Even though it's the first of September, I'm still in favor of the late summer vibes that remind me to slow down and relax. But the reality is that at the beginning of every fall, I find that time seems to fly by faster and faster. Many are now back to school and college, getting ready for fall sports, studies and busy weeks. Summer Fridays are on their way out, and vacation time is quickly fading in the face of "productivity" and schedules.
In one month, we're getting married and heading off on an exciting journey around Peru and Mexico. Tracking these final wedding tasks feel like a second career, in addition to my actual job which is buzzing with projects, strategy and planning. We have family travel and weddings every weekend over the next three weeks, and all I can think is "who has the time?"
Well, quite frankly, we all do. And I'm realizing that it's simply about finding it, and making it a priority.
In 2010, Dan Buettner wrote an interesting book on what he deemed "The Blue Zones", five regions of the world with the highest longevity and population of centenarians. Buettner was tapped by National Geographic to travel to these locations, in areas such as the highlands of Sardinia, Okinawa, Japan, and an island off of Greece, and learn more about what contributes to their citizens' long lives.
Buettner was recently featured in the New York Times discussing a longevity diet, which, true to American fashion was the most publicized output of what he discovered among the populations. But it was another key commonality that he wrote about that I appreciated even more: that people in the Blue Zones all shared in the ability to downshift - taking time every day to pause, de-stress and rejuvenate.
While many of us can only wish to live to 100, it's hard to ignore the relationship between stress and aging - which we all do, regardless of fighting it, every single day. And so, these last weeks of summer are a great reminder to incorporate a bit of slow living into every day in order to give our bodies and minds a break. As expressed in Lynn Ungar's poem that I posted Friday, even when you're not busy doing, you are still being, and that is perfectly enough. Below are a few ways that I will be reintroducing breaks, particularly over these next few weeks, to incorporate a bit more rest into each day.
Tips for Downshifting
- Bathe in silence. In an average week, I'm always coming or going, and my immediate inclination is to plug in - to music, podcasts or another stream of digital information. But lately I've found that silence truly is golden, and I've been unplugging from headphones, and the news, and giving my ears and mind a rest. The result? I feel calmer, a greater sense of spaciousness, and more connected to my surroundings versus my thoughts.
- Get up and out. Since starting a new job in May, I've found just how powerful it is to take a break from the office, and computer, during the day to clear the mind and refresh the spirit. We've also started incorporating night walks to help disconnect from media and chores in the evenings and stay connected to each other and the outdoors. On those nights, I find myself floating to sleep easier, and waking up more recharged and ready for the next day.
- Find your place of peace. Growing up, there was a particular jetty on the Long Island Sound that was my shrine of relaxation - a place where I could go and be away from worry and completely present. When I lived in Manhattan, it was the Jacquelyn Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. On most days now, I climb a hill in our neighborhood to take pause and breathe. Whether it's a room in your home, a place in your garden or a neighborhood park, find your sanctuary - a place where you immediately feel peace simply upon arrival.