It was just over a year ago when life as we knew it changed. As a person who is immunocompromised—due to lupus and the various immunosuppressants used to treat such disorders—I’d already been advised by my medical providers to stay home before the official shelter-in-place orders were issued. My diagnosis was in 2018, and I’d already been loosely practicing my own form of social distancing since then. My social life took a hit, and the frequent hospitalizations brought with them a sense of isolation long before the pandemic.
My beauty routine was also affected by my struggles with my immune system. I'm a former makeup artist and have always loved experimenting with products. Then, I stopped applying it because it irritated my skin or eyes too much. For a long time, I cut fragrances out completely until they could be safely reintroduced with carefully researched ingredients I felt good about. I introduced anything new slowly, one thing at a time, to ensure I wouldn’t have any reaction. Because autoimmune diseases tend to run in clusters, I developed psoriasis, which often affects my hands. When it flared on my hands, I avoided manicures because I felt too self-conscious about the appearance of my skin. Once lockdown hit, I realized it was an opportunity to fall back in love with beauty.
When the world slowed down, I relearned how to take care of myself and rediscovered the sacred joy of self-care. I’d been living on autopilot with virtually everything, from eating to movement to bathing to sleeping. It was the “coronasomnia” I experienced that brought about the shift. I decided to treat myself and my home like sacred containers. Below, find out what I learned.
"Beauty sleep" is a real thing, and sleep absolutely affects the appearance of your skin. A study in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dermatology found those who clocked between seven to nine hours of sleep a night had more moisturized skin, as well as skin that is better able to protect and heal itself from UV light exposure. Other studies show sleep deprivation is associated with more wrinkles and fine lines.
That said, getting good, restorative sleep isn’t just about beauty, it’s also self-care. I first set out to make my bedroom a sacred, comforting and relaxing space by decluttering. No more stacks of books by the nightstand, only a vase of fresh flowers and a Loftie alarm clock. I put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” in the evening and I’m not reliant on it for an alarm, which is a kind of freedom I haven’t known for at least a decade. I added an aromatherapy element with a Pura plug-in. I use the rose pod during the day and lavender for the evening. I swapped out my foam mattress for a non-toxic Brentwood Crystal Cove mattress. Like many others, I became a plant mom many times over in quarantine, so I made sure the bedroom had some greenery in it. Studies show having live plants in your home can decrease stress and enhance your ability to relax.
Following the advice of my meditation teacher Tracee Stanley, the author of Radiant Rest, I decided to focus on incorporating shorter yoga practices throughout my day to allow for different types of movement to best serve my needs (versus doing an hour-long yoga practice just to say I did an hour of yoga). In the morning, I do a kundalini routine to awaken and energize. In the afternoon, depending on how I’m feeling, I may do some gentle stretching, a meditative walk, or turn on some music and dance it out. In the evenings, I do restorative yoga and a yoga nidra right before bed. This is the sacred self-care: to honor your body and give it what it needs at the moment.
I’ve always enjoyed luxuriating in the bathtub, and without somewhere to be, I had time to do so again. I decided to be intentional about it, as all self-care should be. I started incorporating various bath bombs or epsom salts in every bath (usually rose or lavender-scented). Each time, I'd turn light candles and playing crystal singing bowls. Now all baths are an exercise in meditation and visualization.
Skin, Hair, and Body Care
Post-bath, it’s time for skincare. I found a clean skincare routine I love: Badger Balm Damascus Rose Cleansing Milk, exfoliation with Moon Juice Acid Potion, followed by Glow Recipe Plum Pump, Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Oil-Free Moisturizer, and Origins Plantscription Retinol Night Moisturizer. I use tools to apply my skincare—dermarollers, jade rollers, and massage tools work to reduce inflammation and promoting lymphatic drainage. I use a scalp brush to apply any hair oils I’m using. Self-massage is a great way to connect with and appreciate my body, especially after all we’ve been through together. I use the time in front of the mirror to do some mirror work and positive affirmations, à la Lizzo, as I work the products into my skin and hair. As a therapist, I’m well aware of the importance of my internal dialogue, and this is a chance for me to prime it. How you care for yourself, how you touch yourself, and how you speak to yourself is sacred self-care.
For me, sheltering at home continues over a year into the pandemic minus the obvious curbside pickups or doctor and hospital visits. The time at home has led me to a newfound awareness, appreciation, and mindfulness for the way I take care of the body that I’ve been at war with for the last few years. This body is mine and it is sacred. These moments are sacred. And in this sacred self-care, in these sacred moments, I find beauty. And in beauty, I find peace.
Azmia Magane is a writer, therapist, yoga and meditation teacher, and the Executive Editor of MuslimGirl.com. Follow her on Instagram at @alchemywithazmia, and visit her website www.azmiamagane.com, to read more of her work.