When I was living in Europe, five years ago, I would take time off by taking my dog every weekend to the nearby hills to walk on trekking trails with my friends for hours.
Walking outdoors reduces stress and tension
In the past three years after moving to Bali, hiking in the jungle being a bit less, I switched to walking along the ocean. Walking outdoors rejuvenates both body and spirit, whether it is a long hike in the wilderness or walking in the park or green areas in the city. Walking outdoors is proven to reduce the level of cortisol (stress) hormones, tension and brings feeling of calm and relaxation.
It is said to improve mental acuity and cause prolonged periods of attention at ADHD children. 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.
When we are feeling cranky and tired, our body is telling us it’s a sign to take the time off. And it’s is important to do so, because it gets us back on track. It takes us back to self.
Each one of us is responsible for our own happiness
Nurturing a relationship with self is essential for loving oneself, respecting one self and being authentic in relationship with others.
Michaly Csikszentmihalyi is famous for research about psychology of happiness. In his book “The Flow” he describes happiness is a condition that should be prepared for and cultivated by learning how to control our inner experience.
He believes that each one of us is responsible for her/his own happiness.
In that sense, even though it is great to go vacation, go on retreat or take long hikes by the sea – there are other simple yet effective ways of taking time off daily while raising a family.
1. Reading that book you wanted but never had time to
Taking half an hour each day to read a book 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.
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 helps us fall asleep, especially if we form a habit to read regularly before going to bed.
2. Spending time with friends
Maintaining friendships can be hard during those years when family takes higher priority – but for a longer, happier, more fulfilling life, it’s certainly worth the effort to spend time with 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 reduce the physical signs of stress, say health experts.
3. Mindfulness meditation
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?
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 has been adopted as clinical practice.
It is very easy to learn as mindfulness meditation consists of taking time off, sitting in a quiet space to focus on breathing and being present in the body, while allowing our thoughts and emotions to pass by non-judgmentally…
During focusing on breathing in and out from the nose, we can scan our bodies by slowly moving the focus from the top of our head all the way to our feet. Left side and right side, equally represented.
Our mind will wonder off, from time to time, naturally. We should simply become aware it is wandering and return the focus to breathing.
We should do the same thing when the emotions arise – anger, sadness, being overwhelmed, simply acknowledge what we are feeling and return to focus on breath without judgment. It is essential to be gentle with ourselves and allowing the emotion to subside.
Mindfulness meditation helps us be grounded in ourselves, trough increase of body awareness, self-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 even in extreme situations.
By applying those activities every day we form habits. What kind of habits do you want to nurture or get rid of on a daily level? Check out our coaches to help you our take time off and create daily habits for happy life.