5 Essential Pampering Rituals Every Woman Must Do

relaxing black woman

A big part of the catalyst that made me pursue my dream of being a writer and business owner was reading Sacred Pampering Principles: An African American Woman's Guide to Self-Care and Inner Renewal by Debrena Jackson Gandy. I've always run to books for solace whenever something has been a little awry in my life, and during the time that I found this book, I was a first year teacher at a Title 1 middle school. At the beginning of that year, I was the proverbial "bright-eyed, bushy-tailed" new college graduate, ready to change the world through each little life in my classroom. However, by the middle of that school year,  the behavior issues with students, bureaucratic bullying by administrators, and a host of other realities about the job that I didn't remember studying about in my pedagogical theory classes drained much of the enthusiasm I started with down to a few quickly evaporating drops. I started to reconsider what I really wanted in life, and I wondered if life as a devoted educator was really for me. This was one of the quotes from the book that motivated me to reevaluate and make a change:

You can't have a joy-filled life unless you have joy -filled minutes, hours, and days. Intentionally creating more joy-filled moments in life is the essential purpose of pampering. When you are "in-joying", you are, in that moment, be-ing instead of do-ing. And you are in a state of bliss instead of dissatisfaction of depression. Most of us are doing life--we're doing what pays the bills. Doing what we have to do, are expected to do, or are told to do. And we're not experiencing enough joy.

-From Sacred Pampering Principles: An African American Woman's Guide to Self-Care and Inner Renewal by Debrena Jackson Gandy

I have to admit that I have recently reverted back to "do-ing" rather than "be-ing". When I find myself sliding back, I know I need to fine tune some things when it comes to my pamper and restorative time, but sometimes it's hard to figure out what I have to do to get back to where I was. It can be hard to know where to start when you've been focused on everything else but you for a long period of time. You may have many areas in your life that need renewal, but try to work on only a few at a time. Below are the five that I'm currently focusing on. I think these hit all of the general areas where most women could use a little pampering.

1. I'm adding a meditative, flexibility improving practice like yoga to my workout.

I've had some problems with anxiety lately, and meditation has been used for centuries to help with lowering stress levels and easing many medical ailments, even allergies. Since black women suffer from heart disease related complications at rates that are twice as high as white women, it is imperative that we take extra steps to insure that each of us finds a stress reduction activity that works for us. Unchecked stress, like obesity and high cholesterol, is a big risk factor for cardiac disease. Adding yoga, which is meditative in nature, to my workout gives me the added advantage of getting a little toning and flexibility work in while I relax my worries away.

2. I'll continue to read my way to my destiny.

The instinct to "look it up" that I've had since a child has never let me down. I tend to prefer larger handbags to tiny clutches so that I'll have room for my read of the month. Usually, I read both a fiction book and a non fiction book that address an issue I'm dealing with at the same time. Right now, I'm deep into anything that has to do with entrepreneurship, branding, and media. Use your reading time to escape, but also use it to grow and turn dreams into check marks on your list of goals.

3. I'm going to discover more about my personal style/brand and conduct "brand maintenance" regularly.

I've written before about the importance of taking the time to cultivate a sense of personal style instead of being a label whore, but I have to say that I've come to realize that personal style is just like any other brand in that it needs regular maintenance. I'm not necessarily talking about the physical stuff like getting your hair and nails done on schedule. Maintaining personal style means doing an inventory of who you are on a regular basis so that the outer you always reflects the inner you. A great way to get started with this inventory is to create your own personal style look book that you will update at a frequency that's comfortable for you. Then, take your look book with you to the mall and buy at least one thing ( it can be as small as socks!) that falls in step with what you outlined in your look book.

4. Do a 31 Day Reset every year

Rosetta Thurman (one of my favorite bloggers!) of HappyBlackWoman.com sponsors a 31 Day Reset starting the first of every month that's packed with great self discovery and life planning exercises. She sponsors one every month, but since we've just started May, it's not too late to slide in and start yours today. This reset is another thing I like to do when I feel out of focus and a little off of my path of purpose. One of my favorite exercises is the Life Map, which I used to create two visions boards.

5. Pray

Connecting and communicating with God is probably the highest form of self-care you can do, yet many of us, once again including myself, don't do it enough. Like meditation, prayer helps us to savor the quiet around us and sift out the noise so that the voice of God is clear. There's nothing like connecting with the One who made you to put things back in perspective.

What five things will you focus on in your pampering or self-care rituals?