How is your self-care routine for 2015?

It’s 2015 and New Year’s resolutions, words, goals, and themes have been flying around Facebook, Pinterest and blog posts.

How is Your Self-Care Routine for 2015?

I have found it interesting that this year, I am seeing and reading a recurring theme of self-care in one form or another. Nina mentions it in her word for the Year of Sustainability and Rest is one of my focus words for 2015.

The question I run into next is, now that we have these goals, how do we pursue them and make them happen?

Start small, create a routine.

A great first step is to create a routine as a foundation. Routines can become habits, and when done consistently, these habits can help you reach and exceed your goals. Keep in mind that small steps taken every day, add up and make a huge difference in the long run. You might not see it in just a few days worth of effort but, look back over 2 or 4 weeks worth of effort and you will see improvement and forward motion.

So let me ask you… do you have a self-care routine?

You Are Important

Can I let you in on a secret? You are important! So when you hear the old saying, “what is important to you, you will make time for” remember that YOU are important. It’s time to make time for you and your personal well being.

As women it is natural and waaaay too easy to put everybody and everything ahead of your own needs. As Moms, daughters, sisters, business owners, teachers, homemakers, chefs, and shuttle service, we want to be there for our friends and provide for our families.

But when taken to the extreme, it can become a health and wellness issue. Soon we start to experience burnout and neglect ourselves.

If you are constantly feeling run down and bedraggled you are not only doing yourself a disservice but your ability to help others will also be affected.

A Self-Care Routine for the New Year

A new routine does not have to be anything lofty, hard to do, or expensive to start. My advice? Start small and go for the small wins.

For each person, self-care will look and feel differently. Here are a few examples:

There are so many small things we can do in any given day to take care of ourselves, even if it is just 5 minutes to start with. Then you can gradually start to increase the time to 10-15 and (gasp!) maybe even 20 or 30 minutes! The point is to create a foundational starting point and build upon it.

If you do not have a self-care routine yet I challenge you to make that a focus of your new year. Keep it small, keep it something you will actually do and enjoy. Use that as a foundation to create a routine, that can grow into a habit and help you achieve your goals this year.

What are some self-care routines you can add into your life this year?

7 Essential Oils for Clear Skin

7 Essential Oils for Clear Skin

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had problems with my skin. I expected it to get better as I got older, but I found myself at 29 still battling with acne, wondering if it would ever clear up.

7 Essential Oils for Clear Skin. Plus, learn how to get a free bottle of Immortelle ($93 value) and a free diffuser from Shalom Mama.
The answer, fortunately, was yes. But it required some small changes on my part, done consistently (if you know me, you’ll know that consistency isn’t exactly my strength).

But I did it. I knew from research I’ve done over the years that there’s a correlation between gut health and skin. Also, hormones play a huge part.

So I set out to address all of those areas by sticking to a real food diet, adding certain supplements for digestive and hormonal support (you can see those here) and using essential oils daily on my skin.

The result? Clear skin, most of the time. (I still have a small break out a certain time each month, which I attribute to hormones that are still balancing and when that happens, I just use certain essential oils more frequently.)

For the first time in forever, I don’t have a problem with acne. (Did you start singing a Frozen song after reading that? Because I did.) I am so, so thankful to see that my body seems to be healing and balancing and that it just took some small, intentional changes. It can be done!

So if you’re skin is in need of a little extra help, read on for the essential oils I like to use for my skin. I don’t use them all every day, and you can see that even just using one or two can help.

To use

Before I give you a list and tell you good luck, I thought you might also want to know how to, you know, use them. Much of the info comes from my own experience and the Modern Essentials 5th edition book.

There are a few recommendations for using essential oils for facial care. Here are my favorite ways:

Essential oils for clear skin

1. Lavender

Lavender is super soothing – and not just before bedtime. On the skin, lavender is used to reduce inflammation and soothes irritation caused by dry skin.

We also use it for any burns or other boo boos as it helps relieve pain and is antibacterial.

2. Melaleuca (tea tree)

Melaleuca is well-known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. It’s also very soothing for irritated skin and does such a great job at helping acne clear up. I’ll often dab this right on blemishes a few times a day and they’re gone in no time.

