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Beauties, the month of love is upon us. While February has typically been associated with the celebration of romantic love between couples, we wanted to begin this month by highlighting one of the most important loving relationships you can establish: your love and care for yourself. It's no secret that we're big proponents of practicing self-care, from offering yourself loving affirmations to caring well for your body.  We all want to offer our very best to the people we know and love every day - but we must remember that offering our best begins with taking care of ourselves so that we have something to give. You cannot serve or love well when your own tank is running on empty.

As we continue our journey into this new year of embracing wellness and positivity, let's take inventory of our current self-care situation. How many things do you do in a day, or even a week, that are just for you? Hopefully you can list at least a couple, if not more. But if you're in a busy season of life, whether caring for young children, working in a challenging career field, caring for sick relatives - or all of the above - self-care may sound like a distant memory; a vague idea that sounds nice in theory but holds no place in your current reality. Let us encourage you today with some simple, practical ideas for implementing your own nourishing self-care rituals into your routine and making them work for you:

Dry brushing
Dry brushing is a quick, simple way to add a little extra TLC into your daily personal care routine. If this concept is new to you, dry brushing is exactly what it sounds like: taking a soft, dry brush and using it to gently brush over the skin. This is best done before showering and provides several benefits, including: 
  • all-over exfoliation for smoother, softer skin
  • improved lymphatic flow and drainage, which aids in the natural detox process the lymph nodes perform each day
  • increased circulation, which can provide a refreshing energy boost

Aside from the practical health benefits of dry brushing, this practice  can also provide a meaningful time for you to intentionally practice affirming your body for its strength and beauty. This may sound cheesy, but really think about it for a second - even if there are things you wish were different about the appearance of your body, it is truly AMAZING. Our bodies perform an insane amount of complex functions all day long to help us live our lives - supporting our weight, carrying us from one activity to the next, protecting us from toxins and germs - the least we can do is take some time to reflect on their amazingness and say "thank you" with some loving thoughts and TLC! For tips on how to dry brush properly and some additional benefits, check out this great article from our friends at Wellness Mama: What is Dry Brushing? 

 

Establishing a sleep ritual
Thankfully, the days when sleep deprivation and busyness were seen as badges of honor are being phased out as we gain increasing awareness of how crucial sleep is to our physical and emotional well-being. Still, it can be difficult to get the recommended 7 to 8 hours in each night, especially if you're in a busy season of life with lots of demands on your time. We love the tips outlined in Ariana Huffington's The Sleep Revolution, which delves into the ills of sleep deprivation and how to combat it with by prioritizing healthy sleep routines. While it's not realistic for everyone to adopt every part of her ideal routine, see if you can make just one of these suggestions part of your bedtime ritual and notice the benefits in your sleep quality:
      • 30 minutes before bedtime, put all your electronics in a designated place away from your bed (preferably outside the bedroom) and ban yourself from checking them. Several studies have shown that light from screens too close to bedtime can disrupt sleep hormones and impact sleep patterns.
      • Take a warm bath with your favorite natural bath salts (we recommend Lo and Behold Naturals Bath Bouquets or Bath Soaks), even if it's just a quick 5-10 minute soak.
      • Choose pajamas you love and look forward to wearing - ones that are comfortable and are reserved only for sleeping. Adopting this routine will help your body prepare for sleep as it becomes used to the feel of specific fabrics and outfits worn only at bedtime. We love the sustainable and organic sleepwear options offered by Coyuchi.
      • Write down three things you're thankful for as you start to get sleepy. As if gratitude journaling didn't already have enough benefits, it can also help you end the day on a positive note and send you off into dreamland dwelling on the good in your life rather than stresses that may keep you awake.
    You can learn more about Ariana's new book and her recommendations in this article from Fast Company: Here's Ariana Huffington's Recipe for a Great Night's Sleep
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    Treating yourself to a massage
    The main objection most women raise to the idea of getting regular (or at least semi-regular) massages is cost, followed quickly by time commitment. Realistically, we realize it is not practical or possible for everyone to commit to a monthly massage ritual- though if you have the opportunity, we highly recommend it, as massage is truly one of the most revitalizing and nourishing ways you can care for your body. However, even those of us who aren't able to commit to consistent professional massages in this season of life can still incorporate the benefits of this practice into our routines in small ways that make a big impact:
    • Seek out discounted massage deals on sites like Groupon or Livingsocial, or check for discounted offerings from students training at nearby massage therapy schools.
    • Partner up: Offer to swap back/shoulder massages with your partner or a close friend or family member once a week. You don't have to be a professional masseuse to help alleviate tension - even a basic 5-10 minute rubdown once a week will help increase blood flow and circulation and produce feel-good serotonin in your system.
    • DIY: It's true that a massage we give ourselves is never quite as good as one from someone else, but if all else fails, there are plenty of useful tools for helping you relieve muscle aches yourself. For example, the natural dry brush we offer also doubles as a massage tool to help stimulate lymphatic drainage and ease tension. Simply take a few deep breaths and apply gentle pressure anywhere you feel tension. If you can do so in a quiet area with dimmed lights, even better.
    For an inside look at the many benefits of massage therapy, check out this article from the Mayo Clinic: Massage: Get in touch with its many benefits.
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    Beauties, our hope is that there's at least one tip from the list above that you can incorporate into your routines as you seek to show love to yourself this week. No matter how busy you are or how many responsibilities you carry, you deserve to be cared for and nourished in ways that bring life and replenishment to your body and mind. The first step to implementing self-care is embracing the fact that you are worth it. We offer you love and acceptance for your journey as you embrace this truth and make self-care a regular part of your reality.

    What are your favorite ways to care for yourself in the midst of day to day life? Do you plan on implementing any of the tips above? We would love to hear your tips on how you prioritize self-care in the comments below!