SELF-CARE A to Z: GUA SHA

Jade gua sha tool

Thank you Mount Lai – love my gua sha!

I love beauty products, though I don’t always love the beauty industry. I don’t know which products to trust, but everyone is hawking their magic beans miracle fix. HOWEVER, I’m willing to try most items at least once (for as long as the product lasts).

Writer Ann Brasco demonstrates gua sha

Thanks to Ann Brasco for showing me the best sides of gua sha!

Today, I’ll explain a very beginner’s approach to Gua Sha for the face.  Gua Sha tools fall in the same family as the jade rollers you’ve seen in your friends’ fridge. So at first, I thought this was just a more manageable method of applying the rollers in a slightly different package.  I received my Mount Lai jade gua sha tool as a gift.  I tucked it up into my cabinet for a little while not knowing what to do with it until I saw one of my favorite writers Ann Brasco sharing her gua sha methods on social media.  She did a great job demonstrating, she has flawless skin, and I trust her judgement, so I followed suit.

The idea behind gua sha (and the rollers) is that you’re gently breaking up and redirecting lymphatic fluid build ups from under your skin and moving them along. Don’t ask me what lymphatic fluid is, but I know that lymph nodes are near your face and get sore when you’re sick, so getting rid of lymphatic fluid makes sense to me.

 

Now the gua sha’s flat shape, and the resulting flat edge of the tool, gently scrape and tug your skin and if you push harder, the muscles below.  This extra resistance helps your body break up release stagnant blood and stimulates cell growth to help heal the area – in other words, regenerate new skin with no wrinkles. OK, that was my mantra the first time that decided to try this.  After researching #guasha online, I found several demonstrations and immediately the tool seemed pretty self-explanatory but if you want a video, Mount Lai has one on their website.

This exercise had several immediate benefits.  First of all, it invigorated my face, almost like a facial.  Even while typing this 30 min. later, my face skin memorized how it felt on my skin. The exercise made me feel present because of the attention I gave it, and the resulting mild rush as I worked my way around my forehead, my cheeks, and my jawline. While it could be a regiment that grows faster with time, I don’t recommend that. Linger over it to let all of your senses react. But now, let’s go deeper.

Author demonstrates gua sha

It felt like standing up, stretching my arms except on my face. Relaxing…

The Mount Lai video used part of the gua sha tool to actually massage the area around our ears.  Now, I recently did acupuncture near my ears and they showed me how many pressure points are in and around our ears and using the gua sha tool felt amazing. I’ve been watching @wildling_beauty as well and she happened to tackle my problem area – these frown lines between my brows. She recommended an exercise that actually lifted the inner most corner of our eye brows and it felt like yoga or stretches for my brows. Something I never knew I needed.  Then, I moved the edge of the tool against the direction of my vertical wrinkles to try to help re-train my skin.

The blogger demonstrates gua sha on forehead lines...

BEFORE: See my brow frown lines?

I’m optimistic.  I’m now looking forward to tomorrow and pampering myself as soon as I wake up. I’m going to test it for the rest of the month and will circle back with “after” pictures to see I was able to lessen the dent of my wrinkles.

Thanks Ann Brasco for getting me hooked on gua sha.

What about you?

  • Have you tried Gua Sha before?
  • What is your favorite area to use gua sha on?
  • Did you know that they also use it on a larger scale to help with sore muscles?
  • Do you look at me thinking “Why is this lady rubbing a rock on her face?”
  • Do you believe in jade’s powers?
  • Have you read any earlier A through F self-care tips?

*To join the conversation in person, Follow me on Instagram @WanderWithSarah and join me:

  • Mondays, 8am for Coffee Inspiration – Just a quick jolt of positivity to start your week right!
  • Wednesdays, 5pm for Humpday Celebration – I’ll be reading uplifting passages from books and we’ll chat about them.
  • Fridays, 5pm for Happy Hour – Celebrate our wins – no matter how big – from the week and transition into a relaxing weekend. Sometimes I’ll have a special guest.

This is a part of an #AtoZChallenge so subscribe to find out what’s next. To start back at the beginning, click here.

SELF-CARE A to Z: EBB & FLOW

Woman floating in water

Right now our planet faces a very common enemy, this pandemic. Though everyone will process and travel this journey in very different ways, I feel many people peeling away the levels that created our identities and categorized us before and making connections on a human level – all while being told to physically distance ourselves. But after our emotions initially erupt and make us feel raw, there comes a strange calm amidst the storm. During these moments I ask myself, what am I supposed to learn from this lesson?  