3. Frankincense

Frankincense is pain-reliving, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and healing. I love using it to help clear up those acne marks as it’s great for reducing scars.

4. Geranium

Geranium is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Its particularly useful for acne-prone skin.

5. Helichrysum

Helichrysum is an antioxidant and is used for tissue regeneration. It’s also well-known for its pain relieving and healing properties, which I can attest to (there was this one time I fell down the bus steps – yes, I’m accident prone – and got a nasty awesome bruise and lots of pain).

Modern Essentials mentions that people use helichrysum to help with eczema and psoriasis.

6. Myrrh

Myrrh is skin-soothing and especially great for cracked or chapped skin. It’s also used to reduce inflammation. Myrrh is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.

7. Sandalwood

Sandalwood is often used to help with skin regeneration and to stop skin infections. It’s also a great oil for acne-prone skin.

Bonus: Immortelle (and free diffusers!)

Because I am a wee bit lazy like to keep things super simple, I like to use a pre-made essential oil blend to keep my skin clear. The blend? Immortelle.

7 Essential Oils for Clear Skin. Learn how to get a free bottle of Immortelle ($93 value) + a free diffuser from Shalom Mama.
It’s a doTERRA blend (my favorite EO company) and contains the following essential oils:

  • Frankincense
  • Hawaiian Sandalwood
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Helichrysum
  • Rose

I got it for free last year as part of a doTERRA promotion. It arrived carefully packaged in this cute little box and, to be honest, I just left it in there. I thought it was just for old ladies with wrinkles.

And then I visited my friend, who uses this oil religiously (funny side note – it’s considered a very spiritual oil blend, as you may have noticed) and decided to give it a shot.

Oh my goodness. My face, you guys. It’s so soft! And clear.

And when I do break out, this delightful blend takes zits out fast. I love it.

Do you use essential oils for clearer skin? Which ones?

Just Add Water (or How I Wash My Hair)

Just Add Water (or How I Wash My Hair)

My husband is a paramedic. And thanks to the TV show, Grimm, he can now say he also plays one on TV.

How I wash my hair (with one simple ingredient)
Last year, my friend told us out about a company that hires extras for shows and movies in our area, so my husband applied. And now he sometimes gets hired to be splattered with fake blood, shake IV bags and generally look sexy on TV.

Mmmm, he’s so gorgeous …

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, my hair.

So the last time he had a gig, we stayed with my in-laws, as we often do, because they’re so close to Portland. When I went to take a shower, I realized that I’d forgotten my homemade shampoo, so I decided to just suck it up and use theirs.

When I washed it out and my hair felt really strange and super tangled, I also used a bit of conditioner to help it out.

And then my hair got really weird.

So weird, in fact, that even my husband noticed a few days later that it just didn’t look normal, which of course he told me in the most tactful way possible (not really).

I tried to fix it with my homemade shampoo. Nope, didn’t help. So I tried my doTERRA shampoo. Still a weird-looking mess.

I finally threw up my hands and decided I’d just try scrubbing my scalp under the water whenever I took a shower.

Et, voila! It worked.

At first, it was still weird. Not quite greasy and pretty tangly. After about a week, though, something happened. My hair got curly. Like, really curly, which it hadn’t been since I was about five (I used to have ringlets and then they fell out after I got walking pneumonia as a kid).

And it just stayed curly. And super cute. And ridiculously easy to manage.

Everyone noticed, including my friend Tsh. So, naturally, when I was a guest on her podcast we had to talk about my awesome new hair. She’s even trying the whole, “just add water” deal herself.

It’s just so easy. Want to try it, too?

How I Wash My Hair

So in case you’re like me and need really clear, step-by-step directions on doing something new or you find yourself in analysis paralysis, here’s how I wash my hair with just water.

Step 1

Get it wet. Not just a little bit – soak it all the way through. If you have super thick hair like I do, it takes a minute or two.

Step 2

Start scrubbing your scalp. Put your hair under the water and scrub with your fingertips for a few minutes. It feels so nice! And if there’s anywhere that’s prone to getting itchy, pay special attention to those places.

Now shower as usual.

Step 3

Dry it off and style. Use a towel to gently remove excess water and finger style it the way you want it.

All done.

Now, this may take a few weeks for your scalp and hair to get used to it. It took me about two weeks of hard-to-manage hair before it normalized and I was left with hair that I could easily style.

