Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Maybe it’s because I’m now married, and two people’s schedules make life more complicated. Maybe it’s because I consider my friends part of my family and I want to celebrate with them. Maybe it’s that I live in Minnesota and the cold plus the limited hours of daylight are weighing on me.
Whatever it is, December already seems like an effort. With a different holiday event (or two) every week from now until New Year’s, I’m feeling the stress and tiredness of the season even though we’re just a few days into the last month of the year.
Regardless of the reason, the truth is that I’m not sure how I’m going to make it through all the expectations, the busyness and the sweets that accompany this month. And because of that realization, I’m going to fight back. I’m too young to dread waking up every day and I’m too fortunate not to be celebratory this time of year (or any time of year, for that matter). I’m taking matters into my own hands with four seemingly obvious routines (but it’s always good to have a reminder, right?):
- Sleep. I’ve been drained for the last few months. Like, more tired than I’ve ever been in my life and it’s been hard to pinpoint why. I’ve probably been working and worrying a little too much, but I’ve also been getting up earlier—and not adjusting my bedtime appropriately. My husband sent me this article yesterday and it kind of hit me upside the head. Getting up earlier is only successful when we adjust our whole awake-asleep routines to fill the gap. And because we know sleep is super important (stress management, digestion, weight, headaches, our ability to make sound choices—they’re all impacted by sleep, or lack thereof), I’m making it a priority this month. Even if that means my evenings consist of dinner and a mere half hour of reading before I hit the hay.
- Essential oils. I think we here at NMDL tout the benefits of EOs pretty frequently, but it’s only been in the last nine months that I’ve really experienced their potency. EOs have the best chance of doing their jobs when you inhale them, and I used to find that kind of annoying. Like I’m supposed to carry them around with me and awkwardly sniff them while working at a coffee shop? Yes, yes I am. And it works. Thanks to Susannah’s recommendation, I’ve been carrying a little bottle of my own EO blend (lavender + eucalyptus have been my favorite recently—uplifting, focusing and stress-relieving) with me wherever I go. I feel a little like a crack addict, trying to covertly inhale my concoction in public, and much like when I wear my hair in a topknot, my husband knows I’m stressed when my little bottle comes out, but who cares?
- Avoid sugar. Because of some complications with celiac disease, I’m currently on a no-sugar-including-fruit-and-alcohol diet. And it’s reeeeaaaalllllly hard this time of year. Or when I’m feeling overwhelmed. So then I sneak a piece of dark chocolate… and wake up with a headache and small-eye syndrome (does anyone else get this? It’s not puffy eyes, it’s just the intense feeling that my eyes have shrunk and I’m convinced that the whole world can tell I suddenly have beady, rat eyes. No? Just me and my sister?). So, even though this feels like the season to indulge, I’m doing my best to restrain, replacing those sugar cravings with lemon water and peppermint essential oil. I know I’ll feel more awake, more balanced and more able to tackle the world of holiday parties when I do.
- Indulge in self-care. Another thing I think we do well here at NMDL is self-care. Well, we do a good job of talking about self-care and its necessity. Usually, when stress levels are high and schedules are busy, the first thing to go from my life is taking care of myself. This month, instead of cutting those precious moments of relaxation out of day, I’m deliberately putting more time into my self-care routine, even if that’s just taking an extra 10 minutes to do a face mask in the morning before work. But usually it’s doing a face mask while taking a bath (after doing a long round of dry brushing and self-massage) and watching Gilmore Girls.
That’s it. Those are the four things I’m declaring to do to keep myself sane this year. What do you do to cope with holiday stressors?
Self care. It’s a buzzy term among the wellness set—but what’s the difference between that and just taking care of oneself? The way I see it, choosing clean products and healthy whole foods is great—but following health rules is not enough on its own to feel our best (in fact, sometimes being too strict has a negative impact on our health). True self-care means creating dedicated time for rituals that you do absolutely and only for you. Read, and repeat. Only for you.
Most of us have a tendency to prioritize other people’s needs over our own. And we think we’re doing the world a big fat favor by being so generous. But if you don’t fill your own tank, you’re not as helpful as you might think. In truth, if your own energy is low you’re probably unconsciously pulling other people down. C’est le truth.
I for one, have spent most of my life sucking at self-care in the way that I’m describing. But, ever the work in progress, over time I’ve incorporated certain rituals into my life that are just for me. I want to build out this list out though, so be sure to share yours!
What delightful things do you do just for yourself? Here are my top 5.
1. Airplane Mode: Bless this little button. That one simple swipe can give me a deep sense of relief (I’d shut my phone entirely, but I read my Kindle on it!). I think allowing oneself the luxury of being unreachable, even just for a short period, sends a message to the brain to chill. And amazingly, the world goes on without us when we disconnect.
2. Massages: Early research on the health benefits of massage therapy suggests that it helps with everything from anxiety to insomnia. I have never needed much convincing though, and living in LA makes regular massages accessible and affordable. But after years of trying out different spots, I finally found my holy-grail masseur deep in the Valley. While he looks like he could be in a K-pop band, this guy has some crazy healing hands.
3.Manicures: Bad for my nail beds but good for my soul. While never a totally clean practice, I have a salon that has none of the headachy odors with all of the trashy magazines. I go about twice a month and love the ladies there; it’s even started to give me that warm fuzzy feeling of community so often lacking in city life.
