You might not be able to visit a luxury wellness retreat right now but you can still focus on your wellbeing at home. Emma Ferris (The Breath Effect, Nurture Me Women's Wellness Retreats at Camp Glenorchy) gives her top tips for turning your bubble into a retreat.
While the world continues to be thrown into moments of chaos now more than ever, we need to find ways to reset unhealthy habits and create more moments of calm.
You don't need to escape to a wellness retreat to make quick positive shifts in your health. There are many tricks and tips you can implement at home.
No one is immune to stress and the impact it has on our health. Often we have warning signs that we are overwhelmed with poor sleep, feeling tired, neck and back pain, headaches and migraines. Learning to nurture your body and mind is the key to disrupting the stress cycle.
When it comes to eliminating stress from your day, there are some key things you can do to create a mini-retreat at home. Simple things add up to helping your body and nervous system feel safe and calm.
In times of stress, our body will use up our quick energy stores in our body and burn through our stress hormones. It will then send signals that it is craving a quick fix (Bring on the coffee and sweet treats!). These are the times we need to be more conscious of what we eat. It isn't about deprivation. Instead, we need to nourish our nervous system and gut with nutrient-dense food that helps replace the energy and minerals you burn when stressed.
A simple way you can do that is to add one more vegetable to every meal of the day. You can batch cook food, make several meals at a time, and have nutrient-dense meals ready when under pressure.
Remember to eat mindfully, which stimulates your digestive tract to process the food. Look, smell and chew your food and savour the experience.
The way you breathe is the most effective way to disrupt the body's reaction to stress. We all breathe, but the rhythm, rate, and muscles we use can trigger the body to feel safe or stay stuck in the trauma state. Breathing is the only thing in our autonomic nervous system that controls our stress reaction. As it is both under conscious and unconscious control, you can adjust the volume of the stress system and reduce stress by using effective breathing techniques. Breathing is the key to teaching the body it is safe.
The first step is to take some time to sit or lie down and become aware of your breathing. Learning to slow your exhale can be difficult at first but is the first step to reducing stress via your breath.
Try some mindfulness apps like Calm or Insight Timer to build a daily practice of breathing awareness. Taking 10 minutes twice a day can transform your body reaction and begin to build your resilience to stress.
Disconnect to connect
Addiction to devices, social media and news can be triggers that keep our nervous system stressed and in the fight, flight or freeze mode. On retreat, the simple things of disconnecting from devices can create space to build awareness and connect with others and, most notably, ourselves. Devices are designed to induce a happy hormone hit of dopamine which keep us wanting more.
We can create dopamine in other ways, such as getting enough sleep, exercising, listening to music or dancing. Part of our evolutionary need to survive relied on family and community. Reaching out to loved ones and sharing how you feel, and listening to their experience can reduce stress and build connections. It is as simple as picking up the phone and asking, "how are you?"
When you aren't connecting with loved ones, why not take one day a week to disconnect from your device. A digital detox can revolutionise your day and free up more time for self-care and connection.
Time in nature is a quickfire way to reduce stress and create mindful moments. You don't need to travel far to appreciate nature. Simple practices of being outside, observing the landscape, listening to the birdlife, and soaking up some vitamin D can make you feel grounded and less anxious.
Cultivate the correct nature fix for you. If you need to run, walk, hike and explore nature to get your hit of oxygen, then carve that into your day. When you feel tired and overwhelmed, even a tiny slice of time outdoors can help you reset to calm.
You can breathe and be still all you want, but sometimes you need to move the body to release stress. Everybody is different, and every day you may need to adapt what feels like the proper movement practice for the day. Never underestimate stretches, yoga and pilates for decreasing stress. When stressed, our muscles can grip and stay tense. If we have been sitting all day, before you go and blast out a run or bike ride, you need to release muscles that get tight from stress. Stretching allows the body to flow and breathe more efficiently when training and reduces injury and pain.
Be kind to yourself if you are feeling stressed, and remember that even a tiny amount of exercise can make a big difference to your mental and physical health.
When crafting out your home retreat, learn to stop and listen to what your body needs. It may need rest, hydration, movement, laughter or connection. Awareness is key to you cultivating your own home retreat experience. Never forget, when it comes to your health, small changes make a big impact.
Nurture Me Women's Wellness Retreats at Camp Glenorchy are scheduled for November 4-7, December 2-5 and March 17-20, campglenorchy.com. More tips and personal coaching from Emma Ferris available at thebreatheffect.com