Body and material wellness
How to balance my physical life
Below are some examples of activities that can help to balance and enhance physical wellness. Remember that because all areas are interconnected, some of these activities can overlap with mind and spiritual wellness activities. Tuning into what feels like it will be the most beneficial thing for you to do in the moment is what will be most soothing. Loosely defined, these are activities that are helpful in the moment (coping strategies) when we're feeling out of balance, or can be used as ongoing or enhancing foundational practices (self-care) that help bring more balance and health to our physical experience. They're listed in no particular order, and we're continually adding to our list, so please check back regularly.
Stretching can be a wonderful way to connect with our bodies and bring healthy blood flow and a host of other benefits. It's free and can be done almost anywhere. If you have pain or have a previous injury that flares up, it is important to speak with a doctor, physical therapist, or certified personal trainer for some stretches that may help relieve pain and prevent reinjury.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation can be a wonderful practice, especially before bed or whenever anxiety is high. It helps us get back into our bodies and serves as a mindfulness practice. This is a practice you can do most anywhere, and you can do it on your own or find a guided practice to follow. Times on the guided practice last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or so.
Step outside/Open a window
Sometimes a breath of fresh air is...a (literal) breath of fresh air. Particularly when we are feeling high anxiety, or even when we are feeling a bit down, being able to get outside (or feel it through an open window), just to be in the elements for a few moments, can feel like such a reset. It can help remind us of the bigger picture, so to speak, and can more easily allow us to shake off some of the energy caused by negative thoughts or cognitive distortions.
Tapping is a simple but powerful technique to help with a variety of struggles, including helping to reduce anxiety, stress, pain, and many more. It is another free resource that can be done just about anywhere, and really doesn't take much time. Tapping uses the meridian points of the body and steady, rhythmic, gentle taps on specific areas to help bring balance and regulation to the central nervous system.
Sage or cleanse your space
Using sage or incense or crystals for clearing or cleansing a space of any heavy or unwelcomed energy has been practiced for a long time. When done safely and intentionally in a space, saging or using incense (or a candle) can be a lovely ritual to include in keeping a balanced physical space. (It can clear energy from living beings, as well!) Crystals and other stones have also been used for a very long time in ceremonies and can be used in a variety of ways to help manage the energy of a space. They can also serve as a reminder to connect with oneself and ones' spiritual practices.
Brew a cup of tea
There is something about a warm cup of tea that can feel so comforting and calming. Try intentionally focusing on holding the tea cup with both hands, lifting it up towards your nose as you inhale the warmth of the herbs and spices, and gently taking a sip. It is a lovely ritual that can help reset us.
Yell into a pillow
Sometimes we just need to release some energy, and sometimes the most convenient (and sometimes the most helpful) way is to scream into a pillow. This can sometimes feel a little odd and uncomfortable, but it truly acts as a release of tension and can feel very carthartic.
Go for a walk
Going for a walk brings about a host of benefits for our mental and physical bodily health. There are numerous studies that show the health benefits of walking, but it can be hard to measure the clarity and connection that can come from a walk. It's another activity that can help both reduce anxiety (using visualization to imagine just a little more anxiety releasing from your body with each step, and literally using your hands to brush the energy off of your arms and shoulders) and can help bring us back to baseline from a hypoaroused (low/disconnected/dissociative) state (using breathwork and grounding techniques such as counting the first ten trees you see, then counting the first five birds you hear chirping). Starting from where your body is able, your walk can be one minute long and you will find benefit (showing kindness to yourself) and can increase by 15 seconds every few weeks. Or your walk may start at 25 minutes, and increase by five minutes every few weeks. Find what feels best for you to start.
Sometimes anxiety can be so high, or we just have a lot of energy in our bodies that the thought of sitting or lying down for a meditation causes stress. A walking meditation is a beautiful way of incorporating some movement along with breathwork and visualization into one practice. There are a variety of guided walking mediations out there, or you can create your own with intentionally focusing on the lifting up and gentle pressing back down of your feet to the earth below. This can be synced with your breath, along with a visualization of releasing extra energy with each moment your feet are contacting the earth.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is often an underappreciated and misunderstood key in our overall mental, emotional, and physical health. For a variety of reasons, particularly in certain societal structures with certain societal expectations, our overall natural sleep patterns have been quite disrupted, and our bodies and brains have not evolved or caught up to those changes. Sleep is critical to our physical bodies recovering and restoring from the day, along with allowing for dreams and other processes that happen in our very active brains during sleep cycles that have a big impact on our mental and emotional wellbeing. Prioritizing sleep and incorporating healthy sleep hygiene routines is a game changer in life.