It’s strange that as we start the 4th week parallel to our old lives, I feel like the shock and scare of it all died down a bit, for me, and I feel like I’m in this stage where I understand my job (stay home, keep working, look out for my parents or other compromised people, stay healthy). It feels as though we’re now in the part of this journey that we can plot on charts and navigate our course. It’s still a big deal, but not wrecking me like the first month did. April feels different thus strengthening my resolve to live this month differently. A big thing helping me through this has been online socializing and supporting my friends whether talking about the virus, their jobs, families or creative projects they’re working on. I’ve made an effort to be live online* this month to help make this a conversation and a supportive community.

Oprah on stage

Such an amazing day as Oprah helped walk us through inward exercises!

During my first online Instagram Happy Hour last Friday, one of my fellow #OMagInsiders Suzanne O’Brien, jumped on live from New York. We were reminiscing about having attended Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour right as the COVID stuff surfaced – albeit in different cities – and how fortunate we were that it didn’t get cancelled. The tour centered around finding our purpose, focusing our intentions and committing to ourselves.  Suzanne reminded that the primary message that came from the tour started with taking time to be still, to listen and to grow. That mantra helps so much in regular situations to help figure out your purpose, set your intentions and commit to yourself, but especially now. 

EBB
One of my high school girlfriends shared a comparison of her previous calendar filled to the edges with events, sports, playdates, and school reminders to her current empty calendar. Though shocking on the one hand, because we still anticipate the bumps in the roads we were used to traveling, on the other hand we’ve been given the gift of time that we used to always wish for. The ability to pause while the never-ending pounding waves of life retreat a bit, rather than fighting to keep our heads up in the thrashing waves, means we can do a self-inventory.

Footprints in sand on beach

Many of us banked some time not commuting, not getting ready for work, not driving carpools, not stopping for coffee, wandering the grocery store aisles and buying gas. Sure a lot was dumped into our laps that weren’t there before and there is a learning curve while we learn to put our lives online, but at least we’re all at home.  I double dog dare you to fine 5, 15, or 30 minutes that you didn’t used to have that you do now. If there isn’t, then force yourself to try (and I will too). Start small and grow. Be still and seek balance. 

Clear your mind, see what keeps coming racing back. Be intentional with your thoughts. If you don’t know how to process the thoughts in your head, try free-form journaling – Julia Cameron calls them Morning Pages.  Use a pen – magic happens when pushing a pen over pounding away on your keyboard. See what drops out of your head! Just be present.

Quote from Oprah Winfrey

From #Oprahs2020VisionTour journal

FLOW
Then – you know this, say it with me – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So although right now the shore recessed far enough back giving us this quieter time, this mental space from our usual routine, when it returns to the shore, your progress – the flow – will be just as big. Considering how far inward we’re turning right now, you’re going to come back with lightning bolts, rainbows and confetti guns following you around!

I feel flow in two different ways.  I totally understand Oprah’s definition that flow comes from living a life so balanced that there are no obstacles, no resistance.  Until I reach that state of flow, I feel it the way Bruce Lee explains that we should be formless and shapeless like water – but recognize that water can flow or it can crash.

Woman sitting on ocean rocks

Maybe start there. Find a few moments. Picture in your mind what you would love the ebb of your life to look like, sound like, feel like.  Then, picture the same for when you’re in the flow. What are some things you definitely want to picture in that space. What are things you would exclude?  I feel like this is a good place to start.

We are being touched and changed on such deep human levels or possibly feeling unsettled enough to take a leap of faith. I can’t wait to see what you do next!

 

What about you?

  • How often do you make time for yourself?
  • Do you meditate?
  • Do you journal?
  • How do you define flow?

Let me know in the comments below.

This is a month-long self-care #AtoZChallenge blogging project, so subscribe and please join the conversation!  To start at A, click here.

 

*To join the conversation in person, Follow me on Instagram @WanderWithSarah and join me:

  • Mondays, 8am Coffee Inspiration – Just a quick jolt of positivity to start your week!
  • Wednesdays, 5pm Humpday Celebration – I’ll be reading uplifting passages from books and, if you feel like it, we’ll chat about them.
  • Fridays, 5pm Happy Hour – Celebrate our wins – no matter how big – from the week and transition into a relaxing weekend. I have more special guests lined up!

