Taking care of our health and wellness can be a challenge when so many of us are focused on caring for those around us. And this is especially hard for women, since many of us are active caregivers, raising children, caring for aging parents or even being a shoulder to cry on among our friends. But it’s important to remember that we need to be cared for too, and that it’s our responsibility to make ourselves a priority.
I like to set out items or leave myself little reminders to put myself first – even if it’s only sometimes – so that self-care becomes a habit that I don’t even think about.
Below are six of my favorite essentials in modern self-care, to help keep me accountable and appreciating that my needs are important too. These items also help me to check in with myself to become better in tune with my mind and body.
I’m a big fan of healing smoke baths to help recharge and renew the spirit. If I’m getting down to business and writing a lengthy article, I’ll burn cleansing herbs to help supercharge my work ethic. I even like to start my morning slowly with cleansing herbs and a quiet meditation.
Different scents have profound ways of triggering emotions and memories within us, and when we pair this with the neutralizing effects of smudging, we can create a truly powerful self-care practice.
Creating a cleansing smoke bath with white sage is a great starting point to remove negativity from your spirit and bring your energy back to a neutral state. But there are many other sacred herbs we can add to sage to help infuse the spirit with additional properties.
Adding lavender to your sage can help put you in a receptive state to attract and receive love. Burning yerba santa can encourage releasing your powerful feminine side, drawing on inner strength and wisdom. And burning pine can help bring you to a deeply relaxed state, melting stress from your aura.
Crystals are one of the best ways to keep you accountable with your self-care practice. Modern self-care is about finding rituals that make you feel your absolute best, because sometimes we can forget to make ourselves a priority.
By keeping a crystal in your pocket, on your bedside or on your desk, the crystal’s energy radiates through the area, helping to create a more receptive environment. Different crystals have different properties, giving you the freedom to choose one you are absolutely drawn to.
Every time you see or feel that stone, you are reminded of your intentions around self-care, be that feeling more confident, speaking your truth, developing your intuition, or something else. Not only does the crystal enhance the environment but it also reminds you to put yourself first and stay mindful.
Putting our hands in the earth regularly deepens our connection to nature and spirit. By caring for and nurturing a beautiful flower or bountiful head of kale, we are actively participating in grounding our spirit, and caring for the earth.
Gardening doesn’t need to be intense. Having a few plants around the home, a tiny pasture of greens, or a balcony herb garden are all great ways to introduce plants and gardening into your life, reminding you to slow down and practice mindfulness.
Watching the transformation of the plants around you is symbolic for the transformation happening within you.
The moon’s phases are a great reminder to make time for ourselves. As the moon changes, so does our energy. We may feel tired or depleted around the new moon, and the full moon may bring quicker tempers or bubbling emotions.
Creating a ritual for yourself on the full moon or new moon is a great way to keep yourself accountable in carving out sacred time just for you. Every new moon, I like to have a new moon cleansing bath, adding bath brews, cleansing salts or herbs to my bath time. This bath time is more luxurious than my regular routine, and I always look forward to the time alone with a glass of vino and good book.
On the full moon, I like to gather with girlfriends in a traditional moon gathering, chatting and connecting with intention when schedules can be crazy throughout the month. This regular reminder is a great way to feel connected to your circle, making time for each other when life gets busy. Sometimes we smudge together; sometimes we meditate together, but we always laugh and cry and create memories.
Much like the power of smell, music can invoke some serious stirring within. Every time I hear Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter, I’m taken back to the warm nights of summer, frolicking romances, and the carefree bliss of being young. Neil Young’s Harvest Moon gets me all weepy with the magic of autumn, and settling in to cozy boots and sweaters, infusing me with nostalgia and growing up.
I know you, too, have a few feel-good tunes, allowing you to customize a soundtrack that makes you feel absolutely amazing – which is exactly why creating a soundtrack is one of my healing essentials for modern self-care.
Create a soundtrack for yourself, giving yourself the freedom to add as many songs as you like, or creating a new soundtrack if the inspiration strikes. Just make sure all the songs you choose make you feel good or take you back to a time that you felt good.
Meditation oil combines the powers of scent and touch to help heighten a restorative meditation session. You can rub some meditation oil between your palms, on the soles of your feet or on your temples to help deepen your session.
It’s also great to use in yoga or while you’re focusing on a project, as different scents can help charge you in different ways. Some of my favorites are from Sweet Spirit Apothecary and Saje, or you can make your own using an oil base and adding a few drops of essential oils.
VANESSA KUNDERMAN is a fiction author, poet, and avid crystal collector. She has published stories alongside Stephen King, Alice Munro, and Anais Nin, in “Woman, an anthology” a collection of works celebrating strong female dynamics. As a student of core shamanism, Vanessa advocates adapting traditions to create new modern sacred studies. She has a background in motivational speaking and teaches workshops grounded in her self-care and spiritual wellness website, Rogue Wood Supply. She is a mother, cancer survivor, and a lover of the True North, and believes smudging can fix almost every sour mood. She hails from the prairie woodlands of Canada.