Five of my FAVORITE ways to self-care + treat myself

I mentioned this briefly in some of my posts about my last race, but I truly, truly believe that focusing on self care and healing my body over the last couple of months helped me get my personal records for that race, AND race strong and not deal with my usual issues (shoulder pain, dehydration). I’m STILL taking the time to care for my body and spirit, and dial all of those little issues in, but gosh, I just can’t say enough about it.

This has been a game changer for me.

Self-care can be different for each person, and it has been different for me at different times in my life, but right now, these are the things that help me feel my absolute best. They help me relax—body and mind—and my theory is that when we practice being in that relaxed state, we can better access it throughout our day—whether that be at work, exercising, interacting with others, etc.

I’ve chosen 5 different self-care practices to share with you today, all at different price ranges so you have options of new things to try, regardless of your budget!

– Meditation Apps (FREE!) — I’ve used a number of different meditation apps over the last couple of years, but lately I’m really loving Insight Timer! It is free, and also has a social component to it (I have only like, one friend on there, but it’s fun to see what meditations she’s doing, and I’ll click over to those to try them out sometime). There are hundreds of free guided meditations, calming music tracks, speeches, and more on the app, in a lot of different categories. I’ve really been loving it.

– Lemon Water ($0.50-$1) — Lemon helps to detox the body, and the flavor also lifts my mood! Sometimes I drink it cold, and sometimes I warm it up and add a little bit of apple cider vinegar for more detoxification and digestion benefits. I’ve even bought a really beautiful ceramic mug to drink my lemon water in, to make it an occasion. Don’t have fresh lemon? Consider buying a bottle of lemon essential oil (I recommend doterra, as I firmly trust their quality of oils, and they are safe to ingest for most people. Lemon costs $10 and will last you a while)—the taste of lemon essential oil is a bit different than fresh lemon juice, as you are consuming the cold pressed lemon RIND instead of the juice, but it still holds benefits, and is delicious in its own way!

– Yoga ($15-35) — You already know I love yoga, but I’ve been trying to do more of it lately, even just in my own tiny bedroom. While there are many different yoga programs out there (from free on YouTube, to sometimes close to $100/month at certain yoga studios), I’m just going to direct you over to my own offerings in this area 😉 – While I have some videos up on my tiny YouTube channel (more coming soon!), I offer quite a few more videos and materials on my Udemy course (get it for only $15 with code INSTA40), and will be teaching local classes again in Orem, Utah (pre-register for sessions here)! I love teaching yoga, and I love sharing that with you!

– Infrared Sauna ($15-30) — I have fallen in LOVE with the infrared sauna! I first heard about it when writer Sarah Wilson shared about its benefits for anxiety specifically (here and here), but when my body was having a hard time recovering from some workouts last December, I finally decided to give it a try (because it’s great to help the body detox and heal as well). This is one of the simplest ways for me to relax—like, completely relax! I just step into that warmth and my whole body calms down. It’s a very meditative time for me and I value that so much. For more info on infrared saunas, see my past Instagram post here. Local Utah friends, I recommend Seven Serenity in Orem for their infrared sauna!

– Massage + Cupping ($40-100) — Shoutout to my beloved friend Kathryn Kelly—beautiful goddess and my spirit animal—for gifting me a massage for my birthday this year. I decided to try a new thing and added cupping to the session, and let me tell you, I can’t remember a time I felt THAT relaxed. The sensation of cupping was definitely new, but I wouldn’t say painful. And the massage? So good. (I’ve had massages in the past, but I don’t think I was as in tune with my body or confident enough to speak up and say what I needed. This time, I was totally fine recognizing and communicating those needs). Afterward I was practically floating on a cloud, and the parts of me that usually hold the most stress (shoulders especially) felt so loose and incredible. I kept costs low by going to a local massage school that received amazing reviews online, but I know a lot of people who are willing to invest good money for the right massage therapist who can help them with their specific needs. Do what works for you. I love my gal, so I’m going to stick with her, but I’m also going to keep her to myself for now, haha! Speaking of… time to book my next appointment! 🙂

Let me know if you try any of these things! Have any other favorite self-care tips? DM me on Instagram! I’d love to hear about them!

