Quick Self-Care for Busy People
If only there was enough time to fit into my day all of the yummy ayurvedic self-care rituals of which I am a huge advocate. The ancient ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita recommend daily self-care practices for every aspect of one’s being: a gorgeous warm-oil self-massage, an herbal eye wash, oil drops for the nose and ears, tongue scraping and oil pulling…plus meditation, yoga, pranayama, wholesome eating, wholesome cooking, a good night’s sleep…but all this takes way more time than I have. Self-care is a job in itself! So, I’ve created my own little cheater’s version: self-care for busy people. Of all the many practices that so benefit the body and mind, these four take very little time but can still make a huge difference in the way we feel.
Scrape that scuzz
Have you ever looked at your tongue first thing in the morning? Expect a bit of white scuzz that we consider in ayurveda to be aama, or a toxin that’s got to go. While a little bit of film is normal and considered a byproduct of digestion, it’s meant to be a scraped away. For this, we use a metal tongue scraper. I prefer copper for its antimicrobial properties.
Tongue scraping is easy. After tending to those natural urges, put the V-part toward the back of the tongue and scrape from back to front 5-10 times. Rinse the tongue scraper, then rinse the mouth. This takes about 5 seconds total.
Ayurveda explains that this practice not only cleanses away that scuzzy aama, but stimulates the salivary glands and digestive process. I consider this one of the more important self-care practices for busy people because it encourages us to look at our tongue, an important indicator of what’s happening inside the body. If the tongue is heavily coated and the scuzz comes back shortly after being scraped away, it’s time to consider a mini fast (such as 7pm to 7am) or some digestive tea (like CCFtea or ginger tea).
First things first: a cup of hot water
This is super simple and super important. The practice of drinking a cup of warm or hot water on an empty stomach in the morning after tending to natural urges takes all of two minutes to execute.
The first thing we put into our stomach each morning will affect our entire day of digestion. If it’s coffee, count on an overall acidic effect, loose stools, and weak digestion. If it’s a cold smoothie or anything iced, consider the digestive “fire” doused. If it’s hot water, we not only cleanse the digestive tract but jumpstart the digestive process. Even if we can’t break our coffee-first-thing-in-the-morning habit, we can at least have a cup of warm water first.
While this practice is a hot fad circulating the internet in the form of hot water with lemon, I recommend plain water. Lemon’s not appropriate for everyone, but water is suitable for all.
Given that lunch should be part of our everyday routine, this self-care practice doesn’t actually take any extra time at all; it’s simply a matter of making lunch a priority and a timely habit.
When we’re short on time, lunch is often the “activity” that we feel we can skip. But skipping lunch is a disastrous decision. In ayurveda we consider lunch the most important meal of the day. It’s meant to happen sometime around 12-1pm, when the sun is at its strongest. As we are a microcosm reflecting the macrocosm, our digestive fire is strongest at this time, too.