Effective tips to simplify and harmonize your life without actually taking a 3 month nap.
October is a month to transition into balance. Just as the seasonal change shows us, it is time to slow the blooming, blossoming, and bright colors of summer, and opt for balance by shedding the leaves and letting the dust settle.
We must come into harmony with ourselves. Settle into the patterns we’ve created during the year thus far, and commit to our work. We must begin to ‘hibernate.’ Rather then take on more challenges, we must now refine the progress we’ve made.
Sure, stuffing our faces with honey and taking a nap all winter sound like a tempting way to hibernate, but here I’ll describe a few different ways to introduce balance into your life without opting out of participating altogether.
The below ideas are a few simple ways to be a little more ‘homebody’ in the spirit of hibernation and balance, and a little less ‘go go go.’ These are practices that have helped me to find a sense of balance and grounding even when it feels like a non-stop on the go rigamarole every single day! Hope they help you to establish some new routines or revamp old ones, so you are on your way to balance, harmony, and a nice long nap.
Practice Yoga at Home
What kind of yoga teacher/blogger would I be if I did not suggest incorporating a home yoga practice into your life? One fantastic way to bring in balance is to practice asana yoga (postures) at home. This doesn’t have to mean elaborate 90 minutes flows with peak poses and structured sequences, as a matter of fact, it could be as straightforward as sitting in child’s pose for 5 minutes, or better yet, savasana.
Simplicity is key (we’re working towards harmony and balance, remember?!)
Try some staple warm up movements: cow and cat, thread the needle, side stretches, and simple forward folds. Standing forward folds are great for decompression (both physically and mentally!) and can generally be held for a few minutes at a time. Reclined twists are also a nice way to restore and ‘detox’ and can usually be held for a few minutes at a time. Perhaps work up to a downward facing dog and commit to just stretching your whole body there. Maybe a few standing balances, like tree pose, to create focus and stability.
Listen to your body.
No need for big movements, warrior poses, or even to break a sweat. The point here is to just allow some space to ‘balance’ your life by bringing that mind/body connection energy into your home space. When you invite yoga practice into your home space, a neutralizing or harmonizing process occurs. You form restorative habits that impact your psyche on a subtle level. New associations in the subconscious that express: home is restorative and rejuvenating. A slight shift in your overall energy occurs and your mind and body are triggered to relax in a constructive way when you get home, instead of buzzing through piles of to-do lists or taking more onto your plate.
Bonus tip: find a place to leave your yoga mat open and ready for use. If you see it out and easily accessible, you’ll be more likely to hop on it- even if just for a quick downward dog.
Develop Good Eating Habits
Sounds simple enough, but believe it or not, eating habits are one of the quickest ways to either add to our internal harmony or dispel it.
Just like the chaos of running around from place to place all day makes us tired and fatigued, so too do non-regular eating habits on our digestion.
Revamp and simplify.
Prepare your own food as much as possible. Meal prep is a great tool here. Make large batches of simple foods that are limited on ingredients, like beans or grains. Mix and match grains with legumes for a complete protein, and throw fresh cut vegetables on top for easy lunches or dinners.
Simplify your palette, too. Opt to eat well, instead of eating what ‘tastes good.’ Sure, we all would rather have a slice of pizza every day for lunch, but a green salad with tons of freshly cut, in-season veggies will bring your body chemistry into balance, and also do a great job at detoxifying your body. Slowly you’ll begin to see patterns in how your body responds to different foods, and also incorporate things that you enjoy. In this way, with discipline, you learn to like healthy foods, and that becomes ‘what tastes good.’
I’m not saying never eat pizza again (lol, I would never say that!) but if you eat a huge salad, or quinoa burgers everyday, instead of whatever you can grab at the corner store in a rush, your body will recognize the difference. Over time, with routine and discipline, you’ll feel more balanced, your digestion will be more 'harmonious’ and you even a sense of fulfillment by preparing your own food and taking care of yourself.
Try these tips for ‘clean eating’ that include cake for breakfast here.
Clean Your Spaces
Ok, nobody really likes cleaning. Period. But, I promise it’s worth it. Just like preparing your own food at first can be tedious, challenging, and, maybe a bit tasteless, cleaning, too, can be something we put off until after our hibernation period, but we miss out on an essential life balance experience.
I’ll say it like this, it can be very rewarding to care for your physical spaces, your things, even your body, regularly, and methodically in the same way we can dork out about organizing our favorite book shelf or folding laundry. Monotonous productivity gives way to relaxation.
Sure, dishes pile up in the sink and dust on the floors, on a regular basis. But- when you do finally get to it, try to approach with a sense of purification and cleansing. Appreciation of the things you are cleaning. Thank the dishes for quite literally serving you, the floor for grounding, the mirror for reflection….
Sounds silly but cleaning things teaches us appreciation. And the more we appreciate it, the more frequently we find ourselves cleaning it. And, as they say cleanliness is next to godliness.
Connect With Nature
There is so much to be said for the power of getting your feet dirty. Put time and effort into interacting with nature. Pot plants, and take care of a garden. Make a habit of seeing the sunset at your favorite beach. Create art with found objects. Collect trash on your local trail.
When you put kind effort and attention out to the universe it comes back to you. Give any of these or other mindful practices a try and notice the impact. Nature itself has a therapeutic effect on our spirits and our parasympathetic nervous system. Pair that natural restoration with an intentional effort to set aside your daily ‘monkey mind’ and all of the pieces of the narrative of your life and you’re well on your way to invoking new balance and harmony into your psyche.
Hibernation is a lot about turning inward, and turning back to the essence of all that is.
Do Less & Be More
One result of the overstimulated, overscheduled, modern lifestyle is an inability to relax. It’s hard to find time to just stop when every moment is planned and our mind is pulled in a million directions at once. We try to fit in too much and ultimately end up worse off because of it.
Opt out of over commitments, opt out of superfluous interactions, conversations, complex foods, even yoga poses. Less is More.
Choose to hibernate in an effort to create balance. Allow yourself to relax, knowing that will be far more beneficial than the overplanning and running around. Sure, we can’t stop all the chaos altogether, but we can opt out when we know we’d be best served by meal prepping, and doing some yoga at home, for example, instead of going out, stressing about being late, paying for parking, looking for our friends, missing the show and turning around to go home anyway.
The last tip for building balance and simplicity into life is to sleep. So often in our modern world, because of overstimulation and the sense that ‘there aren’t enough hours in the day’ perhaps because we haven’t done yoga, have been eating poorly, left a mess, and haven’t taken a walk to the beach in a while… sleep is the first thing to go.
To this I say: STOP!
All of these tips to help simplify won’t help in the slightest if you don’t sleep enough.
You’ll be more full and prepared to take care of all the chaotic demands of your life if you are well rested and your body and mind have had a chance to properly ‘hibernate.’
Don’t believe me? Listen to this life changing podcast.
Hibernation in 2019...
is more about learning to simplify your approach, then ever actually getting a nap in. Balance and harmony are totally within our reach if we make the concerted effort to invite simplicity into our day to day. Practice yoga at home, eat well, keep clean, be in nature, do less everything, sleep a lot, and you just might wake up at the end of this winter a new bear!