Updated: May 27, 2020
You've probably noticed a theme with my articles - wellness and stress reduction are key for longterm, sustainable health. We just simply can't thrive while being in a state of fight of flight 24/7. It's not possible. Your body physically can't go into rest and repair mode (a mode that is needed to repair muscle tissue after a workout, clean out old cells so that you can have increased energy levels, and detox toxic compounds so that your hair, skin, and eyes will be bright and shining) if you constantly have elevated cortisol levels. These elevated cortisol levels can (and do) come from a variety of sources: work life, family life, environmental toxins, poor diet, mold toxin exposure (hello coffee), negative thoughts, disease, poor sleep hygiene, and excessive alcohol or caffeine intake. Any of those ring a bell?
All of us are exposed to some combination of stressors everyday, which is why taking time to repair in our fast paced environment is essential. It's not a selfish act, rather it's a requirement if you want to live a life with full energy, a positive attitude, and free of chronic disease.
In the past I've shared an article on why taking a break is so important to your health (you can find that article HERE). In that article, I discuss the scientific reasoning behind it, as well as the fact that taking weekend "DIY Wellness Retreats" is important for your health. This is something I incorporate into my own life every weekend and have seen amazing results for my outlook on the rest of the week, my anxiety levels, and my performance with my career. Today, I'm breaking down how you can incorporate an even more abbreviated version of the DIY Wellness Retreat, so that you can do this more often! Especially with the amount of stress in most of our lives, the more often you can incorporate some of these steps in, the better the outcome.
Start by picking a few hours on the weekend
Preferably, every weekend! But of course, this isn't always an option. Like I said above, the more often you can fit these tools in, the better. But it all starts with picking a few hours of undisturbed time to dedicate to reducing your stress levels, balancing your hormones, and bringing your body back to a state of homeostasis. This last weekend, I chose the hours of 2pm - 5pm. Yes - even three hours will work!
Next, set your itinerary
I'll go over a few options that you can do below. Some are more advanced strategies (like the infrared sauna) and others are easier to implement regardless of your budget and time frame. The point is to pick 2-4 wellness promoting items so that you fill your time but you don't feel rushed.
Shut yourself off from the world
Helloooo do not disturb mode on your phone! This element is crucial for unplugging and allowing your mind the rest from notifications and disturbances. Remember, this time is about you.
Set the stage
If you don't already have a dedicated meditation space in your house (which honestly, most people don't, so that's okay!), make one! Creating an environment that promotes rest and recovery is key. If you have access to an outdoor space with lots of green plants, set up there. Being exposed to nature during this time has been found to naturally decrease your cortisol (stress) levels. If you don't have access to outdoors, find an area that has some plants in your house and set up there. Grab a comfortable blanket, play some yoga meditation music (I found a playlist on Spotify literally titled "Yoga & Meditation), and clear the space of clutter that could distract you.
Pick your agenda
Depending on what your goal is, you can choose from a variety of options that I have listed below. Each of these will help to reduce your stress levels and bring you back to a state of rest and relaxation.
Here are some of my suggestions:
Meditation - I love the app Headspace, especially if you are a beginner to meditation. Aim for 20-40 minutes of meditation. Or if you are a beginner, start with 10 minutes.
Positive Affirmations - Take 10 minutes and write down everything you want in life... and don't hold back! Write it in the present tense as if it has already happened. For example, "I am living in my dream home with an ocean view, making healthy delicious dinners for my family. I love my husband and we take 2 vacations to Europe and South America every year...". As detailed as you can get, the better! Then say these affirmations 10 times out loud while looking at yourself in the mirror. This will may feel uncomfortable at first, but it will help to solidify this into your mind as something that has "already happened" so your brain will get to work on making it happen!
Ginger Foot Bath - Throughout the week, a lot of excess inflammation can build up which will result in chronic disease, headaches, weight gain, etc. You can help to reduce that inflammation with a soothing ginger foot bath! Soak 1 full knob of ginger in water and bring to a warm bath water temperature. The longer you can allow it to soak in this warm water (perhaps over a low heat), the more infusion you'll get. Pour this into a large bucket (or two) and soak your feet for 10-20 minutes. You'll feel an icy hot feeling - that's okay! That's ginger at work reducing inflammatory levels!
Spa Water - Never underestimate the stress reducing effects of spa water! Especially when paired with spa music and green plants! Just mix room temperature water with a few slices of freshly cut cucumbers or lemon. This is best in a glass jar. Plastic (even BPA free plastic) will release toxic chemicals that will continue to raise your stress levels. Sip on this throughout your DIY wellness retreat.
Diffuse Lavender - Lavender essential oil does wonders for reducing stress levels. Diffuse this while you meditate, do yoga, or even nap!
Infrared Sauna - If you happen to have one or if you have a location close to your house that offers this, I highly recommend it. You'll feel clean from the inside and out!
Schedule a Relaxation Yoga Class - I'm talking about a class that's focused on meditation, stretching, and relaxation. Often times it'll describe the class online, so make sure you check it out first. Otherwise, ask your local yoga studio what they offer that fits these guidelines. Better yet, find a sound bath!
Remember, taking care of yourself is not an optional thing. It's your duty to yourself. I personally incorporate full wellness weekends a few times a year and add in mini wellness retreats (using the tools above) at least once a week. I do it because I understand just how important it is, and I've seen amazing positive results. I highly suggest you plan a wellness retreat for yourself this weekend! Whatever you plan, make sure you talk about your experience on Instagram via a photo of what you did or video and tag my (@autumnelle_nutrition) so I can see your results! Get your zen on!
And remember, what you put in your body on a daily basis will also effect your stress, health, and wellbeing levels too. The body is connected and food is a big piece of the puzzle. Check out my post HERE for further information.
Autumn Elle Nutrition