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When I took a few days at Easter Break to head to a yoga, health and wellness treat in Albir, Spain, I was surprised with quite a different experience to the one I’d imagined. Instead of the power, active, heart-racing yoga I was used to, everything was quite slow.
Think: yin yoga, people in bed at 9 pm, the sea nearby, and an amazing stillness. The first night was so quiet I thought there were hardly any people there; the front desk assured me there were – it was just “late” for noise.
I have to say that I learned so much from the wellness retreat, especially since it forced me to have four slow days – something I hadn’t ever done before. Not in my memory, anyway; the only example I can think of is Girl Guide camp every summer from age 9 to 15.
3 Health & Wellness Tips for Productivity
While I (at first) scoffed at the slowness of the break I’d chosen, I soon learned to manage my breath a bit better, and immerse myself into the “zen” atmosphere at La Crisalida.
Here are three tips I learned that I feel can help with daily productivity:
1. Peace, Quiet & Slow Exercise
As you may know, I’m more into kickboxing competitions than yin yoga, powering through activities and doing my best to achieve harder and more challenging and rewarding feats as I go through life. Whether I’m doing something to focus on the positive, or doing exercise to rid myself of the negative (stress), I’m always active.
Well, I have to say that having the discipline to stay still is probably more difficult than all of that. What does that have to do with productivity, you ask?
Quite simply, allowing ourselves to rest does make us more productive. Usually, when I “rest” and take a holiday, it involves a lot of rushing around, sightseeing, walking for hours, hiking or skiing. I may come back tired and excited to tell my stories, but not exactly fully relaxed. On this trip, I got through two novels, went to daily yoga and meditation classes, had a massage, breathed in the salty sea air, and had heart-to-heart discussions with people I barely met yet felt like I knew.
2. Clearing Your Head: Meditation
Now, having a quiet mind is not always an easy feat. For me, overcoming this was nearly impossible. I’d tried meditation before, through the Headspace App, but I hadn’t been able to focus. Seven o’clock morning silent meditations for horrible for me. I couldn’t stay still, whether I was lying on the floor, sitting on my knees or attempting to stay still cross-legged.
Keep going. That’s my tip. Short and simple. After the second day, while I couldn’t stand silent meditation, I was able to sit through an entire guided meditation and focus my mind on the speaker’s voice. One of the retreat participants (from Holland, who had been to these retreats before) said something to me that I’ll always remember. I was complaining that they just didn’t give us enough instructions to do it well.
“You don’t need more instruction,” she said, “You need more practice“.
Restorative yoga was another class that I decided to check out (basically because there wasn’t anything else to do). Surprisingly, I actually liked it and felt calm afterward. (What, me, calm?!). Here’s a great post from Mind Body Green on why restorative yoga is beneficial if you need more reasons to check it out.
3. Wellness Through Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a practice I know little about, but I do know it’s about becoming aware of who you are, and what your body needs. Here’s a great list of blogs on mindfulness from Life Goals Mag if you need a list of places to find tips!
The expressive writing workshop I talk about at the end of the post was what helped me see deeper into myself at this retreat.
Ways To Wellness To Remember
Remembering To Eat Well
I’m usually great at eating healthily, but I will admit that sometimes the stress of incredibly difficult projects (ahem, mammoth PhD thesis that I wish I’d never started…) ruins that.
The wellness retreat reminded me that food is crucial to feeling well, and performing better. In a sense, it was a detox resort – no caffeine, no bread, wheat or gluten, nothing except three small vegan meals a day, a bit of fruit and entirely too much herbal tea, for four days.
Okay, I admit it. I really missed my coffee! Not for its effect (I didn’t even have any withdrawal symptoms), but for its taste. So, I won’t be giving that up anytime soon. However, ten days after returning I’m doing another four days of no bread, lots of green smoothies and beautiful meals, and I feel amazing.
Talk It Out
You know what? I arrived at the retreat bitter about my PhD, and I left feeling that I really had something interesting to contribute to the world of study abroad and language learning.
That was not what I expected! However, people at the resort seemed to find my research on language learning interesting…one of the leaders even asked me to send her my thesis when I’m done. Sometimes, talking it out and finding people with a different perspective can
For example, I talked to this same staff member “healer” about my stomach fat loss issue. Unfortunately, despite my superb health according to doctors (which I am grateful for), my body won’t lose any weight and get back to a “normal” state, though I continue to gain muscle from training sessions and lose body fat % incredibly slowly. In her view, stomach fat is “emotional fat” and despite my cortisol hormone being at the perfect level, she thinks I have some kind of stressor to work through before my body will “let go” of the fat.
Now, I’m not saying I necessarily believe her – but she’s giving me books to read on it, so I’m grateful for an additional perspective to this now four-year-long problem.
Write It Out: Wellness & Expressive Writing
Usually, my posts about writing have tips for writing essays, or tips for getting kids to love writing in your English classes.
The Expressive Writing workshop I attended at La Crisalida, though, was one of my favourite parts. First, the instructor reads out a story to get you thinking; each story has a moral, or theme about wellness or emotions. Then, you are give a prompt, such as Freedom Is… . Then, you write. Without thinking. You write everything that comes out.
Interestingly, you don’t write like you usually do, from left to right. Instead, you write following a shape with your pen. So, if the shape you’re given is an outline of a bird, you write following the bird’s wings, head, etc, almost in a curved way. Apparently, this allows your emotions to flow better and changes how you think.
Try it. You’ll be surprised how much comes out. It’s really cathartic. When you read over what you’ve written, it can be a bit surprisingly to see what you’re really thinking. I’m definitely saving those pieces of paper for when I write my first novel.
In my Motivational Monday post next week, I’ll be telling you all about my favourite prompt on Letting Go, and how you can use that in the classroom or with private tutoring students for a really exciting writing activity.
What are your wellness tips? How do you stay healthy and productive?
I’d absolutely love to hear from you in the comments – I read and reply to every comment 🙂
Have a lovely and productive (and healthy!) week!
P.S. The photo for the main image in this post is one I took at Albir beach in the south of Spain last week.
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