主页 The Witch’s Book of Self-Care: Magical Ways to Pamper, Soothe, and Care for Your Body and Spirit
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is it only limited to women??
18 September 2020 (05:45)
Is it only me or is there someone else who cannot read the books,even after downloading
08 December 2020 (20:41)
can’t read the book. even after downloading it.
20 December 2020 (15:49)
cant read even after downloading
29 January 2021 (16:43)
I can read it fine, it opens in books app on my mac, and I can read it fine.
29 January 2021 (19:35)
It opened for me loves.
30 January 2021 (01:26)
Worked just fine for me. Also a witch is a witch regardless of gender.
24 February 2021 (09:17)
Can't even read it. Defeats the purpose
28 February 2021 (00:16)
Might need a file opener or something if you can't view it after downloading. I couldn't open mine either until I installed PDF X on my laptop.
08 March 2021 (12:21)
Y'all download an epub and PDF reader! Download Readera in play store!
09 March 2021 (10:59)
En mi caso han abierto bien los libros. Tengo una duda sobre epub.. ¿lo puedo deacargar en cualquier dispositivo?
26 March 2021 (08:03)
yall, you need an ereader like calibre, or the books app on phones to read an epub file lmao; its not like a PDF. it works fine
04 April 2021 (03:10)
Get a file reading app. I have an app called "Media365 Reader" and you can press one button to transfer all files downloaded, even PDF files. It works a charm! :)
07 April 2021 (04:06)
Opened it in Books in iOS, it works.
14 April 2021 (07:11)
Don't download random stuff off the internet if you have no idea how to use it. Pls. You are going to get internet herpes and ruin your computer with all kinds of aids. Dad'll be v. mad.
17 May 2021 (02:53)
BAHAHAHAHAHA JP YOUR FUNNY ASFFFFFF
24 May 2021 (20:40)
Thank you for downloading this Simon & Schuster ebook. * * * Get a FREE ebook when you join our mailing list. Plus, get updates on new releases, deals, recommended reads, and more from Simon & Schuster. Click below to sign up and see terms and conditions. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP Already a subscriber? Provide your email again so we can register this ebook and send you more of what you like to read. You will continue to receive exclusive offers in your inbox. Contents Introduction Chapter 1: Self-Care and Magic Chapter 2: Mental and Emotional Self-Care Chapter 3: Physical Self-Care Chapter 4: Spiritual Self-Care Chapter 5: Household Self-Care Acknowledgments About the Author Bibliography Index This one is for Ceri and Megan, who yell at me a lot in a caring way to not push myself beyond my limits and to stop feeling guilty for needing breaks. Back at you, ladies. I couldn’t do this without you. Ice cream and spinning wheels forever. Introduction At its most basic, engaging in self-care is about self-respect. Self-care is all about taking care of yourself, making that stand and declaring that, yes, you are important, you do matter. Simple self-care is part of your efforts to be the best person you can be—an idea that resonates in magic as well. Magic is an ideal partner for self-care: one of magic’s main focuses is healing—healing of the self, healing of the earth, healing of humanity and nature. In this sense, magic and self-care go hand in hand. The Witch’s Book of Self-Care helps you explore ways to reconnect with yourself, make time for yourself, learn how to experience moments in your day mindfully, and to honor yourself and your spiritual and emotional health. Through magical self-care you will call upon the energies of natural objects such as herbs, stones, and the elements to care for yourself spiritually. Inside these pages you’ll discover activities on finding balance, recharging, examining self-destructive behavior and transforming it into a healthier b; ehavior, as well as meditations designed to help you get in touch with yourself again, spiritually and otherwise. Taking care of your energy, your emotional health, your physical health, and your mental health are all essential undertakings—and can all be enhanced with magic. Being your best self is part of what makes the world a better place. This book can be that first step toward exploring how magic and self-care can partner to support you in your efforts to become the best version of yourself that you can be. Chapter 1 Self-Care and Magic Self-care is a buzzword these days. But like media representations of magic, representations of self-care can be confusing. What exactly constitutes self-care? Is getting a mani-pedi or a new handbag actually self-care, and if not, what is? Simply put, self-care is any activity that you do deliberately to take care of your mental, emotional, or physical health. Magic dovetails perfectly with the concept of self-care because magic is about listening to what’s inside you and the messages the Divine and nature have for you. Being in the moment in this way opens you up to an intimate world of information that is supportive of your well-being. Magic and self-care make excellent partners on the road to leading a balanced, fulfilling life. This chapter will explore not only what self-care is and some of the damaging self-care stereotypes, it will also give you some background on the magical techniques that you will use and explore in the later chapters of this book. The Goals of Self-Care The goals of self-care are simple: ♦ Healthy mind ♦ Healthy body ♦ Healthy spirit The point of self-care isn’t just about giving yourself a break. It’s about becoming skilled at identifying your needs by listening to your mind, body, and spirit. And not just long-term needs, but also immediate needs, the needs you have at this very moment. How hard can it be to listen to yourself? Particularly difficult, apparently, because a staggering percentage of the population has difficulty sleeping, anxiety issues, depression, and an ongoing feeling of failure. Taking care of yourself is more than inputting food and making sure you have a roof over your head. It means treating yourself with the kindness you extend to everyone around you. It means supporting yourself the way you support people who are dear to you. Women in particular struggle with this self-care issue, although it’s not a woman-exclusive problem. Women are socialized to care for the people around them by denying or minimizing their own needs. This leads to an erasure of self-worth and a constant putting-off of rejuvenation or addressing the woman’s own needs for support and nurturing. This in turn can lead to anger and resentment. Self-care means considering yourself a worthwhile person and presenting yourself as valuable, capable, and deserving. In other words, self-care seeks to redress an imbalance that develops when you don’t take proper care of yourself, whether by inattention or by choice. Self-care also doesn’t have to involve big, splashy undertakings. In fact, self-care works better if you do it in regular small doses, because it helps keep you from reaching a level where you are in desperate need of something big to make an impact on how you feel. This sort of incremental self-care is also beneficial because small gestures don’t take a lot of time, so there is less of a sense of stealing time from other responsibilities or other people. It can help avoid the sense of selfishness that sometimes accompanies self-care activities. Often selfishness is at the root of self-care stereotypes. Magical work is excellently poised to fight this feeling, because it generally works on an unseen, inner level where others cannot judge. Magic As Self-Care One of magic’s main focuses is healing—healing of the self, healing of the earth, healing of humanity and nature. In this sense, magic and self-care go hand in hand. Self-care is a way to maintain your health, heal your spirit, and maintain or optimize your emotional, mental, and physical health. Magic helps with self-empowerment and exerting control over your life, encouraging a focus on yourself as the best person you can be. These are all things that resonate well with the general goal of self-care. The practice of magic seeks to establish or balance connection between an individual and the environment. If a spiritual aspect is added, then magic also seeks to balance or maintain the connection between the individual and the Divine. Incremental Self-Care There’s a tendency for people to say, “Oh, just exercise; your depression will vanish” or “Take up yoga and you’ll be a much better person spiritually!” That’s not how self-care works. Self-care is a complicated interwoven combination of hundreds of small acts and an attitude shift. Using just one of the rituals, spells, or practices in this book is not going to solve your problems. But each will make you feel a little better and hopefully help you see that you are worthy of self-care and deserve to take the time and attention you need. Even though it may not make your fatigue vanish completely, taking care of yourself is still a valuable thing. Cleaning up a room won’t eliminate your anxiety, but it will make the atmosphere healthier and more comfortable to be in, and that’s important. Fighting the Stereotypes of Self-Care The media pushes self-care “solutions” in the form of spa days and retail therapy. It’s frustrating, because these solutions assume that you are of a certain class with certain options available to you. They assume that you have disposable income; they assume that you actively desire these things and deny yourself for some reason; and they assume that you have the time to engage in these activities, even as a treat. These media suggestions also assume that engaging in these kinds of activities will fill a gap in your life, implying that you are somehow not normal if engaging in one doesn’t fill the void in your heart. Take courage! The media view of self-care does not have to align with your sense of self-care…and, in fact, it’s probably healthier if it doesn’t. Self-Care Guilt Another stereotype of self-care is of someone lazily lounging on a sofa eating chocolate and ignoring chores. This stereotype is harmful in that it suggests taking a few minutes to yourself between tasks is letting an unspecified “everyone” down in some way. It implies that if you’re not wholly immersed in handling things, you are failing somehow. This is one of the most harmful stereotypes associated with self-care, because you are being told that you aren’t taking things seriously enough if you aren’t always working for the benefit of someone other than yourself. It tells you that if you take a moment or two for yourself, you should feel guilty. While it can be therapeutic to put something off, procrastination or ignoring a problem isn’t self-care; in fact, it’s the opposite. Ignoring a problem just makes it more of a problem. Self-care involves scheduling things so that they don’t reach problem status and includes being kind to your future self by not leaving her a mess to handle. Releasing Guilt So often we carry around our guilt and let it fester within us. This is not healthy! Releasing guilt can be very helpful in learning to prioritize self-care. Use the following ritual to let go of some of your guilt and allow yourself to feel the burden of it lifting away from you. * * * Ritual to Release Guilt This is a burning ritual in which you burn the thing you are trying to banish or release. This type of ritual can be very therapeutic when you are trying to process painful memories or work through heavy emotions. You may have to do this ritual semiregularly if you tend to feel guilty about different things, or if your guilt about a specific thing pops up again and again. Do it as often as you feel you need to. This ritual calls for grounding, centering, and optionally casting a circle; if you’re not already familiar with these techniques, see the instructions later in this chapter. What You Need: ♦ Trivet or hot pad ♦ Fireproof/heatproof container ♦ Frankincense incense and a censer ♦ White candle and candleholder ♦ Matches or lighter ♦ Paper ♦ Pen or pencil What to Do: 1. Center and ground. Cast a circle if you feel you need one. 2. Place the trivet or hot pad and the heatproof container on top of it next to the incense and candle. 3. Light the frankincense incense. Light the candle. 4. Sit with your eyes closed and think about your sense of guilt. What is it related to? What triggers it? Can you pinpoint what you feel guilty for? There may be associated feelings, such as resentment, sadness, shame, or anger. 5. When you’re ready, write these things on the paper. 6. Fold the paper in half or quarters to fit the heatproof container. Hold the paper and say: I release this guilt to the universe. I invite peace and serenity to take its place. Open my heart to the positive energy of this lesson And support me as I learn to care for myself freely. Thank you for your many blessings. 