Are you feeling overwhelmed and just at a point where you know you need to take some time out? As we near the end of the first quarter of the year we all feel that internal nudge to slow down and rest. It’s time to allow yourself the space to recharge and renew before keep going. Here are my favorite ways to recharge your mind and body.
GET BACK TO NATURE
There are so many studies to prove the positive impact nature has on our nervous system and on our minds. Just taking time to get out into nature is known to reduce stress, anger, and fear, reduce our blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. Taking time to ground yourself in nature helps to increase feelings of calmness, peace, and relaxation and also has a positive effect on our physiological wellbeing and energy.
Want to feel recharged, relaxed and at peace -spend a full day out in nature without your phone. Allow your mind to wander and breathe in the fresh oxygen and allow the brain to find calm and peace.
GET LOST IN A GOOD BOOK
When was the last time you got lost in a good book? Like really lost, like lost time, and space and any sense of the world? The power of getting lost in the pages of a great novel can allow the mind to imagine, explore and focus. The power of focusing on one thing gives the brain the ability to find peace at the same time as keeping it occupied. Find something uplifting, engaging, and empowering to read, and carve out some time to truly allow yourself to explore the story.
Our brains learn through stories. It’s how we make sense of things, and how we remember core detail. Reading a great book can not only relax your mind but can improve your attention span, increase blood flow to different areas of the brain, and gives your brain a workout in multiple complex cognitive functions.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Exercise or movement of any kind, let it be dance, yoga, walking or working out, has been known for a long time to increase the ability for the mind to process information as more oxygen flows to the brain, and allows the body to release a myriad of feel-good hormones to the body and mind, which not only help you feel happier and healthier but provide a nourishing environment for the growth of new brain cells and improves our memory. Exercise also allows us to get out of our heads and back into our bodies, allowing the brain to rest and recharge its energy levels and supports a feeling of wellbeing.
FIND MINDFULNESS THROUGH MEDITATION & SILENCE
If you’ve struggled with meditation in the past, but you know that the benefits are worthwhile, which I’ll go into in a moment, it might be time to create a habit over the holidays when you have no excuse of not having the time to do it.
The benefits of meditation are well worth the effort it takes to create a habit that you can continue to do when you’re back in the swing of work and life. Meditation improves attention, focus, stress management, impulse control, and self-awareness. It changes the structure and the function of the brain in a positive way and supports self-control. I know I am always more patient and have more resilience the more I meditate on a regular basis. There have also been studies to show that regular meditators have more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex ( You do want more gray matter! It gives you the ability to think clearly, make decisions, solve problems, learn, and retain information.)
If meditation is not your thing, then try finding time for silence. The less the brain has to process the more relaxed it can feel. When was the last time you sat in silence and was OK with doing nothing? If you feel resistance just reading that sentence, it might be high time you found the time to just BE with yourself in silence. There is so much power in silence. Allow yourself to feel through whatever comes up and tune back in to who you are and how you’re doing.
TAKE A DEVICE DETOX
The more time we are spending on our devices causes more and more problems for our mental and physical wellbeing. There are studies to show that excessive use of our smartphones is creating an imbalance in brain chemistry, having negative effects on our social and emotional development, and affecting our mental health.
Every time we pick up our smart device our brains are being bombarded with information that it has to filter, make sense of and store. The rates of consumption is increasing the faster the internet is getting – I feel exhausted just thinking about it. Not only that, we are sitting in moments of comparison, judgement, fear and guilt just scrolling through social media.
When was the last time you didn’t look at a device ( like a TV, smartphone, iPad, laptop) for 24hours? I bet you can’t remember. Imagine how relaxed you’d feel if you took a short detox to unwind from social media, and were unable to be accessible 24/7 and just allowed yourself to be?
Scary to consider but imagine the calm feeling you’ll experience once you’ve moved past the withdrawal phase. Well worth the uncomfortable feeling and something I’ll be sure to be doing over the break.
Creativity in any shape or form, whether it be art, craft, gardening, pottery, sewing, is a great way for our minds to recharge due to the calming effects on the brain and body. Indulging in a creative activity encourages the brain to release dopamine, which is the feel-good happy hormone. Creativity helps to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress and also helps to process trauma.
Allowing ourselves time to express ourselves through creativity is a unique way to feel good about ourselves, which slows down the chatter of the inner critic and brings in feelings of wellbeing and kindness. It also helps build our self-esteem as we create and believe in ourselves to try something new.
ALLOW YOURSELF TO DAYDREAM
Daydreaming, ohh my favorite pastime. I used to daydream all the time when I was a kid, but as life gets in the way and things get busier and busier, we are either deep in our work, surrounded by to-do lists or buried in our smartphones. Giving space for our minds to wander, allows the brain to process information, boosts creativity, problem-solving skills and relieves stress.
Daydreaming allows your mind to relax and take a break. When we stop taking in so much information and allow the brain to catch up it can quickly recharge our minds and allows us to return to our lives more refreshed and energized and ready to take on new information, which then boosts creativity and productivity.
JOURNALING TO CLEAR THE MIND
Journaling is a great way to get everything out of your head and out on to paper. So often we can feel overwhelmed and stressed because we’re trying to figure something out or solve a problem by thinking through it. Getting everything out of your mind and onto paper, not only creates relief but allows for a new perspective that you wouldn’t have seen while it’s all up in your head, which could possibly change the outcome.
Journalling boosts memory and comprehension. It helps clarify your thoughts and emotions. It helps to use it as a self-exploration tool to get to know yourself better and further understand why you think and feel the way you do. There is a unique connection between the brain and a pen when writing down all the things that are on your mind, sometimes you don’t even realize how you feel until you start writing.
Allowing yourself to get it all out of your head, gives you space to not only make sense of it, whether that be a situation or experience but also allows you to fully express your emotions as you take the action of writing it all down.
Don’t you already feel relaxed just reading through all the ways we can choose to give our minds a break and recharge? Each and every way I’ve outlined above is a unique way to recharge your mind and allow yourself to tune out so you can tune back in, reenergize and renew your energy.
Whether you do one or many, it is up to you, either way, your future self will thank you for doing just one.