The spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. The birds are singing, plants are emerging from the ground and flowers are blooming in their brightness. For me, I feel better when I'm immersed in nature. What’s even better is bringing nature inside. In honor of Earth Month, I want to share some of my methods that are easy to incorporate into daily life that have lots of positive benefits.
- Get grounded by taking a walk in your bare feet through the moist morning grass. This not only helps you feel more rooted with nature, it can also assist in resetting your circadian rhythm.
- Shower Power is a way to boost circulation and energy. If you shower in the morning, end it with a 30- second blast of cool water. The temperature change improves blood flow and helps with focus. If you want to breathe a little deeper, you can always use a drop of eucalyptus oil in the shower.
- Inhale energy with essential oils (EOs). Simply place a drop of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) or peppermint (Menta x piperita) essential oil in your palm. Rub your hands together and cup your hands over your nose and breathe deeply. You can also place drops in a diffuser to bring energy into a room.
- Use flowers to focus. A couple of essential oils. I like to use are spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (Menta x piperita). You can add EOs to lotion or a diffuser.
- Close your eyes and cover your right nostril with your right thumb. Exhale all the air from your lungs through your left nostril, and then inhale through the same nostril for four counts. Next, keep your right nostril closed with your thumb and use your right ring finger to close your left nostril; hold for four counts. Lift your thumb and exhale slowly through your right nostril for eight counts. Now inhale through your right nostril for four counts and use your thumb to close your right nostril for four counts. Lift your ring finger. Repeat five times. This is a great practice to do outside, especially in the quiet woods. If you get caught up in wondering if you're doing it right, just simply breathe!
- If you feel anxious or unsettled, take a piece of paper and pen and list your worries or concerns. Once you have them out of your head, ball up the paper and toss it in the trash. You can also shred or burn it. I love to do this ritual at the beginning of a new year to let go of things that don’t serve me. A fun practice is to burn it on a camp fire outdoors.
- Use your ears. In Traditional Chinese Medicine there is auriculotherapy where you use acupressure points for health and wellness. To ease stress, pinch the bottom of one of your earlobes with your thumb and index finger. Maintain the pressure for two minutes as you breathe deeply. Repeat on the other ear. You can incorporate an essential oil as well to help calm the vagus nerve. These include Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides) or bergamot (Citrus bergamia).
- Visualize a waterfall. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, picture yourself entering a cave behind a waterfall. Imagine that your thoughts and concerns have moved to the falling water, washing away and leaving you feeling more calm. Want more guided visualizations? Check out the recordings.
- Have a headache? Place 4 drops of feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) flower essences on your fingertips and rub them on your temples and the insides of your wrists. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
- Take some time out! Once an hour, at your desk, set a timer. When the timer goes off, take a deep breath and stand up (if you don’t have a standing desk) and walk around. Lack of movement creates fatigue, so move, stretch your body and just breathe and be present with yourself for a couple of minutes. Notice how your energy level changes. You'll have better results, walking outside and breathing in fresh air.
- Do you have mid-afternoon energy issues? Combine 4 drops each of peppermint (Mentha x piperita) and lemon (Citrus x limon) essential oils in a 4-ounce spray bottle filled to the top with fresh filtered water. Add 6 drops of nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) and cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus) flower essences. Lightly mist on your face and neck and breathe it in. Try some other homemade remedies to boost energy.
- Find peace with Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata). This beautiful flower relieves stress, anxiety and promotes sound sleep. Personally, I’ve steeped 1 teaspoon of dried herb in a cup of water for 10 minutes. Strain and drink 1-2 cups 30 minutes after dinner. There are also blended teas on the market that contain Passion flower.
- Rejuvenate with forward folding (standing or lying down). If you’re standing, you can bend your knees as much as you need or use props to bring the floor to you. If you’re lying down, you can use a wall to support your legs. Moving through a Yoga Stretch class that incorporates hamstrings, hips and twists to get the full experience.
- In the shower, place a handful of moistened Epsom salts in your hands and gently rub your arms, legs and torso. The salts wake up the body and encourage circulation. Add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil to either bring calm or energy to your night or day. One of my favorite combinations is lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and ylang ylang (Cananga odorata) to help me fall and stay asleep.
- Be positive. Studies reveal that people who live past 100 years of age are a “glass half full” type of person. If you find yourself thinking about a future event, take five minutes to imagine that it will have a positive outcome. Better yet, take a few minutes in nature to clear your head.
- Give yourself a foot massage (or better yet, have someone else do it)! Lie on your back with your arms at your sides, palms up, knees bent with your bare feet on the floor. Keeping your knees off the ground, press the soles of your feet together and rub them briskly against each other for a minute. You can also do a little reflexology on yourself and place a tennis or myofascial ball under your feet and move your foot across the ball working especially in the arch. If you have a porch, patio or yard, go outside and look at the sky when you do this.
As you move through Earth Month, try some or all of these methods. Perhaps share with friends and family. Take it step further. On Saturday, April 22, celebrate Earth Day and get inspired to be one with nature and look for ways to help the beautiful planet we all share.