7. Touch the corner of the paper to the flame of the candle. When the paper catches, place it in the heatproof container and allow it to burn to ash. Allow the incense and candle to burn out. 8. Later, take the ash of the paper and either dispose of it under running water outdoors, or allow the wind to take it. * * * Hygge and Self-Care Hygge is a Danish concept that underlines the importance of focusing on the enjoyment of the moment. It’s about being present and allowing yourself the time and space to acknowledge a feeling or what’s happening at the present moment. Hygge came about as a result of Danes needing a way to cope emotionally and spiritually with long, cold, dark winters. It celebrates small things that make life worthwhile, such as cups of tea, good books, comfortable spaces, the feeling of security and coziness, home-cooked food, and the company of friends. It rests on the idea of a slow-moving, low-stress, low-commercial-consumption life. Hygge is a concept that fits almost seamlessly into magical practice. The practice of magic strives for the same sort of serenity that hygge does. Meditation and slowing down to be in the moment, aware and acknowledging your authentic self, is very much at the heart of magic work. Magic looks to improve yourself, to strengthen yourself, and to celebrate yourself. Hygge suggests that the living of your life can be an art form, which is an excellent way to look at self-care. It’s not about flashiness; it’s about comfort and expression. It’s about creating a special moment, not special in the out-of-the-ordinary sense, but in the recognition that if you pause and allow yourself to acknowledge and connect with that moment, however small, you will realize that every moment can be special just because it’s yours and you’ve recognized it as such. Part of self-care is allowing yourself the permission to have those moments and to enjoy them. You are encouraged to pause and acknowledge the moment, whether it is good or bad. That moment of acknowledgment reinforces the idea that you are worth the time. It also validates your feelings, which can reduce overall stress. Rather than ignoring your feelings in a mad dash to drive forward, those moments of acknowledging yourself without judgment provide a healthy way to reassure your subconscious that it is allowed to have moods. It doesn’t have to be “up” or “on” all the time. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Everyone and everything needs downtime. The Importance of Being Authentic At its heart, the idea of being authentic means: ♦ Figuring out who you are ♦ Accepting yourself ♦ Being true to yourself Sound easy? Maybe not. Often the hustle and bustle of daily life is a way to keep ourselves distracted and busy so that we don’t pause and look at ourselves and see who we really are. Pausing to take a good look at yourself can be intimidating. What if you aren’t the great person you think you are? Sometimes self-care is hard because it means facing things you’d rather pretend aren’t there. Self-examination is uncomfortable. It requires a level of honesty that you may not feel prepared to handle. You may fear admitting that you have been the one sabotaging yourself, knowingly or unknowingly, or you may be terrified of acknowledging that you need to crack down on your self-discipline in order to be your best self. Self-care means recognizing that you’re weak in some areas. It means you have more agency and control over your life than you may be comfortable accepting. But just think: if you admit you have weak areas, you know what to work on, and you know what parts of you need more love and nurturing. If you accept responsibility for being your best self, then you can make better decisions regarding your self-care. Try this affirmation: “I honor my true self.” Living as your authentic self means following a very individual path. No one else can live quite like you. It’s a unique pursuit. Yes, it is hard to isolate your own values and sometimes harder to live according to them when it might be a lot easier to remain ignorant and pretend that you’re fine. But caring for an inauthentic self is like filling a leaky bucket. You can’t ever fill it, because it’s not complete. Self-care means valuing all the various parts of you, not just some of them (yes, even the parts that still need work). If you pretend to be someone you’re not, how can you ever be truly happy? If you’re not being authentic, how can you have compassion for yourself? Living authentically might not be easy, but it’s rewarding. Here are some things to keep in mind: ♦ Balance what you feel and/or need against your actions. ♦ Making value-based choices will be healthier in the long run than making choices based on convenience or popular opinion. ♦ Advocate for yourself and your needs or wants. ♦ Don’t let yourself be driven by a need to be approved of or liked by others. Approval is a powerful drug, but being happy with your value-based choices is healthier for your spirit and sense of self. Being openly authentic can be intimidating. What if you embrace yourself as you truly are, weaknesses and flaws and all…only to be rejected by other people? Fear is a powerful deterrent. Fear of failure, of rejection, or of loneliness can combine with the fear of missing out, creating a tangle of anxiety and a sense of not being in control of anything. Remember, though, living authentically will build your sense of confidence and strength, which will in turn show in your personal energy. Author Brené Brown talks about cultivating the ability to be imperfect in The Gifts of Imperfection. Accepting that you are imperfect and still worth caring for is a valuable practice in your self-care toolbox. As much as self-examination can be scary, ignoring it just creates a different kind of stress—avoidable stress, at that. Make the choice to work through the stress and engage in self-reflection instead of being at the mercy of the stress that rises from procrastinating or ignoring something. Be in control. (Check out the exercise Authenticity: A Spell to Help Recognize the Real You, in Chapter 2.) Magical Techniques for Self-Care This book proposes a variety of magical techniques to use in your practice of self-care. Most of them are easy and accessible, and others ask for minor purchases of herbs or stones. Stones don’t need to be huge; even a small stone possesses natural energy that you can draw on to help support your own. Most of the herbs can be found in a grocery store. Some can be used in oil form. Essential oils may seem expensive, but they are concentrated and last a long time with proper storage away from light. Here are some of the magical techniques you will explore throughout this book. Creative Visualization Were you called out for daydreaming or having an overactive imagination as a child? Creative visualization is a technique that uses your powers of imagination and concentration to create an image of the reality you’re working for. It’s more focused than daydreaming and requires you to create what you’re visualizing with care. Essentially, by visualizing a potential situation and lending it energy, you’re fueling it and giving it more power. Creative visualization also works in a negative way. This is why you need to catch yourself in the act if your mind goes off on a tangent imagining something terrible. You don’t want to give a negative outcome any more power or fuel than it already possesses. Meditation Meditation offers your mind a break by allowing it to disengage from the ongoing commotion of the world around you. It has physical benefits, such as slowing heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Mentally, it improves concentration and counters stress, depression, and anxiety, as well as fighting recursive negative thinking. Emotionally, meditation encourages self-acceptance and optimism. Spiritually, it fosters calm, serenity, and a sense of peace and harmony with the universe. The types of meditation explored in this book include mindfulness meditation and breathing meditation, both very simple practices that encourage self-care. Breathing Exercises Breathing exercises allow you to pay attention to what is otherwise an autonomous function. For an autonomous function, it’s impressive how much improvement you can realize with a bit of attention to the process! By taking control of your breathing, you can affect the depth and rhythm of your intake and release of oxygen. In turn, that can benefit your brain function, your heart rate, the health of your body in general, and more. Breathing exercises can also do double duty as meditation. Herbal Magic What’s the difference between herbal magic and herbalism? Herbalism works on a medicinal level. Magic works with the energies of the plant. The two are not mutually exclusive. For example, there are tea recipes in this book that incorporate both herbal magic and medicinal herbalism. Mainly, however, the energies of flowers, shrubs, herbs, and trees are used to support and encourage self-care magically as opposed to medicinally for the physical body. Herbal magic can be used in aromatherapy, incense, oils, potpourri, sachets, powders, charms, and as a supportive magical technique for other kinds of magic. Candle Magic Apart from candles providing an excellent way to create a welcoming atmosphere, candle magic is simple and serene. It can be as simple as lighting a candle and enjoying the beauty of the flame and the scent, or it can be more complicated, involving carving words into the candle or drilling holes in the wax, which you then fill with herbs and/or oils. Candles provide an easy way to engage in self-care; you don’t need to invest in expensive ones, although seeking out the cheapest options often means you might end up with poorly made candles that burn unevenly, smoke, and leave messy black soot on the walls. You can also purchase your own ingredients and supplies and enjoy rolling, dipping, or pouring your own candles, which allows you to add powdered dried herbs and oils to the candles as they are being made. Here are some tips for candles: ♦ Buy a box of any size of Mason jars (or grab them when you see them at thrift stores) and use them as candleholders, either for tea lights or pillars. Tie a bit of ribbon or raffia around each jar for rustic charm. (Make sure the ribbon or raffia isn’t too close to the top of the jar so it’s safe from the flame.) Swap the colors of ribbons or raffia as the seasons change, if you like. ♦ Grease the inside of the bottom of the jar with petroleum jelly or olive oil to help prevent the candle from sticking to the bottom once it has finished burning. ♦ Always use a proper candle snuffer to put out the flame instead of trying to blow the flame out to avoid spattering wax. ♦ Look for soy candles or ones with a high percentage of beeswax. Not only do they burn more cleanly, they also release fewer harmful chemicals into the air and are likely to be made under better working conditions. ♦ Practice sensible fire safety around candles. Don’t leave them unattended, and make sure there is nothing flammable around them. Crystal and Gem Magic Like candles, crystals and other stones can be a passive part of your self-care, or they can take a more active part if you charge or program them to direct their energies toward a specific purpose. Crystals and stones are terrific little batteries with native energy that you can access easily. They’re generally small enough to slip into a pocket or bag, or you can find jewelry set with stones that align with your desired goal. Stones are reusable, too; give them a good cleansing (see the instructions for cleansing/purifying later in this chapter), and they’re good to go again. Magical Basics The main focus of this book is not to teach the basics of magical practice. However, in the interest of giving everyone a level playing field, what follows are some bare-bones foundational techniques that will be called on in this book. For a more in-depth look at magical techniques, please see my books Power Spellcraft for Life and Solitary Wicca for Life. Center and Ground This is an essential magical technique that ties especially well into self-care. It’s a practice that can calm agitated personal energy, replenish low personal energy, and create a sense of belonging, connection, and reassurance. * * * Center and Ground This is the first thing you should do before engaging in any kind of magical work, to ensure that you don’t drain your personal energy during the working. What to Do: 1. Close your eyes and take three slow breaths. 