Homemade Self-care Products

When we are feeling the most stressed and at our wit’s end, some easy quick self-care can be just the trick to bring us down to earth. And taking care of ourselves doesn’t have to be expensive and even creating self-care products can be soothing if you are a slightly crafty type (and even if you aren’t). These homemade self-care products allow you to make your own calming comfort products for face, body and hair. Also, you can pick some of the smells and other materials to make them the best for you.

A pretty jar can make having the lotion even more fun!

Homemade Lotion
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 oz. Beeswax
5 drops essential oil fragrance of your choice
Supplies: double boiler, bowl, hand mixer, clean jar for storing

In a double boiler, heat up coconut oil and beeswax. When completely melted, add the essential oil. Next, pour into bowl and wait until cooled. Then, using hand mixer, whip the lotion until it is the consistency of…lotion. This is how the coconut oil keeps whipped at room temperature. Homemade lotion doesn’t last as long as manufactured; it will be good for about two months.

Vanilla Olive Oil Body Scrub
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 cups Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon Vanilla extract or your favorite essential oil
Supplies: bowl, spoon, airtight container

Mix together sugars. Then, add olive oil. Last, mix in honey and vanilla or fragrance. Store in airtight container. Some notes: this is NOT a face scrub; body only. If it’s too coarse, you can use regular brown sugar instead of Turbinado. The olive oil will settle so you’ll need to stir it and if you want a more liquid consistency you can add more oil after it’s packaged.

Jelly sized mason jars are perfect for storing!

Homemade Bath Salts
2 cups coarse sea salt
1 cup Epsom salt
1/3 cup baking soda
Essential oil of choice
Food coloring
Supplies: bowl, container with stopper or airtight container

In a bowl, combine the sea salt, Epsom salt and baking soda. Add a few drops of your chosen essential oil and combine. Next, add food coloring to get the color you’d like. Store in container. Sea salt is an exfoliate, Epsom salts soothe and fight inflammation. Baking soda softens water.

These can also make great gifts for other stressed out friends or family members with the holidays coming up. But this is the time for you. Now, I’m off to make some body scrub…enjoy!

Until next time,

Shannon

The Healing Power of a Good Smell

When I was growing up, we would spend a lot of time at my grandmother’s house. The house where I now live. She always woke up way before we did and one of my favorite memories is of waking up to the smell of bacon. She cooked bacon better than anyone ever. And there’s nothing that will get your day going like that smell! That’s when I first learned of the healing power of a good smell.

As I grew up, it was feeling prettier with a certain perfume on. Or how when you clean something and it has that wonderful lemony or Windex smell. When my son was born it’s of course the new baby smell. Or the new car smell (even if it causes cancer!) Fresh cut grass. Autumn leaves. They all have some wonderful memories associated with them and every time they changed my mood for the better. So I’ve found some essential oils you might want to try so that the healing power of a good smell can help your mood as well.

  • Lavender: This is a well-known scent for both alleviating anxiety as well as a sleep aid. It has been used for centuries so there are many products available that contain this pleasant smell. Try an evening bubble bath with lavender bubbles after the kiddos are in bed to help balance your mood.
  • Citrus: As I mentioned, the lemony smell helps us feel good and perks us up. But it can also reduce high amounts of stress and anxiety. A whiff of lemon, lime, orange and bergamot can create a sense of calm.
  • Peppermint: Are you a stress eater? Grab something peppermint! Lighting a peppermint candle, eating a peppermint candy or some peppermint oil will help reduce cravings. It’s also good for stress-induced migraines!
  • Coconut: If the smell of coconut immediately sends you to the beach with palms trees and the sound of waves, then you get the power of coconut! I hate the taste of coconut, but love coconut body butters and lotions! The smell can lower our heart rate and soothes agitated nerves.

These are the most popular and common scents that you can find in a lot of products. But if you’d like to try some that are more unique, check this article out. I keep a candle lit a lot of the time while I write. I don’t always pick the same scents. It depends on my mood. And I pull out different ones for Christmas and other holidays. I have lavender bubble bath and coconut lime body butter. Any and all occasions to use the healing power of a good smell to calm my head and my heart.

Until next time,

Shannon

Back to School Already?

Classes start here where I live on August 6th! And back in North Carolina the year round schools started the new year this week! Seems like we were just talking about how to survive the summer and it’s over. But it’s back to school already. And for many RAD kiddos it’s a cluster of anxiety-producing thoughts. It represents change and the unknown and new stressors which can all be triggers.

What can we as parents do to try and minimize the potential problems and make the new school year start as low stress as possible for both our RAD kiddos AND us? Here are some ideas based on my past experience with getting August back to school. I’ve also done some research to find some best practices out there to draw on which I think might help as well.

