5 Self-Care Lessons From Our Transformation Expert Dream Team

Well+Good co-founder Melisse Gelula, left, with an all-star self-care crew: From left, Latham Thomas, Candice Kumai, and Alyson Charles. Photos: Tim Gibson for Well+Good

Sure, it's easy to think of self-care as pretty floral baths and face masks you post on social media, but it's more than that—and in these wild times, it's downright essential.

"New York will not give you a permission slip to pause. Take a pause," said Well+Good co-founder and chief content officer Melisse Gelula, who on Wednesday night moderated an all-star panel of wellness stars who understand the value of a time-out: TV host and "RockStar Shaman" Alyson Charles, who divines Well+Good's monthly energy forecast, and Well+Good Council members Latham Thomas (founder of Mama Glow, birth doula, and all-around wellness goddess), and superstar healthy chef and TV host Candice Kumai.

The all-stars joined forces at Deepak HomeBase, ABC Carpet & Home in New York City to dive into why self-care is so important—and may even be a key part of making change on a national and global level.

Here are 6 lessons on how to survive—and thrive—in crazy times.

well+good talks self-care latham thomas

1. When the going gets tough, double down on your daily practices

"I believe self-care is a path to empowerment," Thomas says. "It's not just baths or frilly things...It's saying no, it's assessing healthy boundaries, it's paying attention to what you really need."

And in a time when there's a lot of life-or-death things to worry about—war, injustice, economic anxiety—it's easy to just focus on doing things. But restoring yourself is a more powerful way of moving in the world, Thomas argues.

"There's a lot of talk about darkness right now," she says. "I want to reframe darkness. All things grow in the dark. Babies grow in the dark. Plants grow in the dark, dank soil...[Darkness] is a portal for renewal."

And in facing some of the darkness we see in our lives, Thomas says  that we have a responsibility to tell the truth about what's happening in our lives and in our world.

"We use spiritual tools for times like these," Thomas says. "If you sit by, you are part of the problem...The point of self-care is to strengthen yourself to help those who need it."

Well+Good Talks self-care Alyson Charles

2. Look within yourself first

If you're trying to change the world, step one is making sure you're in your best possible place first.

"It's so vital and important to go to these marches and to unite as a community, but when people come to me and say they want to do more for the world, my answer is always, you must go within first," Charles says. "How can you expect to be in your full power and full service to help this global planetary shift [to face] its shadow if you haven't faced your shadow yourself? When you go within, that inward knowledge and wisdom that lives within you expresses to you how you can be a greater service to the planet."

well+good talks self-care

3. Recharge yourself just as often as you recharge your phone

Everyone takes such great care of their phones, but when's the last time you checked in on your own well-being? Don't wait until you're feeling broken down to focus on self-care.

"Every time I walk into an establishment, I'm like 'Okay, where are the outlets?' But we don't look for outlets for ourselves," Thomas says. "When do you think about when you're going to recharge yourself? When you're broke down. But not like, 'Let me just soak because I serve. Let me just rest because I do so much in my day'—not because I didn't do enough today. We're doing way too much."

well+good talks self-care candice kumai

4. Don't be afraid to say no and slow down

Saying yes to everything is all fun and games until you're so exhausted you can't even move. In 2018, make it a goal to say no—and rid your life of anything (or anyone) that's not making you happy.

"If someone is sucking you dry, you can more than likely drop it like it's hot," Kumai says. "You don't need to be friends with everyone. And take it from the girl who wanted to be friends with everyone for as long as I can remember. No more. There's a lot of editing now."

The same goes with hustling: Sure, you want to be a #girlboss—but you also have to make sure you don't make yourself go crazy in the process.

"For many people, we feel like we have to hustle. You don't don't have to do these things. The place that you're headed doesn't require you to rush to get there," Thomas says. "I don't believe in hustle—I believe in working intentionally, not spreading myself thin. You don't achieve that way, and we have to reframe what we think achievement is because we can't take care of ourselves in a way we can actually be useful to the world in the most powerful way that we were sent here to do."

well+good talks self-care
Pre-event intention-setting (and Boomerang-ing!) at ABC Carpet & Home.

5. Self-care isn't selfish or indulgent

"Give yourself that time and don't beat yourself up over needing a break. Your brain really does need a break—it processes so much imagery and messaging all day," Thomas says. "There's too much going on already, so giving yourself time to decompress is really important. If we start to think about everything being quantitative, you're going to have a losing battle."

If you have a go-go-go attitude, slowing down even for a second is going to feel wrong. But when you stick with it, you'll be so much better off in the end. And if you need to, find people who will help you stick with your self-care journey.

"I think the key piece is having sacred community around you to help you stay in that flow of going inward," Charles says. "It can be a bit trippy to the brain—am I doing things or being productive enough by going within? But I have those people in my life when I'm having those doubts. You might come up against major resistance, but keep going within."

Special thanks to our partners, Shiva Rose Beauty (Local Rose), Herbivore Botanicals, Happiness Planner, Bombas, Honest Hazel, Emanuels Elixirs, and CorePower Yoga, who provided amazing goodies for the gift bags.

These are Elle Macpherson's 5 self-care basics for super-charged energy. Or, check out the self-care routine that helped Rachel Lindsay get through her season of The Bachelorette.

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