With the dawn of the New Year comes renewed purpose and expectations. After tidying up loose ends from the past year, many seek a squeaky clean slate to carry themselves into the new year. With clarity of body, mind and soul, we hope to accomplish things we wish we had completed in the previous year … but also prioritize those needs and desires that will most benefit us as we move forward.
Nothing is more important than our health and wellness. One could argue that a solid foundation built on happiness, vitality and balance is essential to reaching goals that extend to our work, family and larger life.
“It is all about finding balance in life,” says Terranea Resort spa therapist Angelina Duran. “I hope to have a healthy balance between work, family, taking care of my body and mind, and going out doing the things that make me happy.”
Along with Angelina, we asked Terranea fitness instructor Donna Rojas to offer some insight into achieving the serenity and focus to take on the new year with power and potency.
The idea of meditation may seem like the most obvious means to serenity, but it’s surprising how few people actually do it. According to a recent survey by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, only 8% of U.S. adults perform some kind of meditation.
Though most meditative techniques started in Eastern religious or spiritual traditions, today many people use meditation outside its traditional religious or cultural settings. For some, this could be as simple as taking time in your schedule to close your eyes, reduce all sound around you and focus attention away from the chaos of your day.
Even a few minutes would be better than none at all. Becoming mindful of thoughts, feelings and sensations and observing them in a nonjudgmental way can help ease your stress and create more room to problem-solve efficiently and effectively.
And don’t think the only path to meditation is closing your eyes with your legs crossed. “I have my own ways of finding peace and grounding,” shares Angelina. “I dance to feel connected and bonded with others and also hike to take in the beauty of nature.”
Adds Donna, “When I read, I feel like that’s my form of meditation. It takes me away from my reality.”
2. Step Up Your Nutrition
Many of us will likely make New Year’s resolutions that involve some sort of diet fad for quick weight loss … but will that sustain you throughout the entire year? Probably not. Instead, make a commitment to a well-rounded, nutritious menu of delicious whole foods.
“I feel that a healthy weight starts with a healthy diet,” says Donna. “If you’re conscientious about what you put into your body, it is easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, which in turn helps with energy levels, glowing skin and the works. I think the less processed is the best process when it comes to diet. The rest falls in place.”
3. Get Better Sleep
For those of us who live with high amounts of stress, our sleeping hours are the most important times to recover. “People become stuck in this restless cycle where they lose sleep over stress,” says Angelina. “Without sleep, the body and brain are not functioning to full capacity to solve their daily tasks.”
Fortunately, the Spa at Terranea introduced a new treatment called Sound Sleep to help ease you into a good night’s rest. It’s the perfect treatment to relieve stress for those unable to relax or who have challenges sleeping well or simply need travel recovery. Sound Sleep integrates the senses of touch, smell and hearing with a specialized light-touch massage to promote deep relaxation and rest.
4. Engage Your Body
What’s your current exercise routine? Do you counter those hours spent at the desk or sitting in your car with some kind of cardiovascular movement? Whether you walk, run, jog, spin, hike, lift or do sun salutations on your yoga mat, it’s essential to get your heart rate moving on a regular basis.
And if your routine feels stale, mix it up and try something new or take your training outdoors. There’s no shortage of exercise opportunities right outside your door.
And don’t forget to stretch! “Stretching before workouts warms up the fascia so that it is more pliable and you can get more output from the muscles being used,” notes Angelina. “After workouts, it is also important to keep stiffness from settling in and help the flow of nutrients and hydration throughout the body.”
5. Listen Closer
We all have plenty to say. But how often do we listen? Truly listen to others. Next time you feel the urge to interrupt someone or interject your own opinion, take a moment to absorb what the other person is saying to you. Whether you agree with them or not, the intention of focused listening helps strengthen our connection to each other and creates healthier relationships.
“Through listening, I become more aware of my own faults,” says Donna. “In addition to connecting me with other people, it allows me to grow and learn.”
6. Be Kind
“I realized a long time ago that holding on to negativity or anger doesn’t hurt or affect anyone more than myself,” says Angelina of the importance of practicing kindness. “I would rather keep positive energy at all times regardless of the person or situation being dealt with. I am also a firm believer in giving what you want back from the world.”
7. Nourish Your Soul
One of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves on a regular basis is connect to our deepest core … not our abs, but the heart of who we are as individual human beings. What song makes you happiest? Revisit it often. Where are you most content? Go there frequently. Who makes you feel the most alive and 100% yourself? Visit him or her regularly.
“I like to listen to music and dance around the house like nobody’s watching. Especially when nobody’s around,” confides Donna. “As childish as it may seem, I dance in front of the mirror to make myself laugh. We depend so much on other people to make us laugh, but I think it’s important to be able to make ourselves laugh. Plus it keeps my inner child alive.”