As we move towards the season of bank holidays, long weekends and Summer vacations, there are more opportunities to schedule in some rest and relaxation, and dedicated time to ‘switch off’. Whilst the feeling of rejuvenation we can experience after a week in the sun or simply a couple of hours immersed in nature, it’s no secret that many of us (me included) find it incredibly difficult to actually ‘switch off’.
Whether it’s due to working from home (and therefore ‘living at work’ as many people have reported feeling), being constantly connected to our email inboxes, reflexively checking social media, or simply feeling as though we ‘should’ be unrelentingly busy, it’s never been more difficult to switch off and step out of the fast pace of life than it is today. As with most things that are difficult however, switching off and truly relaxing is one of the most important and beneficial things we can do for our physical and mental health, and to help rebalance the nervous system.
Calming The Senses
Our senses have never been so over-stimulated than they are today. Whilst our brains and bodies are still the same as humans’ brains and bodies were several thousand years ago, we now experience more ‘stressors’ than humans have ever had to experience. An overflowing email inbox, noise pollution, the pressure to reply to texts and messages, toxins from processed foods and synthetic chemicals, as well as the ever-present stress of managing hectic personal, professional and social lives means the nervous system is constantly under stress, and it’s desperately in need of recovery. Taking time out to physically, emotionally and mentally switch off can help dramatically reduce stress, bolster the immune system, rebalance hormones, improve sleep, increase energy levels, elicit a brighter mood, and help enhance our overall wellbeing. So, whether you’re jetting off to exotic lands or wondering how to make the most of your weekends and bank holidays, try these three ways to switch off:
It’s difficult to metaphorically ‘switch off’ unless we literally switch off our digital devices. Every time our phones alert us to calls and texts, we experience a release of cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone), prompting us to respond ASAP. Hearing these alerts multiple times a day means we’re being bathed in a near-constant stream of cortisol, leading to chronic stress – which can then lead to increased blood pressure, impaired digestion, sleep issues, suppressed hormonal function, and decreased vitality. Whilst turning the phone to silent or airplane mode is a great first step to reclaiming your sacred ‘swich off’ space, nothing comes close to literally turning off your phone, laptop, and any other screens you’re exposed to at home. A weekend, day, or even just one hour without technology allows us remember what it’s like to be truly human. Read Goodbye Phone, Hello World by Paul Greenberg for 65 bite-size device-free activities scientifically proven to promote true happiness, and to help your eyes recover from staring at screens, use the Spritz Wellness liberty print aromatherapy eye mask to soothe them as you sleep.
Reconnect To Yourself
Meditation can help us reconnect to ourselves on a deeper level, especially if so much of our daily lives are spend focussing externally on work and other people. There are many ways to meditate, so take time to explore which method helps you switch off the most. Try a technique from Relax & Be Aware by Sayadaw U Tejaniya, containing 31 short chapters to help create a month of daily life meditations. Switch off with a guided meditation from Jack Kornfield’s Meditation For Beginners CD, or simply sit and observe your thoughts without judgement fort a few minutes a day on the Yogamatters organic meditation cushion. If you know you get distracted easily during meditation, the Yogamatters bandage eye wrap can help block out excess light and sound, calming the mind and senses. Many people report a greater sense of relaxation, clarity, presence and a significant reduction in stress with a regular meditation practice.
Get In The Flow State
If you’re the type of person who loves nothing more than moving your body and feeling your heart beat, you could benefit from a dynamic ‘moving meditation’. Movement is profoundly therapeutic for the body and mind, helping reduce stress and release endorphins (‘happy hormones’). When we move in a way we enjoy, we can also experience a feeling known as the ‘flow state’; a sense of being completely engaged, present, and totally united in mind, body and spirit. Many people experience the flow state whilst running, cycling, dancing, rock climbing, surfing, skiing, swimming, or moving through postures in a yoga class. The key to accessing the flow state is to do something that is challenging enough to keep the mind focussed, but enjoyable enough that it doesn’t cause stress. Getting into the flow state is linked with increased happiness, higher intrinsic motivation, greater creativity, and better emotional regulation, and finding your flow can help your ability to truly ‘switch off’. If you’re looking to find your flow in a vinyasa style yoga class, getting a non-slip mat is essential – you’ll be amazed at how much more fluid, stronger and distraction-free your practice can become when you’re not concerned about slipping! Opt for the Manduka eKO Lite mat or use the Yogamatters grippy yoga mat towel. To fully switch off in Savasana, we also recommend the Yogamatters Celestial eye pillow, so you can emerge rejuvenated, revived and ready to ‘switch onhj’ again when you’re ready.