It’s the time of year of longer nights and shorter days. The time of year when nature turns inward, and we, too, can follow the natural cycle and bring our attention inward and become quieter. A time of renewal as we look forward to the return of the light.
It is also the holiday season, when all of that can go flying out the window, and instead we find ourselves racing around and, in the end, feeling depleted.
Taking time to step away from our to-do lists and step into practices for well-being may seem counterproductive. But, ultimately, it is when we take the time to sustain ourselves that we can participate and engage more fully with what needs to be done.
Here are five simple things that we can do to clear and quiet our minds, replenish ourselves, and nourish the spirit and the soul.
1) Nap or rest.
Seems crazy. To stop and rest when there is so much to do. Yet, if we do take the time to rest when we feel tired, we can actually be more productive when we get back to it. A short nap of 10-30 minutes, waking before we enter the REM state (when we go that far it can leave us feeling groggy) has shown to increase creativity and memory and decrease the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenaline. If napping proves difficult, as it can for some, simply stopping and resting can recharge our batteries, resulting in our feeling more energetic and rejuvenated. I often find it is when I’m on that threshold of sleep that inspiration and intuition arrive. To go a little deeper into this idea, here’s a great article on The Power of Rest.
2) Go for a walk.
I love a walk. Getting outside and falling into the rhythm of our steps can bring so much clarity to our minds. It is on walks, too, that I often find mental blocks clearing and inspiration and creativity coming through. It has been shown that walks can get us out of mental ruts and even boost our mood. If the idea of heading to a park or trail seems like too much, make it easy, walk right out your door. Take a walk through your neighborhood, or if your house sits on the edge of the woods or on a beach, walk through the trees or along the sand. You very well may return reinvigorated and with renewed clarity to the projects at hand.
Our bodies are about two-thirds water and our brain tissue is 70-80% water. That said, it’s good to stay hydrated. I admit, I do not drink a lot of water. And in winter, I feel even less compelled to just drink water regularly. Over this past Thanksgiving holiday, though, which ended up lasting about four days, I found myself going from coffee to booze without much else as far as beverages go. Upon that realization, I decided to do an experiment and drink more water throughout the day. Studies show that drinking “enough” water, which varies from person to person, has a myriad of benefits: it aids in digestion, it flushes out toxins and waste, it keeps skin moisturized and our complexion looking good. It is also said to help concentration and increase your energy level as dehydration can make you feel tired. And, I can testify that I do feel great with my new levels of hydration. And if water itself doesn’t seem that exciting, spice it up! Add an orange, lemon, lime or cucumber slice. And be mindful in this season of parties and revelry to have some water between the booze.
4) Do some yoga.
Getting onto the mat for even 5 or 10 minutes can radically change our physical, mental and emotional states of being. Taking the time to move into our bodies and connect with our breath moves energy, clearing pathways, leaving us feeling more open, more grounded, more energized and with less cluttered minds.
Even just a few minutes in meditation can have great benefits. Moving toward stillness as we bring our awareness within, reigning in all that energy we’ve been extending outward, and connecting back to our Selves. At this time of year, we can hold the idea of the approaching Winter Solstice in our practice. Moving inward, as nature does. And emerging from our practice radiating our inner light, as all of nature awaits the return of the light.
If we take the time to nourish and sustain ourselves, we are so much more capable of doing and giving more without feeling depleted. Using these simple practices, may we be able to show up more fully.
Feel free to let me know how it goes!
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