Self Care for this Season!


Hey Everyone!  Happy Holidays!

I hope that you’re Thanksgiving weekend has been full or joy, gratitude, and times spent with loved ones or self-care. I’d like to emphasize *self-care, with the holiday season upon us, it is important to remember to take care of our physical and mental health.  While this is supposed to be a time for relaxing with friends and family – the stress of making everyone happy and taking care of the body and mind can be seriously difficult.  Below you’ll find some strategies to integrate self-care and gratitude into your day-to-day routine!

Self care starts with forgiving yourself!  Check out this fantastic article from Yoga Journal online.

Yogic tradition offers three basic remedies for guilt: Avoid it by practicing ethical mindfulness, purify your psyche of the residue of old actions, and practice self-forgiveness.

This advice is basic, though challenging. You avoid guilt by avoiding unethical behavior. Yoga’s great technology for guilt-free living is the practice of the yamas and niyamas, the restraints and observances described in Patanjali‘s eight-limbed yogic path.

Yogis try for two reasons to refrain from deliberately harming others, telling lies, engaging in sexual excess, and taking what belongs to other people. First, for the sake of others, but second, for reasons that are ultimately selfish: When you practice yogic restraints, you spare yourself the inner suffering and guilt that hurting others inevitably creates in the psyche.

See also Path to Happiness: 9 Interpretations of the Yamas + Niyamas

Purify Your Psyche to Rid Yourself of Guilt

In the same way that a cleansing diet gets rid of accumulated physical toxins, yogic purification works on the accumulated karmic traces deposited in the body, the nervous system, and the mind. Many yogic schools believe that past patterns of thought and action—including habits picked up from family and culture—create a hidden template for the present life.

Who you are, what you do, and how you think have a lot to do with this template. Whether or not you believe in past lives, you certainly carry imprints from your childhood, your adolescence, and the culture you grew up in. We’re skewed toward certain behaviors because our past choices have laid down grooves that keep sending us down the same pathways of thought and action. But yoga rejects karmic determinism. Not only is change possible, but many of the practices of yoga— including, especially, Pranayama, mantra repetition, and meditation—are designed specifically to burn away the residues of karmic patterning, including stored patterns of guilt. Yoga’s all-purpose prescription for cleaning up lingering guilt is tapas, or sustained, effortful practice. Tapas literally means “heat,” or “friction.” In the same way that we think of a fever burning away sickness in the body, the heat generated when you do intense pranayama or mantra practice burns away the hidden memories that create toxic guilt.

Along with the inner practice, it’s important to do karma yoga. A person who feels guilt over having taken things that don’t belong to him, for example, could make a point of giving away possessions or making donations to people who need it.

Ask Forgiveness of Yourself

The ultimate guilt-busting strategy is saying, “I’m sorry.” When the guilty feelings are deep and lodged in the past, you may not know what you’re asking forgiveness for. But the person from whom you’re asking forgiveness is always yourself. You might think of this as asking forgiveness from your higher Self, your divine Self, your inner Buddha, or your inner child. What is important is that you direct your request inward.

It often helps to write it down, as a letter to yourself or just as a simple request. Take a piece of paper and write something like this:

Dear Inner Self, Please forgive me for all the ways I have failed to act out of love. For all the harm I may have done either consciously or unconsciously. Asking forgiveness, I know that I am forgiven.

Offer the paper into a fire. Or write it on a leaf, and set the leaf on a running stream or in the ocean. And when you’ve done that, let it go.


Now for simple self care strategies!


The Essential Bath

A warm bath makes a comforting end to a winter day, especially if you rub your body with warm sesame oil first. It is warming and good for all constitutions in cold weather.


Essential oils make a nice addition to a bath any time. Add 3 to 6 drops of undiluted essential oil to the water just as you are climbing into the tub. Jasmine and rose are good choices for vata and pitta; sage is good for kapha. Eucalyptus is great for winter coughs and colds (and for aches and pains); peppermint, for nasal congestion and fatigue.


If you don’t have the time to immerse yourself completely, treat your feet to a soothing soak. Use a dishpan or other container large enough to hold both feet at once. Fill it with enough hot water to cover your ankles, and add a few drops of essential oil.


If your feet tend to get cold in the winter, treat yourself to a traditional mustard bath instead. Add a heaping tablespoon of mustard powder and soak your feet until they are bright red. It will stimulate circulation in your feet and help clear a congested head. 


A handful of ginger powder, some freshly grated ginger, or even a few drops of ginger essential oil will have the same effect.


Mask Yourself

If cold, windy weather is sucking the moisture out of your skin and you find yourself feeling desiccated, try this simple moisturizing mask.


Take half a cup of plain yogurt and mix in a quarter cup each of fine oatmeal and crushed dried chamomile flowers. Apply thickly on the face, neck, arms, and hands and relax for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse off the mask with warm water and pat your face dry. Follow with a generous application of pure aloe vera gel. 

This mask moisturizes and smoothes away lines of fatigue, leaving your skin fresh and soft.




First get rid of any “oldie moldies” lurking in the refrigerator. Then stock it with squash, yams, shallots, garlic, tofu, immunity-enhancing shiitake mushrooms, and some culinary herbs (e.g., parsley, lemon thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, tarragon) and cook up a warming stew. Or make a simple lemon-scented acorn squash by rubbing squash halves with some olive oil and lemon-scented thyme. Place it on a baking sheet in a 375˚ oven for 30 minutes. This quick, grounding dish will make a welcome addition to a winter’s meal or an earthy snack to boost your energy on a cold winter day.


Snuggle up...

With a mug of peppermint or chamomile tea. 


Both are warming and fine for all constitutions. But when a throbbing head cold has you in its grip—nostrils blocked, the throat clogged with mucus, breathing difficult—what you want is anise seed tea.


Crush a tablespoon of anise seeds with the end of a wooden spoon, pour on one and a half cups of boiling water, and allow it to stand for at least five minutes before drinking.


Be Positive

The yogis have always known what research is now proving: negative thoughts contribute to ill health, whereas an optimistic outlook boosts the immune system. 


It is much easier (and a lot more fun) to be flexible, compassionate, kind, generous, and forgiving. Yet we all have our gray days, especially in winter. 


So when your spirits are sinking, dab a handkerchief with a few drops of lavender, lemon balm, or bergamot essential oil and take a surreptitious sniff when you need a boost.

Lisa KanneComment