When I moved to my new apartment in North Carolina, I had the goal of creating a relaxing, re-energizing space just for me.Read More
At the end of most days, I tend to feel a little wired. The ping of my Pixel 2, emails on emails on emails, and the latest Drag Race meme all tend to keep my mind buzzing regardless of my body aching for horizontal relief.
To achieve that shuteye, I include a few different practices into my nighttime routine to calm my mind. One of the most effective relaxation remedies I do regularly is sip on a cup of herbal tea. The steam, boiling water, and kettle hiss make brewing a tranquil ritual itself, and the resulting beverage can really help you unwind.
Various types of teas have sleepy and relaxing effects. I suggest testing out a few of the teas below on different nights and seeing how each one impacts your sleep.
Valerian has been used to treat various ailments for centuries, and recent studies show that this herb can help improve sleep quality and make you fall asleep faster. It also reduces anxiety in some, making this a solid option for me.
The taste of Valerian alone is pretty earthy, so combine it with an additional tea flavor or squeeze some lemon in it if it’s not to your liking.
Your kitty may already be obsessed with this herb, but did you know that catnip is safe for human consumption as well? The leaves, flowers, and roots of catnip have been used extensively to treat different medical problems. Cats can display a variety of reactions to catnip, but the plant tends to make humans feel calm.
If you’re considering trying a cup of minty catnip tea to aid your sleep, be sure to brew the leaves or flowers only. The roots of catnip can have stimulating effects.
Try this pouch of Dried Catnip Leaf by Wild Foods that both you and your cat can enjoy!
Dried chamomile flowers brewing in hot water may aid a multitude of medical problems, including insomnia. A specific flavonoid called apigenin acts on the benzodiazepine receptors in your brain, causing you to feel woozy and ready to hit the pillow shortly after consuming a cup.
You can also use chamomile essential oil for aromatherapy. Try Roman Chamomile Essential Oil Ultra-Premium 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade By Avíanō Botanicals
Decaffeinated Green Tea
I’m sure you already know that green tea has a multitude of health benefits, but regular green tea might keep you awake because of the caffeine. Thank goodness for decaf!
Green tea, even the decaffeinated variation, contains l-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation. Stick to sipping a decaf cup of this old favorite for improved sleep and other benefits.
Sleepy Time Variations
Not sure which tea to try first? Consider trying a mix of herbs in a tea intended for sleep, often called sleepy-time tea. Many brands offer pre-made mixes intended for resting. Here are a few options:
What’s your favorite tea to drink before going to bed? Share in the comments and I’ll consider adding your suggestions to this article!
A cozy corner table in a coffee shop can be oh-so inviting. I can spend hours in The Black Cow or Manhattanville Coffee, and it’s because these spaces make me feel really comfortable. Heck, I wrote this blog post at the Peekskill Coffee House.
Maybe it’s the bustle of the morning customers in need of caffeine, the smell of steamed milk and cinnamon, or the endless stream of tunes that keep me coming back. The combination of these factors make the magical coffee shop a perfect place to practice self-care.
From one coffee-love to another, here are a few acts of self-care to try the next time you visit your local coffee shop.
Allow the Environment to Affect You
Why do I love coffee shops so much? The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes are generally pleasant at the majority of shops. One of the easiest ways to practice self-care is to put yourself in an environment that makes you feel good, and coffee shops just do that for me.
My favorite coffee shops emit warmth, play music to fit the mood, and are full of light. What environmental details matter to you when it comes to feeling good? If your ideal coffee shop has free WiFi, serves sandwiches, and sticks to a jazz playlist, then search for that spot and visit it often. Your coffee shop could become a self-care spot for years to come!
This tip is related to allowing your environment affect you but deserves further explanation. I’m not suggesting stalking anyone in particular, but people-watching (and dogspotting) can be a wonderful way to reconnect with humanity and ground yourself. Simply grab a table and take in the fascinating human beings and animals around you while you sip your tea.
Relax, you’re not creepy – everyone people watches! Starting by simply observing the actions and reactions around you that catch your eye. Focus on the occurences that bring you joy and let yourself get lost in someone else’s universe.
