The Stress-Reducing Modern Wellness Trends To Know About

golden-gong-by-giselle-la-pompe-moore

Whether you tuck an amethyst crystal in your bra every day or have an energy healer on speed dial, it’s clear that the popularity of spiritual wellbeing is on the rise. It’s unsurprising, as wellness is now a staggering $4.2 trillion dollar global industry. One that’s infiltrated our local café menus, bookshelves and how we spend our Sunday nights. But why have we become so fixated by the pursuit of wellness?

The answer could well be, stress. Yes, that six letter word that’s littered into nearly every conversation. As you might know, the body responds to stress by initiating the fight or flight response, where stress hormones are secreted, our heart rate quickens, we breathe more rapidly and oxygen floods to our arms and legs. This is all well and good, as it protects us in life-threatening situations, but unlike our ancestors we end up going into this stress response more often as our lives are increasingly hectic. Over time, the more the stress response gets activated the greater the toll on our minds and body. So much so, that last year The Mental Health Foundation reported that 74% of the UK have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of stress.

When we combine that with living in troubling times filled with political uncertainty and environmental threats to the future of our planet, it’s understandable that we are all looking for some escapism. Engaging in wellness allows us to get out of our heads and to shift from the high stress of constantly doing to just being, and with spiritual wellness it appeals to our collective desire to take comfort in something that feels greater than us.

It’s easy to roll your eyes at some facets of wellness and get lost in the buzzwords and fads, but the following trends, which have often been rooted in ancient practices, have a place in modern society and right now we could all do with a helping hand.

Sound Healing

We usually associate meditation and mindfulness with silence or at least with some oceanic background music. But having sound as the core component of your meditation session is a healing practice that has been around for thousands of years. During a sound bath, gongs and crystal bowls are played as you’re led into a meditative state. The instruments create different healing frequencies with the vibrations then resonating in the body to shift your brainwaves from beta (alert and normal thinking) to low frequency waves such as alpha, delta and theta. All of which aid in reducing stress and promoting deep rest and relaxation.

Reiki

From clearing stagnant energy in our homes to trying to raise our vibrations, we’re talking about energy more than ever. One of the reasons for this is the gaining popularity of Reiki, a method of energy healing that was developed by Dr Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 20th century. Reiki promotes the body’s regenerative self-healing ability by balancing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. When we experience blockages in the flow of energy this can manifest in our bodies and have an impact on our overall health and wellbeing. A Reiki session will leave you feeling blissed out and help you to re-centre by allowing the energy to flow easier through your chakras (energy centres) for optimal health.

Crystal Routines

It’s pretty obvious that crystals are having a moment and it makes sense. They’re not only aesthetically pleasing but they carry within them a host of healing energies. Now you’ve built up a stealthy collection, it’s time to take your crystal obsession to the next level by really harnessing them as a tool for self-growth. Representing the element of earth, crystals can keep you grounded if you’re out of sorts and craving the need to feel connected to something universal. If your crystals have been collecting dust, create your own routines by adding them into your meditation practice, investigate how they can correspond to your chakras and look into creating your own crystal grids.

Spiritual Skincare 

Spirituality has made its way into many areas of our lives and we’ll be starting to see our skin in this way too. The mind-skin connection is a powerful one, from the effects that skin issues have on self-worth to the fact that stress can trigger and aggravate conditions such as acne, psoriasis and dermatitis. Brands will be taking more of a ritualistic approach by incorporating self-care messages and tools such as crystals, affirmations and intention-setting. Products aside, seeing the skin from a spiritual lens means taking a step back to find acceptance and peace with our skin and to work on what’s happening under the surface by slowing down our beauty routines and turning them into mindful rituals.

Astro Living

Times have changed from only reading your horoscope in a magazine once a week, to everyone knowing exactly when mercury goes retrograde. With apps like Co-starTime Passages and The Moon it’s easier than ever to live in accordance with the zodiac and to work with natural cycles. We’ve already seen this with new moon and full moon rituals, so if you’re feeling disconnected you can track the planetary movements and work with their energies in your schedule. For example, if you’re trying to do a huge clear-out of your wardrobe, check in with what’s happening astrologically as you might find it easier to do on a day when the planets are more aligned in your favour, such as when the moon is in an organisation-driven sign like Virgo.

Daily Rituals

Social media and wellness have somehow become merged with one another and it can often feel like you didn’t really “do self-care” if it wasn’t posted on Instagram. Wellness can often seem like it’s something that needs to be performed, so it’s time to go back to basics with daily (and private) rituals. From five minute breathing meditations at your desk to journaling all of the things you’re grateful for at night, this is all about finding small moments in your day to get you back into the present moment. Add in a self-massage after your shower or head out for a walk at lunch, this is all about coming back to the essence of what wellness is, it might not always be photogenic but you’ll definitely feel the benefits.