I have super dry hair, so my hair seems to like that I’m not stripping away the extra oils anymore. The result is a return to my naturally curly hair. You may have different results, especially if your hair is oily.

If your hair is oily, perhaps it’s that way because the natural oils keep getting stripped away and it’s overcompensating oil production (just a thought). My husband usually has a pretty oily scalp, but this method has been working great for him.

Please note: this might not work for your scalp or it might just take longer for everything to balance out. How long you choose to stick with it if it seems weird is up to you.

Also, if you happen to, say, go get your hair cut and decide to let them wash and style your hair as usual to see what happens, just know that you’ll get to start over from step one.

Now I know for next time …


7 Simple Ways to Improve Sleep

7 Simple Ways to Improve Sleep

At the end of my ideal day, I take my super-relaxed self back to my bed, pull back the covers, crawl between a set of smooth, clean sheets and lay my head on a lavender-scented pillow.

With a smile on my face, I ease into a great night’s sleep.

7 Simple Ways to Improve Sleep {+ an Organic Sheet Set Giveaway}. Enter at
Does this always happen? Um, no. In fact, that this happens at all amazes me after so many years of battling insomnia. Thankfully, though, it was my sleep challenges that inspired me to find natural, simple ways to improve sleep.

The following ideas have helped immensely, making my insomnia a thing of the past. My husband even claims that I frequently fall asleep before he does now (which I still have a hard time believing – the man can fall asleep in minutes anytime, anywhere, no matter how uncomfortable it is).

I hope these suggestions help you as much as they’ve helped me.

1. Take a quick shower

If I’m sticky, whether I worked in the garden, exercised or just took a walk under the hot summer sun, I can’t sleep. So it’s best to do a quick rinse off before bed. This gets rid of the sticky feeling and, as a bonus, cools down and relaxes the body so it’s easier to get to sleep.

And if you slip between the sheets, snuggle in and realize that you’re sticky, do yourself a favor and go take a quick shower. Just last night I tried to ignore the stickiness and it took forever to fall asleep.

2. Use essential oils

There are so many essential oils you can use to calm down and ease into a restful night’s sleep. You can either dab a drop onto your forehead, chest or the back of your neck or spritz it on your pillow.

  • Lavender is well-known for calming and I highly recommend using it on yourself and your kids before bed.
  • Alternate it with cedarwood, an essential oil with sedative properties that also keeps away bed bugs (be sure to pack that stuff when you travel).
  • If sleep is really hard to come by, mix a drop of wild orange with a drop of vetiver essential oil. This powerful combination might be just what you need.

I highly recommend these essential oils.

3. Create a bedtime routine

Make a bedtime ritual that you enjoy so your body knows it’s time to wind-down and go to sleep. Turn off all screens, including your phone, at least an hour before you go to bed. Apply calming essential oils. Try to go to bed at the same time each night.

4. Have a little snack

Don’t go to bed with a growling stomach (this book explains why). If I’m feeling pretty hungry before bed, I’ll have some apple slices with cheese or peanut butter (I aim for a sweet/salty combo with some fat and protein).

5. Embrace the darkness

If you’re sensitive to light, take measures to keep your room darker. I love curtains that block the light and my sleep mask was one of the best investments I’ve ever made.

6. Make your bed

I’m a little “princess and the pea” when it comes to my bed. If my bedding is even the slightest bit askew, I grumble a bit, get out of bed, rip off the covers and make the bed so everything’s nice and smooth.

I’ve had enough restless nights due to funky covers to know that it’s worth the two minutes it takes to make my bed to get up and do it.

7. Be picky about your sheets

My husband and I are frugal minimalists. But. We’re all about high-quality items. We choose not to spend our money on certain things so we can afford products we’ll love that will last a long time.

Like our sheets. We like soft sheets that don’t get too hot, but that aren’t too slippery either (like these ones). And we’re willing to pay more for a nice set of sheets (and, for a long time, we just had one set that we washed weekly – now we have two).

And be sure to clean them regularly, even if you just shake them out mid-week. Because there’s not much more annoying than climbing into bed after a long day and finding that your kids were playing in your bed and now it’s all crumby. Yuck.

