12 ways to make your life feel like a retreat
To be truly well means caring for and connecting to all parts of ourselves; our physical bodies, minds, hearts and spirits. By making some gentle tweaks and upgrades in the way we care for ourselves, we can be healthier and in turn happier in all we do.
Here’s what we could (and should) all do on a daily basis to keep our lives in check…
1. Rest up
More being, less doing. Rest and relaxation is fundamental to our health, yet it is often at the bottom of the diary pile. As a rule, listen to your body; if you are tired, rest. Sometimes it’s more important to get that extra hours sleep than it is to hit that early gym class. And that is not just an excuse, it’s key to wellbeing.
2. Honour your natural rhythm
Try and do the same things at the same time, every day. Eating, sleeping, meditating — your body loves a routine and it will give you more energy overall.
3. Hydrate, don’t dehydrate
Hardly groundbreaking but, according to naturopathy, being properly hydrated is the foundation of all wellbeing. It affects everything we do, how we feel and the way we think.
Aim for one glass of water per hour you are awake. Be mindful and gentle, gradually increasing your consumption week by week. Avoid drinking while eating, wait until at least an hour after, as it dilutes your stomach’s digestive acids. Instead, drink a large glass of water 30 minutes before you eat. It’ll help you differentiate thirst from hunger and in turn ensure you eat the right amount. Mix up your H2O intake with soaked foods, such as chia and congee, soups, juices and smoothies.
4. Get plant milk
If you want to make just one addition to your diet for a wellbeing upgrade, go for plant milk. It combines some of the key things we require on a cellular level to function well, such as hydration, nourishment and good oils. It takes just a few minutes to make a hemp seed milk, which is a rich source of vegan protein and good fats. Add superfoods and raw cacao, and you’ll have a grown-up amazing chocolate milk with more nutrition than on a whole breakfast plate. A win-win start the day.
5. 70/30 upgrade
Your body works incomprehensibly hard every second, to create the best home for you. But what you put in, you get out. Nourish yourself with the highest quality ingredients and products you can afford and it will give it the best possible tools to create the future you. Aim for 70% of your diet being filled with the good stuff for a solid, healthy foundation and, the rest of the time, you can do what you like. It doesn’t matter if you enjoy a burger or a glass of champagne occasionally. If you love it, do it – and really enjoy it. No guilt. Look at it as adding good stuff in, rather than eliminating. The great thing about this approach is you begin to naturally desire the less healthful things anyway, minus the stress (and FOMO) of cutting things out.
6. Get outside
Whenever you can, get as close to nature as physically possible. Walk bare feet in the grass. Roll around in the leaves of your local park (even if you get funny looks). Hug a tree (or just sit by one if you’re shy). As ‘human animals’, nature is our home and just being closer to earth on a regular basis can have a profoundly grounding and healing effect on your overall wellbeing.
7. Eat mindfully
Try keeping to whole, locally sourced, seasonal, organic ingredients. Shop in your local farmers market and get to know what’s in season — this is nature’s best menu brief. Though it can be a bit more pricey, beautiful and delicious ingredients don’t require complex recipes. Spend time preparing your food mindfully and make time to eat in a relaxed way, quietly and slowly. Not only does this help you stop when you are full, but it will support digestion and nutrient absorption.
8. Move (probably) more
The main thing is you choose a physical activity you love. It doesn’t matter what you do, just make sure you enjoy it (and get a sweat on regularly). Don’t grind out thankless hours in the gym if it’s not your thing as it just won’t stick. Walk more. Stretch a bit. Dance. It doesn’t have to be hardcore, but it does need to be regular and bring you joy.
9. Prioritise self-care + being with yourself
Stop being on the internet/your phone/your laptop at a set time each day and get present. In whichever way you fancy – meditation, yoga, being in nature, or just sitting breathing with consciousness – spend time with yourself with no stimulation. Feel what comes into your head when you give it some space. Acknowledge and be with your emotions, without judgement. This simple practice is a true act of self-care. And, bonus: the way you care for yourself will be directly reflected in the care and respect you receive from others.
10. Be with people, however unappealing it may seem
As humans we are truly social creatures. While cohabiting, working together and supporting each other, we share the good stuff and navigate the triggers, observing who we are in the reflection of others. It’s a truly nourishing part of our lives.
11. Do more of what you love
When and where do you feel the most alive, inspired, joyful, and the most ‘yourself’? Tune in to the times you were absolutely happy. How can you add more of this in to your life? Whether it’s hill walking or macramé, just do it more. The energy of joy is potent and inspirational. The more you do, the happier you feel — and the more you feel, the more you connect to your heart and your own inner wisdom.
12. Practice gratitude
There’s always something to be thankful for. Try reflecting on your day before you sleep and see who or what has supported or inspired you. Maybe it was that little bit of sunshine during your lunch break, or perhaps a friend called to say ‘hi’. Or the woman in Pret who was particularly smiley. This simple practice can create huge shifts in the way you see the world. Rather than coming from a place of ‘what’s wrong?’, turn it around and start to create a new habitual way of thinking, by looking at what’s right.
Lucy Hill is a wellbeing expert and founder of Chaya Yoga Retreats