Meeting the Teacher – This isn’t the regular “meet the teacher/back to school night” that the whole school goes to. I will be talking about this in depth next week. But we figured out by third grade that for August, the right teacher personality made a HUGE difference in his success. So that by the move from fourth to fifth grade I was sitting down with the principal to discuss who August’s teacher would be and creating an avatar for his transition to middle school of the type of teacher that would be ideal for him. Not every teacher will “get” your child. It’s worth the extra effort to put in some pre-work to make sure the teacher is the right fit.

Start the Conversation Early – If you live here in the Midwest it’s already too late to be early! but if you’re an area that starts school after Labor Day, make that transition as slow and steady as possible. Let them get their heads around the idea that school is coming. They already know it and it may seem like the best move is not to invite the anxiety until it’s necessary. You know your child best; maybe it is. But the sooner they can start taking control of those feelings the better in my opinion.

And you can make it fun! Get out the calendar and start crossing off the dates! Plan special days for back-to-school shopping and make a bucket list of things to do before the big day! It will help with easing the tension and make back to school something to be excited about and not to dread.

Put as many decisions in your child’s hands as you can – Remember that our RAD kiddos are control freaks. And not much in their young lives are going to feel as out-of-control as the first day of school. So let them make decisions. What’s for lunch the first day? What to wear? What notebook colors to buy? What’s for dinner the night before? Bus or carpool? Anything that will make them feel they are in control of their environment will go a long way toward lessening the anxiety. 

Here are some more tips from the American Association of Pediatrics which may freak you out but will help you think through all possible scenarios. Take a deep break; it’s a long list. Remember it’s designed to help!

I know with a lot of us, we don’t know how the day is going to go until the day gets here. One of the fun parts of reactive attachment disorder…the surprises! But hopefully these tips might help keep the surprises to a minimum. 

Here’s to a fabulous start to the school year for you and your RAD kiddos!

Until Next Time,

Shannon

 

Talking About Breathing

Breathing shouldn’t be something that takes up much thought. I mean, it’s as easy as, well, breathing, right? But our hectic lives and stress and tension can affect our breathing. Our breathing can actually contribute to the build up of toxins in our body if done improperly which can make our ability to cope even harder. The thing we most take for granted may be adding to our headaches, panic attacks, stress and fatigue.

The moral of this is we can just breathe. HOW we breathe matters. Being more intentional about our breathing can help us feel better, not just stay alive. Below I’ve included a couple of breathing exercises to try. I first tried this for help with sleeping and was amazed when it WORKED! I was a skeptic but it was one of the only ways I could turn off my brain and get to sleep. The key is first learning correct breathing technique. When we are born, we breathe with our abdomen; our diaphragm. If you’ve ever taken singing lessons, it’s what they tell you helps sustain your breath to hold long notes and produce a good sound. Somewhere along the way, we stop doing that and start to breathe from our chest in shorter, shallower breaths. If you have the ability to watch a baby sleep or breathe, you’ll see that as it breathes, its stomach moves up and down, not its chest. A baby naturally breathes deeply and wholly. It would be nice if life didn’t get in the way and we stopped taking these blissful deep breaths! This first one is the one I used to fall asleep: Mindful Breath Counting
  1. Practice this exercise while sitting upright to enhance mindfulness awareness. Later, if you like, you can use it in bed as a technique to help you fall asleep.
  2. Use slow, deep abdominal breathing.
  3. Count each exhalation to yourself. When you reach the fourth exhalation, start over again at one. Here is how you do it: Inhale…exhale (“one”)…inhale…exhale (”two”)…inhale…exhale (“three”)…inhale…exhale (“four”)…inhale…exhale (“one”)…and so forth.
  4. If your mind wanders to bodily sensations, noises, daydreams, worries and so forth, simply observe those thoughts without judgments or expectation, and then return to counting your breaths.
  5. If you lose track of your count, simply start over again at “one”.
  6. Continue counting your exhalations in sets of four for 10 minutes. Gradually increase to 20 minutes.
I promise if you try it to help getting to sleep you won’t need 20 minutes! Letting Go of Tension Exercise
  1. Inhale diaphragmatically (with your abdomen rather than your chest expanding) as you say to yourself “breathe in”.
  2. Hold your breath a moment before you exhale.
  3. Exhale slowly and deeply as you say to yourself “exhale”.
  4. Inhale slowly, then hold your breath for a moment, noticing any parts of your body that tense up.
  5. As you exhale, feel the tension leaving your body. With each exhalation, feel increasingly relaxed as you release tension.
  6. Pause between each breath, finding your natural rhythm.
  7. When thoughts, feelings and sensations catch your attention, simply observe them, then re-focus on your breathing.
  8. Once you’re comfortable with this exercise, practice it throughout the day in non-stressful situations for five to 20 minutes at a time. Then try using it in stressful situations to reduce your tension.
  9. As you practice, focus on exhaling completely: you must exhale fully before you can breathe in deeply.
Please share your experiences with trying these ideas and their success for you. We can all use a little less tension and some more fresh breaths! Till next time, Shannon  ]]>