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Healing habits as a form of self-care

As the New Year rolls around, your thoughts could switch to the ‘bad’ habits that you want to kick. But, why not turn this notion on its head, and think about the ‘healing’ habits that you want to cultivate? The term ‘healing’ has become a bit of a fluffy buzzword in the wellness industry, but at Suryalila, we understand the term ‘healing’ as returning to a sense of wholeness and interconnectedness. And actually…there’s nothing fluffy about this! Us humans are evolutionarily hardwired for connection. When that connection (to ourselves, to others, to nature) is thwarted, we suffer. It's that simple. It naturally follows, then, that healing habits are habits that help us feel whole and connected. They are actions of self-care. Now is the perfect time to assess and align your habits with your intentions. After all, people do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures. Especially when we have unmet needs, our ‘coping’ habits (such as smoking, drinking or comfort eating) can really prove counteractive. Offering inspiration, Thalien Colenbrander, host of The Healing Habits Retreat, shares three actions of self-care you can start today to help flow into a gentle, nourishing way…


We hear about the importance of cultivating gratitude all the time. It anchors us in a sense of contentment or even abundance, it directs our attention to positivity and fosters a sunny way of looking at life. The cherry on top of all this, however, is not just feeling the gratitude, but expressing it too. As motivational writer William Arthur Ward wrote: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”. Joy, when shared, multiplies. The same goes with gratitude. For example, try expressing gratitude to an in-law for being such a great partner to your sibling. Just send that person a card or WhatsApp message with a message of thanks. If you think it’d be awkward, imagine turning the tables. How would you feel if someone seemingly out of the blue offered you a heartfelt word of thanks for simply you being you and doing what you do? Seen, humbled, touched, connected, grateful?


If we didn’t know it already, we learnt it during the pandemic. The importance of touch. How natural it comes to humans to offer each other comfort and compassion through touching, caressing, hugging. How healing it feels to be on the giving or receiving end of a heartfelt embrace. And how sorely we miss it when the option is unavailable! Even when there’s no beloved person or pet around to quite literally ‘hold on to’, there’s something similar you can do to soothe and release tension. It’s employing gestures and words of self-compassion towards oneself. For example by:

  • Folding both hands over your heart space

  • Placing one hand on the heart, the other on the belly

  • Cupping your cheeks with both hands

You can boost the effect of these gestures by offering yourself some comforting words, the way you would for a loved one. For example: “It's perfectly normal to feel like this right now", “It’s going to be okay. Let’s take this one day at a time”, or a similar phrase that resonates with you.


Our attention is our #1 most valuable asset. Marketeers know this, so they will do whatever they can to get your attention. So make sure you channel your attention to the right things, especially in the morning when our creative energy is the highest. Postpone opening your (private) email or getting on social media - and use the morning to tend to what is important to you, rather than reacting to external stimuli and distractions in the form of newsfeeds and notifications. Use your morning for your personal projects and/or employ a morning ritual to help you stay focused and anchored in yourself throughout the day. For example meditating, journaling, yoga, intention setting, a cold water plunge, breath and/or energy work. Gift yourself a winter getaway in southern Spain, lavishing in all Suryalila has to offer, whilst assessing & aligning your habits with your intentions for the new year.

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