Saturday, December 29, 2012

Homemade Coconut Bodywash

This week has been most likely similar to many other families'. Spending time with family, eating, opening presents and relaxing. We have had so much fun in NH and even got an extra day to spend before driving back to MN because of a snow storm! Hooray! 

Highlights of my week have been sharing my interests in healing, essential oils, creating and discovering the difference that natural, basic substances have on our bodies rather than the harsh effects of the more toxic commercial products. My first venture, making liquid body soap. 

My sister has suffered from eczema her whole life, and it has recently gotten worse. After some education of the effects of dairy products on the skin due to allergic reactions, we decided that she could try the body wash I had made and been using at home for several months. I had inspiration from Andy's Bethy's blog:

The ingredients were similar to others I had seen, but this was the easiest to follow. I found that I needed some minor adjustments to get a more moisturizing effect with natural ingredients. 

I was very excited when I found this soap Walmart (not my favorite place, but it's what I had access to): 

The ingredients were coconut soap (contact Kirk's if you want the list of what is in the soap, but as it has been around since 1839, I tend to put more stock into these methods rather than the modern versions), water, vegetable glycerin, and coconut oil. Perfect! Just what I would be adding to the mix. And at a little over a $3 for a pack of three, I'll take it! It also has the benefits of no animal testing or by-products, and is biodegradable with no synthetic detergents. After finding this, I got to work!

Homemade Coconut Bodywash
  • 12 cups water
  • 3 bars Kirk's Original Coco Castile soap
  • 3 Tablespoons Glycerin (in the bandaid aisle)
  • 3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
Use a cheese grater or food processor to grate the soap (this soap melts quickly, so you could just cut it into small pieces).   In a large stockpot, bring water to a boil and melt the soap.   Add the Glycerin and Coconut oils.   You can add about 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oils if you want a scented variety.   Pour into jars or containers and let thicken overnight. Makes 5 pint sized jars (approx. 80 oz). 

I put mine outside in the snowy New England weather, and it took about a couple hours to completely harden. If you find your bodywash is hardened (this is due to the coconut oil), just put the jar into a bath of warm water. After it is somewhat melted, you can break up the bigger pieces with a spoon and it will result in a creamy, moisturizing wash. 

There won't be as many suds as we are used to with commercial products, but many companies put in chemicals to increase the suds content to give us the illusion that we are getting very squeaky clean. This may not have as many suds, but it will still get you clean! With less squeak because the coconut oil moisturizes your skin without the tightness feeling. 

My sister said this felt amazing on her skin. She has been trying to find a bodywash that wouldn't aggravate her eczema for some time. Success! I agreed that this product was moisturizing and felt wonderful on my skin. I will definitely be using this recipe for my next batch. 

My Mindful Journey

Mindfulness does not have one set definition. It involves being "present" in the moment. Paying attention to what you are seeing, feeling, experiencing, thinking as it is happening. As people, we also tend to judge thoughts, experiences, and emotions as good or bad. There is a time and place for this, but when you are practicing mindfulness, you are learning to not be so hard on yourself, to decrease anxiety responses so that you are not always in "flight, fright or freeze" response in every moment of the day. You are learning to live in the present. You are learning how your mind, body and emotions connect and work simultaneously. You learn how to adjust your thoughts, body and emotions to benefit the others.

I cannot tell you how much this has helped me while working in the mental health field. All day long I am bombarded with the behavioral and emotional effects of children's mental health issues. This involves making split-second decisions regarding children's well-being and safety, one after the other, while managing my own emotional responses. And not just for one child, but a group of them. Thankfully I have amazing team members to remind me what I am truly responsible for and to encourage me (not always very gently :) ) to practice mindfulness through stopping, taking stock of the situation, my emotions and my rationale for my decisions. This all has to happen before that split-second decision, so practicing mindfulness (how my body is feeling based on my emotional response from my mental assessment of the situation) is essential to be a good therapist and do my job well. 

My mindfulness journey began with my co-workers, husband and family saying "TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!" I wasn't really sure how. I wasn't really sure what would help me de-stress and recharge for the next round of craziness in the daytreatment setting. Or just to recharge to be able to fully live my life. I started with leaving work earlier, crafting more, spending hours on Pinterest to get ideas for what would help me with this venture, drinking more water, yoga, and just paying more attention, becoming more mindful in my actions and daily life. 

That was the beginning. I now find myself learning more and more (and wanting to!) and more about what is interesting and helpful to me and those around me. This has evolved into a great interest in holistic and alternative health practices (or as my sister so diplomatically puts it, "that weirdo hippie stuff" :) ), exercise and relaxation, organic food and practices, dairy and gluten free, decreasing the amount of toxins and bad stuff into our bodies and environment, social justice, creating through crafting and experimenting. 

I am using this blog to keep track and share my ideas and creations, as I find myself passionately sharing these things with those around me and wishing I had a way to share all that I have learned.