Strong + Gentle Podcast Show Notes: Episode 3: Allie Vincent (Schults)

Episode 3 is with the wonderful Allie Vincent! I first met Allie about 6 years ago when we were missionaries for our church in the Southern United States. At the time, Allie was allergic to gluten, wheat, corn, and dairy, and was often too nice to say no when people offered her food that she was even allergic to. Ha! I remember one night having to drive us home from a dinner appointment down the backroads and Allie opening the door every couple minutes (while I was driving) and dry heaving. We were frantically trying to get her home and safe in bed.

Allie returned home from her missionary service so, so sick. She’d have good days and bad days, but a lot of restrictions nevertheless. Over the last few years she has opened up more to family and friends about childhood trauma. She has worked hard to recover emotionally from the trauma and simultaneously, as she did the emotional healing work, her body began to recover as well. It’s been incredible to see how far she’s come both physically and emotionally.

It was so interesting talking to Allie about this healing journey of hers. While Allie has always been bubbly and full of light, it seems that her peace has increased as well. She is healthy and strong. She is loving and balanced. The beautiful qualities she has always held are more pronounced now. It is just a joy having Allie in my life. I’m so grateful that I get to share her with you on this podcast episode, and I hope you feel her light.

Core Beliefs + Affirmations

Years ago I did an exercise where I had two pieces of paper and on each one I drew three circles—a small core, then a bigger circle around that, then a bigger circle around that. One page was titled “Positive Core Beliefs,” the other titled “Negative Core Beliefs.” In the most centered circle, the Core, I wrote “I am…” then wrote the positive or negative beliefs I had about myself (example of positive: I am creative; example of negative: I am not worth the time). The next circle out from the core was for Emotions. In this circle, I wrote the emotions I felt when I was living in those negative or positive core beliefs (example of positive: fulfilled; example of negative: depressed). And finally, the outermost circle was for Behaviors. When I am experiencing these positive or negative emotions, what am I doing? How am I behaving?

I wrote out these core beliefs about three years ago, and they’re still the same. Maybe that means I haven’t worked through the junk, or maybe they are just ingrained in me and will be something I have to work through my entire life. Probably a mix of both. But I think the thing to focus on is:

What core am I living out of?

Make those charts (or make lists of Core Beliefs → Emotions → Behaviors, or whatever version of this activity resonates with you). Put the paper with your Positive Core Beliefs somewhere you can see it every day (pin it on your wall, tape it to your mirror, put it by your bed, etc.). Aim to live in these positive beliefs + emotions + behaviors a majority of the time. If you fall into negative beliefs, that’s totally fine. Be mindful, be aware, and come back to those positive core beliefs. Take it minute by minute, hour by hour, whatever you need to do. Aim to make those stretches of time in the positive beliefs longer, and the times in the negative beliefs shorter and less frequent.

This can be hard because at least for me, those negative beliefs are very real. They all have a basis and my mind can easily be triggered and fall into that place. But that’s where the next exercise comes in:

Affirmations.

Grab a new piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and reference your Negative Core Beliefs paper. On the new piece of paper, write statements that directly oppose each negative core belief. One by one. Let’s work off of that example I said earlier: “I am not worth the time”. So for this, I could write something like “I am worth the time.” Do this for each negative belief.

Seems simple enough, right? And maybe even so simple that you think, how could this make any difference in my life?

Now take that piece of paper, find a mirror, look at yourself, and say those counter-statements to yourself. “I am worth the time.” Say it 10 times. 20 times. 100 times. In my experience, it becomes a very powerful phrase.

So, to summarize: Reference your Positive Core Beliefs daily, and actively work to change your Negative Core Beliefs into Positive Core Beliefs by stating your counter-statements daily.

One of my favorite books about this is called You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. I wrote about it here. This book is all about affirmations—which sounds so simple, but she goes into so much detail, with so many ideas and exercises to do. I highly recommend it. I think I borrowed it from my library, then got it in audiobook to listen to on a road trip, then came home from that road trip and immediately ordered the book from Amazon. It’s so good. There are many exercises in there that I have yet to practice, but I will begin to be more diligent about this, and look forward to sharing what I learn with you.

We can heal our lives, friends. I have faith in that.

*By the time this is published, I will have done an Instagram Live on this topic on Saturday morning at 9am MST. I hope both help explain this idea! Let me know if you have any questions and I can do a follow up!

*Photo by the amazing Alicia Fish.

