by Hillary Rain
TENDERNESS. COMPASSION. NURTURE. MERCY. GRACE. FORGIVENESS. HEALING. FREEDOM. HUMILITY. MAGIC. MYSTERY. LOVE.
These are some of my favorite words. They also embody some of my deepest philosophies and the guiding ideals I seek to offer others through my presence on earth.
What about directing them inward, too?
I didn't begin to fully embrace intentional, loving self-care until well into adulthood because I was raised with a strict focus on self-denial which gave me a perfect score in Self Hatred 101. However, continually rejecting the needs of my body while my body screamed louder and louder for help resulted in disaster—a mess of confusion, guilt, tears, depression, shame, and dis-ease which sometimes even tangles with me today. When this happens, I take it as a secret message reminding me to gently observe areas I might be overdoing, overthinking, or out of balance in my life.
As part of my healing journey, I’ve created a love-list for holistic nourishment with a few things that help restore my spirit when I feel depleted.
Gentle ways to nourish the embodied soul
1. Healing touch.
While there are many ways we can incorporate healing touch on our own, self-care can also mean surrendering to attentive nurture from another person. This could be as wondrous as a full-body massage at a spa or as simple as sitting on your bed with a jar of yummy lotion, gently massaging your feet with luxurious cream. I love Katelyn's formulas because they are organic, preservative-free, melt into my skin and smell holy-hush-divine. (She created the fragrance Vega, pictured below, specifically for me.) Or you could make your own natural lotion! On a personal note, besides the loving touch of warm hands on my shoulders and all the other achy places in my body, there is nothing more tender for me than a scalp massage. Sometimes it even makes me cry.
2. Steamy herbal tea.
My favorite is looseleaf Jasmine Silver Needle. It's not inexpensive but a little goes a long way—it is so light, gentle, soft and lush, full of antioxidants and very mellowing. Drinking it in the evening helps ease my way to dreamland. As part of my self-care regime it's important for me to find simple ways of embracing a ritual; otherwise I'm less likely to maintain it which means that if it's complicated, messy, assembly-required, or too-involved I won't stick with it. This tea strainer from Teavana works beautifully. I also found a gorgeous plate and saucer which I use just for my steamy tea and it makes this whole experience even more decadent.
3. Drink beautiful, loving water.
It's so important for health, vitality, our cells, skin, and our whole being to drink plenty of water. I like to keep a glass carafe of delicious water by my bed. I found it at Target for just a few dollars and it came with a lid which I love, but you could also use a glass jar or beautiful pitcher. I fill it with filtered + purified water and add a few drops of Peppermint Spirits from Herb Pharm for a vibrant, soothing burst of flavor. You could use freshly-squeezed lemon, food-grade essential oils or healing tinctures, or add cucumber, mint, + blueberries. Water can be art! Experiment with adding melons or citrus. Use a marker to create loving words directly onto a glass jar or tape them onto the side of your water bottle for deeper healing. If you haven’t done so, you may enjoy some of Dr. Emoto’s research about water and vibration.
I came across a charming little shop called on lower Haight in San Francisco a few years ago. The doors were open and drenched in morning light. Silvery swirls curled up from a little perch outside, a hypnotic dance to intoxicate me. “Wait,” I said to my husband as we walked by. “What is that? I must know.” The alluring swirls pulled me in like my very own will o' the wisp to find the most mesmerizing incense in the world. It remains my favorite to this day.
Burning incense is such a rich part of self-care for me because it adds dimension to my experiences, creating sensory layers and a magical aura in my home. It invites calmness and contemplation, an intentional time of stillness, meditation, and prayer. One day I plan to make my own incense.
5. Fresh sheets + open windows + billowing curtains + patchouli.
There is nothing sweeter than slipping into the smooth coolness of clean sheets! When the weather permits I love to rest with soft air pressing through my windows and lifting my curtains in a wild ballet. And sometimes, when I mist my skin with my favorite aromatherapy spray—a blend of patchouli, lavender, and sweet orange—I make sure my curtains get it, too. When they dance with the breeze they smell so divine.
6. A clean shower is self-care, I promise!
My love for Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day is not a secret. I am not an affiliate—these products just make me so happy! They are natural and use aromatherapeutic essential oils. And if you keep a bottle of her Basil Bathroom spray somewhere within reach and spritz down your shower before or after each use, you will be happy, too. It will eliminate more work in the long run and you'll feel uplifted and refreshed with the clean fragrances. I love finding simple ways to include everyday (or weekly) tasks in soulful self-care because not only does it nurture my home, it also relieves my mind of something that “has to” be done which can quickly slide into guilt when it's not.
7. Comfy clothes.
I've gone through seasons being more trendy than not, but one thing I've learned is that true self-care for me includes releasing fabrics or styles which leave me tugging, breathless, overly squeezed, or worried about something. Colors and layers are important but whenever I can, I go for breath, movement, and softness. Anything scratchy or stiff leads to distraction and over-self-consciousness. The same goes for shoes; I've come home too many times with achy blisters and bruised heels. If you met me, you'd find me in flowy palazzo pants, a top with movement built into the seams, and kind shoes. I realize I am blessed to have choices and am so humbly grateful for them.
8. Time to wander.
It's soul medicine to get lost in a used bookstore or earthy gypsy shop. This is my favorite way to decompress: surrounded by shelves and shelves of enchantment, pressed into a corner inhaling that “book smell” or being swept away by dreamy adornments and herbal oils. This is where I can easily lose track of time.
Other ways I embrace holistic self-care ...
- Music + art + books + soul-journaling.
- Dancing in my sacred space.
- Loving connection + communion.
- Living foods.
- Waking up without an alarm.
What are ways you nourish yourself? Please share in the comments or take a photo for Instagram and use the hashtag #AnnapurnaLiving so we learn other ways to love.
Writer & tender mentor
Hillary Rain is a natural-light photographer, digital artist, and writer. As a spiritual mystic and mentor to women, she uses holistic creativity as a healing pathway for rebirth and the holy-hush fleshing out of soulskin. Connect with Hillary on LushFolk.com.