I’ve been lucky enough to take a few days of annual leave recently and decided to use it to indulge in a little “me time”. With a two-week trip to warmer climes officially off the cards thanks to the little old worldwide pandemic, I decided to look for the best ways to bring rejuvenation to my life from my home. I thought I’d share my findings in the hope of bringing a little refreshment to your lives, too…
Find joy with ginger
One of the best ingredients to revitalize you and kick-start your energy levels is ginger. It’s packed with antioxidants, which boost your metabolism and improve cognitive function, making you feel more revived. Studies have also shown that ginger can improve blood flow to the brain, making you feel more alert.
With this in mind, I decided to start my days by adding a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger and a generous glug of Manuka honey to some natural yoghurt. It had a bit of a kick to it but left me feeling revitalized and ready to start the day. Certainly beat my usual croissant to go!
Strike a pose
I’ve always wanted to get into yoga but never really had the patience… until now. When a rainstorm put paid to my usual morning run during my vacation, I decided to get my yoga on. I soon realized… all you really need is five minutes and a single pose – that alone can be enough to leave you feeling rejuvenated.
I particularly enjoyed Ustransana, also known as camel pose. It’s a gentle, heart-opening stretch, performed either with your hands on your lower back or reaching down behind you to touch your heels. It’s highly invigorating for your entire body as it stretches your core, opens your chest and expands your lungs to let in more rejuvenating oxygen.
Give it a try: Kneel down with your knees hip-width apart. Engage your core and begin to lift and raise your ribcage upwards so you start to arch your back. Bring your arms around and rest them on your lower back, pushing your pelvis forward slightly as you do so to feel the stretch through your whole upper body and thighs.
We’re all so busy being… well, busy, that we forget it can be good to be lazy once in a while, even if it’s just for a morning. Neuroscientists are increasingly finding that our brains depend on downtime to process the data we’re deluged with on a daily basis. Time doing nothing enables our brains to consolidate memory and reinforce learning by strengthening the neural pathways that make such feats possible. It’s the perfect excuse to stick on an easy-watching, feel-good film and sit back for the day. I watched all three Bridget Jones movies back-to-back on one of my vacation days and it felt wonderful!
Skip the shower
Yep, you heard me right! While you’re in sloth mode, don’t bother getting washed either. With no work in the morning I skipped a shower or two during my week off, and apparently, it’s pretty good for you. Studies have found that washing less frequently benefits your skin. That’s because your skin is teeming with beneficial bacteria that actually produce their own antibodies to fight off viruses and bad bacteria. Taking a day off from the soap helps keep your skin’s microbes healthy and happy so they can do their job of protecting you. Granted it’s hard to do this when you’re working, but perhaps give it a try over a weekend. Plus it’s amazing how much you appreciate feeling squeaky clean when you do get a wash.
Curl up for a catnap
We all know sleeping gives our brain and body the opportunity to re-boot and rejuvenate. According to researchers, we’re actually designed to nap around mid-afternoon, and all it takes is between 10 and 20 minutes of shuteye to feel the benefits. So if you find yourself nodding off around 3pm go with it and enjoy. Again, this may not be one for the working week (or maybe it is…), but be sure to get involved when you’re on vacation – I certainly did!
Live in the moment
I’ve realized I spend far too much time rushing around and planning for the future and not enough on just living in the moment. So, during my annual leave I decided to finally take heed of some of this mindfulness malarkey!
Mindfulness opportunities are everywhere, so it’s easy to embrace. For example, when in bed, try focusing on the softness and texture of the duvet across your skin as you pull the covers over you. If meeting friends or family, take time to really feel their embrace, notice the smell of their hair and the color of their clothing. When making dinner, concentrate on the shape and texture of the veg as you chop. Anything done mindfully can become a mini ritual to prevent you worrying or over-thinking, leaving you better able to enjoy the moment. I tried to embrace this throughout my whole time off and it definitely felt longer for it.