Let’s be real. How full is your cup right now? Does it feel empty from time to time? I know mine does. In these uncertain times, perhaps you aren’t asking yourself this very often. I hope you are navigating these times with as much ease and grace as possible. If you are struggling, please know you are not alone; it’s a wild world we are living in right now and we need to take care of ourselves.
When the COVID-19 lock-down started I committed to posting daily self care strategies on Instagram – a self care package of sorts – with recipes, tutorials, daily rituals and lifestyle recommendations to help support you and that may speak to what you might be going through right now. You can go back over the full 21 days from the series here. The stories are saved under the self care highlight icons 1, 2 and 3, corresponding to each week from the series.
I know how difficult it can be to set aside time for yourself to slow down. But in the midst of this collective pause it’s essential that we take some time to check in with ourselves, to stay grounded, present, whilst tending to our physical and emotional needs.
Here, I’m sharing my top 10 personal favourites from the self care strategies series; the go-to practices that I’ll continue to turn to whilst we are in this collective pause, and beyond.
These immune supportive foods and practices have a protective effect that will increase your baseline happiness, resilience and sense of well being. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Pink grapefruit + apple cider vinegar shots
If your lips are puckering, hear me out. Grapefruit is a powerhouse citrus, containing 15 vitamins and minerals (like vitamin C) that help build the immune system. Apple cider vinegar is antiviral, anti inflammatory and improves the gut microbiome and overall immune balance. I like to take it as a shot, straight down the hatch, first thing in the morning before I eat anything. It’s delicious and trust me, your body will thank you for it.
For one shot: 1 part apple cider vinegar + 6 parts grapefruit juice
Note: It’s important to use the raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the “mother” included. The label usually specifies this, but you can see the mother as a sediment in the bottle.
Palo Santo + meditation or breath work
I love to burn Palo Santo incense or white sage in the mornings as I jump into a daily meditation or breath work practice. They are both known in the sacred plant world to clear the mind, body, spirit and home from negative energy and helps me to stay present and grounded at the start of the day.
For me, being present is about becoming aware of what I’m feeling and what I’m experiencing. Meditation and breath work are ways to help me become aware of thoughts and emotions bubbling at the surface. I use both practices to quit obstructing thoughts and come back to the now.
Creating morning rituals build motivation and are a way of taking charge and harmonising your daily life. The choices and the individual practices you adopt every day hold the power to shift your energy higher or lower. Through consistent and sustainable daily practices you are better able to build a lifestyle that serves and supports you, making you alert to the things that don’t, personally and collectively.
Broth for breakfast? Yes you can! Once you get over the cereal for breakfast hump, I promise you, there’s no turning back. Super nourishing, restorative and immune boosting, a life-enhancing bowl of broth is my favourite way to start the day.
For the broth base you can use Miracle Broth, my signature plant based broth that has something of a cult following on Instagram these days, with dedicated broth lovers making a batch week on week. Super mineralising and alkalising, Miracle Broth is packed with immune balancing, anti-infective medicinal foods including: turmeric root, black peppercorns, ginger root, shiitake mushrooms and garlic. If fresh produce is low or hard to find, you can make a batch of Garlic + Shiitake Broth instead. Information for both recipes can be found here.
My favourite super-boosting breakfast broth add-ins:
- garlic, grated
- wholegrain or black rice
- ginger, grated
- turmeric root, chopped
- shiitake mushrooms
- shredded kale or cabbage
- tofu or tempeh, sliced
- poached egg
- coriander stems, chopped
- Black or white sesame seeds, toasted
- Crushed toasted nori
Edible oat, honey + cinnamon mask
A delicious, edible, home made facial treatment to cleanse, soften and hydrate tired skin. These are ingredients you probably have in your pantry already and together they work like magic and are very gentle. The best part is eating what’s left – it tastes like a raw cookie!
For one mask: 2 tsp oat flour (or grind rolled oats in a blender) + 2 tsp raw honey + 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Mix together in a bowl, adding a little warm water or oat milk to thin it out, though you will want a fairly thick consistency. Apply to clean, cleansed skin, avoiding the eye area. Leave on for 10-15 minutes. As you rinse it off, the oats will act as a gentle exfoliant, making your skin feel super soft and hydrated. Finish with your favourite facial oil or moisturiser.
The result: peace of mind about what you’re putting on your skin and a perfect glow.
I wholeheartedly encourage you to work this immunity tea into your life. Turmeric, ginger and raw honey have significant immune balancing properties, as well as being antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. I am keeping a jar out on the counter and making a cup in the mornings and/or the evenings. Seriously good just off the spoon..
For one small jar: 1/3 cup raw honey + 2.5 tsp ground turmeric + 1 tsp ground ginger + 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Put the honey, turmeric, ginger and black pepper into a small bowl. Work the spices into the honey until it forms a paste.
