Stress less with this one mindful step
One step. That's all it takes.
A common theme in my discussions this week has been about making time for yourself. When was the last time you dedicated time to yourself? Perhaps picking up that book you put down last month and haven't had a chance to continue reading since? Experts believe laughter reduces stress hormones and blood pressure while boosting the immune system and triggering the release of endorphins. When you're laughing, your stress dissolves – even if it's only for a few moments. So try to make time during your day to read a funny book, watch a comedy or meet up with a friend who makes you giggle.
It might be as simple as taking your morning coffee outside to sit under the shade of a palm tree and listen to the birds. Or rather than eating on the run between meetings and appointments, why not decide to take 30 minutes to sit down and eat without your phone or any other distractions so that you can appreciate each mouthful. Maybe rolling out your yoga mat for 10 minutes of movement or mindful meditation. Exercise can protect against the effects of stress by taking your mind off anything that's bothering you and making you feel good about yourself. It's widely acknowledged that physical activity boosts your brain's production of 'feel-good' hormones called endorphins and can lower your blood pressure, both of which can make you feel calmer and help you sleep better.
Or taking a break to listen to your favourite podcast while baking yet another loaf of banana bread (we're all pretty good at this now!).
Whatever you do, try to do it fully and completely. So if you go for a walk, for instance, try not to listen to music or think about what's on your to-do list at the same time. Just concentrate on the sights, smells and sounds around you as you walk (as I make an effort to do on our beaches here in the Cayman Islands).
I am going to dedicate 20 minutes every evening before going to bed to study French. This is going to be my opportunity to help switch my brain off from life's pressures are a great way to spend my 'me' time. Learn a musical instrument, do some gardening, go fishing, try your hand at painting or life drawing – just do something purely because it makes you feel good
As life speeds up, the desire to slow down slips to the bottom of the priority list. However the demands of modern-day living can be overwhelming, leaving many people feeling that they never get a moment to themselves. But however many demands you have on your time and energy, one thing is for sure, if you overdo things on a regular basis, you risk burning yourself out.
Taking some time out to relax is essential for your wellbeing, particularly your mental wellbeing. Too much work and not enough play can contribute to problems such as anxiety and depression. Give your body and mind a change to rejuvenate, refresh, and give yourself a fighting chance to boost productivity and creativity whether that be in your work, studies, or whatever else your count as part of the daily grind. What a pleasure it is to dive into a project with no distractions, or to pursue our passions at full tilt.
Have you ever tried sitting still for even five minutes. Go on, do it now with me. Sit, lie down, or stand, close your eyes if it helps, and think of nothing. Just be. You'll be amazed how your brain responds positively, like a small child being handed an ice cream cone.
Be on the lookout for stolen moments. There are empty spaces in almost every day, tiny nooks of time that you can inhabit in solitude. Try arriving ten minutes early for appointments, walking to work, taking your lunch outside to a park bench, making dinner without the phone pressed to one ear. Breathe deeply, be still, and check in with yourself, if only for a few minutes.
You might think: "But isn't this selfish?" If taking 10 minutes every day to spend on yourself makes you a better person, then those around you are going to benefit as a result.
Carving out a little solitude can make a world of difference. Just don't make too big a deal out of figuring out how to relax. If you overthink it, you're back to busyness.
So go ahead—give yourself a break.
Louise FitzRoy is the Principal of Activ Life, a leading health and wellness company based in the Cayman Islands. If you enjoyed this article you may also like: Anti-aging yoga secrets.