4. Home Yoga: I love going to a good yoga class with an inspiring teacher and a room full of sweaty practitioners. But there’s something about doing a home practice that just feels more inward and less fitness-goal-oriented.
5. Ashram Weekends: This is probably my most extravagant self-care ritual, and also my favorite. Despite the fact that I already travel on a weekly basis for work—and don’t see my husband nearly as much as I want to—I make almost-monthly weekend pilgrimages to the Sivananda Yoga Farm in Grass Valley where I did my teacher training. Just stepping foot on that property instantly hits the reset button for me, and ultimately makes me a better person (wife, employee, boss…). What I lose in time with loved ones, I am convinced I gain in quality.
What do you do just for you?
And just like that, summer is almost gone. It’s been one of great discovery for me—A Night For Green Beauty alone introduced me to so many new favorites—but we’ve been gabbing on and on about what we like…
We want to hear what made your summer hit list. What kept you feeling beautiful this summer?
It could be anything from ripe purple plums to a peaceful retreat. Of course we all love reading about the holy grail sunscreens and sweat proof lipsticks. Just kidding… lips don’t sweat. You catch my drift. Was it a rosewater lemonade spritzer? Paddleboarding? A killer new nail polish color or nighttime ritual?
Share your summer bliss secrets with us! Some things are too good to keep to yourself, right?
This past January, I bought my first pair of red shoes*. I quickly realized that I needed more. Fortunately, I love to shop for a bargain. With spring fully in gear, I have hunted and gathered my way to a few pairs. For casual days, I love them with faded ankle-length skinny jeans. And red lips.
The Red Shoes: I am insanely in love with my pointy-toe red flats and ankle boots (not pictured) from Frye. The only eco-fashion thing I can say about them is they last for freaking ever. Not cheap, but if you are patient you can find them on sale. And this pair of Converse canvas sneakers does the red shoe thing in playground casual (more support than the standard Chucks, too).
The Skinny Jeans: I’ve long been a Levi’s kind of gal, but I recently discovered Henry & Belle jeans. They make super soft, super stretchy, comfortable jeans, in lots of colors and styles. And – bonus – a portion of every sale goes to a variety of good causes, such as Every Mother Counts and Girls on the Run. I like to order from Melange, which has great sales, a cute blog, free shipping and superior customer service. To top those jeans, they also carry great organic cotton brands like Prairie Underground and Raw Earth Wild Sky.
The Red Lips: Still working for spring are my fall reds – RMS Diabolique and Ilia Femme Fatale. I’ve also recently discovered Alima Pure’s Lip Tints, which are immense chocolately improvements on the old peppermint formula. I can’t tolerate peppermint on my lips, so I was thrilled to try the new tints. Cranberry is a warm burgundy that really has enough pigment to wear as a lipstick, though it feels like a balm. The glossier Holly Berry is a spiced rose that is super subtle. I’m loving wearing the RMS or Ilia pressed into well-moisturized lips like a stain, with one of the Alima tints over as a balm. I generally like to put a balm over my lipstick, but sometimes a clear balm kind of sucks the color away. These tints are a perfect topper, and can handle a touch-up on their own when I don’t have time for a full reapplication.
Just some Ilia illuminator around my eyes and RMS bronzer on my cheeks finishes my barely-made-up spring face.
One More Thing: Those exposed ankles are going to need some glow…easily provided by my old favorite, May Lindstrom’s The Good Stuff, and my new favorite, Yuli’s Harmony. Or, try one of my other favorite body oils.
What are your spring inspirations?
*actually, my first was a pair of Adidas sneakers in the mid-nineties, but I’m not counting that right now
It would appear that aging happens in cycles. You start seeing a change—grays sprouting, a butt cheek falling—you fixate, then it kind of stops or slows, or maybe you just get used to it.
I remember being in my early twenties and noticing (nay, freaking out) about the first signs of marionette lines forming around my mouth. My young, vain self was very concerned about these! Now I don’t even notice them—they’re just a part of my face, a natural crease that comes from smiling. How could that be bad?
As I approach my 35th birthday this coming month, aging is more on my mind. Here’s the good I see about getting older: I’m mostly delighted with life and way more at ease with my looks. My skin is generally good and I’m a lot less stressed, though I do get the occasional what’s-the-point-of-it-all bug. I spend a lot of time with people who are a lot younger than me, and I have no envy for their youthful glow or the malaise that can come with it. For the most part, getting older is… an improvement.
The bad? My metabolism is slow as hell compared to what it once was and so is my recovery time from any bad behavior. There are definitely some new expression lines and, most noticeable to me these days, an small army of grays not-so-slowly taking siege of my scalp.
What does it mean to age gracefully? Linda Rodin (pictured above) comes to mind. A stylist, model (in her later life), and founder of the beautiful clean oil line Olio Lusso, Linda says that she never thought of dyeing her hair when it went gray at 35 (there’s that number again!). For a little aging inspiration I invite you to watch this video of her chatting about her life.
There are many gems but on aging, and anti-aging treatments, she says (around 4:45 in): “I don’t believe in anything other than what makes you comfortable… But I never fought my age.” She goes on to talk about some treatments she does, her motto being that you should do what you want, as long as you don’t end up looking distorted.
The question I have for you is this: What aspects of aging do you see as charming, or at the very least bearable? And which do you actively try to fight?
For now, I’m letting my grays do their thing. But you guys will be the first to know if I change my mind!