Restorative Strategies

What are you going to do this weekend? How about implementing a new strategy to de-stress like never before? Almost a year ago I mentioned how to use your breathing to help you unwind. Belly breathing, box breathing, and the 4-7-8 breathing are great options for relaxing on the spot. Exercise is definitely at the top of the list too. As explained in my previous post, you want to “build your day around movement.” You want to make sure you are engaging in regular physical activity throughout the day, each day.

So, here are 5 more restorative strategies (as defined in Ancient Remedies by Dr. Josh Axe) that you may find just right for you to start implementing:

Walking in Nature

If you immerse yourself in nature, be it a nearby park, a forest, or a body of water, it can help lower stress, enhance your mood, boost creativity, and even strengthen your immune system. This is a popular way to de-stress in Japan, where it is known as “forest bathing.” Immersing yourself in nature releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. Positive thinking and gratitude are sure to follow.

Relaxation and Downtime

To avoid burnout, you need to build calming and relaxing breaks into your day. At lunch, go outside and sit peacefully on a bench, just enjoying the present moment. Nothing else to keep your mind busy. And letting your mind wander relieves stress and promotes creative problem-solving. At night, read a book, knit in a quiet place, play an instrument, or listen to music you love, for instance.

Digital Fasting

Technology use has been associated with depression, anxiety, and insomnia. So do your best to implement a digital or social media fast every now and then, be it for an hour, a day, a weekend, or a week. This will allow your brain and body to enjoy a little restorative break and put you in a nice relaxing state.

Grounding and Earthing

Grounding yourself is to connect physically to the earth which emits electric charges that have a beneficial effect on the body. When you walk barefoot outside, lie on the grass or the beach, or swim in a lake or ocean, this promotes a number of benefits: increased red blood cell fluidity, decreased muscle pain after exercise, and lowered stress, depression, and fatigue.

Rain, Ocean, and Other Nature Sounds

Nature sounds have a tendency to give rise to a relaxing, parasympathetic nervous system response, and help with lessening heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels. The sounds of streams, birdsong, and fountains enhance cognitive performance, for example. So pick a playlist, app, or find a YouTube video that offers nature sounds and enjoy these whenever you get a chance.

Which strategy will you try this weekend? 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

You can also find me on Instagram.

Reference
Axe, Josh. Ancient Remedies : Secrets to Healing with Herbs, Essential Oils, CBD, and the Most Powerful Natural Medicine in History. New York, Little, Brown Spark, Feb. 2021, pp. 176-183.

20 Minutes of Me Time Every Day

In my last post, I briefly mentioned the importance of carving out some downtime every day as a helpful stress management tool. As explained, it can be any spontaneous outdoor physical activity such as running around with your kids or dog outside. It can be short work breaks or nice long hikes. But it can also be a formal meditation practice or similar relaxing practices to help you quiet any racing thoughts. Giving yourself 20 minutes (or more) of “me time” every day is not selfish. It is there to allow you to better navigate every day’s ups and downs.

A Meditation Practice

If you want to establish a meditation practice, there are some helpful apps for beginners such as Headspace, Calm, and Brightmind. More options are available online, of course – check out Commune! See what resonates with you best. 

Meditation offers a wide range of short- and long-term benefits:

  • It can slow aging of the brain.
  • It can lower blood pressure.
  • It can give you energy.
  • It can improve concentration.
  • It can help you sleep better.
  • It can lift your mood.

Other Relaxing Practices

If a formal meditation practice is not something you would enjoy dedicating some time to right now, there is a plethora of other options that can help relieve stress, relax the body, and do away with shallow breathing. In The New Rules of Aging Well, Dr. Frank Lipman lists the following activities:

  • Knit in a quiet place.
  • Play an instrument.
  • Listen to music you love, eyes closed.
  • Sketch a tree or a person across the way at the park.
  • Walk slowly (in nature or even in the city), being mindful of what’s around you.
  • Dig in the garden.
  • Color in a coloring book.
  • Wander in the woods and collect a certain type of leaf.
  • Watch fish in an aquarium.
  • Hunt for sea glass on the beach.
  • Observe birds or bees in a garden.

In Summary

As you can see, giving yourself 20 minutes of me time every day can easily be done. And the activity can change from day to day depending on your schedule. Just write that time for yourself in a calendar, if needed. Which meditative activity will you pick today?

Until next time!

Reference

Lipman, Frank. The New Rules of Aging Well: A Simple Program for Immune Resilience, Strength, and Vitality. New York, Artisan, A Division Of Workman Publishing Co., Inc, 2020, pp. 143–45.

You can also find me on Instagram.