2. Visualize a light in the core of your body. What you consider your body’s core is up to you; some people locate it around the heart, others, the solar plexus or lower in the abdomen. What’s important is that it makes sense to you as the location of your core. 3. Visualize a tendril of light growing down from your core toward the ground. See it reach down through the surface, deep into the earth’s core. Visualize your tendril of energy meeting the energy of the earth. Draw some of the earth’s energy up that tendril as if it were a straw, bringing it up into your body. Let the energy of the earth fill you. 4. If you are tired or low on energy, you can use this earth energy to replenish or rebalance yourself. 5. If you are jumpy or buzzing with extra energy that’s making you jittery or flighty, then once you have connected your energy to that of the earth, visualize some of your personal energy bleeding off to be absorbed by the earth. This process can be easier to visualize if you imagine the energy of the earth to be a different color from your personal energy. * * * Circles A magic circle is an energy barrier created to delineate a sacred space in which to worship, a container created to protect what is inside or to keep unwanted energy out, and provides a way to collect focused energy while it is raised before that energy is released toward a goal. You might not always need a circle, but how to cast one is a good technique to know because the circle can also function as a personal shield to ward off negative energy. * * * Casting a Circle Here is how to cast and take down a magic circle. What to Do: 1. Center and ground. 2. Draw energy up from the earth into your core and let it flow down the arm of your dominant hand. 3. Imagine the earth energy flowing out of your fingers. Point your hand to the side and either turn slowly in place or walk around the perimeter of your space, visualizing the energy flowing out like a ribbon to surround your working area. Finish the circle by visualizing the ribbon of energy meeting the other end you started with. 4. Once the ring of energy is complete, visualize the energy stretching up to form walls, then continuing into a dome over your head. Visualize a similar hemisphere under you, so that the energy surrounds you like a full sphere. 5. When your work is complete, visualize this in reverse. See the half spheres above and below you recede back into the simple ribbon of energy circled around you. Then point your hand at where the circle began and ended and trace it in reverse, imagining the energy flowing back to your hand and up your arm to your core. Make sure to allow it to flow past your core and down your connection to the earth to allow it to rejoin the earth energy it came from. * * * Sacred Space Sacred space is space devoted to your best self. A magical circle created to set apart a bit of the everyday world is one form of temporary sacred space, but sacred space can also be made with intention in other ways. This is probably the technique that you will use most often in pursuit of self-care. Methods of creating sacred space can include: ♦ Lighting a candle and incense dedicated to that purpose. ♦ Sprinkling blessed water (made by adding a pinch of salt to a cup of water) around an area. ♦ Strewing herbs. ♦ Blessing an area with all four elements (earth, air, fire, and water). A simple way to do this is to use incense, which represents fire and air, and blessed water, which represents earth and water. Cleansing/Purifying Objects Before you use items in magic, it’s always a good idea to cleanse their energy. Energy tends to collect on objects, especially objects that are handled by people. You may have programmed some items to do specific energy work, like absorb negativity or protect or draw something toward yourself. At the end of their purpose, it’s a good idea to run them through a magical wash to get it clean for the next time you need it. Don’t worry; cleansing something won’t remove an item’s innate energy. In other words, you don’t need to worry about wiping away clear quartz’s ability to supply you with energy or obsidian’s ability to protect you from negativity. Here are a few different ways to cleanse something magically: ♦ Place the item in sunlight or moonlight for about 24 hours. Put a small mirror underneath it to increase the efficiency of the purification. ♦ Place the item in a container of salt. Warning: don’t do this with metal items, as they can corrode. This works best with stones and crystals. ♦ Place the item in a dish of sand or earth and cover it lightly. Wrap the item in a light cloth first, if you like. ♦ Pass the item through smoke of sandalwood, frankincense, or myrrh incense. (See Chapter 5 for incense recipes.) ♦ Hold the item in your hands, or hold your hands above it with the palms down. Center and ground, then draw up energy from the earth. Imagine it flowing down to your hands and surrounding the object. Say, “With this energy I cleanse you; with this energy you are cleared of all external energy. May it be so.” Mindfulness Mindfulness is not a technique so much as an important aspect of magical practice. Mindfulness is being in the moment, allowing whatever task you’re performing to have the whole of your attention in a relaxed fashion, so that you are fully open to the experience. Mindfulness is important in magic because you are tied to your environment, which impacts you. Being aware of everything is critical to being able to pick and choose what you want to draw on in your magical work. It’s also important because you need to be able to differentiate between good and bad (or supportive and unsupportive) energy. Reaching out and being able to sense what is around you takes a curious blend of concentration and release. Check out the awareness and sensory exercises in Chapter 2 to work on practicing mindfulness. Magical Journaling for Self-Care Journaling is a therapeutic practice. It’s also a valuable part of working magic. Keeping records of your work allows you to consult notes regarding herbal or incense blends, timing, successes and failures, origins of ideas, references, and experiments with energies of various supplies and components. Partnering or uniting the concepts of reflective self-care journaling and magical journaling in pursuit of self-care just makes sense. You’ll have more than one magical and/or self-care journal in your life, so don’t get too caught up in finding the perfect one to last forever. Any blank journal or notebook that is pretty and makes you happy or relaxed when looking at it is great. Do you already keep a magical journal, recording your energy work, spells, and rituals? Decide if you want to have a separate self-care journal or if you’re going to use your existing magical journal for that purpose. Do what feels right for you. You can always start one way and switch later if your initial choice doesn’t work for you. A self-care journal tip: glue an envelope to the back cover, or use washi tape to tape the bottom and side of the last two pages to make a pocket open at the top. This allows you to keep loose things in it. The following rituals will help get you started with your journaling practice. The first is a simple technique to bless your new self-care journal. The second establishes optimal conditions to allow a productive journaling session. * * * Self-Care Journal Dedication Before you start using new tools, it’s a good idea to cleanse and bless them or dedicate them to their intended purpose. This ritual calls for a candle and incense that will be used for your future self-care journaling sessions as well as this initial blessing. Why not start using a new pen as well? Keep it just for use with your self-care journal. What You Need: ♦ Candle in a color you associate with clarity and self-reflection (some suggestions: white, pale blue, pale yellow) and a candleholder ♦ Incense of your choice (suggestions: sandalwood, frankincense, lavender, jasmine) and a censer ♦ Matches or lighter ♦ New notebook ♦ Pen ♦ Markers, stickers, washi tape, and so on (optional; see instructions) What to Do: 1. Center and ground. 2. Light the candle and the incense. Sit or stand in a relaxed way, eyes closed, and let yourself be in the moment for a minute or so. 3. Pick up the notebook and pass it over the candle, then through the incense, saying, “I cleanse you of negative energy.” Repeat with the pen. 4. Hold the book and close your eyes. Take a few slow breaths. Say: May this book encourage me to value myself, To care for myself as I deserve, And to celebrate myself. It is my friend and my support. May it be so! 5. Write this (or a blessing of your own creation) on the first page of the journal. Decorate it as you like with markers, stickers, washi tape…whatever makes you feel warm and happy when you look at it. Tips: ♦ You can use a series of small candles or you can dedicate a large pillar candle to your journaling sessions. If you do the latter, you can pierce holes in the top of the candle and carefully drip essential oil into them or load it with powdered herbs to add their energies to the experience. (See the Enhancing Home Energy Pillar Candle project in Chapter 5.) ♦ If you’re using stick incense, you don’t have to let a whole stick burn every time you light it. If you’re finished before the incense stick is, just tamp it out gently in the censer and slip it back in the packet for next time. Or break one in half and use only one half at a time. Experiment and see what works for you. * * * Journaling Framework Ritual Using magical ritual is a way of setting an action or sequence apart from the everyday world. Repeating a certain sequence of actions also allows you to become very familiar with what comes next in the sequence. In the case of this framework, it trains your mind to quickly slip into the calm headspace that is ideal for reflective journaling. This framework is designed to allow you to slip into the optimal frame of mind for the several journaling exercises throughout the book. Why not brew a cup of tea to go along with it, or pour yourself something refreshing? This framework calls for a candle and incense of your choice, preferably in colors and scents you associate with peace and clarity. Use the same candle and incense for your self-care journaling session each time. The familiar setting will act as a trigger to help you reach a relaxed, self-reflective state more easily every time. You could use a meditation incense here as well (see Chapter 5). What You Need: ♦ Your journaling candle in a candleholder (see earlier in this chapter) ♦ Your journaling incense and a censer (see earlier in this chapter) ♦ Matches or lighter ♦ Your magical self-care journal and pen (see earlier in this chapter) What to Do: 1. Center and ground. 2. Light the candle and incense, saying, “Peace surround me; I am present in the moment.” 3. Sit in a relaxed way, eyes closed, and let yourself be in the moment for a minute or so. Then open your eyes, open your notebook, and journal whatever you intend to record. 4. When you are done, close the book and say, “I thank the universe for my many opportunities to reflect and explore my spirit. May I always be blessed.” Tip: ♦ Try playing the same album or playlist of relaxed, meditative music while you journal, to further create the self-care atmosphere. * * * Chapter 2 Mental and Emotional Self-Care This chapter focuses on the general self-care of your personal energy to help stay in good shape mentally and emotionally. It looks at attitudes, relationships, and how to maintain a broad balance in all the areas of your life. Each of these spheres (and the physical and spiritual areas of your life as well; see Chapters 3 and 4) can and do influence one another. If you work on improving self-care in one area, that will automatically support other spheres as well. Self-care has a cascading benefit. Identifying Your Self-Care Goals How do you begin your self-care? First think: What do you live for? What is your bliss? What makes you feel good? Being able to pin this down is valuable, because without goals you can end up flailing around, trying to make yourself feel better in general, without addressing the source(s) of your imbalances. Identifying your self-care goals means a more efficient and effective application of your time and energy into your self-care. Knowing these goals informs the quality of your self-care and also facilitates your commitment to living authentically. Making a Self-Care Vision Board (see the following) is one way to work through the process of identifying your self-care goals. * * * Self-Care Vision Board A vision board is a themed collection of images, quotations, and objects mounted on a flat surface. When you create a vision board and place it in a space where you see it often, you essentially end up doing short visualization exercises throughout the day every time you see it. Consciously or unconsciously, seeing it sends cues to your spirit and reactivates the energy you have tied into those goals. Visualization is a powerful tool in self-care. When designing a vision board, the focus should be on how you want things to be. Choose things to include that elicit the emotions you want to feel, that remind you of the life you want to have. Focus more on the less-tangible aspects of the life you want to have; it’s nice to wish for material things, but that’s not what this is really about. Your vision board should motivate and inspire you to work toward the quality of life you want to be living. Creating your vision board is going to be a unique and personal process. What you use as a foundation for your board will depend on your budget, the space you have to display it, and your creative choices. You could use a corkboard or poster board from a craft store or repurpose a frame that you already have by replacing the contents with blank card stock. You could even cut a piece of poster board into a specific shape. Spend some time ahead of this activity to think about what kind of themes you want to represent. You might want to spend time searching for specific images or artwork. Also give some thought to whether you want this board to be permanent or an ongoing evolution that reflects how your needs for self-care change. You might want to make a new one annually and keep past ones to look back on, or you might decide that the evolution itself is what’s important. What You Need: ♦ A foundation for your board (corkboard, poster board, and so on) ♦ Blank card stock ♦ Pens or markers ♦ Photos, souvenirs, and trinkets that support or evoke your goals ♦ Glue, tape, or pushpins (depending on your foundation board) ♦ Washi tape, stickers, and so on (optional; see instructions) What to Do: 1. Gather your supplies. 