5 Self-Care Rituals and Habits to Reach Mental Sovereignty
Self-care, as social media and big-name magazines illustrate, means setting aside time to tend to one’s individual emotional, physical, and mental health needs. You’ve no doubt heard that the purpose of self-care is to indulge (think skincare routines, shopping sprees, and guilt-free hits of sugar). Influencers, health coaches, and advertisers are all selling the same idea: self-care is a solo practice to be shamelessly performed away from others— it’s this, not that, end of story.
Working Towards an Inclusive Definition of Self-Care
Missing from this mainstream definition, though, is the origin of self-care as a social justice tool to ensure civil rights for women and people of color. Historically, self-care was a way for oppressed groups, around the time of the civil rights and women’s liberation movement, to reclaim their health through organized community efforts.1
To ignore this understanding is to perpetuate the idea that self-care is a one-size-fits-all answer to decades-long inequality against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), women, and people identifying on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Healthcare that’s accessible to all is not an easy undertaking.
But as scientific literature continues to examine the unique self-care needs of marginalized communities, a universal theme of autonomy emerges.
Holistic self-care, as we practice here at Sovereignty, recognizes the importance of inclusivity so that we can all become sovereign over our minds and bodies through small, consistent acts of healing.
Here, we discuss five self-care rituals to implement into your daily schedule for clearer thinking, stress relief, and more resilient immune function. These practices can be performed alone or shared with loved ones. Your goals are unique to you, so feel free to view this self-care list as a mere guide to follow on your healing journey.
Keep a Weekly Journal
The act of handwriting, be it a journal entry, letter, or school notes, has far-reaching benefits and the opportunity to address mental and physical health needs.
A 2018 research article published by Cambridge University Press analyzed more than a dozen studies dating back to the late nineties and early 2000s. The researchers came to understand, through a series of objective and self-reported assessments, that expressive writing offered more short and long-term health benefits compared to a control group who only wrote about superficial topics.2
The study participants who addressed traumatic, stressful, and emotional events during 15-20 minute-long writing sessions, on average, reported less stress, doctor and hospital visits, and depressive symptoms leading up to an examination. The benefits of expressive writing also extend to the following improvements and possibilities for condition management:
- Mood regulation
- Immune function
- Lung and liver function
- Memory recall
- Pelvic pain in women
- Cancer symptoms
The Cambridge researchers concluded that with the right intention, writing has therapeutic value in medical and educational settings. Fortunately, you don’t need to wait for a therapist or teacher to assign you homework.
On your own, with a partner, or in a group, set a timer and commit to an intentional writing session once a week. If you’re able to commit to a second or third day, even better, but don’t feel like you have to overcommit in the beginning. What’s most important is showing up and allowing yourself the opportunity to funnel your emotions into this new outlet.
Write from the heart, but if you need some inspiration, there are tons of journal prompts available online to help you get started.
Practice Mindful Thinking
The busybody culture we live in constantly leads us astray from our true nature. For many people, their worth comes from doing, performing, achieving, and caretaking. Distractions, in the form of family conditioning, the 24/7 news cycle, and societal norms, create distance between our projected self and authentic self.
Mindful thinking looks different for everyone, and the conversation doesn’t have to start and stop at meditation. You can recite mantras, write yourself an uplifting note, or break the habit of negative thinking with positive statements such as “I’m doing my best” and “I am resilient.” Although yoga and meditation have researched benefits for stress relief 3, mindful thinking is a flexible practice that works best when you make it your own.
Intentionally Reduce Screen Time Outdoors
One of the most toxic habits to break is feeling the constant need to be available online. Compulsive behaviors such as repeatedly refreshing your email or scrolling through social media when you’re bored are unfortunate consequences of technological innovation.
Luckily, we can choose to disconnect and experience something bigger than the screens. Moving around and immersing yourself in nature can reduce tension, anger, and stress-related emotions.4 Doing this without your phone is a small act of self-care that allows you to be in the present moment, away from potentially stressful obligations and influences.
You can take a brief 20-minute walk in your neighborhood or drive to a state/national park to continue practicing mindfulness.
Develop a Holistic Supplement Routine
You’ve probably heard it before, but your body is a temple. Treating it with respect is the cornerstone of self-care. We all have unique dietary and nutritional needs, but despite the differences, many of us are on the same journey, looking for an answer to depleted energy and restless sleep—two areas of our lives that are directly impacted by the food we eat.
Plant-based supplements empower you to take an active role in your health, which we’ve been discussing up until now around self-care rituals. Purpose, for instance, is a better alternative to morning coffee because it gives you a caffeine boost (from Coffeeberry ™️ extract and hemp) without the typical caffeine side effects. This supplement also has Ayurvedic herbs to minimize your body’s stress response.
Around bedtime, the Dream supplement is the plant power you need to sleep effortlessly and wake up feeling replenished and ready for the day. What makes these supplements different from most is the focus on whole-body wellness, rather than individual symptoms alone. These supplements allow you to embrace the mind and body connection, which practitioners of Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine know is the key to holistic healing.
Celebrate Your Inner Child
As children, we freely participate in creative expression because it brings us joy. Finding time to draw, play, or sing can be harder as an adult for two reasons: 1. Justifying time spent on activities without an incentive for financial gain isn’t always an option. 2. Guilt is a powerful emotion that can make us feel like we aren’t worthy of time off.
But you can and should make time for play because it alleviates stress and fosters deeper, more spiritual insights about the self.5 Find time for your inner child by doing an activity you used to love as a child, such as a puzzle, painting class, or sport.
Ongoing dedication to self-care is one of the most important aspects of the healing process. Some days will be harder than others, and you may feel the urge to abandon the ritual, but remember this: to become sovereign over your physical, emotional, and mental health, you must break free from all that no longer serves you.
Take the time you need, at your own pace, and trust your instincts. You are your biggest advocate. May you find good health, peace, and inner transformation.