What’s your perfect summer tonic?
I appreciate asking that question may have you excited thinking I’m going to start sharing tips on the best mixers for gin. If you’re already off on that tangent, let me stop you now before you read any further. This is not an article about summer drinks. Although, I do love a good gin and tonic, so maybe there’s something there for a future article!
No, when I ask what’s your perfect summer tonic, I’m asking about that thing that gives you a boost, makes you feel alive, connected, balanced and helps you to put other events to one side for a while.
What comes to mind?
Why finding balance is so important
As life continues to bring uncertainty, challenge and ongoing restrictions and limitations to our lives, it becomes ever more important to find ways to stay balanced and on an even keel. To find moments of joy, the little pickups that create a warm inner glow and put a smile on your face.
I’ve had some real low and flat days over lockdown and our new way of living – even on the sunniest of days. Moments when I feel isolated, lacking direction, focus and motivation. As a business owner where the buck stops with me, I have no option but to dig in deep and find the focus and strength to sit at my desk, switch on the computer and get working.
Here are some of the ways I’ve found that help get me back on track.
1. Being Active
I’ve found nothing helps me out of my slump more effectively than getting out on the water on my stand up paddle board (SUP) either early in the morning, just as the sun is rising and the world is waking up. Or at the end of a long day when the tide is low, the sun is setting and the water is warm.
If you are unfamiliar with SUP, it’s a water sport derived from surfing which involves a floating board and a paddle to propel the rider through the water.
Water is known to have calming and relaxing qualities and floating about on the sea on my board creates a real sense of balance, calm and peace in me. I can feel the worries of the day melting away and the corners of my mouth turning up into a big smile. It’s proper nourishment for my mind, body and soul. It helps me to be stronger in both my personal and professional life and boosts my energy and outlook when they are lacking.
2. Connecting with Others
One of my more positive experiences of lockdown has been the sense of community that has surfaced and the opportunity to get to know my neighbours better. This includes my fellow SUP enthusiasts and friends, Cat and Filomena or “Ladies That SUP” as we have labelled ourselves on our WhatsApp group. We regularly go out on the water at 6.30/7am and take great joy in paddling together, chatting and spotting fish!
Sharing this experience with like-minded women (and sometimes men) is a perfect summer tonic and start to the day!
“My morning paddles still my mind and ready it for busy hectic day ahead. I love the stillness around me, muted sounds, the different perspective of shore and land. The feeling of being lucky to be able to observe nature. In the evenings it’s a chance to be playful which is how I recharge. And the bonus is that the core work helps with the posture challenges associated with a desk job.” Filomena.
3. Reconnecting with Childhood Passions
In the coaching work I do with clients, one of the common themes that comes up for them, is the desire to find more balance in life. Especially when work is demanding – both mentally and physically. One of the activities I find works well with clients when they are seeking a greater sense of balance, is to explore their childhood passions. Giving them the space to reflect and remember how they used to spend their free time enables my clients to reconnect with activities they have forgotten about but used to have fun with. Building woodland camps, drawing, writing, riding a bike and creating music to name but a few.
What all these activities have in common is what they bring to the individual. In a similar way to the elements that SUP brings to me. These activities feed the mind, body and soul and bring about greater joy and balance in life.
“Early morning paddles set me up for the day, allowing me to appreciate a new day and our surroundings, it allows me time and to process my emotions and feelings in a way I never have been able to before. I return calmer and ready to face whatever the day has to offer. On the days I can’t go out on the water I really miss the calmness that it gives me.
Paddling during the rest of the day, it’s usually with my son, so it’s all about playing, having fun and just being together.” Cat.
4. Connecting to nature
As humans we have an intrinsic desire to be close to nature and can reap so many benefits, both mentally and physically, from being in and around it. For me, being out on the sea, on the beach, going for a walk or being in my garden are ways I love to connect with nature.
Of course, you may not have easy access to water, or even the desire to be on the water as I do. It’s certainly not for everyone. Finding ways to connect to nature can be simpler and on a much smaller scale.
Creating a mini green space at home is a great way to not only clean indoor air, but indoor plants can also aid concentration, improve your mood and help with stress levels. If growing plants doesn’t float your boat, hanging a favourite picture of a beach or natural scene that brings back special memories can bring a smile to your face and instantly restore you when you need it. Another option is to add the image to your desktop or phone’s home screen. When you need a break from work or a moment to rebalance, take a few minutes to study the picture. Close your eyes, reconnect with the natural sounds, smells and sensations, and imagine you are there.
5. Creating space to be calm and still
In the same way that being active, connecting with nature and those around us is important for balance. Equally, we all need space to be calm and still. To restore our batteries and quieten our minds. There are many ways to achieve this and one of the simplest is one we often take for granted – breathing. How often do you sit still and think about your breath?
Take a moment to sit with your bare feet flat on the floor, rest your hands on your knees, close your eyes, take a slow deep breath in through your nose and then slowly breath out through your mouth. Repeat this 4-5 times.
By concentrating on your breathing, you quieten the mind and allow the body to be still.