What is your definition of “beauty?”
Social media and beauty/ fashion marketing would tell us it is perfection in how we look.
When you FEEL fantastic, have a sparkle in your eye and are confident in your own skin, it radiates from you like a magnetic glow.
Have you ever bought an outfit that you felt amazing in the first time you wore it, had people comment how great you looked, then didn’t feel the same in it next time you wore it?
How you look hasn’t changed in such a short time, it’s how you feel.
I want you to close your eyes now, and remember a time when you really felt beautiful..
Where were you?
How would you describe how you felt?
What was the expression on your face?
How did your body move?
Close your eyes and take yourself back there for a moment…
The first memories that come into my mind are actually really similar experiences, they all relate to being around water.
Each time I was swimming in the sea. I had no makeup on, my hair was wet, and I was a few days into holidays.
As I dove beneath the water I felt so free.
The water around me sparkled in the sunlight and I had the biggest smile on my face.
The other times I think about are also similar. I remember (of course!) the legendary flower petal bath in Ubud, Bali (that inspired iKOU)
But another time I remember clearly (that was also in Bali) was the early morning of New Years Day after a particularly epic year.
I sat on the edge of a stone bath that was perched above the river rapids in Bali, and covered myself from head to toe in a green clay mask I made (I must have looked like a creature from Avatar, completely green from head to toe!) before soaking in the tub sheltered by a little bamboo hut and surrounded by candles as the rain poured down around me.
It was wonderfully healing, and such an amazing way to start my first morning of the New Year.
I also vividly remember some head-to-toe spa rituals I’ve done at home, where I felt so transformed that I even remember the products I used!
What is the common link here for me?
Is it the same for you?
Notice for me, the times I remember feeling most beautiful weren’t when my makeup was perfect, my outfit co-ordinated and my hair “just right”.
It is when I am feeling free and relaxed and connected with my soft, feminine side that I feel my most radiant. I’m guessing your moments are the same are they?
HOW STRESS AFFECTS WOMEN DIFFERENTLY:
One of the effects of stress is it robs us of our connection with our soft side and makes us sacrifice self-care. Stress makes us connect with our strong side, so we can fight through, and the more we do this, the more disconnected we become to feeling radiant, feminine beauty.
And as women particularly, we give so much to others that we often forget to leave time to care for ourselves.
"AND IF I ASKED YOU TO NAME ALL OF THE THINGS THAT YOU LOVE, HOW LONG WOULD IT TAKE FOR YOU TO NAME YOURSELF?"
"The major sex differences I see have to do with the management of demand and maintenance of energy," says Psychologist Carl Pickhardt. "Because male self-esteem is often built around adequacy of performance, and female self-esteem is often built around adequacy of relationships, over-demand and insufficient self-maintenance tend to cut somewhat different ways for women and for men." "A woman", explains Pickhardt, "is often at risk of letting other people's needs determine her limits, while her own needs are ignored."
It’s not to say however that men cope with stress better than women, we just do it differently.
Women have a special stress response that overrides “Fight or Flight”.. it’s called "Tend and Befriend”. It's prompted by a hormone called “oxytocin” (often called the “Hug Hormone”.)
Women release more oxytocin than men, and the higher the levels we have in our bodies, the less stress affects us.
It is released when engaging in caring activities, connecting with other women (which is why we like to talk through and analyse our problems more than men) and the great news is…
it is also released in rituals of self-care!
It makes us feel love, joy, bonding, connection, all the things that make us feel great.. so seek ways to boost it through connecting with your feminine side!
Knowing this need is in our nature, reminds us of the importance of giving ourselves permission to self-care.
This is where the entire ethos of iKOU comes from…
Our name means “to rest, to relax, to restore.”
Punctuating our life responsibilities with self-care really does make us feel so balanced within ourselves.
I like to encourage people to choose a day of the week for a spa ritual, and also give it a fun name. Having a chosen day becomes a regular appointment with yourself, otherwise weeks can go by before you finally realise you have neglected yourself.
Having a fun name also takes the need for “permission” out of it. “Sunday Spa Day”, Friday Night Spa Night” make it feel like a normal, everyday thing you are doing, which really takes the guilt out of it!
Sometimes however, feeling beautiful is connected with appearance.
The times I'm referring to is when we haven’t given any energy to the pride of our presentation, because simply, we haven’t had the energy or the motivation.
I don’t mean this superficially, but it’s no different to a garden that has been well tended compared to one overrun with weeds and neglect.
Our body is no different. It takes care to look after it.
Our skin can become dull and dry without regular daily care.
Our hair loses its bounce and shine.
Honour the special gift you have to be in the body you are blessed with, and give it the care it deserves by looking after it.
I’ve had days where I felt like a train wreck after working long days and powering through projects, and I’ve looked in the mirror and thought “What happened to you?”
I take a little time for a body face and body exfoliation, pop on a deep conditioner and face mask, and file and polish my nails.
And I feel so different afterwards. This isn’t vanity.. it’s self care. I always say: “When my skin is relaxed, I am relaxed!"
When was the last time you had a holiday?
If it’s been a while since you’ve had a holiday try and schedule a break...I promise you will feel different afterwards!
Our accountant used to tell us the story that he regularly experienced with business owners coming to him saying they were so stressed they wanted to sell their business or give up.
He would always say to them “Take a holiday, and then let’s talk about it.”
They always came back with new inspiration and energy and kept going in their business journey.
This time to be free and let your soft side take priority is wonderfully restorative.
See the beauty around you...
Start seeing the beauty around you and it will reflect back to you... In others, in nature, in life situations..
Notice the people who smile or hum as they walk and be motivated to do the same.
Give compliments to others.
When we start to see the beauty in life, we will see it in ourselves.
Don't resent other's moments of beauty.
We cannot celebrate ourselves until we celebrate others.
Get things in perspective.
Even as your body ages, remind yourself it is a privilege to grow old. (Not everyone gets this opportunity)
Often our disappointments in life are simply because things are not the way we want them to be, but truly there are many paths we can be happy on, and many ways to get there, not just one.
We have so many things to be grateful for, and sometimes the greatest gift you can give ourself is just seeing the beauty around you, and letting your “hug hormones” run free!
To make things easy, I’ve filmed some of my favourite self-care rituals to help you to incorporate some self-love into your week.
I hope they inspire you to feel a spring in your step more regularly...
At the funeral of Audrey Hepburn, one of her favourite quotes was read out by her son:
“Time tested beauty tips:
For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone."
Naomi Whitfeld is the Founder & CEO of iKOU.
Her passion for inspiring others to live a life of Wellness & Joy shines through in everything she does.
As an intuitive Aromatherapist, Naomi incorporates Mind & Body benefits into all she creates, believing we respond best when we treat as a 'whole".
Winner of the Telstra Business Womens Award for "Entrepreneur of the Year", Naomi has a particular interest in supporting busy women to enjoy rituals of self-care on a daily basis.