2. If you like, use the Journaling Framework Ritual in Chapter 1 to prepare for the activity, including the candle and incense, if you use them. Otherwise, create a pleasant ambience to work in: adjust the lighting, put on relaxing or motivational music, and so forth. 3. Design your board. Do you want space between the objects on your board or do you want them to overlap? Also decide if you want to fill the board completely or leave space for new things as they come into importance in your life. 4. Write an affirmation or a short list of self-care goals on the piece of card stock and position it on the board. 5. Arrange the items around the affirmation or list as you like without attaching them. When you have decided on your layout, fasten your items to the board with pins, glue, or tape. Use the washi tape and stickers, if you like, to further decorate the vision board. 6. Display the Self-Care Vision Board in your chosen location. * * * Affirmations Positive thinking has gotten a lot of flak from the mainstream media and pundits for being a fluffy way to try to effect change. At the same time, however, studies in psychology analyze how hearing negative talk over and over can damage the development of the young psyche. Negative self-talk can do similar damage. Thought patterns can impact your health. Rewiring your brain by repeating something is easy to do…it just happens most often that you do it unintentionally and in a negative fashion. The mind is a powerful thing, and it is very open to suggestion. Here’s the thing: you are the person who speaks to yourself most often. You hear yourself speak more than anyone else in the world. So be kind to yourself. Our self-talk is often punishingly hard. It’s aggressive, condescending, bullying, abusive, and downright mean. If someone spoke that way to another person, you’d be shocked, horrified, perhaps moved to intervene. So why don’t we recognize it in ourselves? Well, for one thing, it’s all internal, and most of the time we don’t notice. It can be very difficult to retrain your inner voice to be nurturing. Sometimes thinking of yourself as a child can help. “Did that hurt?” you can ask yourself. “It looks like it did. It’s okay. It hurts, but it will be over soon. Hey, look at that pretty butterfly. I wonder where it’s going right now?” Just as you’d affirm a child’s emotion and then help redirect their attention from the subject that’s upsetting them, you can redirect your own focus too. There are lots of exercises about mindfulness in this book; working on being in the moment and letting thoughts flow past you without getting caught up in them is training that helps immensely with handling negative self-talk. Affirmations are another handy, easy way to address negative self-talk. An affirmation is a positive statement that reinforces a desired goal or circumstance or that counters something negative. If you catch yourself criticizing something you said or did, a decision you made, or something you failed to do, take a moment to clear your mind, take a couple of slow breaths, and repeat an affirmation like one of these simple, one-sentence affirmations: ♦ I am allowed to make mistakes. ♦ I made a decision, one among many. It is past. ♦ I will do better next time. ♦ I am right where I need to be. ♦ I am enough. ♦ I have the power to change myself and my world. Is saying a simple sentence going to change things just like that? Alas, it’s not that easy. It’s the repetition that’s key. By repeating positive affirmations like these and others, you can start to rewire your brain to be more positive, optimistic, and confident. If you learn well by writing things out, write out your affirmation(s) in your self-care journal. Don’t use too many at once; work on two or three at a time, maximum, then move on to another set after a month or two. Starting Your Day with Self-Care Carving out a quiet space for yourself before your day begins in earnest is a valuable practice that helps you slip into a grounded headspace from which to approach your routine. If this routine doesn’t work for you, tweak it until it addresses your needs. * * * Daily 5-Minute Self-Care Routine to Start the Day This is a regular self-care version of this routine. For a specific spiritual version, see the Daily Kickoff Ritual in Chapter 4. You could also pair the two for the best possible way to start your day. What to Do: 1. Wake up. Stretch. Suggested yoga poses you can do without leaving your bed: Child, Cobra, Cat/Cow, Pigeon. 2. Sit cross-legged and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and run your awareness over your body. Is there anywhere that hurts, that feels off, that might need extra attention today? 3. Get up. Drink a glass of water with awareness. Notice the sensation of the liquid in your mouth, the muscles moving as you swallow. 4. Mentally review your schedule for the day, perhaps while you have your first cup of tea or coffee. Take a moment to open your mind and accept your upcoming tasks. Don’t go into detail about how you’ll execute them; just accept that they’re on the list of things to do. 5. Choose an affirmation for your day based on your physical body scan, your upcoming schedule for the day, and your general mood. Affirmations like “I am enough,” “I meet challenges with grace,” and “I am calm and capable” are good all-purpose statements, but it’s preferable to tailor your affirmation to your needs. 6. And…go! Tip: ♦ An additional 5 minutes to work with your self-care journal can be a beneficial complement to this basic morning self-care list. (You could write out your chosen daily affirmation a few times to help it sink in!) See the Daily Kickoff Ritual in Chapter 4 for more ideas. * * * Authenticity Self-care can be tough. You need to see who you truly are in order to take care of yourself properly. Defining the different parts of yourself is a great exercise in self-acceptance. The following spell will help you discover and acknowledge all the different parts of who you are, and the affirmations that follow will help you keep in mind how great that person is. * * * Authenticity: A Spell to Help Recognize the Real You Here’s a spell to help with insight into who you are, so that you can more easily embrace yourself. What You Need: ♦ Paper ♦ Pencil or pen (or colored pencils/markers; see instructions) What to Do: 1. Center and ground. Take a few deep, slow breaths. 2. Write your name in the center of the paper. 3. Start writing words around your name that reflect who you are—not who you wish you were; who you truly are on the inside. Shy? Scared? Melancholy? Geek? Scared of rejection? Feel left behind by friends you knew in college? Worried your supervisor doesn’t understand your approach? Enthusiastic fan of various film franchises? Write it down. No one is going to see this but you. Be precise. Don’t judge. Don’t make excuses. But don’t leave out the good stuff. Do you make a terrific cheesecake? Are you a sympathetic listener? Do you have an excellent sense of humor? Are you a runner, a knitter, a gamer? 4. Hold the paper and say: Inside, Past the outside, No more hiding. I am myself, I am enough, I am worth love. 5. Fold up the paper and slip it into your self-care journal. Review it every once in a while when you feel like you’re losing the sense of yourself. Tip: ♦ Write a new authenticity spell a few times a year, if you feel the desire to. Make sure to date each one so you can properly trace the evolution when you review them. You should see core concepts pop up again and again. Those describe you at your center. * * * Authenticity Affirmations Staying authentic to who you are at heart and in your spirit will be an ongoing challenge. When you feel like you’re slipping into pretending to be someone else, or when you’re making choices because they seem easy instead of right (we all do it sometimes, but when it becomes habit because it’s simpler than the alternative, that’s when it’s time to revisit the previous Authenticity spell), working with authenticity-themed affirmations can help you remember to stay on track. Perhaps you’re nervous about making the changes that family, friends, or colleagues may question or challenge. Reinforce your commitment to being authentic by using these affirmations to remind yourself that you have the right to be who your spirit tells you to be. What to Do: These single-sentence affirmations can be written down, spoken aloud as part of meditation, repeated in your heart or aloud while looking yourself in the eye in the mirror, written on sticky notes and posted around your cubicle, typed out in a beautiful font and used as the lock screen on your phone, and more. The possibilities are limitless. ♦ I am valid. ♦ I am the person I wish to be. ♦ I am the best version of myself that I can be. ♦ I release all false projections of myself and embrace my true spirit. ♦ I am vibrant and creative. ♦ My actions and choices reflect my values. ♦ I am at home in my heart and spirit. ♦ I honor who I am. Tips: ♦ Want to use all these statements as part of a litany? Go for it! ♦ As always, tweak these affirmations if you feel the desire to, and write your own to tailor them exactly to your needs. * * * Journaling Exercises A great way to remember that happiness is within reach is to list things that bring you joy; write them in your self-care journal. This can sometimes be overwhelming or daunting to do without a context, so a great way to approach it is to work with a specific subject. The following journaling exercises will help you explore some specific details to give you insight into your larger self. * * * Journaling Exercise: Sensory Gratitude One way to feel more connected to the world around you—and to discover how you can further expand your methods of self-care—is to explore your relationship with your physical senses. What brings you joy when using your senses? What You Need: ♦ Self-care journal ♦ Pen or pencil What to Do: 1. Center and ground. 2. Take a few moments to open your mind and think about each sense in turn. Write down your answers, then move on to thinking about the next sense. ♦ What sights bring you joy? ♦ What sounds bring you joy? ♦ What scents bring you joy? ♦ What tastes bring you joy? ♦ What brings you joy when you touch it? 3. Don’t censor or criticize yourself as you make your lists. No one is going to see this other than yourself. If you like burying your face in kitten fur, write it down. If you like the smell of a freshly uncapped marker or a just-extinguished match, write it down. 4. The lists don’t need to be exhaustive. It’s enough to list one or two things during this round. This journaling exercise makes you think about your relationship with your senses in a nonabstract way. It also helps you think about specific moments within larger actions. The smell of a freshly extinguished match is a very specific moment in the larger process of striking the match, lighting something with the flame, and then shaking or tamping out the match. Now that you know the specific moment is something that brings you joy, you can take pleasure in it the next time you light and extinguish a match. To fully recognize and appreciate it as an enjoyable sensation, be fully present in the moment that it happens. * * * Journaling Exercise: Seasonal Gratitude Journaling gratitude can help you recognize more opportunities to practice thankfulness. As with joy, journaling a broad topic like gratitude can sometimes be overwhelming or daunting to do without a context, so this exercise offers you the chance to explore gratitude within a seasonal context. See also Chapter 4 for ideas about working with seasonal energies to engage in self-care. What You Need: ♦ Self-care journal ♦ Pen or pencil What to Do: 1. Center and ground. 