During normal times, our everyday lives have gotten so fast paced, hyper connected and stress filled, we need ways to un -plug and de- stress.

The endless “to do “list, the work deadlines, the traffic, the jam-packed calendar and non-stop alerts coming from multiple devices interrupting our concentration have become our way of life. 

Now with the current coronavirus crisis, many of those day to day demands have come to a screeching halt. Many of us are staying indoors, working from home and have been disconnected from social and entertainment options, like sporting events, travel, movies, concerts, the gym, social gatherings that provided healthy outlets for fun and connection.  The unprecedented uncertainty regarding our health, the health of loved ones and the world community, the economic fears, cancellations of upcoming events, the disruption of life as we know it, with no end in sight, can leave us distracted, fearful and perhaps even feeling immobilized.

So aside from shutting off the news, how can we stay more positive?

Connect with Beauty. 

Yes, Beauty can be the antidote that restores us and lifts us up. It’s important to reconnect with that sense of aliveness that we all deserve, and we especially need that now. Spending time connecting with beauty is that path that can lead us to paradoxically feel both grounded and lifted up.

As an artist, my job is to create and share beauty, but beyond that I’m an advocate for the importance of connecting with beauty as a way to elevate your life. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost anything, but taking on a simple practice of including a “beauty break” in your day can provide a much needed connection with something outside yourself  so you can rise above your daily challenges, which are greater now more than ever, and be left in a space of wonder, awe and renewed energy.

Here are 21 thought starters on how you can practically include simple “beauty breaks” in your everyday life, even if you are staying close to home right now:

  1. Add a small live plant or fresh flowers near where you are working at home as a constant reminder of nature.
  2. Take a virtual museum visit. You can see the collections of many major museums online. See this article or just google for details: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/75809/12-world-class-museums-you-can-visit-online
  3.  Many of us are not on complete lockdown, so if you are okay to go out, maintain your distance, but take a picnic lunch to a local park and sit under a tree and just observe. Leave your phone in the car to unplug and be present.
  4. Have a glass of wine or cup of tea and pull out a coffee table type book with big glossy photos and just savor each page like a sumptuous meal. Let yourself connect to the images. If you don’t have one on hand, you can browse amazon for your favorite topic and find something that’s visually inspiring.
  5.  Stop at a piece of art in your home that you love and really get present to it, staring at it for a moment or two and let it bring back the good feelings and excitement you had when you first acquired it.
  6.   Turn off the news and listen to some beautiful instrumental or classical   music. Stop the words and give your left brain a rest from thinking and simply enjoy the sounds and harmonious melody. 
  7. Give yourself a 5-minute break to get outside or get to a window and just contemplate the sky above. Notice the shifting movement of clouds and let yourself drift with them.
  8. Take a short walk outdoors without anything to listen to (i.e. turn off your phone). Just enjoy the sounds and notice the beautiful colors, shape, light and shadows around you.
  9. Create a beauty journal and enter something beautiful you were grateful to observe each day. Describe it in detail and how it made you feel.
  10. Keep a sketchbook (it doesn’t have to be fancy, even an old notebook you might have in the house or printer paper will do) and take an occasional break to just draw something. Even if you don’t think you know how to draw, just notice the big perimeter shapes of any nearby object. Start simple. Don’t worry about details. The more you do it your skills will improve, but this is not about the outcome. Just the act of drawing can shift you into the right side of your brain for a relief from all the daily thinking, analyzing and worrying.
  11. Make a folder or Pinterest page for your favorite art or inspirational nature scenes, I have a page called Exquisite Art which I can revisit any time I need and instant spark of beauty to get my juices flowing. Maybe you want a page called Breathe or Nature’s gifts- whatever reminds you to connect with Beauty.
  12. Make a playlist of the music that touches your soul and listen whenever you need to replenish yourself from a tough day.
  13. Keep some beautiful magazines on hand by your bedside. For example, Architectural Digest, Veranda, Flower. Unplug your phone after 9 and pull out some beautiful images to see before you go to sleep.
  14. Buy a book of your favorite artist’s work and enjoy some time getting reconnected to their art.
  15. Spend time in your garden- but not weeding or working. Just to take in the beauty and enjoy it. Pick a flower and spend time with it, Slow down the mind chatter in your head. Breathe. Notice it’s fragrance, it’s shape and structure, how the petals are connected to the stem, how the leaves come out from the stem.  Spend time in wonder and marvel at the magnificence of this tiny piece of life. Meditate on nature.
  16.  Spend an hour with your camera, even indoors, just taking photos. Zoom in and get really close up to discover the hidden beauty and design of ordinary things.
  17. Make a small container garden either for indoors or for a porch area. Or you may even get seeds and watch the magic of a plant starting to pop up and grow over time.
  18. Be aware of the time of sunset and peek outside to see if you might be graced with a colorful display in the sky.
  19. Google the name of your favorite artist and go to “Images” to see lots of their work to scroll thru all in one place.
  20. Create something. If you do make art, take some time to paint, collage, quilt, bake a cake, whatever your medium is. If you don’t, typically create art but have an interest, now might be a time to start a creative exploration. You can order supplies online and start with you-tube tutorials. Or order one of the many adult coloring books and colored pencils to escape and relieve some stress. Put the extra time you have to good use by learning something new.
  21. Make at least one room in your home your “happy place”- a sacred space of serenity and beauty – filled with beautiful art, colors you love, comfortable furnishings. A “go to “place where you can restore yourself after a hard day of work and life’s challenges. To the extent possible try to keep this space free of anything with cords- computers, TV phones, – anything that distracts you or brings you back into a frenetic energy or doing mode. This is just a space for you to BE.

Beauty can heal and restore us. It’s a natural antidote to the stresses of everyday life. Take a few minutes to connect with Beauty every day.  You’ll feel good and return to take on the day with renewed clarity, focus and energy. We need to connect with beauty, now more than ever!