Practicing breathwork is one of the simplest techniques that provides an incredible benefit for our central nervous system, which is essentially responsible for the dysregulation we feel much of the time. Creating a regular practice, which doesn't have to be hours at a time, is hugely beneficial. There are many, many types of breathwork, each used for specific purposes.
Cook for yourself
Taking the time to cook for ourselves (and our loved ones), even simple but healthy recipes, can feel soothing and cleansing and can feel like self-care (because it is!). It's generally less expensive to cook at home, but when we are mindful and intentional during the whole process, from start to finish, it can feel rewarding and satisfying knowing that we are nourishing our bodies in a healthy way.
Lifting weights (when done properly with good form) is a fantastic way to release tension and to connect more with your body. Strength training has so many mental, emotional, and physical benefits for our bodies, and these benefits last for a long while after the weight lifting session. It is important to learn how to properly perform exercises to prevent injury. A certified personal trainer can be a big help, but there is also a lot of helpful information online from reputable sources. Lifting weights can be done at a gym, or at home with weights that you can purchase new or used.
Essential oils and lotions
Our sense of smell is a great way in which we can calm our bodies down and reconnect. The use of essential oils (in a diffuser, using a skin-safe roll-on oil, or putting a drop or two onto a tissue and bringing it just out in front of our nose, adding a few drops to a bath) or lightly scented lotion can be so very helpful in resetting and recentering. Both the smell of the oil or lotion, along with the slow, deep breaths we tend to take when we are smelling something lovely helps to calm our systems down. It can help slow down racing thoughts and, as a result, calm our bodies.
Speak with a financial advisor
Financial stress has a strong impact on our physical bodies, along with our mental and emotional state. Chronic financial stress can lead to illness and sustained feelings of anxiety and insecurity. Many of us don't get a great financial health foundation taught to us, so we have to learn on our own as adults, and often are trying to build on a foundation of our parents' or caregivers' financial insecurities that we heard and observed as kids. Fortunately, there are many resources out there that are free (most banks provide consultations with financial advisors) that can help us sort through even the deepest of financial tangles, without judgment, and can build a clean and solid foundation for financial health at any age. It can feel scary to think about, but being able to look at the numbers and create a plan with someone who is well-versed in the financial realm can feel freeing in itself.
Rearrange your space
Sometimes when we feel stagnant or displeased in our physical space, it can be nice (and sometimes fun) to rearrange things a bit. Whether this is swapping out new pictures in frames or moving around furniture, it can drastically change the energy of a space.
With our easier-than-ever access to purchasing just about anything, anytime, anywhere, it can be a challenge to monitor our spending, and this can sometimes lend to less than ideal financial health, which can create anxiety and a feeling of unsettledness. Financial stress can have a huge negative impact on our mental health (due to the spinning thoughts, along with limiting our access to extracurricular activities and social engagements) and can lend to stress-related illness in our bodies. It can be helpful to learn our spending habits, and notice if we are wanting to make a purchase out of boredom or loneliness, and try to find alternative coping strategies to use during those times.
Go for a bike ride
Bike riding can be a fun and healthy activity to do any time of day or on the weekends. Safety is an important precaution to take her, including your own protective equipment (a helmet, for sure), and where you can ride your bike in your area. (There are also standing "trainers" that allow you to ride your bicycle inside your home if outdoors is not a viable option in your area.) Though there are certainly competitive ways to get involved with bicycling, a leisurely ride is also quite enjoyable and can (if biking outside) also connect us with nature and our communities around us. (There are also biking groups in most areas, which can create connection with others, as well.)
Yoga has been around for thousands of years for a reason! Though it has evolved over the years into several different styles, the basic foundation has stayed intact: connecting movement and breath with intention. You do not need to be able to do yogic headstands in order to feel the benefits of yoga! In fact, finding a few poses that call to you and practicing them can be very healing and restoring. There are many yoga classes (both in person and online), and there are also many follow-along pre-recorded yoga sequences that can be done at home. The important thing to remember is to listen to your body, and find what is feeling the best for your body on any particular day.