“When you realise nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” ~ Lao Tzu
Zen: simple, easy, tranquil.
Adding a bit more “zen” to our life is beneficial to both our brain and our body. In the past we’ve explored some mindfulness exercises that can alleviate stress and anxiety, which are great to include in your zen routine. We’ve also given you some spring self-care tips that you can easily carry over into your everyday life no matter what the season, so be sure to check out those blogs as well to get the full mind-body package!
On that note, let’s have a look at the 7 steps that add more zen to our daily life.
1. Rise Early
Now, we are well aware that this is one of those tips that’s way easier said than done. Truth be told, mornings can be difficult and not everyone enjoys departing dreamland for the real world. Our eyes are often bleary and our brains are a bit foggy and our muscles don’t cooperate when we sleep on them funny. We’ve all had floppy-arm syndrome at least once in our lives.
What we will promise right now is that every step after this one will help you become an early riser. Every day begins with getting out of bed, and that’s the only reason it’s the first thing on the list. We know that getting up early isn’t an easy thing for everyone to do, but once you start it’s amazing how much extra stuff you can achieve in just a day.
Here are some bonus tips:
- Don’t touch the snooze button (or if you can’t resist, put your alarm out of reach so that you need to get up in order to turn it off)
- Have a shower straight away
- Sit up in bed and stretch
- Drink a glass of cold water
- Eat something (even if it’s just a snack)
- Go over today’s to-do list
Early Birds will know that waking up early keeps them organised, focussed and productive. If nothing else, the world is quieter in the morning. Use this time as me-time.
We all know that exercise is important and that we could be doing more of it. So many of us have gym memberships we don’t use, or dumbells that are just dust collectors, or have expensive exercise equipment as decorations. Getting motivated to move can be daunting, and sometimes the case is that the more you think about it, the less and less appealing it gets.
Living a zen lifestyle does not mean you need to pump iron for an hour every day or run a half marathon. Any sort of exercise is good for your brain. This Harvard Medical School study says that exercise helps memory and cognitive function – that’s definitely a good thing. Exercise is also a fantastic way to release stress and tension because while you’re busy concentrating on your body, your mind can find clarity. Give your mind a break while working your muscles.
Getting started can be as simple as light yoga or a jog around the block. If even that sounds like too much, take a walk. Just 20 minutes every other day can contribute enormously to a zen attitude. Take the dog or the kids (or take both) and make it a family affair. You don’t have to do the full-blown Kath and Kel power-walk – just go at your own pace.
Okay, we admit it – so far this isn’t the most appealing list. Get up early, do some exercise, and clean your house? Probably not everyone’s favourite activities. But think about this: have you ever seen a “zen” environment that’s messy?
The zen lifestyle is one of clarity. It involves looking beyond our materialism and learning to value our individual selves. It all sounds a bit airy-fairy, but take a look at the science of a clean environment. One study finds that those who describe their home negatively in terms of clutter and mess are more likely to be stressed and experience adverse health effects. Contraily, people who characterised their homes with attributes of cleanliness and order were found to be happier.
In our previous self-care blog post, we mentioned the KonMari decluttering method. Marie Kondo is a Japanese author and organising consultant. She’s a professional cleaner in the most qualified sense of the word, with a global best-selling book dedicated to the art of tidying up.
Decluttering is a purge of your material things, and by removing items that not longer matter to you, that don’t “spark joy”, you eliminate these mini-stressors from your life. A zen home is a tidy home, and a tidy home is a zen mind.
4. Take a Breather
To be zen is to be mindful and to possess an awareness of the self. Know your strengths and weaknesses and embrace them. When you feel bogged down, take a break. That’s why holidays were invented, right? The vast majority of us don’t have the means to go on a vacation every second week, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give yourself a break.
Let’s visit science again. People who take regular breaks while they work are more productive throughout the day. Research has revealed that working in sprints is the key to maximising efficiency, and that multitasking is actually the bane of productivity. Nobody is switched on all of the time – we aren’t robots. Taking a breather provides a mental pause, allowing you to shift gears, gather your thoughts and contemplate your next movement.
So grab a bite to eat, take a walk, do some stretches or have a chat to someone. By allowing yourself time to step away and switch off, even if it’s just for a few minutes, you can return to a task recharged rather than stressing and fretting about potential deadlines. Find a balanced system of work and rest that you can thrive in.
Meditation is something that everyone can do. More than that, it’s something that can be done wherever, whenever. A lot of the time we associate meditation with big, grassy fields, calm lagoons or rainforest retreats: places that are beautiful, earthy and ridiculously stylised. We’re a little guilty of dreaming over these pictures, too.
As you can probably guess, meditation is most effective somewhere quiet and comfortable. Being outside in the fresh air is ideal, but not necessary – the lounge room can serve you just as well. Sitting in silence with your legs folded isn’t for everyone, but meditation is flexible. Lie on your back or sit with your legs out. Listen your breathing, externalise your thoughts if you want. Talk to yourself, and listen to what you have to say.
Guided meditation apps are awesome for those who are new to the zen lifestyle. Three we can personally recommend are Headspace, 10% Happier and Calm. These provide walkthroughs meditative exercises for those who would rather be directed. Meditation can leave you feeling lighter and more free, and that’s when you know you’re tapping into your zen.
6. Treat Yourself
There are so many ways you can spoil yourself while still living a zen lifestyle. Activities that you enjoy and find relaxing are so important to incorporate into you everyday routine. This can be anything from drinking tea, reading, crosswords or puzzles, knitting or cooking, curating your Pinterest boards, taking photos, watching your favourite show, or any of the things we’ve included in this list. Find solace in what makes you happy.
If you’re feeling uninspired or tense after a long day, tapping into your zen can prove difficult. Just remember that you don’t always have to go it alone. There are services available to help you find your inner peace. Blys massage on-demand is a zen massage service that comes to your house at a time and place of your choice. Massage is a proven form of relaxation for both the mind and the body. When you book with Blys, qualified and professional therapists can give you that zen massage you didn’t even know you needed.
If you need help deciding which zen massage style is the best one for you, check out this blog post for the difference between deep tissue and relaxation massage. Blys also offer sports massage and pregnancy massage, so there’s a zen massage for everyone!
7. Don’t Neglect Shut-Eye
In case you didn’t realise, we’ve come full circle. Congratulations, you’ve just completed the first day of your zen life! After all of these new things you’ve began including in your day – waking up early, exercising, decluttering – you might be feeling a little bit tired. That’s great news, because now you can settle into a healthy sleep pattern.
For some people, falling asleep can be as much of a challenge as waking up in the morning. Using meditation or having a zen massage before you go to bed are both excellent ways to settle the mind and calm the body. The period before you prepare for sleep is the time you must dedicate to winding down. A clear mind not only makes falling asleep a smoother process, but can result in better and more complete sleep. Waking up early is far easier when you’ve had a restful sleep.
We’ve woken you up and put you to bed with the zen lifestyle. These are just some of the ways you can find inner peace in your day-to-day life. If switching off is a challenge for you, we’ve written a more detailed blog post about Swedish relaxation massage as a form of stress relief. The key to living zen is finding your rhythm, and perhaps a zen mobile massage at home can unlock that door for you.