Check Tasks Off of your To-Do List
In my opinion, the coffee shop is the perfect environment to complete tasks you’ve been putting off at home. Tax prep, studying, or finally organizing your inbox may be slightly more bearable in the presence of pastries. There’s also a good chance other people will be working around you. Let the atmosphere of productivity inspire you.
Complete that nagging task and take a sip of coffee. I always feel so good when I cross something off my list.
If the background noise becomes too distracting, I suggest listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook while you work. You could try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks or Join Amazon Prime Music and start with a 30-day Free Trial.
Some people prefer to meditate in a place that is totally silent, but I actually like to meditate with a bit background noise. Maybe you’ll like meditating in a coffee shop too!
I typically try to meditate alone at a table for a few minutes before tackling that to-do list. I start by focusing on my breath in relation to the various sounds and smells around me. I feel my body touching the chair and my feet resting on the floor. A few minutes of being aware of my environment creates the calmness that allows me to reach that tranquil place.
Order a cup of green tea once you’re done meditating and let the calm vibes flow!
Strike Up a Conversation
If you have extrovert tendencies and social interactions re-charge you, then take advantage of the friendly atmosphere that many coffee shops provide. Connecting with the person at the next table could make you feel really great.
Unsure of how to make that first move? Try respectfully complimenting a stranger, chatting with your favorite barista, petting a dog (with the owner’s permission), or making a silly face if a baby or young child looks at you.
Do you practice acts of self-care at your coffee shop? Share your personal experiences and favorite spots in the comments!
Sometimes your vacation can become more stressful than pleasurable. Getting to your final destination can be an extremely frustrating beginning of your trip. Upon arrival, you may feel overwhelmed. So many sites to see, so little time! It’s normal to crave the comfort of your bed once the initial excitement of being in a new place wears off.
Isn’t a vacation supposed to be relaxing in the first place? Not every vacation is meant to be relaxing (ahem, Walt Disney World) but feeling too stressed is not ideal when you’re on a holiday.
Stress related to travel is pretty common, but your travel experiences do not have to completely burn you out! Establishing a few self-care rituals in your hotel room, rental car, campsite, or wherever you are on your journey can help you re-charge. Read on for some simple tips and tricks I use when traveling that help keep me grounded.
Pack a Self-Care Kit for the Journey
Clothes, underwear, shoes, travel-size shampoo to new a few suitcase staples… It’s important to pack the things you physically need for your trip, but it’s also important to pack a few things that will put you at ease.
Picture it: You’re on an eight-hour flight and your skin starts to feel gross. You only took a few bites of the in-service meal and hunger begins creeping in. You’ve already read the airline’s magazine cover-to-cover and the free headphones your stewardess gave you aren’t cutting it when it comes to the aggressive snoring of the man behind you. We’ve all been there.
Creating a self-care kit to keep in your personal bag can help you avoid that bleak situation. What should go into your self-care kit? That depends on what items will specifically keep you comfortable or entertained. Here are a few ideas based on previous kits I’ve had:
- Luxury Toiletries – Or toiletries that are helpful but not mandatory. Sure you packed a toothbrush, but did you also bring a little bit of your favorite lavender lotion that always calms you down? Lotion, perfume, chapstick, dry shampoo, and face wipes, to name a few, can really make a difference when it comes to feeling clean and pampered on the go. Just remember to be respectful of space boundaries when it comes to fragrances!
- Sleep Accessories – Sleep is one of the most important self-care practices we do every day, so do what you can to not disrupt your sleep cycle in your travels. Sleep masks, neck pillows, sleep aids like melatonin, and ear plugs or sound-proof headphones can go a long way if you’re trying to rest on a plane or train
- Reading, Listening, and Watching Material – All forms of entertainment can be self-care when you’re on the go because distraction is golden. I personally prefer reading and listening to music or a podcast than watching a movie when I travel, but it’s a matter of personal preference. If you’re a book fan, bringing an e-reader is better in terms of having more material without sacrificing coveted packing space. Try Audible or Amazon Music Unlimited.
