This weekend marks the end of Summer for many of us. Even if you worked through the season like me, chances are it was at that lovely sunny rhythm of the Summer months, and that in a few days everything will be back to go go go again. New beginnings like this, are one of my favorite things. Just like at the start of the New Year, we get a chance for a do over. It’s the time for resolutions, getting organized, making promises to ourselves (and keeping them!), getting shiny new school supplies or great books we’ve been meaning to get. This is of course only one side of the story! On the other, there might be a little sadness that the comfort of Summer is over, a bit of anxiety might be bubbling up to the surface, stress might be rearing its ugly head. This is why I thought of writing a blissful, relaxing and healing post today with my six favorite tips for getting centered before any new endeavour. It might be starting a new school year, going back to your old job or starting a new one, even simply dealing with those lazy Sunday blues! New beginnings should be wonderful occasions where you get to start over and feel empowered, so when I’m dealing with some of the scary side effects of starting fresh, I find that all I need to do is find my center again and remember that things are never as daunting as they appear.
When you’re able to jump over that big hurdle of anticipation and stress and simply put one foot in front of the other, life starts looking like the continuum it actually is. I find that when I’m feeling balanced and centered, I start my projects with great energy and everything seems easier and like a natural progression. For me, this wonderful act of balancing, and the tips that I’m about to share with you are completely linked with the health of your mind, your body, and yes, (you know what’s coming!) what you put into it in the form of food and drink, as well as exercise. Are you ready to get your zen on? These tips are great for doing on a lazy Sunday, and especially on the day before new school years, projects, jobs or when you simply need to get back to basics because you’re having a difficult and emotional day.
Tip No. 1: Your body is your temple, feed it natural healing foods
There is no amount of exercise, mental well being, or therapy sessions that will balance you out like the nutrients you feed yourself. Even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, use this day to try out a very clean way of eating, one that will be effortless for your body to process. The kind of food you eat and then feel light and fulfilled with all at the same time. On this day (or several days before if you really want an awesome head start), eat whole grains, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, and minimize the animal products and avoid processed foods (you can live without these for a day right?). Make a day of your meal prep. Put on some music or put on a lovely film on your tablet in the background while you cook. I did this today and made a pot of brown rice (one of my favorite things on the planet!), a quick pot of puy lentils with some amazing herbs and spices, and a big veggie stir fry. I then put the three components in my favorite wooden bowls and ate it next to my hubby while we watched the Glastonbury festival and we were digging into that healing and delicious bowl of food. The feeling I had after this meal was incredible.
What to drink? If you have a juicer at home, a big glass of fresh vegetable juice with only one or two fruits for sweetening is like an automatic reboot to your system. Stay away from processed and bottled juices and other drinks though, and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Tip No. 2: Keep the crazy making sugar in the pantry for today
Ok, we all agree that sugar and the delicious treats made from it are wonderful little pleasures. Here’s what I didn’t know until I started looking into things, it does crazy stuff to your body, including your blood sugar levels and brain chemistry! I’m not saying you need to say goodbye to it forever, I’m just saying that it isn’t the most balancing of treats, especially on your wonderful day of calm and re-centering. If you need to do some sweetening, choose a natural healthy alternative like agave nectar, maple or rice syrup, or keep your sweet treats to nature’s candies: fruits! If you need a chewy and deliciously sweet treat have some dates. I resisted these for years because they’re not the most visually appealing, but it’s one of nature’s greatest (and sweetest) treasures.
Tip No. 3: Drink a cup of warm green tea
We all know the benefits of green tea by now right? It’s practically a magical beverage full of antioxidants that helps our body in countless ways. Healthy nutrients aside, cuddling up in the couch with a cup of tea next to your sweetie pies (partners, babies, cats and doggies all count), is as healing as it gets. My favorite is coconut green tea by the Tea Shop, but any kind of tea will do, even if you don’t have the green variety on hand. Sip your tea and breathe, enjoy the moment and slow down.
Tip No. 4: Take a walk
I’m a runner, and I exercise strongly and regularly. However, on days in which I need to get centered and relax, I’ll sometimes slow down with my exercise as well. Nala and I go for a long walk and I come back in a completely different state of mind. Julia Cameron, one of my favorite writers, says that walking is to the body what writing is to the soul. Few things are as soothing as a walk. This is not a power walk, or meant to be an excuse for calorie burning. This is about walking through the woods or a park and looking at people, staring up at the trees, filling your lungs with fresh air. Even 15 minutes are great if you’re pressed for time. An hour is like a full mental makeover. If you’re lucky and you find yourself at a park where there is grass at the end of your walk, take your shoes off, sit down on the ground and have your bare feet touch the grass and soil below. This is like the cherry on top of the non-dairy sunday!
Tip No. 5 Do a little stretching or yoga
I go to a little yoga school two or three times a week for my Anusara class, but the rest of the days I love doing simple yoga practices at home (or even stretches if you can’t do yoga). Always ask your doctor if these types of exercises are suitable for you, and if that is the case, give the wonderful practice of yoga a try. If you’re new, try finding a class for beginners. If you’ve practiced yoga before and are not currently attending a school, there are plenty of basic and simple online classes you can do at home and for free! For your own safety these usually don’t include the more challenging poses, and inversions, but remember that this day is all about balance, so if a 20 minute yoga video is all you can do, it will be like Christmas suddenly came early! Here are some simple yoga classes by one of my favorite Western teachers Alan Finger: The Yoga Zone Series (also available on Hulu). When you’re done, stay in a crossed legged position and try a bit of meditation even if it is for five minutes. Here are Verena’s tips for beginners (our meditation in house expert and fellow blogger at Little Green Kettle!).
Tip No. 6 Finish the day with a laugh
Finish your day off with a big old laugh. My favorite way is to go to a great funny movie or watch one at home (sometimes animated films are great for this as they take us back to simpler times). Laughter is a beautiful and healing thing. Laugh like you meant it, and go to bed in bliss after the wonderful day you just had, ready for anything that comes your way tomorrow.