2. Take a few moments to open your mind and think about each season in turn. Write down your answers, then move on to thinking about the next season. ♦ What are you thankful for in the spring? ♦ What are you thankful for in the summer? ♦ What are you thankful for in the fall? ♦ What are you thankful for in the winter? 3. Don’t censor or criticize yourself as you make your lists. No one is going to see this other than yourself. If you’re thankful for having an excuse to stay inside more during winter, write it down. 4. The lists don’t need to be exhaustive. It’s enough to list one or two things during this round. Tip: ♦ If you live in a geographic location that doesn’t have a lot of variation between the seasons, think about the yearly calendar instead. For example, how are the seasons reflected in the produce available to you or the seasonal decorations in your town? * * * Journaling Exercise: Daily Gratitude One of the principles in magic is that like attracts like. The idea behind listing things you’re grateful for is that it invites you to recognize more blessings or good things for which to be grateful. This exercise is also good for mental and emotional health. When you make a point of listing good things that happened or things you accomplished, then you start to validate your own successes. It’s healthy to be proud of getting through the day if it was hard. Go you! At the end of the day, sit down with your self-care journal and write these things: 1. Three successes. You define what success is. If you deal with a chronic illness, a success can be “I got out of bed” or “I ate breakfast.” Maybe a success is remembering to take your multivitamin or remembering to hydrate enough to finish two refills of your water bottle at work. The key is that you have to consider it a success within the context of the kind of day you had. 2. Three things that brought you joy. Again, you get to define what a joy was on that particular day. Did your favorite song play on the radio on the way to work? Did this month’s issue of your favorite magazine subscription land in your mailbox? Did you see a cute cat on the way home? If it made you happy, write it down. 3. Three things you’re thankful for. Were you grateful for catching the early train so you had a bit of extra time to settle in before class started? Was there a computer server issue at work so you got to come home early and sit in the sun with a good book? Were you there when a friend needed to touch base today? Write it down. Is coming up with three things hard to manage? Start with one thing in each category, then move up to two, and finally to three. You’ll find that it gets easier the more you practice it. After doing this for a few days, you may notice that your mood in general has improved, because you’re focusing on positive stuff instead of the bad things that happen to you. The negative things tend to stick with you more easily than the positive ones; when you finally manage to put the bad things out of your mind, something will remind you of them and—guess what?—they’re back. Practicing daily gratitude by choosing to record good things instead of bad means that you are consciously choosing to search your memory for positive events. It’s another form of rewiring your brain and redirecting your thought patterns. And apart from that, it just makes you feel good to remember the nice stuff that happened. * * * Spells to Battle Stress Managing stress and anxiety improves your daily functioning, enabling you to cope more effectively with the very situations that can stress you. Managing stress can improve your physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as support your self-esteem and confidence. See the section on meditation in Chapter 4 for more techniques that can help you cope with stress. * * * Fill Yourself with Light Taking a few minutes to fill yourself with light can give you the mental break you need to reset your headspace. It can also function like a quick cleanse of your aura (personal energy that surrounds you). This is an excellent way to take hold of yourself if you are stressed or panicky. What to Do: 1. Center and ground. 2. Close your eyes and take three slow breaths. With each breath in, imagine yourself drawing in light through your nose or mouth. With each breath, imagine your body filling with light. After your third breath, breathe normally, eyes still closed, enjoying the sensation of being filled with light. Note how it makes you feel emotionally as well as physically. 3. Allow the light to begin to expand past your body into your aura. As it passes into the aura, imagine it beginning to sparkle. Imagine sparkles loosening and clearing away any negativity or unwanted energy clinging to your aura. 4. When you feel that you are done, take one final deep breath and exhale with conviction. Allow the visualization to fade, then open your eyes. * * * Transformation Sometimes you can feel stuck in a rut. You know you were headed somewhere, but along the way you either derailed or ran out of steam. The transformation you seek feels stalled. In cases like this, grand gestures can do more to destabilize you than help. Instead, work for patience and clarity to help you refocus, and open yourself to change to help ease the transformation. What You Need: ♦ White candle and candleholder ♦ Matches or lighter ♦ Clear quartz stone What to Do: 1. Cleanse the materials according to your chosen method(s) (see Chapter 1). 2. Center and ground. Light the white candle and hold the quartz crystal in your hands. Close your eyes and breathe evenly, bringing your body and spirit to a sense of equilibrium. 3. When you are ready, lift the quartz crystal and hold it to your forehead. 4. Say, “I call on light to help me see clearly. May I be open to the change working in my life; may I have the patience to allow it the time it needs to develop, to gestate, to unfold, and to weave itself into my life securely. May this change be for the best and benefit me and those I hold dear. It is so.” * * * Exercise: Five Things That Stress You As uncomfortable as it may be, sometimes you need to take time to think about things that trigger anxiety. It is valuable to know what knocks you off balance or what clouds your thought process because the situation is ratcheting up your stress level. Take the time to think about things that stress you, then make this list in a safe place in a calm frame of mind. What You Need: ♦ Journaling candle in a candleholder (see Chapter 1) ♦ Journaling incense (see Chapter 1) ♦ Self-care journal ♦ Pen or pencil What to Do: 1. Center and ground. 2. Light the journaling candle and incense. Open your journal to a new page and mark the date and topic. 3. Take a few moments to settle yourself comfortably. Close your eyes and breathe deeply for a few breaths. 4. In this safe place, think honestly about what situations create stress. Write them down as they come to you. If you prefer, write down your thoughts as they come in a stream-of-consciousness record, then sift out the distilled points at the end of the exercise. 5. Don’t make excuses and don’t judge as you write. In order for this exercise to be as valuable as possible, you have to be as honest as you can. 6. Don’t worry if you can’t be very precise about your stressors. The mind spends a lot of time avoiding thinking too hard about danger and things that can trigger stress, since even thinking about stressors can elicit a response similar to those caused by a real-life stress encounter. Do the best you can in this session. 7. If at any time you find yourself having a stressful reaction beyond what you feel you can handle, allow yourself to end the journaling session. Return to it a day or two later. Don’t avoid it for too long; the point of this exercise is to recognize and isolate the situations that stress you so that you can work to head them off or learn to cope better during them. 8. To finish the session, close your journal. Close your eyes and breathe deeply for a few breaths, then open your eyes and extinguish the candle and incense. Alternatively, you may allow both to burn out on their own. * * * Organization and Planning Help One of the things that probably stresses you the most is how to break larger tasks down into manageable ones. Here’s a list of suggestions: ♦ Look at the due date of a task or deadline you are facing. List all the elements of the project that need to be addressed before then. ♦ Assign smaller due dates to smaller elements of the project. Start with the parts that later parts will be dependent on. ♦ Build wiggle room into your schedule to account for illness or other emergencies you may have to handle. ♦ Don’t procrastinate. Don’t let all the work fall on the shoulders of “Future You.” That’s an abuse of your own energy and disrespect of your future self. ♦ Use alarms, reminders, pretty sticky notes, a calendar grid with different colored markers to note various steps of your process—anything and everything that can help you stay on top of what needs to be done and when. ♦ There are also some magical things you can do to lessen the stress of planning and organizing, including making a special charm bag and keeping track of your self-care. * * * Planning and Organization Charm Bag You can make a small charm bag or bottle to help you cope with keeping everything organized. Brown jasper, a kind of quartz, helps with long-term energy maintenance; mint helps with focus; and ylang-ylang and bergamot oils help with staying calm while still attentive. What You Need: ♦ Small bowl for mixing ♦ 1 teaspoon dried mint ♦ 3 drops ylang-ylang essential oil ♦ 2 drops bergamot essential oil ♦ Brown jasper stone ♦ Small bag or sachet (color of your choice) or small glass bottle or jar What to Do: 1. Start by cleansing/purifying your supplies as per your preferred method (see Chapter 1). 2. Center and ground. 3. Place the mint in the bowl, saying, “Mint, bring me focus so that I can keep my mind on my tasks.” 4. Add the drops of ylang-ylang essential oil to the mint, saying, “Ylang-ylang, bring me your peace and serenity so that I remain calm in the face of my schedule.” 5. Add the drops of bergamot essential oil, saying, “Bergamot, bring me clarity and confidence.” 6. Hold the brown jasper, and say, “I call on your energies of management and organization. Bring me long-term capability to schedule, plan, and manage my time.” Place it in the bowl. 7. Stir with your fingers, saying, “I am calm, I am focused, I manage my time confidently. So may it be!” 8. Pour or scoop the mix into the sachet or jar and tie it closed or put the lid on. Hang or place it next to your wall calendar, or carry it with your agenda or journal. Tip: ♦ If you make a miniature version of this, it could be small enough to tie onto your agenda or journal as a charm or hang on your calendar. * * * Track Your Self-Care If you struggle with a chronic condition or are overwhelmed by trying to organize your life, start by tracking only three or four of your self-care successes at once. Recognizing a success can give you the sense of accomplishment that helps support a positive mood. Instead of writing on loose paper, you could use your self-care journal or start a separate small notebook for habit tracking. What You Need: ♦ Paper or notebook ♦ Pen What to Do: 1. For a simple self-care tracker covering the basics of self-care, draw a chart with a row for each day of the month, and four columns. Label the first column “Hours of Sleep,” the second “Ate Properly,” the third “Exercised” (if exercise is a trigger word for you, label it “Moved” instead), and the fourth “Something Kind I Did for Myself.” This covers self-care basics: adequate rest, adequate food and movement, and one act of self-care that doesn’t classify as belonging in one of the previous columns. 2. Write the hours of sleep you got in as soon as you wake up. At the end of each day, think back and mark off the other three columns, or mark them off as you accomplish them during the day. 3. The moving/exercise column can cover things like walking to the bus stop or to work from the subway, taking a 5-minute brisk walk at lunch, remembering to sit back and stretch regularly at work, doing the vacuuming, mowing the lawn—anything that gets you moving. 