- Copies of Essential Documents – For me, part of self-care is preventing situations that could stress me out. Having copies (digital or paper) of travel documents, credit cards, and other essentials like my license helps make me feel safe and secure
- Smart Snacks – Pack snacks that will keep hunger at bay. Avoid anything too messy, especially something that could open in your bag. I usually bring a pack of almonds, jerky, or a fruit and nut bar, but snack preferences are personal. Don’t forget to refill your reusable water bottle once you’re through airport security to stay hydrated as well!
- A Journal – If you like to write or doodle, then absolutely bring a notebook and writing utensil in your kit. Jotting down your thoughts can be a healthy way to decompress and express yourself, which brings me to my next self-care tip…
Express Your Feelings
Whenever I’m planning a vacation, I imagine how wonderful I’ll feel. I’ll see beautiful sites, eat amazing food, and have a perfect time.
That is just not realistic. Sure, I’m generally bubbly when I’m traveling because it makes me happy, but that doesn’t mean that all other emotions in my wheelhouse won’t make an appearance.
When I was developing my love of travel as a high school and college student, I tried to bottle up feelings I deemed negative. I convinced myself that there was no reason to feel scared/sad/angry while I was travelling. In hindsight, this was an act of self-sabotage.
Through therapy, I worked on having a healthier relationship with my feelings. I now encourage myself to express openly as an act of self-care, regardless of my environment. This does not and should not change just because I’m on vacation.
So if you need a good cry or want to tell your travel buddy what’s bugging you, do it. After my break-up, I spent plenty of time crying and swearing on the streets of Paris and it made me feel incredibly human.
Plans go awry, people say hurtful things, and issues from home can sneak into your carry-on. Don’t ignore your feelings just because they weren’t on your itinerary.
Maintain Your At-Home Habits
This may seem like a given, but I tend to find myself skipping essential parts of my home self-care routine when I’m on the road. Some parts are okay to skip (most hotels don’t have tubs to put a bath bomb in any way) but missing out on some of these habits can really make you feel off-kilter.
Drinking a cup of water in the morning makes me feel good, so I try to remember to do so when I’m on the go (even if the water from the hotel sink tastes weird.) If I forget to start my day with water, I’ll get dehydrated pretty quickly and feel crappy.
Another self-care habit that occasionally slips through the cracks when I’m traveling is properly caring for my skin! Forgetting to put my moisturizer with SPF on my face always leads to sunburned regret.
Keep up any of the usual healthy habits that make you feel your best. Your body will thank you!
Go With Your Flow
FOMO has added major stress to my previous travels. I have tried to eat, see, and do everything possible on various vacations. Meticulous planning has helped me experience more than improvising a schedule would, but I have never been successful in doing absolutely everything a destination has to offer because it is impossible to do so.
Instead of cramming activities, accept that you won’t be able to do it all. Prioritize your must-dos and follow your intuition otherwise. It’s good to put aside time for the sites you absolutely want to hit up, but putting too much pressure on yourself will make your vacation feel more like a marathon.
I strongly encourage leaving plenty of free time in your itinerary. This will allow to you to explore and go with your own flow throughout your journey. Free time is also when those magical travel moments, like striking up a conversation with a local or finding a hidden gem in a big city, tend to happen.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to change your plans if that is what you need or want. You may have had an afternoon museum visit on the schedule but let yourself take a nap that day instead if that’s what your body is telling you to do.
Of course, changing plans could cost you money depending on the situation. If you’re aware of the associated costs and feel comfortable with them, do what your gut tells you!
During my previous trip to Paris, I decided to extend my stay by a few days. Six days there would have been more than adequate, but my intuition begged me to stretch the trip to nine days. I did, and, even with the extra cost of changing my flight, I have no regrets. Adjusting your schedule to suit your needs is an act of self-care that will improve your travel experience.
The bottom line? Be a little selfish when you’re traveling. Your dedication to your well-being will only make your journeys more enjoyable.
Share your favorite self-care tips below in the comments!