Photo courtesy: Brittany Ricketts of Wylder Coffee Co
We live in a society where restlessness is pervasive. We define ourselves by our own busy-ness, always seeking ways to manipulate our nervous systems in an effort to add more. As we continue to add to that equation, without making space to subtract (rest), we harbor stress in the body that can quickly lead to dis-ease.
"Anthropologists tell us the body that experiences stress has not changed much over the millions of years of being human. Our ancestors had the same anatomical and physiological characteristics as we who drive freeways and communicate via the information superhighway. We have an ancient body subjected to a modern problem: living with chronic stress. At one time, stress was a term used chiefly by physiologists who measured its effects in their laboratories. Today the term is used in common parlance. "I'm stressed out" is a familiar idiom describing how a life lived on overload affects health, sexual function and reproduction, relationships, job performance, athletic performance, and, most important, our sense of self. The effects of stress have reached epidemic proportions in our lives, and stress-related diseases have become a medical specialty." - Excerpt from Relax and Renew: Yoga for Stressful Times by Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.
The antidote to stress? Slowing Down.
The nervous system responds well to the freedom that happens when we slow down and allow the body space to simply be and breathe. But as we know very well, rest does not come easy. It takes time to unravel, as we aren't quite designed to do 100 to 0, therefore the process requires practice.
With September's arrival, we are experiencing a time of heightened transition. There is a crisp breeze that begins to blanket our skin. The days become shorter, darker, and more introspective. In Ayurveda, autumn is known as vata season, composed of dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool, subtle, and clear elements (which can be felt emotionally as well). The air element is predominant and prana (the vital breath, the subtle essence of life) is abundant in the atmosphere, harboring a certain emptiness that can leave us feeling exposed and a little raw, but it is also filled with possibility — a time when we, too, can strip down to a quiet essence of being and savor the simplicity.
When considering the Ayurvedic principle that opposites balance, vata season can be less aggravating if filled with warmth, deep nourishment, loving relationships, and a sense of grounding, stability and routine. Therefore, autumn is a wonderful time to adopt a nourishing self-care routine that offers us the benefit of slowing down, while simultaneously helping to restore and heal the nervous system after days, weeks, months and even years of chronic stress.
In honoring this seasonal transition, we asked a few women within the Boketto family to share the rituals, unique to them, that allow them to hold space for themselves and slow down. And while the art of slowing down looks and feels very different for all, we hope that these rituals inspire your self-care practices in an intentional, tangible way.
Alexis Smart of Alexis Smart Flower Remedies
My biggest challenge with slowing down is not the actual slowing down, but the worry that I am being unproductive or neglecting my duty when I slow down. My natural rhythm is actually slow and I tend more to stagnation. I used to overcompensate by rushing, forcing and overdoing it. All that did was cause frenetic energy, anxiety and eventually, adrenal depletion. On top of this, I found that doing things when I was in that state usually led to mistakes in my work, parking tickets, forgetfulness, all things chaotic. I have learned that my energy ebbs and flows during the day, so I ride it like a wave..if I am feeling energetic, that’s when I tackle things I don’t really want to do. It’s easy to do stuff you love, so I do those things when I am feeling low, as they give me energy.
When I was young and frustrated that I hadn’t accomplished something, as my plans had been thwarted by circumstance, my mother shared something very helpful. In the I Ching (also known as Classic of Changes or Book of Changes), they say that when there is a storm at sea, the fishermen use that as an opportunity to sit on the shore and mend their nets. So now, when I am slowing down and being more introspective and the guilt or duty-mind starts freaking out, I remind myself that I’m preparing for more favorable work conditions. I’m “mending my nets.”
Bethany Frazier of Maven Made
The past few winters seems to bring on a bit of gloom, so I'm looking forward to incorporating some easy and manageable self-care rituals to boost energy levels and provide inner harmony. Besides feeling glorious on my skin, basking in the morning sunlight for 30 minutes in my sun room or outside not only provides natural warmth, but it also relieves SAD symptoms by suppressing melatonin levels in the pineal glad. Heighten this experience by basking nude under a window or skylight, it feels amazing.
Dry brushing for a couple of minutes before showering has become my jam. It's a simple way to feel instantly energized and holds so many benefits including boosting the immune system, detoxifying blood, increasing metabolism, smoothing skin, nourishing the autonomic nervous system and aiding digestion. For an added bonus, I add a few drops or rosemary, peppermint or lemon essential oil directly to the brush bristles or slather the Lymphatic Body Elixir oil on my skin after dry brushing. Nighttime baths require some logistics, but is totally worth it. For a full ritual experience, I ingest flower essences (as well as putting a few drops in warm bath water) while setting an intention (letting go, feeling sensual, deep meditation, being alone, etc). I'll add essential oils (that most correlate with my intention), salts, flower petals + drop a rose quartz in the water with me. I've found lighting candles is lovely but also plugging in my Himalayan salt lamp adds the most beautiful glow to a small bathroom.
Brittany Ricketts of Wylder Coffee Co.
R E T U R N T O B R E A T H.
The summer's energy has been a whirlwind of play, community, and glee. There have been days by the water, friends gathering from all around, and connections to others deepened. As fun as it is, the turn of the season always brings a new energy.
The air is crisp and the coolness of it is noticed as we sip it in. As the lungs fill, it feels like there is more to be breathed and the noticing of the breath creates a pause. It's the season to return to the breath and sit with the natural pauses; to let cool seasons bring more time to go within. The quiet is where we find our individual health and the rituals we want to cultivate for ourselves and community.
Lindsay Kluge of Ginger Tonic Botanicals
During the Seasons of Fall and Winter, I have three practices that I always incorporate to infuse essential self-care into my routine. These darker months are my ideal opportunity to allow time and space to decrease my work pace and refill, re-build, nourish and re-charge back up so much of the energy I've expended in the height of summer.
I remove email from my phone. Completely. Having constant access to my multiple emails legitimately causes me stress, and during these darker months removing them from my line of sight helps SO MUCH to calm down, relax my brain on my time off, and not feel so apt to be 'On' all of the time. This has made a world of difference.
I don't schedule things after 5:00pm. In the spring and summer, I often teach more classes and workshops in the evenings, but when it gets darker so much earlier, this is my yearning time to just be at home, eating early and curling up with a good book and my pup at my feet.
I devote 10 hours to sleep every night because this is without a doubt how much I really need. Solid, restful and dream-filled sleep is something I value extremely highly, and pretty much nothing comes between me and my circadian rhythm, especially in the darker months. When I don't hit this many hours consistently, I'm not functioning at my best, and I feel it.
This season, may you find comfort and ease in the rituals that allow you to slow down.
Blog content curated by Women's Health Specialist Allison Walton exclusively for Boketto Wellness.