Enter to win an organic sheet set at shalom mama

Organic Sheet Set Giveaway

Speaking of sheets, how would you like to win a luxurious set of organic sheets?

Yeah, thought so.

This week, I’m giving away an Organic Sheet Set – size of your choice – courtesy of the wonderful folks at My Green Mattress (go read their story – I love it – and I also love that they, too, have four kids).

They sent us a set of queen-size organic sheets for us to try before the giveaway and oh, my goodness. I love them! They’re neither too hot, nor too slippery and feel oh, so soft.

I’m so excited for the lucky winner who will get their own set of sheets!

To enter, follow the instructions in the widget below – it’ll tell you what you need to do.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What tips do you have for improving sleep?

* This post has been sponsored by My Green Mattress and I received a free set of sheets to try before the giveaway. All opinions are my own and I’m happy to recommend this great company.

Overcoming Burnout: Warning Signs, Recovery and Prevention

Overcoming Burnout: Warning Signs, Recovery and Prevention

Have you ever found yourself in a position where you burnout and your body shuts down because you aren’t listening to what it is trying to tell you?

Overcoming Burnout Warning Signs, Recovery & Prevention

I have. Not fun. Really.

Maybe it is time to apologize for ignoring our bodies and say, “I will pay better attention from now on”.

When we are busy and overwhelmed it’s easy to ignore the burnout warning signs, to push through and say it’s all in my head. I’ll be fine if I just keep moving.

There are days when we gloss over the burnout symptoms that keep popping up, telling us that our body is not functioning as it should.

In a previous post I wrote about creating a personal maintenance plan, listening to your body must be a part of that plan.

For me, I call it, “when I crash”. There really is no other way to describe it.

My body and mind shut down and say, “If you are going to continue to ignore us, we’re going to do something drastic enough that you can’t ignore us any longer”. When that happens and I look back, I can see all the warning signs that I pushed back and ignored.

Here are some of my warning signs:

  • My craving for sweet & salty skyrockets
  • The ringing in my ears (Tinnitus) gets so loud it becomes distracting
  • Insomnia at night from racing thoughts
  • My running times and endurance level takes a nose dive
  • My ADD-like tendencies kick into high gear
  • In some bad cases, I have bouts of depression

These are just some of the things I have seen in myself. Usually not all at once, but in some combination depending on the severity. If I continue to ignore the signs too long, I get the, “I’m done fighting,” message and….

  • I probably will get sick. A bad cold or just generally yucky head to toes
  • My eyes are glassy and people ask me if I am feeling okay
  • My eyes go “racoony” – red cheeks with white around the eyes (yeah it’s a great look!)
  • Vice grip at the temples – not a headache but a lot of pressure
  • I can’t stay awake during the day and I need a lot more sleep at night
  • Moving to the couch to rest and watch a movie feels like a major undertaking.

It’s hard to fight your way through this when you have kids to take care of, laundry to do, a house to clean, a business to run, friends who need help, and parents needing assistance.

Who has time to stop and pay attention to the warning signs let alone get sick? And have you ever noticed it happens at the most inconvenient times?

So what’s a gal to do?

Well, if you are in “I’m done fighting” mode, there isn’t much you can do. You need to allow yourself time to rest and repair. Now, wait! I can hear you saying it, “I can’t!”

Don’t be mad, but I’m going to push back against your can’t and say yes, you can.

  • It might be in 5-20 minutes chunks throughout the day. Times when you close your eyes and rest or even lay down. I have been known to lay down and set my alarm for 15 minutes. It actually does help and can get me through till the afternoon.
  • Maybe you get to bed 1/2 hour early or stay in bed a bit later than usual the next morning.
  • It might involve bribing, I mean asking someone to come over and help.
  • Look at your exercise routine, is it too ambitious or strenuous? Maybe a different form of exercising or resting would be better right now.
  • What about your diet? Have you cheated in some areas you shouldn’t? Are there ways to clean up your diet to help you through this time?

The most important thing is to give yourself grace, time, and patience. This is huge.

How do you prevent burnout from happening again?

1) Become Aware

Take note of symptoms or indications that occur when you are stressed out and exhausted. Do you get a rash? Does acne become a problem, are your cravings increasing? Each person will have their own list, become aware of yours.

