Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The importance of R & R

When was the last time you gave yourself time for some real Rest & Relaxation? For many of us I think the answer will be "I'm not sure...". Somehow we've created a society where we're always busy, always doing, never just allowing ourselves to just "be". We feel we must always be seen to be filling our days - working full time, exercising before or after work (which overall is a positive thing, but sometimes we can take it too far), always filling our weekends with socialising, making sure our homes are unrealistically clean and tidy (again, not a bad thing, no one wants to live like a slob, but sometimes we should cut ourselves slack), and trying to keep up with the Joneses. In fact if we're not "doing" many of us feel guilty. The internal voice begins to say "I really should be doing something right now...".

Those of us who have found yoga, meditation and mindfulness often do find it a little easier to let ourselves just "be" from time-to-time. We make time in our week to practice "being", but more often than not it can be too easy even in these times of "being" to let our little internal voice start creeping in..."when I get home I must put the washing on...WHY did I say that to the boss today?!...what do I need to organise for tomorrow?..."

For so many of us our minds are always in the past or the future, often oscillating between the two, and we drag our bodies from A to B to C. We rarely, properly, RELAX and REST both body and mind. But what if we did? What if we took time for some real R & R? AND didn't feel guilty. In fact we loved every moment. Well, this was my challenge on my recent holiday to Crete with my boyfriend. In the weeks and months leading up to this holiday I had been working my ass off (big time!). I love my job, and I'm always teaching others to take time for themselves, but it's something that I rarely get a chance to do myself. It was time to practice what I preach. (And when you have your own business this is even harder!). But I knew I had pushed myself almost too far, it really was time to rest and relax...

The holiday could not have come at a more perfect time. In the first three weeks of June I taught as many (if not more) classes than I usually would in a whole month. I was happy, but exhausted both in body and mind. The journey to our holiday wasn't the most restful (thank you traffic and the stress / sadness of the referendum result...), but as soon as we got to our hotel at around midnight local time, our heads hit the pillow, no alarm was set, and I immediately settled in for a week of R & R....

It was pure bliss to wake up the next day in our own time, knowing that we had zero responsibility. We had no plans other than to enjoy each other's company, to lounge on the beach / by the pool, and to eat and drink whatever we pleased. Now I'm not going to launch into a long description of our week, this isn't a post about going on holiday, but what we did do was completely relax and rest. I did take my yoga gear and running shoes with good intention, but the most I did all week was 15 mins in the mornings of yoga in my pants, doggie paddling in the pool, and strolling alongside the ocean. We took one boat trip and ventured out of the hotel one evening to eat at a divine restaurant (if you go to Crete I HIGHLY recommend Votsalo in Gouves - best restaurant EVER!), but aside from that we did sweet F all and had the most wonderful week. I have never felt more relaxed, more rested and more happy (we laughed a lot!!) in my whole life.

And aside from picking up a cold on the plane home, I can tell that this week of R & R has been a much need boost for both my body and mind. It's like magic. I now feel more positive, more energetic, more full of love, and I'm bringing those vibes into my teaching and daily life.

But our holiday only comes around once or twice a year (if we're lucky, some years we must go without). And yet we know we need more of it. How else can we build R & R into our daily lives? Well lucky for you I've had a little think and here are some of my ideas...


Actually plan it into your day / week / month / year. Maybe even write it into your calendar. And never, never skip it because you end up being too busy. If you really have to miss it at the time you had planned, make sure you move it to the not-to-distant future. It is essential for your health and wellbeing.


So you've set time aside...but what will you do in that time? Some of us find it impossible to just sit and meditate, and that's okay, but what else can you try? I suggest the TV should be avoided as a form of R & R...this might be controversial but mindlessly sitting in front of a screen is not resting that will rejuvenate you (the same goes for our phones). Reading is a good option (but not anything to do with your studies if you're a student! This is time to rest!). Mandala colouring books have recently become popular. Taking a gentle walk. Spending quality time with a loved one over a cup of tea and really checking in with one another and listening to one another. It doesn't have to be complicated, in fact it's imperative that it's not, but just find a simple relaxing scenario and commit yourself to it for your scheduled time.


Of course we'd all love to treat ourselves on a regular basis, and for some of us we can, but if you're a bit strapped for cash (as I am!) then it can feel impossible to justify spending money on relaxing... If this is the case then you must acknowledge to yourself that this time is integral to your wellbeing and you deserve to be WELL. And things don't have to cost a bomb. Some things are even free - e.g. going for a walk in the forest. One obvious way is to treat yourself to a spa day, and of course these can be super expensive, but they don't always have to be if you do some research... for example a Time Out Monday - Friday spa experience at Nirvana in Wokingham is only £35 for 3 hours of pure indulgence!

A less obvious option may be heading to a sound therapy session such as a Crystal Singing Bowl or Gong Bath experience. My good friend and fellow yoga teacher Chloe Watts does regular Gong Baths in the Berkshire area, you can check out her upcoming events here. They aren't pricey and are a really incredible way to spend an hour - on the floor, wrapped in a blanket, listening to beautiful and indulgent sounds. Pure bliss!

So these steps are all very, very simple, but sometimes all we need is someone to remind us that we are allowed to rest and to almost give us permission. So just in case you need it, permission from me: YOU are special. YOU are must look after yourself. YOU are allowed to rest and relax. YOU are worth it (sorry L'Oreal!).

Or course I fully understand that all of this gets much more difficult once children are thrown into the mix, but all it takes is a little more planning and some communication with your partner. Acknowledge that you both need time to rest and work out a tag-in tag-out situation where you both get your time. And if you can make time to also rest together - grandparents / Aunties / Uncles / older siblings and cousins are there for a reason!

Do you have any further tips on how to make sure you get your R & R? Or any other ideas for R & R? I'd love to hear them!

Love & light beauties!

Lucy x

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