Lovestyle: 5 Ways to Slow Down and Connect with Yourself
Life is moving at a fast pace; and it seems every day, there are more things to do and less time with which to execute them. Busyness has become an epidemic in our culture, and a full schedule is a badge of honour and self-worth. If we’re busy, we must be valuable. If we decelerate, we fall behind.
Ask yourself: what would happen if you slowed down for a moment, a few minutes, an hour, or an afternoon? Would your world fall apart? Would you lose your job, would your children and pets starve, your relationships disintegrate?
No, they wouldn’t. In fact, taking the time to destress, slow down and reconnect with yourself can actually improve your health and your relationships. Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques can enhance sleep quality, reduce pain, improve anxiety and depression, decrease stress hormones, and may benefit blood sugar levels. Even taking the time to smile at a stranger or chat with your barista can boost happiness.
Slowing down isn’t radical: it’s necessary. I encourage you to make the time for relaxation and reconnection every day. Start with a few minutes, and then work your way up as you feel ready. During your time for yourself, you can choose to clear your head and think about nothing other than relaxing. Or, if you’d like to go deeper and engage in some self-examination, you can take the time to ponder these questions:
- What makes me feel energized, happy and motivated? Am I participating in those activities right now?
- Which people in my life do I enjoy being around? What relationships aren’t serving me, and do I need to change or eliminate them?
- How does my body feel right now (tired, energetic, achy, etc.)? What can I do to improve or maintain the way I’m feeling?
- How does my mind feel right now (calm, joyful, worried, thoughtful, etc.)? What can I do to improve or maintain my mental state?
- How can I cultivate a life of gratitude and ease?
Here are five ways you can start the process of slowing down and reconnecting with yourself. These methods are free, simple, and can be done almost anywhere.
- Schedule self-care into your calendar
The first step of self-care is actually taking the time to do it. Realistically, most of us need to follow a timetable in our daily lives. But between work, family and other commitments, self-care activities become futuristic dreams we’d like to get to ‘someday.’
Schedule self-care into your calendar just like you would do for any meeting, appointment or social engagement. View that time as sacred and essential – so don’t skip it to do the dishes or fold the laundry. Once you get in the habit of making time for self-care, it will become easier to stick to it.
- Take a walk (preferably where there is grass and trees)
Going for a walk helps to get your limbs moving and blood flowing, but it’s also immensely relaxing and wonderful for our mental and physical health. The Japanese practice of ‘Shinrin-yoku,’ or forest bathing, can help boost the immune system, lower cortisol levels and blood pressure, increase positive feelings while reducing negative ones, and alleviate stress and hostility. So find some grass, trees, flowers and greenery, and soak it all in.
- Write in a journal
Daily journaling allows you to express your feelings and reflect on your day in a non-judgmental, unfiltered manner. It can also tap into your creativity, improve your mood and boost immune function. Try writing for 10 minutes daily and reap the soul-soothing benefits!
- Leisurely drink a cup of tea or a health-fueling elixir
Settle in with a warm sweater, solitude and a hot cup of herbal tea. Chamomile, passionflower, lemon balm, and lavender are calming; or you can opt for digestive-healing peppermint, fennel or ginger tea. If you’re in the mood, blend up one of my favourite elixir recipes as a nourishing, healthful beverage.
Aim for peace and quiet while you sip – aim for at least 10 to 15 minutes to enjoy and decompress.
- Hop into the bath
Taking a hot bath can help improve cardiovascular and respiratory function, reduce pain, and help you fall asleep. Transform your bathroom into a spa by adding essential oils to the water, playing some soft music, and pouring yourself a cup of hot tea. You can also give yourself an immune-boosting rubdown with a skin brush before you hop in and apply an edible chocolate facemask.
Keep in mind that there is no ‘right’ way to relax and slow down. You may prefer to attend a yoga class, bake a batch of muffins or grab a colourful book. The important thing is you make the time for yourself!