Tuesday, April 17, 2018

2 Things I Do To Feel Better in the Morning

 photo ACS_0271_zps8giis9cc.jpg
This season – and by season I mean both this season of life and this endless "season" we're calling 'spring 2018' (really just perpetual winter) – has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster (if you couldn't tell already, ha), the bright side being that the whole thing has sort of forced me to experiment with ways to help myself feel better amidst the chaos. One thing that has become increasingly important for me is taking time for myself between work and the rest of my responsibilities, something I'm willing to bet is important for you, too.

Along with getting up earlier so I can actually have that time, about a month ago I started oil pulling and using a jade roller on my face during those early morning hours and you guys, it's kind of the best.

If you don't know what oil pulling is, where have you been? Just kidding. I didn't know about it either until I worked for Free People (not surprisingly, you can find a ton of archived posts on it here). To put it very, very simply, oil pulling is the practice of swishing 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of coconut or sesame oil around in your mouth first thing in the morning for about 20 minutes or as long as you can stand it (it's incredibly unpleasant the first few times you do it, and you really just get used to it). Oil pulling has its roots in Ayurveda, and purports to have a variety of benefits, from removing toxins from your body and supporting the immune system, to whitening teeth. Several studies have been done (you can read more here) that show it's effective in these areas – and possibly more. As an avid coffee drinker and after being the sickest I've ever been this past winter, I was pretty much willing to try anything to help remove the stains on my teeth and maybe boost immunity in the process. I didn't notice a huge difference at first, but then I ran out of oil and didn't do it for a couple weeks – it was then I noticed how quickly my coffee teeth came back (for the record, I brush and floss religiously, I just really like dark-pigmented drinks and refuse to use a straw). So I picked up another jar of coconut oil at Trader Joe's and got back to it, and it's now part of my weekly routine (weekends are a little more shoot-from-the-hip).

It was around this time that I also caved and bought a jade roller in a moment of weakness. It was just too pretty and I was in LA at a crystal shop, so my willpower was already on the flimsy side. But again, I was pleasantly surprised with the process and results.

I've been on a mission to improve my skin this year, and I'd heard of jade rollers, which are popular in Chinese medicine for massaging the face and moving lymph around (similar to what dry brushing does, just more gently and on the face). They're also said to help with the absorption of product. Now that I was oil pulling, I had a few minutes while I swished to do something else – why not this? I keep my roller in the fridge for the ultimate cooling effect, and after washing my face and applying serum and oil, I roll in upward motions all over my face, using the small roller for around my eyes. Have I noticed a difference? Yes. It absolutely helps to de-puff first thing in the morning, but more importantly, it's a few minutes of focused calm before my day begins.

I usually roll for about five minutes, and then spend the rest of my oil pulling time feeding the cat and tidying up the house. It's become a daily ritual that I look forward to, but if I miss a day? No biggie, I just pick back up the next.

A few tips for oil pulling:
  • You don't need fancy oil, but I do recommend organic cold-pressed coconut or sesame, even though you're note swallowing it, it's still going in your body. I use Trader Joe's which is about $5 and lasts over a month.
  • It's a really weird sensation. Don't be a hero, just start with a few minutes at a time. And work your way up to 15 or 20 minutes.
  • The 'pulling' part is because the oil is meant to be "pulled" between the teeth, really work it around in there.
  • Don't spit the oil in the sink!  Coconut oil can harden and clog drains, creating a serious problem. Spit it in the trash. Yes, it's weird.
  • Rinse with warm water or warm water with a bit of salt afterwards, then brush or go to the next step in your routine. I wait to brush my teeth until I've had my lemon water right before I leave the house. You do you.

A few tips for jade rolling:

  • There's really no need to spend more than $20 bucks on a roller (I probably spent too much in my LA-induced shopping haze). Just make sure it's real jade or stone - no plastic parts.
  • Keep your jade roller in the fridge or freezer for extra cooling and de-puffing powers.
  • Roll in the morning on clean skin after you've washed and dried your face and applied serum and moisturizer. Follow up with a moisturizing spray or rosewater.
  • Always roll in an upward motion to avoid dragging down your skin. Be extra careful around your eyes, but don't neglect them – this is where I've seen the most improvement/benefits. Don't forget your temples, neck and around your jawline, too
  • Roll for however long you want. I usually do it for 3-5 minutes.

Big side note, because getting up earlier sounds great but takes some strategy... how to wake up earlier: As someone who was diagnosed with ADHD at 16 and has what I've come to call "high-functioning depression", I've realized that getting eight hours of sleep is essential to my ability to focus as well as my wellbeing. So in order to get up at 6 am as I've been doing, I hit the pillow at 10 pm. I say this because many people like the idea of getting up bright and early, but don't necessarily do the work on the other end to ensure they get enough rest. My best tip for this is counting backwards however many hours of sleep you need from when you want to get up. How do you figure our how much sleep you need personally? Take a few days and go to bed on the earlier side, then don't set your alarm. Note the time you wake up and how many hours you slept - average it, and there you go.

Have a question or want to join the conversation? Let's connect on Instagram!