An introduction to my self-care evolution before our first self-care Saturday recipe...
Once upon a time and earlier in my adult life I lived a life different than I do now. Self-care was not part of my routine and was perceived as selfish. I was living an existence that revolved around the trophy created by stress and burnout, rooted in never ending self-sacrifice. Over time I learned that this is not uncommon, and worse, that people sought out others that did the same. Instead of encouraging one another to prioritize health and wellness, all I found was the "wine culture" of indulgence and humor about premature aging, making people fell less alone in their struggles. Camaraderie is a pretty powerful and comforting thing, and it seemed as though people lived in novelty instead of mindfulness.
By serendipity I found some things that made me feel a little rejuvenated, finding ways to sneak them into my busy routine. Instead of dwelling on the guilt over the time spent on myself, I found myself feeling more present in other endeavors. This feeling grew and inspired me to become the best version of myself that I could be, not just because I deserved it, but because the people around me deserved it, too.
One of my favorite college professors wrote about the Leadership Imperative of Self-Care, motivating people in leadership positions to look beyond self care myths for both personal and career success. It still resonates with me how she was able to professionally articulate a growing sentiment I was witnessing in my personal life, and as my journey continued and I evolved into an advocate for health and wellness I continued to default to the importance of prioritizing your individual well-being.
I still do. It's good for me, and for all of my relationships, personal and professional. As a parent I believe that self-care practice is essential; beyond giving everyone the best version of yourself, you are leading by example and showing them that everyone is worthy of time, and that everyone has hobbies and interests equally as important as their own. Beyond that, I don't believe that anything good comes from teaching a child that the world revolves entirely around them, rather, they learn patience and self-sufficiency. Self-care looks different to everyone and should be something that is helpful and beneficial, making you feel a sense of reset. Self-care should improve your health and while a glass of wine and a warm bath, or an occasional indulgence in a special treat sound nice, be cautious that you don't use the term "self-care" as a broad sweeping way to feel less guilty about bad habits, which should be practiced in moderation...meaning eat the piece of cake or drink the glass of wine, not the whole cake and guzzle the bottle. Self-care can sometimes be a balancing act of habits and indulgences.
For me, I find my self-care in being outdoors in general, most especially trail running and hiking. I love yoga, and I also really enjoy at home spa and beauty treatments. I like to find and try different skin care companies and products, especially natural ones, and create concoctions and mixtures with other natural products to make homemade masks, scrubs and creams. The outdoor enthusiast in me also likes to forage for wild plants I can use in these creations, and have used plants like dandelion to make body salves that help fight inflammation. Much the same as with nutrition and what it does to the inside of our body, plants and other foods can do really neat things to the skin as well.
That said, I found a recipe for a pumpkin facial that I tweaked with slightly different products that I prefer, and it's been a keeper. I've seen pumpkin enzyme products and have read about their benefits, and I've even seen a pumpkin facial offered at a local day spa, so my curiosity was piqued. What I learned is that pumpkin has natural enzymes that help to gently exfoliate the skin, Vitamins A, C and E which fight signs of aging like fine lines and sun damage, and zinc and potassium which fight redness. With the addition of plain yogurt you get more exfoliating power from the naturally occurring lactic acid, a common and sought after Alpha Hydroxy Acid in skin care products, which has a wide range of benefits such as acne fighting, anti-aging, and collagen building properties. Honey has natural anti-bacterial properties, and sweet almond oil is a powerful little addition that replenishes moisture without clogging pores, contains anti-aging Vitamin A, and contains antioxidants which help reduce photo-aging while retaining moisture on the skin. This mask creates an instant glow and leaves your face feeling smooth and supple.
Anti-Aging Pumpkin Mask
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 Tablespoon Honey (I use local raw honey)
1 Tablespoon Sweet Almond Oil
Mix all ingredients until combined. Keep mask on for about 10 minutes then wash off with warm washcloth. Follow with favorite moisturizing serum and moisturizer (I use The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5).