Giselle La Pompe-Moore is the founder of Project Ajna and offers one-to-one rediscovery soul sessions that incorporate reiki, meditation or tarot.

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Why We All Need A Telescope And A Microscope

pink pencils

We all need heroes in this world, and one of mine – notwithstanding the fact that she went to jail for insider trading – is Martha Stewart, creator of a homewares and mega-media empire in the States. It’s not because of her gorgeous floral arrangements, or her gardening tips, or the drool-worthy recipes in Martha Stewart Living, her glossy lifestyle magazine. (Sad but true: being a great believer in the power of home-making – as a solace not just for self, but for the family and much-loved friends who gravitate to ours – I still have every issue ever published, which means over 20 years’ worth!)

I like the way Martha’s made a business out of style, and taste, and reassured me that just because I may want to decompress from a week of 18 hour days by organising my linen closet or my gift-wrapping supplies, that’s OK; it doesn’t mean I’m not intelligent, and it doesn’t mean I’m not a feminist. It means I just like things to be nice, too.

But what I really admire Martha for is an excellent book that she wrote called The Martha Rules. It’s a brilliant how-to book for women, in particular, setting out on an entrepreneurial journey – so good, in fact, that I’ve gifted it to lots of young women embarking on start-ups. But the lesson I really took away from it is the importance of having two tools: a microscope and a telescope. Martha was referring to business – and how important it is to step back from working on the detail, to look at the bigger picture and how your business sits in the wider landscape. But what I took away from that book – and what I try to apply to my life, not just my ventures – is the telescope lesson.

Today, all of us spend our lives fixated on tiny screens, on problem-solving, on figuring out a way to deal with one crisis after another, whether it’s a sick kid who unexpectedly throws a spanner in the works (or rather the working week), a broken dishwasher (my current domestic status update), a lost bank card (er, actually also my current status update), whatever. Entire days – no weeks! – can disappear, simply dealing with everyday life, without us ever taking a moment to stand back and look at that bigger picture.

And it’s just so, so vital to do that – because it’s only by looking at things from afar that we realise a) what’s really important in life, and b) what needs changing. Fact: life is short. Way too short to spend it mindlessly dealing with trivia (trust me, nobody’s going to go to their grave wishing they’d spent more time on Twitter), or lurching from one crisis to another, or generally watching the days slip between our fingers. And this isn’t just about stopping to smell the roses (or right now, the lily of the valley which are flourishing near my back gate and I’m spending too little time up-close-and-personal with). How often have you read about someone with a life-threatening illness talk about how it was such a wake-up call, and it made them realise what really mattered (whether that was spending time with family or a partner, or quitting a job they didn’t enjoy, or maybe even ticking that climb up Kilimanjaro off the bucket list)? Answer: all too often, because for many of us it’s only when something dramatic happens that we get to look down that telescope.

So: how to do that more often? Well, one way is meditating. I’ve written about that before – and personally, I now swear by an app called Calm (check it out at calm.com). For ‘big picture’ stuff, perhaps think about taking an actual course in meditation – not just because it’s a great way to learn to focus, but because there’s something about signing up to learn anything that can make us think: ‘Shouldn’t I be finding time to do more of this, in my life…?’ Which can perhaps nudge us to do more new things, rather than just more of the same.

Holidays are great for ‘big picture’ stuff, too. (As in, perhaps: ‘Do I really want to be doing this stressful/unenjoyable/dull job that I am going back to next week/in a fortnight – or should I be thinking about looking for other challenges and new opportunities?’) For me, though, it’s daily walking that helps me with the big picture stuff. Almost as if I’ve got an invisible telescope packed in my pocket, alongside my phone and house keys.

Recently, I had a big challenge with one of my ventures. A tricky conundrum that nobody could seem to solve – not business-threatening, but something that needed a new approach so we could move forward when we’d been going round in circles. One morning, partly because it was just gloriously sunny, I absented myself from the office and my team and took myself off for a long, blustery, blue-skied seaside walk. A few miles. Instead of whiling away my morning answering what always feels like a deluge of e-mails, I chewed on my metaphoric pencil, as I put one foot in front of the other – and hey, presto: after a mile or so, I had the required brainwave. Ta-dah! I took the solution back to the team, we actioned it – and could move forward again. But I absolutely, 100% know that wouldn’t have happened if I’d been at my desk, sweating the small stuff and dealing with detail.

So I invite you: make this the month you invest in yourself – and your life – by trying to spend time looking at things from afar. After all, if Galileo could discover the moons of Jupiter (and more) by staring down his telescope, what heavenly future can you make for yourself, just by spending a little time standing back from the world…?

PS. In her intro to The Martha Rules, my hero Martha does acknowledge the jail term and the lessons it taught her – so it’s not like she’s brushing that under the carpet with some posh broom! She’s clearly not proud of what happened. But I also admire that she didn’t let a huge, image-damaging incident hold her back. Which might just be fodder for a future editorial, I suspect…