4. Over time, you’ll be able to see your patterns of sleep, movement, and self-nourishment. This will allow you to pat yourself on the back for the successes as well as target weak spots to focus on in order to improve your self-care. * * * Slow Down and Treat Yourself Treating yourself is a fun way to engage in some self-care. We often think of a treat being food or drink or some sort of retail therapy. But it can be curling up with a book and a cup of tea or sitting in the sun with a cat on your lap. Don’t multitask by combining your treats, unless you specifically design one as something stacked (a fancy coffee while reading a good book, for example). If you overload your treat time, you’ll lose out on the full experience of enjoying each aspect, and the self-care might become perfunctory. There are a few things to keep in mind about treating yourself. If your treat is commonplace, it won’t be a treat. Try to keep it as something special that you only do every once in a while. Alternatively, schedule a smaller treat as “Me Time” on a regular basis and stick to it as ongoing self-care. Choose something you wouldn’t do ordinarily or that you do rarely. Or perhaps it’s something you do already but you want to do it in a different way. (Even grocery shopping at a different time on your own can be seen as a treat, if doing it with children at peak hours is your usual mode of operation. Remember, it all depends on your context!) The important thing about a treat is that it has to be experienced mindfully. What’s the point of scheduling yourself a treat if you’re not going to pay attention while doing it? * * * Mindful Treat What to Do: 1. Before you actually begin your treat, close your eyes and take a bit of time to be in the moment. Let all the things that have been dogging you melt away; it’s just you and whatever you’ve chosen as your treat. In your mind, say, “This time is mine; I declare it so.” 2. Take the time to really enjoy all the dimensions of your treat. Watch people; notice the scents of the area you’re in; taste things mindfully; enjoy the sensations of turning pages or discovering the story in your book or on your e-reader. 3. If you can’t fully settle into your treat time, don’t force it. And don’t allow yourself to be irritated that it isn’t as special as you want it to be. Not every moment of your self-care will be blissful. But it will be time spent doing what you have chosen to do, and that’s important. Tip: ♦ Naturally, mindfulness will be different if you’re in a crowd or with a group of friends for your treat. Adjust your expectations and roll on! * * * Clear Your Energy An important aspect of physical self-care is hygiene. Washing your face, showering or bathing, brushing your hair…all these serve to keep you clean and tidy. The same sort of attention should be paid to your personal energy. Your aura or personal energy field can collect all sorts of unwanted grit and murky energy. Keeping it tidy means you’re tending to its well-being. * * * Clearing Energy Debris It’s never a bad time to shake up the negative energy that has collected around your aura. Brush off the cobwebs with this visualization! Note: Banishing is usually associated with a counterclockwise movement. Try this visualization with the wind flowing around you counterclockwise first. If it feels odd, try it with the wind circling clockwise around you instead. Or try each and make notes on the differences, then choose a direction in the future that best suits the results you’re looking for at that particular moment. What to Do: 1. Ground and center. 2. Imagine wind, warm wind. Hear it; feel it stir your hair, your clothing. Let it increase until it plays around you in a gentle cyclonelike motion. Imagine it polishing off the dull, murky spots on your aura, flaking away any negative energy that has built up on it. Let the wind play around your aura until you feel that the energy is clean. * * * Be Open to Receiving Love It sounds obvious, but a lot of the time our thought patterns or subconscious guilt or beliefs about ourselves push love away. The following spell affirms that you are open to receiving love and self-care. * * * Receive Love This spell is one you may have to perform on a regular basis to remind yourself and reaffirm that you are open to receiving love, both from others and yourself. What You Need: ♦ Matches or a lighter ♦ Rose or jasmine incense and a censer ♦ 6 pink candles and candleholders (tea lights or birthday candles work well) ♦ Rose quartz stone ♦ Pen or marker What to Do: 1. Center and ground. 2. Light the incense. 3. Place one candle in the center of your work space. Place one to each side and slightly behind it. Set the next two slightly in front and to either side of the first candle (a bit closer than the previous two). Place the final candle in front of the first candle, closer to you than the previous two. The candles should be in the rough shape of a heart. 4. Hold the rose quartz between your hands, saying, “I am receptive to love and care. I welcome love.” 5. Place the rose quartz in the center of the heart shape. Begin to light the candles, saying as you light each one, “I welcome love. I deserve love. I am loved.” 6. Stay there for a bit, feeling love surround you and feeling love for the universe. You can allow the candles to burn out before you wrap up (easier with the birthday candles; tea lights burn for 4–6 hours), or snuff the candles and incense out and keep them for the next time you do this spell. (Once they’re cool, slip them into a zip-top bag and label it.) Carry the rose quartz with you. * * * Create a Treasure Bag for Self-Care Some of the spells in this book will suggest that you carry stones, small pouches, written things, and so forth with you. It might get a bit unwieldy having all those things lurking at the bottom of your briefcase or backpack. Why not make a treasure bag for them, a pouch that serves as a master container for all the magical self-care odds and ends? * * * Self-Care Treasure Bag You can use any kind of fabric you like for this treasure bag, but avoid really light fabrics like chiffon or gauze. You can scale the size up or down too. This version makes a pouch roughly 7" × 4". What You Need: ♦ 2 rectangles of fabric, approximately 8" × 10" each ♦ Sewing straight pins ♦ Scissors ♦ Sewing needle and thread (color of your choice) ♦ Iron and ironing board ♦ Strip of ribbon, about 8" long (approximately 1/4" wide) What to Do: 1. Place the two rectangles of fabric right sides together, lining up the edges. Pin the layers of fabric together along the two longer sides. Cut one of the short ends of the rectangles into a shallow point, about 1" deep; this will be the flap of the pouch. Pin the edges of this closed as well. 2. Sew the two long sides and the point closed with a running stitch, leaving about a 1/4" seam allowance. 3. Turn the pouch inside out. 4. Iron the seams. Fold about 1/2" of the open end to the inside all around and iron that as well. Pin the opening together. Sew the open end closed with a running stitch. 5. Fold the bottom up, lining up the corners just under where the angle of the flap begins. Pin in place, and sew up the sides. 6. Cut the ribbon into two equal pieces. On the inside of the point, sew one end of a piece of ribbon. Fold the flap down and make note of where the point rests against the front of the pouch. About an inch below that, sew the end of the second piece of ribbon. 7. To use, slip your magical self-care objects inside. Tie closed with the ribbons. Tips: ♦ If you have a sewing machine, you can use it instead of hand-sewing the seams. ♦ You can use fabric paint to decorate your pouch, or add iron-on or sew-on patches, or sew pretty buttons on it. A decorative button on the point of the flap will cover any stitches that show through from sewing on the ribbon. ♦ You can draw magical symbols on it, too, to reinforce health, protection, or other areas. Check out my book Protection Spells for ideas! * * * Be Willing to Accept Failure Being willing to accept failure is incredibly difficult. It means you have to admit that success is not guaranteed and that you might fail even if you do all the right things. But being willing to fail means that you get to take risks that could yield amazing outcomes. And one of the things you need to understand is that a mistake isn’t failure. It’s proof that you’re trying, and every time you try, you learn a little more about whatever it is that you’re hoping to accomplish. Bonus: you learn a little more about yourself as well. Everything is a learning experience. It may not necessarily be an enjoyable experience, but it’s always valuable. * * * Spell to Be Willing to Risk Failure The fear of failure can paralyze you. The reluctance to make decisions or take steps can often be traced back to the fear of failing in some way. To succeed, however, you have to accept the risk of failure, as well as the risk of success. Sometimes that, too, can be a scary prospect. To help yourself be more willing to risk failure, try this spell. What You Need: ♦ Small bowl ♦ Tiger’s eye stone ♦ Pinch crumbled or ground sage ♦ Pinch crumbled or ground cinnamon ♦ Pinch dried rose petals ♦ 1 drop bergamot essential oil ♦ 1 drop pine essential oil ♦ 1 drop neroli essential oil What to Do: 1. Cleanse your supplies according to your preferred method (see Chapter 1). 2. Center and ground. 3. Set the bowl in the center of your work space. 4. Place the tiger’s eye in the bowl, saying, “Tiger’s eye, bring me confidence and strength.” 5. Place the pinch of sage in the bowl, saying, “Sage, share with me your wisdom.” 6. Place the pinch of cinnamon in the bowl, saying, “Cinnamon, lend me spiritual growth.” 7. Place the pinch of dried rose in the bowl, saying, “Rose, strengthen my self-acceptance.” 8. Add the drop of bergamot oil, saying, “Bergamot, bring clarity of mind.” 9. Add the drop of pine oil, saying, “Pine, reinforce my inner strength.” 10. Add the drop of neroli, saying, “Neroli, deepen my inner calm.” 11. Stir the blend with a finger. Hold your hands over it, visualizing energy being drawn up from the earth, through your core, and down to your hands. Imagine the blend glowing with white light. 12. Say: I am secure in myself; I have the confidence to risk failure. I am blessed with optimism and value my abilities. Failure is not a reflection of my value as a person. If this is not to be at this moment, I gain valuable insight And grow in strength and wisdom. 13. Remove the tiger’s eye and carry it with you. Sprinkle the rest of the blend outdoors. * * * Finding Equilibrium If you feel buffeted by change or uncertainty, a spell to reinforce your equilibrium can help. This is good for emotional equilibrium as well as general balance in your life. The blue lace agate in this spell carries energies associated with calm, balance, and composure, while the rhodochrosite represents comfort, balance, and stability. * * * Spell for Equilibrium The quickest and easiest way to access a method of rebalancing is to center, ground, and either shunt off excess energy to the earth or draw what you need up to replace missing energy in your own system. This spell is a different approach. What You Need: ♦ Pale blue or pale lavender candle and candleholder ♦ Matches or lighter ♦ Blue lace agate stone ♦ Rhodochrosite stone What to Do: 1. Cleanse the stones according to your preferred method (see Chapter 1). 2. Center and ground. 3. Light the candle. 4. Hold one stone in each hand. Close your eyes and feel the weight in your palms. Slowly start to gently rock back and forth, lifting one hand while lowering the other. Keep the movement very slight at first. While you rock, say: Flow, ebb, Ebb, flow. Bring me balance, Stability show. 5. As you chant, increase your movement, bringing your body into play as well. Keep chanting until you feel your energy peak. 6. Focus on the stones again and slow your movement incrementally until you are standing still with your eyes closed, a stone in each cupped hand. Feel the sense of floating and lightness you now have. Murmur the chant one final time, then open your eyes. 7. Allow the candle to burn out. Keep the stones and reuse them whenever you need to. * * * Accepting Your Limits Like it or not, you can’t do everything. This spell helps you accept that you have limits, that you cannot take everything on. Boundaries exist to help keep us healthy, and establishing them—then defending them!