2) Schedule Regular Breaks

  • Take 5 minutes to breathe deep and just be.
  • Do you need to say no more than you say yes over the next few weeks?
  • Do you need to talk to someone because you are holding things inside and it is causing problems?
  • Journal it! Write it out, get out how you are feeling, record your warning signs, what you missed and what you ignored.
  • Get away for the weekend, how about a Mommy Sabbatical?
  • Go sit on the front porch with a book and a tall glass of water or iced tea.

3) Get Support

We all have moments when it is all too much. At times like this it is easy to feel like a failure, that you are letting your family, your clients, and even yourself down. You’re not! In today’s society we are told to go-go-go. While our body and mind is screaming slow down.

I think it’s time to listen.

What can you do today to be more aware of what your body is trying to tell you?

Creating Your Personal Maintenance Plan

Creating Your Personal Maintenance Plan

Think back over the last few weeks. Can you remember the last time you took time to unwind, de-stress, a few minutes to sit back and put your feet up? And I mean really and truly took some time for you?

Creating your personal maintenance plan | Shalom Mama

Not just…

  • A few minutes in the bathroom with the door locked
  • A trip to run errands without anyone with you
  • A minute or two in the quiet of the morning before chaos ensues

I mean intentional, unplugged, deep breathing, soul healing down-time. I’m pushing the point here because if you are like me, it is probably hard to remember the last time this happened.

Re-learning the art of self-care and downtime has been a major focus for me this year, it even inspired me to start a new blog. I still find myself fighting against the idea and against the feeling of guilt when I do take time off.

Have you felt that way? Does the thought of taking time away from home, kids, work or your business make you feel instantly selfish and guilty?

It’s Time For A Shift.

It’s time to shift from thinking this is as a “personal luxury” to a “personal maintenance plan”. When you take care of you, you are in a much better position to take care of others.

Think about your car, do you get mad at your car for needing gas, an oil change and a regular tune-up? Okay you might be mad that it costs money and you don’t have the time right now to get it done, but do you think less of your car for needing it? Or do you just understand that this is what needs to happen in order to keep your car running in the best possible shape?

The same goes for you too. In order to keep you running in the best possible shape mentally, physically, and spiritually you need a maintenance plan too.

Your Personal Maintenance Plan

Step 1: Make Your List

Take a few minutes to write out 3-5 things that are soul-filling for you. To help get you started, here are a few from my list:

Need more ideas? How about:

  • A long hot bath
  • Go for a run
  • Go to the art museum
  • Read a magazine
  • Spend time browsing on Pinterest with a cup of tea
  • Bake an awesome dessert (just let me know when and where, I’ll come help you eat it!)
  • Need more ideas? Check out these posts on self-care

Your down-time doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. The simplest ideas often turn out to be the best ideas.

Step 2: Set The Dates

Pick your top 3 ideas and make an appointment with yourself every week for the next 3 weeks. Put it on the calendar and highlight it.

When you make an appointment with yourself, make a commitment to keep it. I’m going to say it again, make a commitment to keep it.

Remember you are just as important as that next client meeting, kids sporting event and doctor’s appointment.

It is so easy to say, “I can’t right now, it would cause too many problems for _______________”. You fill in the blank, husband, kids, work, client’s etc.

I’m calling us both out on this one. That is simply not true. A soul-filling activity that helps you re-charge and feel refreshed is a HUGE benefit to both you and the lives you touch on a regular basis.

Step 3: Enjoy Yourself – No Guilt

This one might take you a bit more time to accomplish and possibly a long time. Earlier this year I tried an experiment of taking Monday’s off in my business to spend the morning resting and the afternoon catching up on paperwork, marketing, website updates etc.

The mornings were so hard! It would take hours to fight past that feeling of guilt of not “doing something” then I would get mad at myself for feeling guilty. Sheesh!

I can tell you that this does quiet down with practice and re-framing my thought patterns but it still isn’t easy.

Step 4: Wash, Rinse, Repeat

I can also tell you that as you start to reap the benefits of these appointments, you will want more.

You will see these blocks of time as precious and well worth the effort to get arranged. The long term benefits will show up in increasing your patience level, your creativity, problem solving skills and more.

Now it’s your turn! Share your soul-filling list and post your first appointment in the comments.