their incredible story here, yet feel free to use any incense of your liking.
Take the time to light your incense and use it as a signal to pause for the day. As the scent of your choice starts to fill the room, sit down and meditate. Whether you do this for 3 minutes or 30 minutes, be grateful for the stillness. Pay attention to your breath, and as the thoughts come in, detach from them and release them. Keep coming back to your breath, as it will connect you to your body.
I light candles every night prior to going to bed. It’s a simple ritual I’ve come to rely on, and it creates a bit of romance as an act of care to end each day. I’ve been lighting beeswax candles because they not only burn clean, but they also purify the air. Big Dipper Wax Works collects 75% of their beeswax from the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia because the crops there rank lowest in exposure to pesticides in North America. They’re currently working on creating fair trade partnerships with beekeepers in foreign countries, where they source the rest of their beeswax. Their product is extensively tested to insure high quality.
Prior to lighting your candles, plant your feet on the floor and breathe that grounding energy to every part of your body. As you light them, ask for truth to be illuminated to you in anyway it needs to come through.
Simple acts we perform every day can become rituals that feed us, even in the smallest ways. This comb by Une Heures is so beautiful that it inspired me to add hair combing into this post, yet the ritual below can be done with any comb/bush you already have.
Pay attention to the way the comb feels against your scalp and the way it catches strands of hair to smooth your locks as you brush. Start out in front of the mirror so you can observe the process, but then close your eyes in order to feel into your body. Remember to pause each time you use an object as a tool to help serve you.
Taking a bath is perhaps the most referred to and obvious act of self care. For those of us who have a tub and access to clean, running water - it’s truly an accessible luxury. I was fortunate to try these bath salts by Vessel Surface Care, and I used them up in about a week (I took a lot of baths in that week). These salts are enriched with bentonite clay, ginger, dandelion leaf, and essential oils of cypress and rosemary for aiding in the detoxification process. This bath soak is perfect for this time of year, as we aim to unwind from all of the excess around us (sweet treats, alcohol, and perhaps even unwanted energies from family gatherings and holiday parties). Each product by Vessel is formulated by Seattle-based health coach, Lizzy Ott.
Rather than checking your phone while waiting for the tub to fill, open your bath salts (or soap, etc.) and smell them. Close your eyes and allow the aroma to fill your nostrils, and continue to breathe this scent into your chest. Exhale and repeat until you feel calm and centered. When the bath is ready, use your hands to administer the salts into the water, as opposed to pouring them directly from the bottle. Get your body aquatinted with the product prior to soaking in it. These acts enable a simple way to ground into your body prior to the even deeper grounding you’ll be doing when submerged in water.
I wanted to include bowls in this round-up because one of my favorite things to eat during this time of year is soup. I’ve been making a delicious squash soup with garlic, onions, ginger, and thyme. My body craves it. Soup or not, eating out of a bowl is my favorite way to eat. I have buckwheat cereal nearly every morning, and for dinner I usually make a warming mixture of veggies, grains, and herbs. There are a ton of ceramic bowls in my kitchen cupboard (hand thrown by my housemate), and I love how irregular they are. Each one has its own personality and feeling. I often write about running hands/fingers over the texture of our objects, and ceramics are one of my favorite items to do this with. The bowls featured above are by local Santa Fe artist, Kimmy Rohrs of Whiskey & Clay. I adore all of her work.
As mentioned already, run your fingers on the surface of your bowl to take in the texture. Notice how it feels against your fingertips and how that translates into the rest of your body. Is it rough, soft, smooth? Try to hold or touch the bowl with one hand as you use your other to fill it with your meal. We can always slow down with our objects in the simplest ways.
I practice journaling nearly every day. Nearly, because I’m human and sometimes life happens, but I do commit to it as a daily practice. It helps me to center in a way that nothing else (not even meditation) does. I’ve been practicing this for over five years, and it changed the trajectory of my life when I started. These are the only journals I write in.
Check-in with your inner self. How’s your heart? When you answer, start writing with your non-dominant hand. This will feel weird at first, but it will help the truth to come through. If you don’t know where to start or if answers are not coming through easily, just scribble, draw, etc. (with your non dominant hand). It may trigger words to come, or it may be all you need to get your weirds out. Some other prompts that may be fitting for this time of year: “what do I need to feel safe?” “what would be true if I slowed down?” “how can I show up for myself in the most authentic way?” “how can I nurture my simplest needs?”