self-care for anxiety: take a bath
when it comes to managing your anxiety, you need to have things in your arsenal that you just know will help take the edge off. whether that’s going for a long walk in the evening, starting what you know will be a crazy day off with a yoga class, or just calling a friend to vent, we all have different things that make us feel better when life feels like it’s spiraling out of our control.
one of my favorite ways to relax & unwind after a long day… to re-center & take a breather… is to take a nice long bath. it’s pretty old-school… maybe it even reminds you of childhood… but there’s a reason these things exist… because they’re f*cking awesome & do wonders for the body & the mind.
there was actually a study done back in 2002 which found that taking a bath, typically at the end of the day, helped to improve the mood of the participants significantly. this is due to several factors, including warmth, isolation, & body positioning [apparently we associate being horizontal with relaxation & vulnerability]… sounds like something that could definitely help with anxiety, amiright?!
but, not all baths are created equal. what do you need for the most relaxing, soothing, anxiety-clearing bath ever? look no further!
- 2 cups epsom salt [helps relax the muscles & relieve tension, i love Dr. Teal’s]
- 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil [lavender is very calming, but rose & frankincense are also great options]
- bubble bath [… because duh. again, i love Dr. Teal’s]
- candles [i love putting a few tea candles on the edges of the bathtub]
- optional: 1 c. apple cider vinegar [helps to balance the pH of the skin, baking soda also works]
also found these little packets of bath salts from wild honey botanicals that i’m basically obsessed with… they definitely add a nice touch!
alright, so basically, all you gotta do is this: draw a bath that’s a comfortable temperature for… you don’t want it to be too hot or too cold, but you should be able to relax when you’re in there. then. add the epsom salt, lavender oil, & bubble bath [and the apple cider vinegar & bath salts if you’re using them], light up the candles, turn off the lights, turn on some relaxing music, & hop in!
if you really wanna take this to the next level, close your eyes & meditate while you’re in there. a good book [or a glass of red wine] never hurt either. regardless of how you choose to spend your time, i recommend staying in for 20-40 minutes to really reap the benefits.
p.s. i’m now working one-on-one with clients to help them overcome their anxiety & pursue a life of balance in the same ways that i have. if you experience anxiety… sign up for my newsletter for more details to come… & to make sure you never miss a post!
#needit: acupressure mat
happy thursday, and welcome to the #needit series! this isn’t really a new series… i’ve just renamed the “healthy lifestyle staples” series… #needit is just way easier to say [it flows better, no?] and feels waaayyyyyy more me [yes, i speak in hashtags sometimes… sue me].
so, let’s get down to business, shall we?
about a year ago, i was introduced to the concept of the acupressure mat by my old boss. he kept one at his desk and the first time i saw it my reaction was, “wtf is that?!” it literally looks like a little pillow with needles on it… not something you immediately would think you would want to own.
he explained to me what it was, the benefits, and how he used it, but i wasn’t really convinced… so, i just forgot about it.
flash forward to a few months ago, and an acupressure mat starts poppin’ up on one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers’ snapchat and instagram stories.. and then, she did a post all about what they are, the benefits, etc., so i figured that an acupressure mat was something i should at least give a try. but, i didn’t feel a real sense of urgency for it, and kind of put it out of my mind… again.
and then… the straw that broke the camel’s back: i was in a car accident [rear-ended on the 10, effing LA] about 2 months ago, and as a result, started having some neck and back pain. i’ve been seeing a chiropractor for treatment, but also felt like i should be doing something daily to help with the recovery and pain management… enter: the acupressure mat.
so, what is an acupressure mat, exactly? so glad you asked! an acupressure mat is pretty much how i described it before… a small mattress and neck pillow set, both of which are covered in little plastic spikes… yes, that’s right… plastic. spikes.
i know that this sounds like pretty much the worst thing ever, but the spikes have a purpose: to stimulate pressure points along the meridian line of the body, which in turn does things like:
- activates feel-good endorphins
- reduces muscle pain and tension, including headaches
- promotes blood circulation and oxygenates the body
- relieves stress and anxiety
- aids in the digestive process
- increases energy and helps with general fatigue
- improves overall sleep quality
not really much that this thing can’t do when it comes to improving your overall health and wellness… and it’s been a go-to in the alternative and eastern medicine communities for a verrrrryyyyyy long time.
so, how do you use it? you lay on it. that’s it. for about 10-20 minutes per day… on your back with your neck on the pillow, on your stomach… you can also sit or stand on the mat to help relieve pain in the lower back, legs, and feet.
over the past month and a half or so, i’ve incorporated this bad boy into my morning routine… i meditate for 15 minutes immediately after waking up each day, and then i go right to the mat for 20 minutes… 10 on my back/neck and 10 on my stomach. i’ll either read or journal while i’m laying there, which makes the time just fly by…
… and i always feel amazing after.
specifically, since i’ve started doing this, not only have i had some relief from the pain and stiffness in my neck caused by the car accident i was in, but i’ve also felt an increase in my energy levels throughout the day [not getting that 2 o’clock feeling anymore!], and have been sleeping much better than i typically do [less waking up throughout the night, it’s easier to get out of bed when my alarm goes off].
i bought this thing for one reason, but i don’t see myself discontinuing the use of it any time soon… if ever.
want to get one for yourself? they’re only $19.99 on amazon, and they’re available on prime, meaning you can start feeling allllllll of the benefits listed above in just 2 days… for less than $20! [this post isn’t sponsored… i seriously just love this thing and want everyone to have one!]
questions? ever used an acupressure mat? if so, how has it improved your life? any other must have products i should try out? i want to hear from you! you can leave a comment below or shoot me an email at email@example.com!