Book Review: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

I had heard of affirmations. I knew what they were. I knew that these positive statements could help counter negative beliefs or incorrect “truths” that we tell ourselves. I made some affirmations to counter some of those negative beliefs about myself. I had heard of this book but I thought, affirmations are affirmations. How can you write a whole book about them?

Turns out, it is absolutely possible to write a book all about the power of affirmations, and it can be a darn incredible book. (In fact, a friend referred to it as her “second Bible,” which may be what kept this book on my mind long before I finally listened to/read it for myself).

When I finally picked up the audiobook, I soaked it up. Then I bought the physical book to mark up and refer to. This book doesn’t just tell you what affirmations are, it shows you their power. It dives into how you can use affirmations in more ways and in more areas of life than I had ever considered. It talks about both our minds and our bodies, and how they are connected, and how to use affirmations toward the healing of both. And only at the very end does Louise share details about her own turbulent life, and you think, you can heal your life. Affirmations are powerful.

I truly believe that the thoughts and beliefs we have about ourselves and the world around us dramatically impact our day-to-day happiness and our ability to reach our divine potential. I know that not only because the book tells me so, but because I have seen how my thought patterns (and the use of affirmations to counter negative core beliefs) affect my life.

Recently, noticing an area I wanted to grow stronger in, I referenced this book, using it to help me define what I was feeling and to find an affirmation that felt right for me. I took a picture of one of the affirmations at the end of the chapter and set it as the background on my phone. I truly believe having these words become part of my life helped me weather situational and internal storms. I read it often and find myself thinking the words to myself even when I’m not reading the affirmation directly. This affirmation has brought me hope and stillness in my soul. I’m healing my life, one moment, one belief at a time.

If you want an extra little boost, I highly recommend this book. It’s beautiful, uplifting, and informative.

* The physical book is great for marking up and to reference. The audiobook is great if you want to feel the comfort of a grandmother-figure bestowing her wisdom upon you… and also for the entertaining weird space-country-twang instrumentals that are played at the end of chapters when Louise reads the affirmations!

my favorite meditation apps (so far!)

I started meditating last year and I love it! It’s a very effective way to calm the mind and body, and can be done upon waking, during your lunch break, while the kids are screaming and you’re hiding in the bathroom, before bed… anytime! (Except while driving. I think all of these apps have that warning with them.) Meditation is a universal and impactful way to learn to be calm, even in the midst of chaos, heartache, or whatever is weighing on your shoulders. While you can meditate without an app, apps/recordings are great to use to learn how to meditate, and to learn new ways to meditate. Here are three of my favorites so far:

Stop, Breathe and Think (Link) This was the first meditation app I used. The app is free, most of the meditations are free, and you can purchase more if you’d like. The app includes a daily check-in and you can earn stickers for different accomplishments (mediating a certain number of days, checking for multiple days in a row, completing a mediation however many times, etc), which is a great motivation to keep going sometimes! The meditations are all about 2-10 minutes long, so it’s very do-able. This is a great intro to meditation, and an app that I still go back to. Mediation to try within the app: Welcoming the Day (4 min)

Meditation Studio by Gaiam (Link) This is my most recent download, and I love it. There are over 200 guided meditations by a variety of instructors. You can listen to just their voice, or you can add in a background sound (birds, chimes, rain, stream, tambura) at whatever volume you’d like. There are individual mediations you can do, or you can take a structured course (current courses available: Meditation Essentials, Uncovering Happiness, and Changing Habits), though I haven’t tried the latter yet. The app costs $2.99, and so far it has been well worth that cost. Meditation to try within the app: Relax Before Bed (by Ashley Turner, 5 min); Centering (by Elisha Goldstein, 10 min); Easing Stress (by Elisha Goldstein, 4 min)

Build Self-Esteem by Surf City Apps (Link) A kindred spirit of mine recommended this app to help heal some inner hurt, and I love it. The narrative takes you on a journey—literally a journey driving up into the mountains—and weaves in words, phrases, and thoughts to encourage the building of self-love and recognition of self-worth. I listen to this as needed, sometimes upon waking, sometimes before bed, and whenever I’m feeling triggered or just need some alone time to re-center. (Basic app is free; Pro app with hypnotic booster is $2.99, which I have and love to have as an option).

Try these and let me know what you think! What other meditation apps do you use and love? (Photo by Gary Barnes)