Self-care is super important in our fast paced, seemingly ever changing lives. That constant adaptation can wear us down and eventually lead to burn-out and a decreased sense of happiness and mental health struggles. Many of us have effective self-care routines or practices we rely on in our daily life or when we’re experiencing a challenging moment.I love hearing about my patients and colleagues best self-care strategies so here are 3 practices you might just be hearing about that are super effective at managing stress, improving focus, increasing parasympathetic nervous system tone (that all important rest and digest state) as well as physical health, that I’m just a little bit obsessed about:
#1. Have you heard of Contrast Therapy? Picture how you would feel jumping into snow after soaking in a hot tub but it’s indoors and you’re alternating between increasing your body temperature in a full-spectrum infrared sauna for as long as tolerable and dunking into a cold plunge tub for as long as tolerable. Benefits of Contrast Therapy include pain relief and reduced muscle soreness, accelerated recovery from strenuous activity, reduced fatigue, enhanced circulation, increased metabolic flexibility, anti-inflammatory effects, improved mood and relaxation. With so many health benefits this is one of my favourite ways to get into my body and feel like I’m taking good care.
#2. Earthing (some call it “Forest Bathing”). Think about getting out of the city, going into the forest like you would for a hike but this time you’re not bounding across mountains, you’re pausing in a quiet place just off the main trail to slip off your shoes to place your feet right on to the earth. Revolutionary - I know! The rest of the practice simply involves standing or sitting, feet on or in the earth, taking in your surroundings, breathing, noticing the forest air, the smells and sounds, the sunlight dancing between the trees and maybe even a couple forest creatures. Earthing gives an unparalleled sense of grounded connection with the world because that is exactly what’s going on! Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, head to a patch of grass or moss and let your connection to the earth help process those emotions, you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel.
#3. Grab headphones or earbuds and listen to some ASMR videos. ASM-What?? Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is typically described as a tingling sensation on the skin, similar to goosebumps, that arises from hearing sensory-based noises or feeling certain sensations. You may have felt this ephemeral sensation whilst listening to music that you love for the first time in a while. ASMR videos often include whispering, tapping, rainfall, crunching leaves, trickling water and much more. Fans of ASMR watch and listen to videos on streaming platforms such as YouTube and there’s a lot of content out there so just keep in mind that some ASMR will definitely not be for you. The secret is to find some that you really like and that actually helps reduce anxiety and relax or helps you fall asleep.
Of course the best self-care is what works best for you. We all have our favourite practices, routines or emergency go-to’s, though it is fun to try something new once in a while, especially at the beginning of a new season like Spring when hibernation mode might be difficult to let go of. Go ahead and give my current favourites a try, I’d love to hear how well you liked them!