When it comes to self-care, who better to seek advice from than a yogi? Eleonora Gendelman has been practicing and teaching yoga for years and has picked up plenty of tips and tricks along the way. Together, we’re planning the self-care Sunday of your dreams. Read on for activities, tips and tricks to include in your next self-care day!April 28, 2022 5:16 pm December 31, 2021 6:24 pm
Fate comes knocking… on the commute
Five years ago, Eleonora Gendelman was walking to her job in fashion and design when she noticed a yoga studio offering hot yoga classes.
“It sounded hard enough for me to try,” she laughs, “especially for the physical benefits, So, I joined the studio for a month. When the month was over, I found myself asking how I had ever lived without it!”
Thus begins Eleonora’s journey with yoga, which has taken her from keen student to full time yoga teacher in the space of just a few years.
“It was the sense of possibility,” she recalls. “The vision, strength and limitless opportunities to create. Being present, exploring the power of the mind and what is possible. I’m very grateful for this space.
“I have been teaching Yoga full time for almost four years now, exploring, evolving, studying, training, and loving what I do!”
But for Eleonora, yoga isn’t just about exercise. “In my classes I focus on using the practice as a tool to take a deeper dive into self-realisation and introspection, creating tools to live and choose a life that refines our purpose.”
And isn’t that really what self-care is all about?
Acknowledging stress – and that it can sometimes be good
When building a self-care Sunday routine, it’s important to start by considering what’s going on in your life right now. Are you creating a self-care day to compensate for stress that swamps you throughout the rest of the week?
“Stress is not something that exists outside of us,” says Eleonora. “My best advice is not to create stress in the first place. To not give the power away to circumstances and focus on what we can actually control: our thoughts, feelings and actions.
“Our normal state is not to be exhausted all the time and dismiss it as a side effect of living a ‘busy life’.
“This was an uncomfortable realisation for me when I decided to restructure my life and work, feeling like I needed to fill that empty time with some action. But inaction – when it’s deliberate – is as important as action. It enables us to show up bigger and better.”
That said, stress isn’t always a bad thing. After all, physical stress helps us to build muscle; emotional stress helps us to build resilience. So perhaps it’s about recognizing the types of stress which serve us and those which don’t. Eleonora sees this as an opportunity.
“We always want things to change, so we feel better and don’t need to do our own inner work. But whatever is stressing us out is not about that thing or person, but something we haven’t processed yet.
“Obviously, the ideal thing to do is remove that stress from your life. But if that isn’t possible, try to see it as an opportunity to do that inner work.”
Ideas for the perfect self-care Sunday
So, taking into account all she has learnt from her work as a yogi, and from making the decision to give priority to her wellbeing, what tips does Eleonora have for our perfect self-care Sunday?
1. Get some quality sleep
Self-care Sunday begins on Saturday evening, according to Eleonora.
“Getting enough sleep reduces the natural stress that comes from fatigue,” she tells us. “Getting sunlight on your eyes upon waking triggers a neural circuit that controls the timing of the release of hormones called cortisol and melatonin, which affect sleep and recovery.
“I use a ring connected to an app to track my sleep.”
In order to feel at your best during your self-care day, plan to get an early night on Saturday, and perhaps choose to stay in and avoid alcohol or caffeine.
Why not run yourself a warm bath, light a few candles and chill out before bedtime? Our relaxing ashwagandha latte recipe is ideal as a pre-bedtime drink, as it contains ashwagandha. This is a brilliant Ayurvedic sleep aid to help you nod off.
2. Start (and end) the day with meditation and manifestation
“This is great for observing all the thoughts that might create stress,” says Eleonora. “My mornings start with meditation, using my personal manifestation (which I created and recorded for myself), and a big cup of hot water with lemon, ginger, turmeric or apple cider vinegar.”
Meanwhile, evenings are a time to reflect. “Throughout the day I take notes and record my thoughts, realisations and ideas, which I include in my daily diary.
“I also have an excel sheet with all the things I am working on & habits I am building on purpose, which I check in with every day, too. I also like to plan the next day in detail.”
