Morning and Evening Routines

How do you start and end your day? It’s so easy to snooze a few more minutes, or go to bed staring at a screen. As a counselor, it’s important for me to be present and focused with my clients, and my night and morning routines have a huge impact on my mindset for the day ahead. Let’s try to be more purposeful in the mornings and evenings by starting and ending the day with mindfulness and self-care. Here’s what’s on the schedule:

Morning Routine

Make Your Bed

Brush and Floss

Drink Warm Lemon Water

Morning Yoga Sequence

Meditation & Intention Setting

Healthy Breakfast

Making the bed is the perfect way to start the day off with intention and purpose. It’s also important to stretch and nourish the mind, body, and soul in the morning to feel refreshed and rejuvenated all day long. I love starting my day with a short yoga sequence, walk, or bike ride. Warm lemon water and a good breakfast, such as chia seed pudding, oatmeal, or avocado toast can help maintain focus and energy throughout the morning.

Evening Routine

Shower & Salt Scrub

Journal

Drink Chamomile Tea

Lavender Oil in Diffuser

Bed Yoga

Read

With colder weather on its way, my skin is in constant need of my tea tree lavender scrub. I’ll be using it everyyy night this winter. Journaling and reflecting on the day, warm chamomile tea, and the soothing smell of lavender can help keep the mind calm and quiet at night. As for the body, there are lots of easy, gentle yoga sequences that can be done right before (and in) bed. And rather than trying to relax with the glaring light from a phone, TV, or laptop, how about opting to fall asleep with a good book! The perfect way to end the day. Ahhhhh.

The light within me honors the light within you.

Blues

It’s inevitable. No matter how much we enjoy the snow, towards the end of the season, the winter blues are bound to set in. We start to long for warm sunshine and lush greenery, and the constant windchill and bare branches start to seem monotonous. This week, on a particularly cold and cloudy day, I decided to offset my winter blues with the blue hues of the Blue Ridge Mountains, as if to seek out my own pathetic fallacy. I grabbed our pup, Molly, and headed out toward Tennessee to a magical place called Roan Mountain. As luck would have it, the clouds slowly dissipated as we made our way up the winding mountain roads. One thing I’ve learned while living in the mountains is that gazing out at the endless ridges and visualizing how small we are compared to the earth  around us can really help shift our perspective, and, in some cases, even brighten our mood. Exploring the snowy forests and hiking the various balds of Roan Mountain was an amazing counterbalance for the winter blues. Molly seemed to be in good spirits as well, rolling around in the residual patches of snow and gazing out at the breathtaking views.

   

Of course, we are often stuck inside during these cold winter days, but even indoor comforts may offer an escape from the frigidity, like creating a cozy atmosphere inside to compliment the cold weather, or experimenting with different herbal tea concoctions to warm up during those particularly chilly mornings. Here is one recipe I’ve been loving lately:

  • Black tea leaves
  • Dried rose petals
  • Lavender
  • Cloves (optional)
  • Cinnamon bark (optional)

Simply blend ingredients, add one tsp to a loose leaf tea strainer, and steep in hot water for 5 minutes.