—is a valuable part of self-care. Not only do you have to defend them from other people, sometimes you have to defend them from yourself. It’s very easy to think, Oh, I’ll just do this one little thing, and then suddenly it’s been a hundred little instances of “just this” and you’re wondering why you feel like you’re falling apart. The obsidian in this spell, while excellent at repelling negativity, also helps you get in touch with your shadow side. If you are unconsciously sabotaging your own limits, using obsidian may help you recognize that. * * * Spell to Help Accept Limits Sometimes you’re supposed to stop; sometimes you’re supposed to understand that overextending yourself is a bad plan. This spell helps you accept your limits. What You Need: ♦ A photo or item representing yourself ♦ White candle and candleholder ♦ Matches or lighter ♦ 4 obsidian stones ♦ 4 hematite stones ♦ 1 labradorite stone ♦ Salt What to Do: 1. Cleanse your supplies according to your preferred method (see Chapter 1). 2. Center and ground. 3. Set your photo in the center of your work space. Place the candle a few inches behind it. 4. Light the candle, saying, “I illuminate my boundaries and see them clearly.” 5. Place the obsidian stones around the photo on a square, one at each corner. (The obsidians in the top corners should be between the photo and the candle.) Say, “My limits defend me.” 6. Place the hematites around the photo as well, between each obsidian. (If your photo were a clock face, the hematites would be at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00.) Say, “My limits protect me.” 7. Place the labradorite on or next to your photo or item, saying, “My limits are strong.” 8. Sprinkle the salt in a circle around the candle, photo, and stones. Sit before the circle, repeating, “My limits defend me; my limits protect me; my limits are strong.” 9. When you feel you are done, extinguish the candle. You may choose to cleanse the stones and return them to your supplies, or keep them with your photo somewhere safe. (Do the latter if you feel that repeating the spell regularly would benefit you.) * * * The Struggle of Depression When you’re depressed, pushing yourself to do things can actually be detrimental. If you’d sprained an ankle running, you wouldn’t keep running on it, right? You’d take time to heal first, then start doing physical therapy to strengthen it again, and reintroduce activity little by little. A sprained ankle isn’t a failure; it’s a temporary setback. Think the same way for depression. A depressive episode (or nonchronic depression, associated with stress) is a sign that you need to rest and heal. Depression is not a sign of failure in any sense of the word. It affects how your life goes, and you need to roll with that idea until you’ve healed. It’s also important to remember that progress in any part of your life isn’t always measured by moving visibly closer to a goal. Sometimes it’s defined as pausing so that you can care for yourself, or pausing to take a side quest to prepare for better success on the main path further along. Accepting that a pause may be necessary to take care of yourself as an investment in later success is an important aspect of self-care, magical and otherwise. It’s especially important if you’re struggling with depression. If you suspect that you are suffering from clinical depression, don’t minimize it; please go speak to a health-care professional. Depression is a sign from your body and spirit that they need help. * * * Spell to Embrace Depression Embracing doesn’t mean permanent acceptance. It means understanding that depression is a sign that you need to attend to yourself, to be extra gentle, to care for yourself. It is an essential step on the way to dealing with it and hopefully moving past it. If you know you are depressed or have been diagnosed with depression, use this spell to accept the diagnosis and remind yourself that you are worthy of love. What You Need: ♦ White or gold candle in candleholder ♦ Matches or lighter ♦ White rose ♦ Vase with water ♦ Rose quartz stone What to Do: 1. Cleanse your supplies according to your preferred method (see Chapter 1). 2. Center and ground. 3. Light the candle, saying, “The light of my light shines in the darkness, always.” 4. Pick up the rose and hold the flower to your cheek. Close your eyes and breathe in the scent. Feel the delicacy of the petals. 5. Say: Delicate does not mean weak. I am worthy of love and care, Both from myself and others. I am fragile but not broken. I recognize that my limits have been redrawn, and accept that I must heal. 6. Place the rose in the vase and place the vase next to the candle. 7. Pick up the rose quartz and brush it gently against the petals of the white rose. Then bring it to your forehead and gently brush it against your skin. Lower it to your chest and hold it against your heart. 8. Say: Wounded, not dead; weak, not broken. With love and care I will heal and be stronger than before. My future is full of love and light. 9. Place the rose quartz at the base of the candle next to the vase with the rose. Allow the candle to burn out. Carry the rose quartz with you. Tip: ♦ When the rose begins to wilt, pull the petals off gently and use them in Making Magical Rose Beads (see Chapter 4). * * * The Benefits of Unplugging While reaching out to friends can be a welcome form of support, there are times when the flurry of information and keeping up with everyone and their news and postings can make you tired. Sometimes the easiest and smartest thing to do if you’re feeling overwhelmed is to unplug. Take a break from the phone, the news, social media, and electronic forms of entertainment. Explore a slower kind of relaxation. If you plan on taking a break from phone calls, texts, or social media, be kind and let friends know so they don’t worry about you. Unplugging helps you refocus on yourself instead of being pulled in a zillion different directions. Those directions may all be important, but you are just as important. Unplugging allows you to focus on being in the moment, here and now. It helps you step away from the emotional roller coaster that you ride reacting to a friend’s story, a news article, or outrage over worldwide events. Unplugging gives you the chance to remember who you are at your core. Here are some things you can try once you shut off the noise of the news cycle and social media: ♦ Listen to music. This is something that is often done as an accompaniment or background to other activities. Take time to actually listen to the depth and richness of your preferred music. You may notice things you’ve never noticed before. ♦ Read something for pleasure. A physical book or magazine is ideal, but you can use an e-reader or a reading app on your smartphone or tablet as long as you disconnect from the Internet while doing it. Don’t let notifications distract you, and don’t let an idle I’ll just look this one thing up derail your mindful activity time. ♦ Work with your hands for a bit. Draw, paint, garden, cook, bake, craft. Why not check out some of the magical and spiritual self-care activities in Chapter 4 to explore creativity, or some of the recipes in Chapter 3? As passionate as you are about the causes you support and the freedoms you defend, sometimes trying to stay on top of the news and outreach can exhaust you. Sometimes it’s best for you to step back from it all and heal your stress in order to be in tip-top shape to get back into the fight. But not everyone has the privilege of stepping away, you might say. “How can I take the option to step out of the ring when there are people dying, starving, being oppressed?” you ask. Comparing your personal state to someone else’s is a recipe for ducking out of self-care. Someone will always be worse off. That doesn’t mean you should avoid taking care of yourself right now. Live to fight another day. Take time off to recharge and regroup, and bring your best self back to support your cause. Setting Boundaries Boundaries are an important part of self-care, helping to keep you balanced and whole. They protect you from an onslaught of energy and people claiming your time. If you have a problem saying no to people, perhaps your boundaries need to be strengthened. In magic, we think of a personal shield as a form of energy boundary. There are other kinds of boundaries, however, that are important in self-care. We all have limits, and innate limits are there to help us defend our physical, mental, and emotional health. Many people who practice magic, who self-identify as a witch or pagan, or who otherwise work with natural energies, also self-identify as healers in some way. When you work as a healer, you have to be very careful to set firm boundaries, otherwise you can end up lost in someone else’s pain. Being there for someone and supporting them can wear you down to a point where you can’t focus properly on your own affairs. You can feel tethered to your phone, reluctant to go to sleep in case someone needs you, feel guilty for forgetting about them by having a good time somewhere. Helping friends through tough times is a wonderful, loving thing to do, but you can only do it successfully if you are in the right place to do so mentally and otherwise. Sometimes you reach a point in supporting other people where it becomes detrimental to your own health, be it emotional, spiritual, or physical. When you exhaust yourself, you need help too. Telling someone that you need a break and drawing boundaries is incredibly difficult. Be honest and communicate clearly; explain your own situation, your own feelings. Don’t feel guilty for needing space. Try using these statements to communicate your need for setting boundaries for your time and energy: ♦ I love you. I care for you. In order to keep helping you, I need some space to heal myself. ♦ I am worried that in my current state, I can’t support you the way I want to. I’m concerned that I will say the wrong thing, that I will misguide you or cause more harm than good. ♦ There is a lot going on in my life and I can’t stay on top of it. What should you offer your friend instead of an all-access pass to your time and energy? ♦ Suggest time windows. Remind them that you care and that is why you are making sure that you are accessible at specific times to them. ♦ Suggest talking about other interests with them, not just the hard stuff. Treating Your Inner Child A term you may know is inner child, which describes the childlike aspect of an individual’s identity, a semiautonomous part of your character subordinate to the waking conscious mind. Carl Jung perceived it as the child archetype, a link to a person’s past self, childhood experiences, and emotion, part of the foundation of an individual’s adult developed self. Popular psychology associates potential, creativity, and expression with the inner child. As adults, sometimes we’re drawn to toys or fun stuff that we certainly don’t need on a practical level but that we want anyhow. We often deny ourselves indulging in this sort of fun because money has more important places to go, or because we’re grown up and we don’t need stupid stuff like that. And yet…we still wish. The inner-child concept can help you explore the idea of self-care. For example, we are often very hard on ourselves, using negative self-talk or setting ridiculously high standards that we wouldn’t apply to friends or children. If you catch yourself engaging in negative self-talk (This is ridiculous; I’m so stupid; I’ll never get this right), pause and ask yourself if you would say that to a child or allow a child to say it without offering him or her emotional support. Self-care is nurturing yourself on a daily basis. If you think of the simple wants and needs of a child, perhaps doing so can give you a different perception of the kind of self-care you need. Many sorts of little things can delight a child: a surprise ice-cream outing for no specific reason; a new pack of markers; putting shiny stickers on calendar squares when counting down to an event; going for a walk in the rain and dropping leaves into storm runoff. They may not be what your particular inner child wants or needs, but allow yourself the opportunity to think about what your inner child might enjoy. And remember to always parent your inner child with love and respect. Comfort Objects Did you have a beloved stuffed animal or blanket as a child, one that got battered and worn but you still carried it everywhere you could? Comfort objects like this help you transition from known situations to unknown ones by giving you a sense of continuity and of being cared for. As adults we sometimes intentionally deprive ourselves of comfort in an odd attempt to prove that we don’t need it. Using childhood comfort objects can signal nurturing to your inner child. As an adult, there’s nothing wrong with having a special object like a doll or stuffed animal that makes you feel happy or comforted when you see it. Don’t go overboard—Do you really have room for an entire set of collectibles or a line of action figures?