Flood-watch days, black ice warnings or perhaps threats of a tornado can put a busy agenda on hold. The car stays in the garage or driveway. Long to-do lists get pushed over to the next day. Instead of moaning the disruption, these unanticipated hours of unplanned activities can be called gifts of time. Slowing down a fast-paced life even in small increments can lead to a more relaxed state of mind, reducing anxiety and stress. Here are some alternative and more traditional ways to unwind and disconnect.
We are all stressed, according to Terry Segal, a licensed psychotherapist. “We are granted a certain amount of time on this earth. We must make time for what’s important to us,” she said.
In her book, “The Enchanted Journey: Finding the Key that Unlocks You,” she advocates 10 keys, including mindfulness, altered perceptions, journaling, art, nature and meditation. Rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, Segal advocates that we be more aware of living in the present.
Yoga is known to help harmonize your mind, body and spirit, according to Tanya Jacobson, a registered yoga teacher. Yoga with meditation should be performed together but it doesn’t mean that everyone who meditates does yoga.
“Meditation is a daily practice, just like brushing your teeth.” By doing meditation, something “neurophysically happens to the brain in a positive way.” Certain personalities, those always on the go – firing from multiple burners without catching their breaths – will say they don’t have time to meditate or do yoga. But they’re the ones who need it most, Jacobson said.
“You cannot reach your potential if you cannot quiet the mind.” It’s easy and it’s free. There needs to be a willingness to try something new. She suggested meditating when waking up in the morning, before getting out of bed. “Rest your right hand on your belly, left hand on your heart. Become aware of your breath.”
Jacobson’s own mother, in her early 80s, does chair yoga, which is accessible for all ages. She talked about the negative side of life when “you’re angry, sad, frustrated, anxious – the negative feelings” and how the body is “shrinking, becoming smaller.” To create a positive feeling, she said to think of “love, health, joy, energy,” which are “plus signs.” Meditation, as part of yoga, increases one’s awareness “to a state of positivity,” said Jacobson, who teaches at Peachtree Yoga Center in Sandy Springs.
Another place to give off positive energy is in your home through feng shui, the ancient Chinese art and science of placing items in such a way to inspire positive energy. Besides one’s personality, it involves surrounding yourself with de-cluttered spaces, including all rooms, basements, closets, cabinets and drawers.
That kind of energy “is a bundle of one’s desirable attributes, both in a person and their home,” said Roberta Grant, who is certified in feng shui. “A person who is optimistic, enthusiastic, cheerful, and kind has and gives off positive energy which is felt by others.”
In the home, she suggests focusing on letting sunlight into the rooms, including houseplants and flowers, de-cluttering, applying a fresh coat of paint, and hanging artwork. “Always live with what you love and makes you smile.”
For Jews, Shabbat prescribes for us a day of rest. Rabbi Jason Holtz of Temple Kehillat Chaim in Roswell noted that for him, “Shabbat is a reminder of what it means to be a human being. We’re not created just to be creators ourselves. For many of us, our work is fulfilling, meaningful and valued by others. At the same time, how well we live life isn’t just measured by our output.”
Shabbat can focus our attention on other important things, such as our family, … our own well-being, and our community, he said. “Finding the right balance in life can be a challenge, but Shabbat comes every week to help us out.”