The human heart is like a ship on a stormy sea driven about by winds blowing from all four corners of heaven.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
As I woke earlier this week, I noticed that my heart was heavy, and my mind was already full. It wasn’t yet six o’clock, and Covid-19, protests, and death tolls had filled my mind even before thoughts of coffee and breakfast had made an appearance.
There is turmoil across the world and closer to home. Even if we disconnect from television and the Internet, we are aware of those around us who struggle during these challenging times. It is easy to want to pull the covers back over your head and sleep away the chaos.
We need rest, not sleep. Rest refreshes, re-energizes, and gives us the strength to continue. Activities that provide the most value are personal, something that you enjoy. And, they are intentional. You receive the most benefit when you consciously choose to rest.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Participate in activities that engage all of your senses
You probably remember learning about the five senses in elementary school: touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. Consider activities that engage all of these.
- Write – Regardless of whether you plan to write down your thoughts, a story, or a poem, treat yourself to a sensory experience. Buy a great notebook and pen. Find items with colors and textures that are pleasing to you. Choose your activity location carefully. It could be your favorite chair next to a sunny window, the top step of your back porch, or a bench in your local park.
- Create – Spend time drawing or painting. Get into the flow. Get messy and use all the colors in the box. Focus on the pencil’s sound on the paper, or the feel of the paint flowing on the canvas.
- Garden – Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Dig in and plant flowers, fruits, or vegetables. Buy large pots to fill with technicolor plants from the local garden center.
Finally, consider the sounds around you. If your location has distracting noise, wear headphones, and listen to nature sounds or your favorite music.
Because of current travel limitations, many of us have been unable to take vacations, visit family, or “just get away.” A mini-vacation is a brief escape from our daily stress and can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as a full day.
- Take a walk – Get moving and get a change of scenery at the same time. Start by taking a walk around your neighborhood or heading over to a nearby park. While you walk, look for things you don’t ordinarily notice. Notice how light filters through the trees or the roses are in your neighbor’s yard. Listen to the sound of your steps on the sidewalk.
- Go to the woods – For hundreds of years, the Japanese have embraced the practice called shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing. The sound, scent, and feel of the forest renews the soul. Go for a walk, a hike, or just find a quiet space to sit and absorb the forest.
- Connect with water – Water has been known to have healing properties around the world. For hundreds of years, people have traveled to the sea or hot springs to “take in” the water. Go to the nearest pond, lake, river, or beach and explore the sound, smell, and touch of water. At home, take a soothing bath or place a water fountain in your workspace.
Lean into spiritual practices
Spiritual practices help us to connect to something greater than ourselves and help us to connect to ourselves. There are many forms of spirituality to explore; some are based on religion and others from cultural backgrounds.
- Prayer – Prayer is a practice of letting go, turning over our worries, stresses, and concerns to a higher power. Prayer can be formal, reciting memorized, or written prayers. Or, prayer can be a more casual and free form experience.
- Meditation – The practice of meditation helps to detach from the thoughts and emotions that cause turmoil. Meditation can be either a practice of releasing or one of receiving. In some forms of meditation, the focus on noticing thoughts and then letting go. More contemplative practices include sorting through the thoughts that come up and seeking that quiet space of awareness between thoughts.
- Reading – Take time to read texts which are uplifting and encouraging. For some, it may be religious texts, including the Bible, the Talmud, or the Dao De Jing. Other readings might include famous quotes, poetry, or daily devotionals.
Regardless of the activity you choose, take a break, and do one thing today to give yourself the rest.
. . . . .
Seeking Health and Happiness One Day at a Time.
Marcy Berg is a writer and therapist living in the Pacific Northwest and Exploring thoughts on mental health, wellness, and happiness. She can also be found at Growing Through Life