—but if there’s something you want that would bring you comfort, this is the opportunity to indulge. Bonus points if you can snuggle it during self-care breaks or place it where you can see it often so it will make you smile. Self-Care at Work Work is a challenging place. You have to deal with the energy of many different people and work to a schedule that may not be ideal for your personal rhythms. Your workplace culture may also place unnecessary emphasis on overtime, skipping lunch, and next-to-impossible deadlines, thanks to poor scheduling or overambitious projects and not enough team members to support the work required. But there are ways to cope! Review the Casting a Circle exercise in Chapter 1. Use this exercise as a personal shield to help keep negative energy at arm’s length. (For more techniques to defend your personal energy in the workplace, see my book Protection Spells.) Positive visualization and affirmations are easy and effective techniques to help you incorporate self-care into your workday. Try incorporating timed work sessions and breaks into your day. Set alarms on your phone or activity tracker to take regular breaks to stretch and rest your eyes. Try building a vision board specifically for work, focusing on your self-care goals in terms of the workplace. If you’re shy about displaying it, make it small (around 5" × 7") and put it in a photo frame, then tell anyone who gives it an odd look that it’s inspirational art. Make a collection of items that are important to you, that inspire calm and focus when you look at them. Pick a pretty bowl or a jar, and place stones in it, small figures, and trinkets. Stones that are ideal to include are jasper for strength, clear quartz for energy, rose quartz for self-love and positive energy, amethyst for protection, and sodalite for wisdom. Stay in the Moment Self-care has a lot to do with being in the moment and keeping yourself from worrying about the past, the future, or things over which you have no control, such as the opinions of others. Here’s a list of reminders to read now and then to keep yourself on the right track at work. ♦ Break larger tasks down and delegate what you can. ♦ Set priorities and drop the other stuff if you need to, without guilt. ♦ Communicate as often and as clearly as you can when you see problems looming. It’s better to alert people that you’ll be a day late delivering something than to overwork yourself hitting the initial deadline and render yourself useless for the next few days. ♦ Set boundaries and stick to them. Say no when someone asks you to help with something if you don’t have the time. ♦ Be organized. Disorder not only creates chaotic energy, it makes it harder to keep track of what your priorities are and the material you need to meet your goals. ♦ Outline short-term goals, or break larger goals down into a series of short-term goals. The pleasure you obtain from making smaller goals will carry you forward to the next task. Celebrate hitting goals too. ♦ Remember that things don’t need to be perfect. They just need to be good enough. ♦ Remember to breathe deeply now and then to replenish your oxygen levels and help release tension in your body. * * * Mini Self-Care Disconnection to Re-Center at Work Being at work can make being mindful and taking time for yourself a challenge. Here’s a quick 5-minute activity to help you disconnect and re-center yourself. You can even do it on the way to the restroom; pick one on another floor to change up the things you see. What to Do: 1. Either at lunchtime or on a break, go for a short walk. If you work in a high-rise, go down to the lobby; bonus points if you take the stairs there or back for all or part of the way. 2. As you walk, notice your breathing; observe your inhalation and exhalation without judgment. 3. Look at the things around you; notice the colors, the textures, the quality of light. 4. Return to your work space. Sit down and close your eyes. Take three deep, slow breaths. As you exhale each time, allow yourself to release any tension your body is carrying. 5. Return to work. You’ve just changed your mental and physical space for 5 minutes. Even that brief mental break, paired with physical movement and being mindful, can help you reset your mind. Tip: ♦ Are you in the habit of working through lunch and/or eating at your desk? You may think you get more work done that way, but it might actually not be true. Not allowing your brain and body a chance to be somewhere different can actually slow you down later in the day. Sometimes the adage “A change is as good as a rest” has meaning! Stepping away from your desk allows you to get out of your regular environment, which can help reset your mind. Eating in a different place allows you to appreciate your food more. It’s hard to be mindful when your focus is on work. You deserve time away from your desk. * * * Chapter 3 Physical Self-Care Physical health is an important element of self-care. Respect your body by nourishing it, caring for it, and celebrating it. Your body is the vehicle that houses your spirit, and deserves honor for that. A healthy relationship with your body strengthens and supports the self-care work you do to keep your mind and spirit healthy. Self-esteem, self-love, and well-being are all intertwined, and the physical body often is shunted lower on the list of priorities when it comes to self-care. Topics like food, aging, clothing choice, rest, and exercise can carry uncomfortable associations rooted in past expectations or experiences, and make it hard for you to accept and love your physical body. You are worth it. The physical body is an important part of you and your self-care regime. This chapter explores ways to approach caring for the physical body. Stress and the Physical Body High levels of stress can lead to an overtaxed immune system and is said to reduce the efficiency at which you digest food and extract nutrients from it. Stress interrupts sleep or lowers the quality of it. Stress leads to taking poor self-care, and that’s something that needs to change in order to keep yourself in optimal shape physically and otherwise. If you have access to medical professionals and decent medical insurance, don’t ignore the opportunity for annual medical and dental checkups. Catching potential problems before they become major issues can save you a lot of grief. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or an inordinate amount of stress, take those issues to your medical professional as well. Remember, these things are not weaknesses or failures; they’re symptoms of your body’s systems not working to optimal efficiency. Remember to Hydrate How can you forget something so simple as drinking water? Easily. You reach for caffeine to help you perk up and stay awake; you reach for soda for sweetness; you drink smoothies to maximize your protein or fruit-and-vegetable intake. (Okay, that last one isn’t so bad.) But most people do need a lot more plain water than they actually drink. How do you remind yourself to drink water? Try this spell for making and programming a reusable cup to help you hydrate more and bring good health toward you. * * * Making a Magical Water Bottle Even better than just purchasing and using a pretty cup is programming a container to draw health and happiness toward you, providing positive energy to draw into your body with every sip! What You Need: ♦ Reusable bottle or cup with lid and straw ♦ Blank sheet of paper (8" × 10") ♦ Clear quartz crystal stone ♦ Rose quartz stone ♦ Sharpie marker (permanent ink) What to Do: 1. Before you start, wash and dry the bottle or cup. 2. Center and ground. 3. Lay the blank piece of paper in the center of your work space. Place the bottle in the center of the paper. Place the clear quartz crystal a couple of inches behind the cup, and the rose quartz a couple of inches in front of it. With the Sharpie, draw an arrow leading from the clear quartz to the bottle, then from the bottle to the rose quartz. Draw a final arrow from the rose quartz pointing to you. 4. Say: Bottle, be for me an element in caring for my optimal health. Deliver hydration so that my body’s thirst is quenched, So that my skin glows, So that my body is washed clean of toxins. Each sip draws happiness to me. I drink in joy and positive energy. It is so! 5. Pick up the bottle, turn it over, and write your name on the bottom of it. Say, “With this I seal the spell.” 6. Bring it to work, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! * * * Rest Your Eyes This is one of those things that we forget to do a lot. Use this exercise as the perfect way to take a couple of minutes out and reconnect with your inner self as well as rest your eyes. * * * Exercise: Rest Your Eyes What to Do: 1. Center and ground. Close your eyes. 2. Breathe slowly and deeply five times, then begin repeating this affirmation (either aloud or in your head): “I am relaxed and focused. I see clearly.” 3. Continue breathing and repeating the affirmation for 2–3 minutes. 4. Open your eyes. Flex your hands and feet, then stretch your arms and legs. Roll your neck gently. Return to work. * * * Nutrition As Self-Care Proper eating habits are often the first things to go out the window when we are stressed. Perhaps you drop eating almost entirely because of time constraints or lack of appetite (guilty as charged). Or maybe your food intake gets shunted lower on your list of priorities, shoehorned in between other things on your to-do list, and you eat what is easy instead of what is optimal for your best care, or you eat quickly because there’s no more time. But eating is one of the most basic forms of self-care there is. Without adequate nutrition, you become incapable of handling your other daily tasks. Fatigue and low energy levels are all too common results. Your memory and mental clarity can also suffer. Essentially, you undermine your basic functioning. This isn’t even about eating the right kinds of food; this is about covering your body’s basic needs to function. Food also impacts mood. Mood is regulated by hormone production, which takes a hit when you short yourself on food that has adequate nutritional value. Listen to your body’s needs in regard to food. Ever been hungry because you didn’t provide your body with enough fuel? Or been lethargic and unable to focus because you’ve eaten a meal that was too big? Food can be tricky. Sometimes we get caught up in using food to reward ourselves or as self-care in a less-than-constructive way, trying to cheer ourselves up with treats that may make us feel good emotionally but that don’t pack as great a reward for our nutritional levels. And sometimes, when you feel like most of your life is out of control, eating food becomes something that you can control. Remember, an extravagant food-based treat once in a while can be indulgent, but indulge too often, and it’s no longer a treat. Energy is required to invest in food planning and preparation, which can be daunting if you are already struggling with anxiety, depression, a crazy schedule, or low energy levels. Your living conditions and income may not allow for proper food storage or preparation, which can also impact your ability to manage nutritional self-care. There’s no magic bullet to fix problems with food. But you should do what you can whenever you can. To make planning easier, take half an hour a week to plan out meals so you’re not caught half an hour before dinner wondering what to make. Order groceries online if you can; if not, make sure you have a master list of everything you’ll need to make that week’s meals. To make prepping easier, make extra and freeze some for days when you come home late and need to eat but have zero energy. Recipes Fair warning: this section of the self-care book isn’t overly concerned with calorie counting. The recipes are not extravagant, but they don’t cut corners either. They are about comfort, about feeling good. Soups Soups are a wonderful self-care food. They’re thick and filling and warm and soft. And they’re also easy to make and easy to freeze. If they’re too thick when you defrost them, add more broth. * * * Roasted-Vegetable Soup This is my favorite kind of fall soup! It’s a great way to celebrate the harvest. Carrots are associated with success (especially physical success); squash, with blessing and awareness of other realms; peppers carry protective energy; tomatoes are associated with health, love, and protection; sweet potatoes are associated with love; and onions and garlic, with protection. This recipe serves 6. What You Need: ♦ 1 large onion, peeled ♦ 8 medium carrots, peeled ♦ 1 small butternut squash, peeled and seeded ♦ 4 medium red bell pepper