3 things you can do to improve your health that don’t involve diet + exercise
this time of the year is all about “resolutions” … many of which include diet and exercise. i’m sick of resolutions and sick of talking about “eat this, not that” and “5 moves to a flatter stomach”. let’s mix it up and talk about 3 things you can do every day to improve your health that don’t involve diet and exercise.
1. meditate. you’ve probably heard a lot about meditation… especially in the last year or so. it’s one of those things that’s becoming less weird as more and more people, from every walk of life, incorporate it into their routine.
it’s no longer just something that yogis or crunchy hippies do. that’s because it’s effing good for you. it’s known to reduce stress, help manage anxiety, slow aging, improve sleep, increase happiness, and strengthen the cardiovascular and immune systems. pretty crazy, right?
if you’re new to meditation, i recommend starting out with just 5 minutes per day, and using a guided meditation [you can find a lot of options on youtube… i really like this one]. once you’re comfortable with 5 minutes, up it to 10… then 15… then 20… and so on. i like to meditate first thing in the morning for about 20 minutes… it really helps to wake me up and start my day on the right foot!
2. spend time outside. let’s get real for a sec. most of us spend the majority of our time inside. at work, at home, commuting, at restaurants, the gym… i could go on forever, but i think you get the idea. all of these places are manufactured… they aren’t natural. ever think that actually spending time in nature could be… what we’re meant to do?
spending time in nature can boost serotonin levels, which helps stabilize your mood and regulates a number of bodily functions, including digestion and sleep. being outside also exposes you to the sun a.k.a. the best source of vitamin d there is.
take a 15 minute walk on your lunch break [yes, even if you live/work in a city], sit in the park and read a book, or find a restaurant with outdoor seating for your next boozy brunch. a little bit of time outside goes a long way!
3. drink water. okay, okay, maybe this technically has something to do with your “diet”… but not really. so i’m going for it. how many times in your life have you been told you need to drink more water? how many times have you told yourself that you need to be drinking more water? probably a lot. so, why don’t you just effing do it?
not to beat a dead horse, but water is like… SO good for you. water IS life. your body needs to be fully hydrated to operate properly. seriously, pretty much none of your systems can work the way they are supposed to without it. it aids digestion and kidney function, flushes out toxins, keeps your skin glowing, energizes the muscles, and can help manage hunger, which ultimately aids in weight loss.
and luckily, drinking water is really easy. we just have to make sure we’re actually doing it. i recommend buying a nice reusable water bottle [m obsessing over these swell x gray malin bottles] and taking it with you literally everywhere. having a nice water bottle actually makes me want to drink more water. kinda how buying new workout clothes motivates me to start working out more. also, keep a glass of water by your bed, and drink it first thing in the morning. you need to get re-hydrated after a long night of rest!
implement these 3 things in your daily routine [or even just one of them at a time] and you’ll notice a difference in how you feel… physically and mentally. you will improve your health… and your body will be so happy with you!
i went without make-up for 1 week + this is what happened
make-up. one of the things i love to hate and hate to love. i’ve never been one of those girls who cakes on the foundation, chisels out her cheekbones a la kim kardashian, or even knows how to create a smokey eye [but if you are, more power to you], and i’ve always taken a pretty simple approach to my make-up routine. i try to stick to as few natural products as possible… bb creme with spf, a little cheek stain, mascara… done. maybe a little more than this for a night out… but you get the idea.
part of the reason i don’t have a very extensive make-up routine is because i’ve been blessed with pretty clear skin. i never experienced acne the way some people do, but i’m human, after all, and still get the occasional breakout. also, it’s safe to say that i’m not always [re: never] good about taking my make-up off before working out, or before going to bed after a late night… not exactly the best approach to skincare.
… and over the past couple of months, i started seeing exactly the type of things you would expect when you’re working out and sleeping with your make-up on… breakouts… dullness… weird discoloration… and for the life of me i couldn’t find a way to “fix” any of it.
all of this obviously frustrated me… a lot. i started thinking about going back to using face wash and lotions that are full of harmful chemical ingredients… something i’m totally against… but, at least those types of products tend to work… right?
because using these types of products go against just about everything i stand for, i decided to do a little experiment first. what would happen if for a week… just one whole week… i stopped wearing make-up completely, and allowed my skin to breathe… all day every day?
sound scary? it was. make-up has become a crutch for so many of us. i always joke that i can’t go anywhere, including my own kitchen, without having at the very least bb creme and mascara on… and i have friends that are notorious for showing up to go hiking… yes, hiking… in full make-up. i wish i was kidding. i really do.
