As we come to the end of 2022 and look forward to the new year, we are feeling in need of a little downtime to reflect and take care of ourselves. We turned to three inspiring women to hear their tips and outlook on some of the ways we can incorporate a little more mindfulness into our day to day lives. From becoming more present in our bodies in stressful periods, checking in with yourself during your AM & PM skincare routine to prioritising joy.
“With self-care, I feel it is important to listen to what connects with you and what is sustainable too. A self care ritual doesn’t have to have to look a certain way or be polished for a social media story, it’s all about how we connect to our senses and make the everyday an immersive and nourishing experience.” - Marina South
Grounding practices for when you feel overwhelmed:
Serena: Self-massage is a great tool to tune into your body. I don’t often have lots of time so I try to focus on massaging on a different area of my body each day for 1-2 mins. This helps me give attention to specific points that have been feeling out of sorts or perhaps forgotten. Whilst it might not seem like much, this small act accumulates over a week or month.
Abi: “Sensory nourishment” is always my aim. The relationship we have with ourselves, our emotions and how we perceive the world around us is ultimately experienced through our senses, and nourishment comes in many forms - not just the food and drink we consume. Experiencing colours, sounds, tastes, touch and fragrances are all forms of sensory nourishment. From a biochemical perspective, all these pleasurable experiences - for example the appreciation of a blue sky or a beautiful flower, a favourite scent or piece of music, the sensation of massage and touch…. all these things create endorphins and other mood elevating chemicals that help make us happy. It’s ultimately an ongoing gratitude practice through sensory exploration and appreciation.
Marina: I grew up in rural Wales so for me nature has always been the place I return to for creativity and clarity. If I start to feel overwhelmed or disconnected from my body, I begin by immersing myself in nature’s rhythms. Even taking a moment to go outside and watch the sky or feel my feet on the earth helps me root back into my physicality. I try to make time to connect back to nature as often as I can, whether that’s 5 minutes or a longer walk in the evening. This practice always supports more balance in my body and releases tension built up from the virtual landscape we all now live and work in.
Simple body scan practice:
Serena: Spending just two minutes once or at a few points in the day, listening and noticing to the sensations in the body with a light body scan from head to toe. Sensations hold information.
Does this area feel tight or not tight? Is my breathing deep or shallow? How do I feel? Do I feel anxious, excited, wired, numb, despondent, or angry? And if so, where is that feeling in the body?
You can do this before sleep, at your desk or when queuing for something. Even if I’m having a manic day, just taking a moment to recognise how my body feels, even just once, can make a big difference.
Energising practices to reset your mood:
Serena: Ending the shower with cold water (or colder water than when you began!) for 10 seconds to a minute can be the quickest way for me to be ‘in’ my body. While at first it sounded totally unappealing to me, it is the easiest way for me to quickly transition to a different state if I am feeling lethargic or get out of my head if I’m in a mood or anxious.
The healing power of joy:
Marina: I find the way I feel most present in my body is through anything creative, tangible and sensory. This doesn’t have to be a structured or refined practice, it can be playing my favourite music, moving and dancing intuitively, walking in nature, writing poetry, cooking my favourite foods - anything which allows my thinking mind to pause and the creative senses to take over always connects me back to the present moment. It is so important to remind ourselves that these practices don’t have to look or feel a certain way or be shared on social media - as long as they inspire more grounding and creativity that’s enough.
To build any ritual or routine I always suggest taking time to check in with yourself and asking what you love and create more space for that. It could be 5 or 30 minutes, but really make time for what you love and see it as a ritual. When we try to impose too much structure we lose the creative potential of any action. Whether it’s a dance, bath, or walk in nature, restorative rituals are about being witness to the present experience.
Serena: I think it’s important to appreciate and make time for the simple things. For me that might be a relaxing bath, yin yoga, a strength class, dancing and singing for my daughter Roe, walking the dog with a podcast or enjoying pockets of time on my own.
Incorporating self care into skin care:
Abi: I keep it simple with an oil cleanse, flower water mist and more oil to hydrate, but facial massage is a non negotiable. Sometimes it’s 5 minutes in the morning as I cleanse, or a relaxing ritual for 20 minutes before bed, or maybe both. I always massage my face to release physical & emotional tension as well as any energetic stagnation. If I’m stressed, worried or waiting for something, I’ll start massaging my face! I tend to blend up the oil I use seasonally or to suit my state of mind and how my skin is behaving at any given time.
Serena: In terms of skincare, my skin responds best to less. In the morning, if my skin is feeling dry I will oil cleanse or use a balm, and use a warm flannel to remove. Any oil left on my skin is great – I’ll just add a bit more and then use sunscreen or a tinted sunscreen. In the evening, I do the same but I might use a very gentle exfoliating water a few times a week. I trained as a facialist three years ago so, if I can, I enjoy spending a couple of minutes massaging my face and neck before bed. When I feel like a mask, I use Mānuka honey with a few drops of All-Over-Oil for 30-40mins. Activist Mānuka is my favourite.
Harnessing the impact of scent:
Abi: I like to use scent as a backdrop to everyday living to cultivate presence. Scent has the incredible ability of entering into our brain and impacting us uniquely as it attaches to our personal memories and individual emotions, before we even have a chance to consciously register or process what it is that we smell. I often recommend clients use aromatherapy as a playful and effective tool to “trick” or “bypass” their mental chatter / intrusive thoughts and help with stress, anxiety, overwhelm and all the common struggles of our fast paced modern lives.
On busy days, it can be as simple as putting a drop of essential oil on my muslin cloth as I wash my face, or on the floor of the shower in the morning to vaporise with the heat. When I have more time, I’ll blend up a face mask, apply it and dip my feet in a herbal foot soak or have a long soak with Epsom salts. Whatever it is, I use scent as my anchor for deep, expansive breathing to connect me to my physical body and inner world.