To make the tea, put a teaspoon of the paste into a mug. Pour warm, not boiling water (to preserve the properties) into a cup and stir well to dissolve the paste. Add a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Stir now and then so all the good stuff doesn’t settle at the bottom.
Warm sesame oil foot massage
A warm sesame oil foot massage to soothe an agitated mind, relieve anxiety and to encourage sound sleep. Renowned Ayurvedic physician Dr Vasant Lad believes we can reduce stress and activate our immune system through the simple act of foot massage. And it feels wonderful. I like to do this simple practice just before bed.
Pour a little sesame oil into a small glass. Place the glass into a small bowl and fill half way with warm water. Leave for a few minutes until the sesame oil is warm.
For a simple practice: coat your hands in the warm oil. Apply gentle but firm circular pressure from the ankles to the tops of the toes, cross your ankle over your opposite knee to access the arch and bottom of the foot. Finish by pulling on the toes. Repeat on the other side. Put socks on before you go to bed.
“The doors to the body’s inner pharmacy are under the bottom of your feet” – Dr Vasant Lad
Keeping going with a gratitude practice helps me to shift my perspective and focus on the good in front of me in each moment. Taking a pause in the day to acknowledge what I am grateful for moves my energy in a deep way. In the midst of all that is going on right now, it reminds me that this too shall pass.
A short gratitude exercise:
- What are 3 things I’m thankful for in my life today?
- Who are 3 people I’m thankful in my life today?
- Who are 3 people I will reach out to today with a message of gratitude?
Medicinal miso-tahini sauce
Food is medicine. Everything we eat can be charged with healing ingredients. I love a sauce and this one is outrageously delicious and nutrient dense. It’s time to get out your whisk…
For one small jar of sauce:
4.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 3 tbsp tahini + 2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar + 4 tsp nutritional yeast + 3 tsp miso + 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice + 1 tsp raw honey + 2 tsp dried shiitake mushrooms + 3 cloves garlic + pink Himalayan or sea salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Grind the dried shiitake mushrooms to a powder with a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. Place in a small bowl with the tahini, finely minced garlic, miso, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and nutritional yeast. Whisk until smooth, adding small amounts of water as the sauce will stiffen as you whisk. Add the water in increments until you’ve reach your desired consistency. Gauge it based on how you will use it. I like mine to be fairly thick and unctuous. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
How to use:
- over salads
- over roasted roots
- over steamed greens
- over rice or quinoa
I love to eat it over noodles, steamed broccoli and slices of marinated tofu.
A simple, tried and tested therapeutic food: stewed apples and cinnamon to build immunity. The healing properties come from the pectin in the skin of the apples that’s released during the cooking. Pectin repairs and maintains the mucosal lining of the gut, where 80% of our immune system is housed. Cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory, immune modulating and antioxidant powerhouse.
Take 4 (unsprayed) apples – washed, cored and chopped. Add to a pan with 1/4 cup filtered water and 2 tsp ground cinnamon. Put a lid on and cook over a low heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until softened. Purée in a blender.
Rich rose balm for super dry hands
My hands have really taken a beating during this crisis from frequent washing and sanitising. Here is a super easy 5 ingredient recipe for a nourishing hand balm. Believe me when I say this stuff works miracles.
Ingredients: 1/2 cup shea butter + 4 tbsp jojoba oil + 1/2 cup shea butter + 2 tbsp beeswax pastilles + 1 tsp vitamin E oil + 20 drops palmarosa essential oil
Make a bain-marie by resting a heat proof bowl over a small pan filled with an inch of water. Put the shea butter, jojoba oil and beeswax pastilles into the bowl. Heat gently over a low heat until everything has melted. Take off the heat. Put the vitamin E oil into a small glass. Add 20 drops of palmarosa essential oil. Swish to infuse. using a non-metal spoon, stir the infused oil into the balm. Pour the balm into a small glass jar with a screw top lid. Leave to set in a cool place.
For an added boost, apply at night and cover your hands with cotton gloves or socks and let this recipe work its magic overnight.
- shea butter = super nourishing & moisturising
- jojoba oil = soothing & repairing
- beeswax = protecting & locks in moisture
- vitamin E oil = healing & anti-aging
- palmarosa essential oil = calming & smells divine
These past few months have been a whirlwind of unexpected turns and massive changes. This is why finding some space to take care of yourself in everyday life is so essential. Don’t underestimate the transformative power that comes with even the simplest acts of self care.
The important thing is to pick a self care strategy that makes sense for you. I hope these strategies help to lift you up and inspire you to start creating your own. And if you feel led, please share in the comments what is supporting you right now. I always love hearing from you.