so, i went for it. no make-up. one week. here’s what happened:
day 1: fully uncomfortable. i felt like i had to give just about everyone i came in contact with a disclaimer that i was purposely going make-up free for a week because i was aware of how bad my skin was, and ask them to not judge me. in retrospect, this is pretty sad… but kind of where we are as a society, right?
day 3: okay, wow, i definitely feel like my skin looks terrible, but this is exactly why i’m doing this. my skin needs a chance to breathe and heal itself. but still, this effing sucks.
day 5: oh, sh*t! all of these blemishes are starting to clear up, aren’t they?! great, this is working.
day 7: damn. my skin hasn’t looked this clear in months. and not only am i noticing the difference, my friends have noticed, too! that must mean things have seriously improved. the blemishes are just about gone, i can actually describe my skin as “glowing” rather than “dull”, and you know what else…
… i feel more confident. weird, right?
after i went without make-up for a week, i realized that it literally doesn’t effing matter. it just doesn’t. my friends didn’t give af when i told them i wasn’t wearing make-up, they didn’t judge me [and they wouldn’t have judged me even if i hadn’t asked them not to]…
… and if they had judged me… then that would have been an entirely different conversation.
this post has turned out to be waaaaayyyyyyy longer than i expected it to be, so, here’s the moral of the story. make-up is great. i’m not giving up make-up. i’m not alicia keys, and this isn’t a new way of life for me. i enjoy using make-up and always will, but i do plan to use less make-up, especially on a day-to-day basis. my daily routine is going to consistent of the bare minimum: bb creme with spf, cheek stain, mascara, maybe a little colored lip or highlighter. easy peasy. nights out? events? i’ll go all out when i feel like it.
this little experiment has taught me that wearing a full face of make-up every single day is just not necessary… unless i want it to be. going forward, i’ll be much more comfortable not only wearing less make-up, but wearing no make-up on the days where i wake up a little late, or my skin needs a break… or when i just don’t effing feel like it.
and never forget: it’s not about whatcha look like, it’s about the kind of person you are. anyone can make themselves look pretty, but if they’re a sh*tty person… that’s way harder to change. and no one likes a sh*tty person.
want to try going make-up free? do it! and then tell me about it! i’d love to hear how it goes… so email me! firstname.lastname@example.org.
healthy lifestyle staples: apple cider vinegar
the healthy lifestyle staples series is my chance to let all of you in on all of the healthy products that i cannot live without and always keep on hand. from reusable water bottles to tongue scrapers to hot lemon water, there are quite a few things that i rely on to make my life easier and healthier on a regular basis…. and as the list continues to grow, i want to make sure I’m keeping all of you in the loop! today, i’m bringing you the low down on apple cider vinegar and why it’s one of the staples in my arsenal of healthy products.
apple cider vinegar is one of those products, much like coconut oil, that has more uses than i can even begin to list here. among those ways, it can do many things from balancing your body’s pH to disinfecting surfaces in your home and it works wonders on your hair and skin. here are 5 simple ways that i use apple cider vinegar on a day-to-day basis that you can start doing right away:
- as an all-natural toner: apple cider vinegar is great for balancing your skin’s pH and evening out your skin tone naturally. because it’s rather strong, you should always dilute it with water before applying it directly to your face. i make my own apple cider vinegar toner [recipe here] and use this as a part of my morning and evening skincare routine every. single. day.
- as a hair rinse: dilute some apple cider vinegar with water [i usually do about 1 part apple cider vinegar to 10 parts water] and pour it over your hair immediately after shampooing and conditioning. it will strip any leftover residue from your locks and leave them silkier and shinier than you can even imagine… just be careful to not get any in your eyes!
- to detoxify your body: every single morning, without fail, i always drink a cup of hot lemon water with cayenne pepper, turmeric and a cap-full of apple cider vinegar [recipe here]. while balancing your body’s internal pH, apple cider vinegar has also been shown to help stimulate the lymphatic system, clear out sinus congestion and detoxify the liver. getting all of these benefits is as easy as adding a tablespoon to the first glass of water you drink each day.
- to clean your home: apple cider vinegar can replace quite a few household cleaners, which not only reduces the amount of chemicals you are exposed to on a daily basis, but will help you save a little money [and space!], too. mix 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup of water to make an all-natural cleaner [you can mix the two together in a spray bottle to make it easier to use] that can be used on sinks, stoves, ovens, countertops and even your bathtub/shower.
- as a mouthwash: apple cider vinegar can brighten those pearly whites and fight bad breath. gargle a mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts water before brushing your teeth once a day [i do this in the evening since i usually oil pull in the morning].
bonus tip! another way to sneak some apple cider vinegar into your diet is by using a teaspoon or so as a salad dressing along with a little olive oil… yum.
you can purchase apple cider vinegar at just about any grocery store these days, but i highly recommend buying a raw, organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized version, such as bragg’s.
do you have any other ways of using apple cider vinegar in your every day life? share in the comments below!
image courtesy of wikihow
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