Contrast

Waking up to a blanket of snow feels like a dream when you live in Asheville. We usually only get a handful of snow days every year, and last week, we woke up to one of those days. Within the same week, we were greeted by 70 degree weather. Mother natures offers lots of contrast, as does day to day life. Major changes can happen overnight, and we can either try to resist such contrast, or we can embrace it. The idea of contrast and change has been coming up a lot in recent meetings with my colleagues and supervisors. One of my fellow counselors always tells me: “roll with resistance”. When unexpected changes come up, roll with it rather than push against it. The capability to roll with resistance can depend greatly on our ability to give up perceived control over our environment. In many cases, the only true control we have is over our own reactions and responses, which can be used to create flexibility and balance when we are faced with difficult or unusual situations. Additionally, my supervisor recently advised me to let go of my expectations of certain situations, and challenged me to find ways to change my perspective and create my own ‘silver linings’, which is something I have been working on. Even when we are faced with darkness, we can bring our own light into it.
Truthfully, I was hoping that the snow would last longer. I definitely appeased my inner child: sledding, playing, and just taking in the scenery. When my toes were nearly frozen, I warmed up inside with hot tea and spent some time wrapping crystals. I was enjoying the quiet, vast energy of such a short-lived wonderland, only to see it melted away so quickly. It was then that I reminded myself of my ability to take control over my own reaction to the contrasting weather patterns. Rather than ruminate over the loss of the beautiful snow, I took advantage of the unexpected warm weather. I visited some of the same areas that were covered in snow just days before to capture the contrast (pictures below). In the end, I know that I feel happiest when I am living in the moment; when I let go of my expectations and constant planning, and embrace the contrast that life, and nature, offer to me.

& what a difference a day makes…

Winter Glow

A new year is upon us. The perfect time for a clean slate, a fresh start, or renewed resolutions. One of my resolutions is to continue to improve my self-care practices, including my skin care routine. As much as I love the winter, snow and all, my skin definitely does not. A lot of us suffer from dry, wintery skin this time of year, and for me, exfoliation is the answer. My homemade body scrubs, both sugar and salt based, helped me ring in the New Year with hydrated, glowing skin.

I mentioned this Yule Oil sugar scrub (above) in my last post. It smells incredible and is the perfect way to pamper rough skin during the winter season. Here is the recipe:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive or avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 10 drops Yule Oil

Mix ingredients until well combined and use as an exfoliant in the bath or shower.

My lavender and tea tree oil salt scrub (above) is my go-to this time of year. It saves my skin so I can enjoy the winter weather, especially the occasional snow day (which we are anticipating this weekend!). Tea tree oil is great for dry skin and lots of other conditions. Here is the salt scrub recipe:

  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive or avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 5 drops tea tree oil
  • 5 drops lavender oil

Mix ingredients until well combined and use as an exfoliant in the bath or shower.

Happy New Year, lovelies!

Yuletide

The Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day and longest night of the year. The ground begins to freeze, the earth below protecting the seeds and roots as they sleep until the spring. Snow falls, ice crystals form, and all is quiet, calm, and contemplative. Today, December 21st, marks the 2016 solstice. Winter has begun, and it is beautiful. Many cultures and religions acknowledge the winter solstice and celebrate the changing of the seasons. As the idea of winter can be disheartening for so many people who are in need of warmth, safety, and love in the cold weather, some of these celebrations might include lights, candles, warm spices, or evergreen plants that symbolize life, hope, and comfort throughout the winter months.

This year, I want to welcome the winter solstice and create small comforts for myself and my loved ones. Although I am looking forward to celebrating the solstice, I remind myself that the holidays can be lonely and difficult for many people, and even small gestures of warmth and love can go a long way as the winter and holiday season approaches. As the pine trees, twinkling lights, and hot cocoa surround us this season, we are reminded of comfort, warmth, and of hope to last us through the colder months. This year, I want to offer comforting gifts, and reminders of such hope to myself and to those around me as we celebrate the changing of the seasons. A local metaphysical shop, Raven and Crone (located in Asheville, NC) makes wonderful essential oil, incense, and other products meant for Solstice and Yule celebrations. I am always greeted by the friendly, magical energy of this shop as well as the resident black cat purring on the counter.

In preparation for the Winter Solstice, I am using a few treasures from Asheville Raven and Crone, including their Yule Oil, Yule Incense, and Wassail Mulling Spices. I added the Yule Oil to a comforting homemade sugar body scrub that I am making for my friends and family, which is perfect for dry, wintery skin. I also concocted a hot mulled Wassail cider for my partner and I to enjoy as we welcome the Solstice, surrounded by aromas of pine, cinnamon, and clove in our cozy little home.

I hope that comfort and love will surround you this winter.