2020 was a hard year for us all. But it was also deeply transformational, both on a personal and a collective level. I often find this – the most difficult years are also some of the best because of the opportunities they offer for self-growth and healing.
As the UK has come in and out of lockdowns, I have never been more grateful for my daily wellness practices, which have kept me feeling strong during challenging times. So, today I want to share three parts of my daily routine that are essential to maintaining my physical and mental health.
Before we get stuck into those, I’d like to give you a little more background into my own journey to holistic health. Perhaps you might recognise something of yourself in my story.
About 18 years ago, my health began to deteriorate. I had always been active, but I didn’t look after my health in other ways. And I was a perfectionist, carrying a lot of stress and internalising the need to meet the expectations of others. I contracted glandular fever, which left me with long-term after-effects. I was in constant pain, with swollen glands. I found myself bedridden at times because walking even a few steps became impossible. I was diagnosed with M.E., a debilitating chronic illness. The doctors couldn’t give me any reassurance – I might recover, or I might live with this disease in some form for years to come. But I was determined to overcome my illness.
A friend suggested I try yoga. At that point, I was bedridden, so I could only concentrate on breathing and gentle stretches. But from that first deep breath, I became convinced that I could get better.I started to learn all I could about alternative systems of healing and drew on many disciplines as well as the expertise of many practitioners. I overhauled my diet to include more nourishing whole foods and cut out alcohol and caffeine.
Mindset was an essential part of the process. I started to work with a life coach and incorporated affirmations, visualisations, and meditation into my daily routine. I also began to pay attention to my self-talk, the language I was using to talk to myself and the thoughts I had about myself.
It was a gradual process, but within 18 months, I was healed. And I was also much happier than I had been before. Ultimately, that illness put me on the path to developing the Danielle Collins Face Yoga Method. To learn more about how this part of my story (and business) developed you can listen to Episode 1 of The Face Yoga Expert Podcast.
So, you can see why self-care practices are such a non-negotiable part of my life. Taking care of yourself both physically and mentally is essential to your wellbeing.
Now that you have some background, let’s dive into my three non-negotiable wellness rituals.
1) Avoiding Toxic Positivity
I’m grateful for my established wellness habits and how they have supported me through this difficult time. But I still have down days, just like everyone else. One practice that has been vital over the past year is learning simply to feel what I am feeling.
I used to try to brush off low moods and replace them with something more positive. But I’ve learned to acknowledge and sit with every feeling, both positive and negative. At the same time, I also give myself permission to move on when it is time.
Finding the balance can be tricky, but it comes with time.
I practise yoga in some form almost every day, which probably comes as no surprise. But over the past year, I have been strongly called to yin yoga. This slower practice targets the deeper connective tissues and can also be immensely grounding and supportive when you’re stressed.
Of course, I’m also grateful for my face yoga practice, which continues to be an integral part of my daily routine.
Like many people, I hold stress and other emotions in my face. Doing face yoga helps to release that tension. It also addresses issues such as headaches, migraines, jaw pain, and blocked sinuses.
The wonderful thing about facial yoga is that you can easily work it into your daily routine. Even taking just a few minutes each day, perhaps while you are in the bath or watching TV, can make a noticeable difference.
3) Being in Nature
I’ve always been a city girl. But spending time in nature has been a vital part of my wellness practice during the past months.
I walk in the fresh air every day, no matter what the weather is like. And I have also been taking advantage of a nearby forest to do some forest bathing. This is an ancient Japanese practice, shinrin yoku, that helps you to relax and destress by spending some time calmly and quietly beneath the trees.
Ambi sets her listeners ‘homework’, and she challenged me to do the same for my episode with her, so I’d like to give the same suggestions to all of you. Here are three things I’d like you to aim to incorporate into your daily routine this month:
If you don’t already keep a gratitude journal, make it a habit to list things you are grateful for when you first wake up. You don’t have to write them down if you don’t want to, but make sure you have at least 5 things on the list. If you already keep a gratitude journal, think about how you can incorporate more gratitude into the rest of your day.
2) Yin Yoga
As I say, I’ve been drawn to this meditative and grounding practice as a way of reducing stress and supporting my wellness. Try it for yourself – you can find classes online or in-person if restrictions allow where you are.
3) Face Yoga
Even just a few minutes of face yoga each day can help you release tension and stress. It’s also a soothing and meditative practice that supports your mental wellness. I have plenty of resources available to help you get started. You can find short videos and tutorials via my Instagram, Youtube, or my app. Or make face yoga a part of your daily routine with my 10-day course. You can also pre order my new book, The Face Yoga Journal which is a wonderful resource to guide you through a year of Face Yoga.