SELF-CARE A to Z: ART & AFFIRMATIONS

For many of us it’s been about three weeks with our outside-the-home lives uprooted and shoved into a corner or taking over our houses. Did you ever think you could cram your work office, your kids school, their daycare, your animal farm and an aisle of Costco into your place and make it work? Well you did, so give yourself a pat on the back! 

You’re not seeing double, that’s two laptops.

The sudden derailing from my precisely scheduled life, hurtling straight for the shapeshifting unknown, rattled me. I’ll admit that I was in shock for the last three weeks just pressing on and celebrating little wins like “I didn’t leave the house today” or “I finally got an Amazon Fresh delivery time!” Now we’ve turned the corner into the next month and our lockdown, or its rhythm, has finally started to feel familiar. Still, with no end-date in sight, I am staging an intervention on my own behalf to stop worrying about all of the things I cannot control and focus on what I can – caring for myself.

My dream Me Time is spent reading!

I constantly dream about self-care – crave it, strive for it, plan it into a busy weekend, but am not the best about following through. So this month, I’m challenging myself to focus on it for 30 days and will share what I find through an #AtoZChallenge – plus will include a few bonuses at the end of the month. I don’t expect you to try everything every day. That sounds exhausting!  Try one, or a few, let me know if they helped or not. Did you do them alone or with friends? My goal here is to connect people who deserve to take some time for themselves – especially through a stressful time like this – and just check in with each other, start a conversation! Most posts won’t be this long, I just had a lot of ‘splaining to do.

 

My kids got in touch with their creative sides last weekend.

ART
As always, through the fear of the unsettled and unknown, rays of positivity peek through. With everyone essentially being sent to their rooms, they’re being forced to play with their toys, or dive deep into their imagination. I’m seeing more creativity during this confinement whether it’s finding a new way to exercise or teach the kids, or learning creative ways to connect. Seeing blocks of European families sing or exercise together warmed my heart.

We’re also shaking loose our shells that we used to present and protect with. What’s left underneath feels raw but allows the sunshine to reach those hidden ideas. In her book Big Magic*, Liz Gilbert shares the story of a professor who asked his writing student, “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes!” Sometimes expressing ourselves through art feels easier than verbalizing the emotions rocking our body. Then, when you do, the dose of courage will carry over to all parts of your being. 

#TheKindnessRocksProject #RedondoRocks

You don’t need an overflowing art supply closet in your home. Grab a pencil and paper and doodle. Use water and a paintbrush on the sidewalk. I’ve seen adorable colored chalk mosaics! Make card castles with playing cards! Walk around your neighborhood and take photographs to document the quiet streets!  Cook! Paint kindness rocks! So many ideas!

#boldmoves

AFFIRMATIONS
Why do people feel guilty scheduling time for themselves? Often, especially during stressful times, people drop anything that feels like a luxury, instead focusing on the necessities. Besides checking in on your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, don’t forget to check in with yourself. Be your own best cheerleader with affirmations!

Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough

I’ve heard of a lot of different ways that people do affirmations. Some people call it a mantra, or a theme song, or even a soundtrack. Some people cut inspirational quotes out of magazines and put them on a vision board, others write them in a bullet journal or stick them on post it notes on their bathroom mirror.

Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough

Start small. Think of your favorite movie quotes, your favorite song lyrics, your favorite authors or inspirational speakers. You’re bound to find favorite 1-2 line statements that cause you to pause and ponder the meaning. If you still can’t think of any, check out these statements that have helped me.

 

Take time to smell the roses…

I’m determined to use this period to live life differently. I’m going to do morning pages, more often than not. I’m going to listen to podcasts and read books. To force me to commit to myself, I’m going to schedule it in. 

 

  • Mondays I’ll share a little burst of inspiration over coffee.
  • Wednesdays I’ll read inspirational and motivational book excerpts that helped lift me up to celebrate making it halfway through our week.
  • Fridays We’ll gather, rant and rave about the week, about the new self-care things we tried, and kick off the weekend feeling the strength of our own presence.

Details will be on my social media so follow along if you are hope to find a self-care ritual simple enough to fit into your life.
Instagram: @WanderWithSarah Twitter: @WanderWithSarah
Facebook: Makes Me Wander   Pinterest @MakesMeWander^

*The two books I referred to were Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (tonight’s book read on Instagram) and Cheryl Strayed’s Brave Enough.

Note: These afflinks provide you a link to buy but it won’t cost you any extra money – though I may earn a few cents towards my next book.

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