How to incorporate body care into your wellness routine
While we always want to nourish ourselves with whole foods and maintain mobility through exercise and movement, we also need to remember some care and attention to our physical body. Here you can explore some ways to include body care in your wellness plan.
Schedule a regular massage
One of the oldest healing traditions is massage. It is an effective way to help relax and relieve tension in the body, improve circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system. If you do a lot of yang exercise, opt for a massage that is more yin based, such as aromatherapy or Hawaiian Bodywork. For soreness or injury, choose a remedial style massage such as a sports massage to encourage healing of soft tissue and help muscle recovery. We recommend a massage per month.
Begin a breathing practice
Diaphragmatic breathing activates our parasympathetic nervous system and deactivates our sympathetic nervous system, the ‘fight or flight' response. This type of breathing communicates to our body that it is safe and there is nothing dangerous that is a threat to our life. By using a daily diaphragmatic breathing practice, we can reframe our brain and prevent our body from getting stuck in stress pathways. Maybe begin or end the day with five minutes of deep, diaphragmatic breathing or set a reminder on your computer a few times throughout the day to take a short breathing break.
Support your feet
More than half the bones in our body are in the hands and feet. Our feet have 26 bones in each foot, and work extremely hard for us, particularly during energetic exercise or when wearing high heels. A podiatrist can help choose the right shoes to prevent injuries and ease pressure on our feet. Consider a regular foot spa and try a reflexology treatment, which also encourages healing in other areas of the body. Using a spiky ball or tennis ball under your feet can also increase blood flow to tendons and ligaments.
Exfoliation helps rid the body of any dry, dull skin by removing dead skin cells from the surface of the epidermis. The removal of these cells speeds up the skin renewal process allowing for younger, healthier cells to take their place. An excellent method of exfoliation is dry body brushing. Using a brush with natural bristles, make long sweeps over your body, towards your heart, to buff away dead skin, boost circulation and encourage lymphatic drainage. Try to do this at least once a week or make it a part of your daily routine for maximum benefit.
Create your own body scrub by combining these ingredients:
- ½ cup Epsom salts
- 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
- a couple of drops of high quality essential oil
- a sprig of rosemary and a couple of sprigs of lavender
If using in the shower, turn the tap off while applying the scrub as the salt granules will dissolve when wet.
Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and an important recovery mineral for our body. If you're feeling sore and achy or having muscle twitches or cramps, it's likely that you need to increase your magnesium levels. Choose a good quality magnesium supplement from a practitioner and increase your intake of magnesium-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, brown rice, dark chocolate, dates and bananas.
Drinking plenty of pure filtered water is essential. Aim for one and a half to two litres each day. Also, try coconut water for hydration. It is an isotonic drink that provides electrolytes, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium. As it comes straight from nature, it is better absorbed by the body and is a good alternative to sports drinks. Sports drinks are often filled with hidden sugars, artificial colours and flavours.
Stretch and move
If we spend our days mostly sedentary, our body can become tense and stagnant. Moving away from your desk regularly (at least once every hour) for a short walk and incorporating some gentle stretches has not only been scientifically proven to improve longevity, it also helps reduce tension in muscles and joints. Make some time to stretch before you go to bed most evenings to release the tension of the day. Include stretching in your exercise routine as it helps to avoid injury, prepare the body for activity and relax after exercise.
If you found this article helpful, you might also like the benefits of spending time in nature.