What a lovely week it was. As you might guess, for me that means spending plenty of time outdoors in communion with nature, both solo, and sharing with others.
My three Forest Bathing groups were very diverse – one from Southern California, one from the country of Cyprus and one from Florida – yet they have much in common. All are employing practices to give balance to their otherwise stressful lives. I met a business owner, a graduate student, two accountants, an IT professional and a medical industry professional.
They all booked the experience to take place early in their travels with the intention of setting the tone for a retreat into nature. I feel honored to guide them in this practice and to provide them with tools to take on their travels and into their lives at home. As I tell them, it’s my favorite thing to do.
Any type of mindful practice, which employs present moment awareness, works to reduce stress. On one of my solo outings this week, I came across a neat little brochure on 16 ways to reduce stress during your workday. Someone had left a few on rocks here and there, with the intention of being found. Yes, I know there’s some environmental impact, but I loved that the goal was to help others find peace. So, I’m sharing with you in a more environmentally friendly way.
Begin each day with meditation
Rather than jumping out of bed and rushing to start your day, take 5 or 10 (or 20) minutes to meditate and read inspiring quotes. Beginning this way gives you a sense of peace that will manifest itself all day.
When you face a crisis during the day, think challenge. When you face an obstacle, think opportunity. It will boost your energy.
Remember, you’re human, and you get to make mistakes
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you make a mistake. Everybody does. Learn by it and move on.
Maintain an open-door policy in your heart for everyone you encounter during the day. Greet everyone with a smile. It puts both the giver and the receiver in a better frame of mind.
Observe your breathing
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, connect to your breath. With each out breath feel the stress begin to fade.
Take a brisk walk
Experts note that exercise is effective in burning off the excess adrenaline that fuels your feelings of anxiety and stress. Exercise also releases those feel good body chemicals, endorphins, that block anxiety and pain.
Take time to be a kid again
Be playful, explore, build a fort, try something new, jump in puddles, color outside the lines, dance like no one’s watching. In short, just have fun!
Be mindful of what you put in your body
We oftentimes eat quickly and mindlessly. If you work at an office, be sure to take time to eat your lunch away from your desk. If you are at home most of the time, set the table and enjoy your meal. This will help you to make healthy food choices. And be sure to limit your caffeine intake as well. There are many delicious and healthy options to keep you hydrated.
Practice mindfulness throughout your day
Keep your thoughts to the present moment as much as possible. If you’re working on a project, do your best right now. There is nothing you can do about the past, and there’s no need to worry about what the future may or may not bring.
Let there be music
The right music can take you from an anxious, tense place to relaxed in a very short time. Let the music move you both physically and emotionally. Many people find the music of nature to be the most effective.
If you work, don’t bring it home with you
If you work at home, be sure to have an area that is strictly for work, preferably a separate room with a door. At the end of your workday, sit quietly for a few moments and consciously make the transition from work to home.
And don’t forget to dance in the rain.