1. Walking in nature — it moves the energy (chi or prana) in our bodies.
When I lived in Europe I would rejuvenate on weekends, taking my dog and friends to the nearby hills to walk on trekking trails for hours. In the past three years after moving to Bali, since hiking in the jungle was not recommended (even dangerous) I switched to walking along the ocean.
I do it every day because it does me a world of good.
Walking in the nature rejuvenates both body and spirit, whether taking long walks in wilderness or a 15 minute break walking in a green area in the city.
Interacting with nature is proven to reduce the level of cortisol (stress) hormones, tension and brings a feeling of calm and relaxation. It is said to improve mental acuity and bring positive effects for our mental stamina and cognitive performance.
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
In one study, people performing memory and attention tests upped their scores by 20 percent after walking through an arboretum. Walking down a busy street, by comparison, offered no such benefit.
Walking by the sea or ocean has even greater benefits, as sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen and heal our bodies. Walking in nature has the following benefits:
- Rejuvenated physical energy
- Fast physical recovery
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced muscle tension
- Decreased stress hormones
- Mental clarity
Great thinkers say they owe their inspirations to walks in the nature. And the list is big, ranging from thinkers, poets, inventors: Friedrich Nietzsche, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau to Steve Jobs, to name a few. They must have been onto something.
2. Do what your body tells you it needs — your body is smarter than you
When we are feeling cranky and tired, it’s a sign to take the time off whatever we are doing. And it is essential we listen to our bodies, because our bodies carry immense natural wisdom.
Our bodies know when its time to reset and rewind in order to get back into out natural flow.
You all know when you take on too many obligations and over-stress we often get a cold. This is our body’s way of telling us to slow down.
“If any thing is sacred the human body is sacred.”
Nurturing a relationship with self is essential for loving oneself, respecting one self and being authentic in relationship with others. When you are tired, rest. When you are hungry, eat. When you are emotional, cry.
“If you consciously let your body take care of you, it will become your greatest ally and trusted partner.”
On the verge of my 40ties I take much more focus on having a good relationship with my body, then when i was younger. I listen to my body’s needs, feeding my body natural foods and exposing it to enough sunlight. In return my body is healthy, lean and full of energy.
When I lived in Jakarta, my body craved exposure to sunlight because I left my flat early in the morning to spend a day in the office and by the time i was back home the sun had already set and i felt dead tired.
So i decided to wake up early and go for a swim to soak in the sun before going to work, and it made me feel much better and energized.
“Your body is your best guide. It constantly tells you, in the form of pain or sensations, what’s working for you and what’s not.”
― Hina Hashmi, Your Life A Practical Guide to Happiness Peace and Fulfillment
3. Reading that book you wanted but never had time to
Taking half an hour each day to read a book early in the morning or in the evening after the kids are in bed is excellent for mental stimulation, improved focus and concentration.
It is like a daily workout for the brain: reading expands our knowledge, increases our vocabularies and lets us get lost in an imaginary world of make belief. Getting consumed in an engrossing book reduces stress, confirmed research conducted on Sussex University in 2009.
Many success coaches swear on importance of being exposed to good reads daily. Robin Sharma in the “The Monk who sold his Ferrari” lists reading as number 5 on the list of the 10 Rituals of Radiant Living.
Benjamin Hardy in his book “Slipstream Time Hacking” says to adopt habits of successful and happy people we should read one book per week. By taking even 15–30 minutes every morning to read uplifting and instructive information changes you.
It is more beneficial to read a paper book than e book, as it relaxes the eyes, the smell of paper and sound of leafing through have meditative qualities. Reading also helps us fall asleep, especially if we form a habit to read regularly before going to bed.
4. Spending time with friends
Maintaining friendships can be hard when busy building a business and having family takes higher priority — but for a longer, happier, more fulfilling life, it’s certainly worth the effort to spend time with friends.
Success coaches like Tony Robbins and James Altucher put a lot of importance on solitude and self-reflection, which i completely agree on and practice, but we are also social creatures.
I personally keep contact with my friends on a weekly basis to get a dose of laughter, critique, inspiration, self-evaluation, compassion and feeling of togetherness. I can’t imagine my life without friends.
Did you know that besides improving our self-worth hanging out with friends helps us cope with big life dramas such as losing a job or a partner, or with a serious health condition.
Being socially engaged leads to more positive emotions, to laughter, happiness and expanding the heart chakra, which in turn boosts ours body’s immune system and reduces the physical signs of stress, say the health experts.
5. Mindfulness meditation — train your brain to be in the present moment
Wherever you are, if you can find a sitting position and a 15 minute break form everybody and everything you can start practicing mindfulness meditation. What are the benefits?
- A greater connection with the body
- Improved personal relationships, as mindfulness helps us respond and not react emotionally
- A greater acceptance of troublesome thoughts and emotions
- Improvements to memory, concentration and cognitive ability
- A dramatic reduction in levels of stress and anxiety
- An improved relationship with pain
This meditation comes from centuries-old Buddhist tradition, while psychiatry has recognized regular practice causes structural brain changes and is excellent tool for reducing depression, anxiety and it iseven adopted as clinical practice in treating serious mental disorders.
“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
It is very easy to practice as it only requires finding a quiet space to sit and focus on your breathing and being present in your body, while allowing your thoughts and emotions to pass by non-judgmentally… If your mind is busy, you can direct your focus to scan your body by slowly moving the focus from the top of your head, shoulder, belly all the way to your feet.
Your mind will wonder off, from time to time, and all you should do is become aware it is wandering and return the focus to your breathing. Same thing applies when the emotions arise — anger, sadness, being overwhelmed, simply acknowledge what you are feeling and return to focus on breath without judgment. It is essential to be gentle with yourself and allow the emotion to subside.
Mindfulness meditation helps us be grounded, trough increased body awareness, regulation of emotion and regulation of attention.
In practice that means mindfulness meditation allows us to deal with our emotions in a healthy way, to remain in the present moment and chose how to act with patience even in extreme situations.
By applying these activities every day we form habits. What kind of habits do you want to nurture or get rid of on a daily level?
Connect deeper with Iva on her private webpage here.