Necessity is the mother of invention, as the old proverb goes. And in tough times, finding creative ways to unwind is definitely a necessity. Whether you’re picking up your paintbrush or strumming a ukulele, your wellness ritual can take whatever form you want. Draw inspiration from different cultures around the world, from India to Iceland. Here are eight global wellness traditions you can try at home.
Laughter is the best medicine
You probably already know that yoga is seriously relaxing. Why not mix things up with a decidedly more lighthearted take on this spiritual form of exercise? Laughter yoga encourages giggles and guffaws alike. Dr. Madan Kataria started this funny phenomenon in 1995, with people in 53 countries chortling together since. This playful practice combines laughter with traditional yoga breathing techniques to produce endorphins and feelings of elation. Oh, and the delivery of a classic ‘knock knock’ gag, of course.
Take a power nap
When your phone won’t stop pinging with constant work emails, it can be hard to switch off, let alone lounge around daydreaming you’re lying on the deck of a catamaran. Yet research shows time spent daydreaming or napping, without distractions, can actually make you more productive and improve heart function. Looks like the Spanish, with their lunchtime siesta, and the Japanese, with their inemuri or power nap, are onto something. There’s no shame in switching your phone off and taking a midday doze. Just don’t forget to set your alarm!
Have a nice cuppa
Ah, a nice steaming cup of tea. Combine that with a well-dunked biscuit and you’re in seventh heaven. There’s no better, or simpler, way to relax after a long day. Just ask the British, who guzzle down sixty billion cups of the stuff each year. And they’re not alone. In Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, supping yerba mate tea is a national pastime. It’s not surprising – it’s full of antioxidants, energy, and other goodness. So, when your stress levels are at boiling point, reach for the kettle.
Bathe in the forest
Sun-bathing, is a great way to unwind, all the while soaking up healthy Vitamin D. But what about those grey days when the weather doesn’t cooperate? You could always try forest bathing, instead, just like the Japanese do. The Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoki involves soaking up the warmth of trees as much as possible. The belief is that getting back to nature provides all kinds of holistic benefits. Just to start with, forest-bathing is calming, meditative, and an excellent excuse to take a break from your screen. A walk in the wood will do you some good!
Make your bowls sing
Okay, so your kitchen bowls might not have quite the voice of the singing bowls that soundtrack any trip to Tibet! But you can still embrace the principle behind singing bowls: that sound has healing properties. So, the next time you need a wellness break, dust off that musical instrument or spin that old soul record. You’ll find it’s easy to tune into the Tibetan belief that sound can heal stress and depression.
Soak your stress away
If the temperature of your bath – or shower – has to be positively volcanic, don’t worry. Scalding yourself is a prized wellness ritual observed around the globe, especially in the land of fire and ice itself, Iceland. While throwing yourself into a volcano is inadvisable, bathing in an Icelandic volcano-heated hot springs is anything but. In fact, these geothermic pools are thought to soothe pain and improve circulation. So give yourself permission to wallow in that steaming tub as long as you can stand it, just like a true Icelander.
Get a breath of fresh air
The best cure for cabin fever is fresh air, and no-one knows this better than the people of Norway. There, Friluftsliv – free air life – in the great outdoors is so important that it’s honored in the dictionary. The philosophy behind Friluftsliv is simple. Whether you’re camping in the wilderness or gazing up at the Northern Lights, being in nature is good for the soul. Seeing the aurora borealis in your local park seems a stretch? Here are some other ways you can enjoy the night sky.
Keep close to your loved ones
Ubuntu: it’s a word many sub-Saharan African languages have a variation of. What does it mean? In English, it’s often translated as ‘humanity towards others’. Put into practice, it’s the idea that we depend on others to survive. As such, we should put the interests of the community above ourselves. So, make your next act of self-care a selfless one. Whether you’re helping a loved one, taking on a household chore, or contributing to a community initiative, helping others might just be the best way you have to help yourself.