Ever since the pandemic started, our level of stress and anxiety — whether we're conscious of it or not — has undoubtedly affected our personal wellbeing. That’s why seeking ways to remain grounded, especially when things feel especially awry, should not be overlooked. Take this as your cue to step back and recenter yourself — from laughter yoga in India to sage smudging in Canada, here are some wellness practices from around the world you can adopt into your current lifestyle.
Laughter yoga in India
Try it at home: Laughter clubs aren’t exactly everywhere in our region but you can still try this at home by simply laughing as you go about your yoga routine. An easy alternative would be just laughing to your mirror reflection. It sounds and feels weird, sure, but learning to laugh at and with ourselves is a good mental exercise.
Ubuntu in South Africa and Nigeria
While it doesn’t have a direct translation in English, ubuntu is a South African term that is commonly defined as ‘viewing one as a part of a whole’. In today’s world where individualism is highly valued, this serves as a good reminder that sometimes, collectivism — especially when harbouring positivity or goodwill towards others — isn’t exactly a bad thing. Ubuntu is philosophical on the surface, sure, but it can easily be practiced by performing small acts of kindness and appreciation towards the people we know. It’s also viewing people as an extension of oneself rather than as the ‘other’.
Try it at home: Notice something different about your sibling, parent or significant other? Engage them in a conversation. See someone working on chores or passively passing time in front of the TV? No need to ask permission to join them and just do. After all, finding a comforting presence to be around with is also a form of wellness practice.
Sage smudging in Canada and some parts of the United States
In Canada and some part of the U.S., sage smudging or the act of burning sage and letting it smoke through your home to cleanse the energy in the room is a wellness practice that you can try out.
Originating from as early as the time of the Romans and the Egyptians, sage smudging is really more for those aiming for mental and spiritual health. And while there is little basis for its more ‘medicinal’ properties, sage is found to contain flavonoids, which some studies suggest are good for brain health and Alzheimer’s prevention. Some animal studies also indicate that it is good for soothing depressive and anxious episodes.
Try it at home: There are many types of sage that you can get, all of which have their own ‘meanings’. But given that it is a herb, after all, it is also something you can plant in your own home. Simply get a handful, put it in a non-flammable container, and light it up to let it burn. Make sure all the windows are open and there’s good airflow in the room to avoid locking in the smoke indoors. If you aim to cleanse the energy in the room, talking it around and letting the smoke waft through certain points in your home is the way to do it.
Power napping in Japan
With our busy schedules always ahead of us, just the idea of sneaking a nap in the middle of the day seems ridiculous. But in Japan, given the high rate of employees working overtime and its reputation of just generally being a “sleep deprived country”, power naps have started to become acceptable — and in some cases, a policy — in the workplace.
This isn’t to say that people can just go lounging about any time of the day though. It is about dedicating a time within the reasonable span covering your lunch break to get a quick snooze. This is because of the rise in studies suggesting that more energised employees make for more efficient workers, lessening the possibility of the need for an overtime.
Try it at home: You don’t have to work in a Japanese office to get this one right. A quick 15-to-20-minute nap is enough to give you a jolt of energy, according to experts, which will make you more productive for the rest of the day. Just make sure you set that alarm so you don’t oversleep. It’s a much better way to recharge than grabbing another cup of joe as caffeine is said to decrease memory performance.
Hot springs in Iceland and Japan
Both countries are known for their natural hot springs, so it’s only natural that it’s a wellness practice both locals and tourists enjoy when visiting either destination. Not only does it help cleanse your skin on a surface level and soothe aching muscles, but the idea of just soaking in relaxing waters also does wonders to relax one’s mind and spirit.
Try it at home: Okay, so it’s not exactly the same thing if you do it in your tub. But drawing yourself a hot bath and throwing in some natural bath salts into the mix would definitely merit similar physical and mental relaxation in the comfort of your own home. Make it a habit by doing it once or twice a week as a way to reward yourself, especially since hitting the spa or travelling isn’t recommended yet.
Our 5-minute yoga routines for morning and night works well for at-home relaxation, too!
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