Research has repeatedly shown that meditation promotes good mental health. Scientists have linked it to better subjective wellbeing and reduced psychological symptoms and emotional sensitivity.
In short, setting aside some time for reflection may be one of the best things you can do for your resilience.(1)
3. Spend some time in nature
Once you’re up and about, plan to spend some time outdoors, ideally in the countryside.
“I’m an introvert, and going out on my own and being in nature is the best way for me to recharge and reset. It’s a great way to create time where I can remove all the stresses of normal life.”
Eleonora’s experience isn’t unique. Physicians dating back to Hippocrates have been recommending that their patients get outside to improve their wellbeing. Fascinating research analysis reveals that being in nature has benefits that reach us through all of our five senses and lead to improved mood.(1)
So, taking a morning walk is one of the best activities you can do during your self-care Sunday.
4. Work on physical stress
Do you find yourself still carrying around tension in your shoulders, neck or back from the stresses of a long week?
There are a number of things you can do to reduce the physical signs of stress. Incorporating a few of these into your Sunday routine can help your body to ‘reset’, letting go of any tension you’re holding onto.
One of these is a favorite of Eleonora’s, but perhaps not one for the faint-hearted.
“I’ve been taking cold showers daily for the last eight years! It’s great for supporting the immune system, practicing discipline, and creating ‘good’ stress on purpose while keeping a calm mind. I also find it increases resilience and enhances recovery.”
Not up for taking on daily cold exposure? “I also love to use massage and foam rollers to help with the physical signs of stress,” says Eleonora.
"“I’m an introvert, and going out on my own and being in nature is the best way for me to recharge and reset. It’s a great way to create time where I can remove all the stresses of normal life.”
5. Playtime and creativity
When was the last time you experienced ‘flow’ – that satisfying sensation of being completely absorbed in something you enjoy? Try and bring some of that into your self-care Sunday with a mindful and creative activity.
“Find the things that bring you joy and relaxation. Engage in play with people you love and use it to build connections with others,” Eleonora recommends.
“Play and creativity help alleviate stress and generate joy as we allow ourselves to get lost in an activity and do the things that bring us joy and relaxation. We forget that we own a playground!”
For Eleonora, creativity comes in a few different ways. She has been practising art since the age of 7 and also worked in fashion and design for ten years. However, she believes that you can find creativity in lots of different activities, from crafting to art to movement.
“I play on canvas. Pen and paper can take you anywhere,” she says. “But also in my yoga practice there is a lot of play with transitions and variation. and creativity without attachment to the outcome.
“Everyone has the capacity to be creative. There is no right or wrong way to do it; it’s about playing with different mediums and finding what works best for you.”
That said, simply living life offers us the opportunity to be creative, too.
“We always create our reality with the actions we take and the choices we make, deliberately or life does it for us. Be creative with your life and explore what is possible.”
6. Eat to nourish your body and mind – whatever that means for you
A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains should be the foundation upon which you build the diet that best nourishes your mind and body. Make sure to plan in some time to make your own healthy food on self-care Sunday, and enjoy the process of cooking and eating without distractions.
“We literally become what we eat,” says Eleonora. “In the last two years, my personal focus has been to support my immune system and create the best fuel for my body and brain.
“That means removing all the distractions and emotional eating, allowing feelings to come up and not trying to cover them up with food. I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for 20-21 hours every day since the start of the year. It builds mental toughness and teaches you how to process and sit with urges, which is such a useful skill for life in general.
“My diet consists of whole foods (nothing processed) and no sugar, flour, caffeine or alcohol. I eat lots of greens, rainbow vegetables, grains, eggs, fish, avocados, fermented foods and lots of lemon, ginger and turmeric!”
In the modern day, picking up a pack of plastic-wrapped fruit and veg from the supermarket can seem like a very functional and rather sterile part of life. If that resonates, it might be very helpful to try and nurture a connection with food and its origins, which is another great way to reconnect with nature.
“I love going to the farmer’s market and picking out my food. I grew up in Ukraine, where we ate our own fresh vegetables and fruit, picking plums, apples and apricots while climbing trees as kids.
“It’s about respecting the food that gives you life and thanking the food for the energy and nutrients it provides.”