Welcome to our monthly round-up series of inspiring and insightful stories from our online lifestyle magazine, SunKiss Life.
Last month, we homed in on travel and adventure. As we’re now approaching the hottest time of the year here on the French Riviera, we’re happy to share some stories to help you chill out – including a simple psychological trick to escape an all-too-common fixation on business and productivity.
However you wish to spend your time this summer, we hope that you have an opportunity to relax, recharge, and reconnect with your family and friends.
Photo by SunKiss
Are You Too Busy?
First and foremost, note that there’s really such a thing as being too busy. Constantly being available and blending our personal and work lives can mean we're never allowing ourselves to step away and properly recharge.
Firing on all cylinders day after day will take its toll and before you know it, you’ll not only wear out, but it can actually change you.
By now, you’re probably well-versed on the mental symptoms of burnout. You know the drill: irritability, numbness, struggling to make decisions, total overwhelm, all that not-at-all-fun stuff.
But what about the physical symptoms? Many of us aren’t so savvy in this area – and this can mean we don’t know we’re in trouble until it’s too late. To help us out, some lesser-known physical signs of looming burnout include headaches, stomach and digestion issues, weight gain, and hormonal changes.
Read more about these early physical warning signs of being on track for burnout.
Idle Away Your Time with Confidence
In addition to a tendency to overwork, have you noticed a growing pressure to spend your free time improving yourself or the world around you? Why is it so hard for us to relax unless we feel we’ll have something productive to show for it?
In the past, being able to idle away your time enjoying the finer things in life was actually sought after – think The Great Gatsby.
Over the course of several studies, researchers found that today many of us consider being busy a status symbol. This obsession with productivity and efficiency has spilled over from our professional lives to our leisure time.
As success and busyness at work have become the primary source of our identities and social status, there is growing pressure to spend our free time in productive pursuits. Is there any way to escape our fixation on busyness and allow ourselves to relax?
Research from Georgetown University suggests that there’s a simple psychological trick we can use to reframe how we think about leisure pursuits. Having a “functional alibi” that articulates a purpose for an activity lets us indulge with less guilt. For example, a relaxing weekend break in nature might be seen as necessary to recharge and return a better employee, parent, and friend.
Unplug And Let Your Mind Wander
It’s not just work or peer pressure we must contend with. In this modern era of information overload and constant access to distractions, do you like many tend to reach for your smartphone instead letting your mind wander when you have a few moments to spare?
Research published by the American Psychological Association show that people consistently underestimate how much they would enjoy spending time alone with their own thoughts, without anything to distract them.
That could explain why people prefer keeping themselves busy with devices and other distractions, rather than taking a moment for reflection and imagination in daily life.
That missed opportunity comes at a cost because previous studies have shown that spending time letting your mind wander has some benefits, including problem solving, improving creativity, helping you to rest, relax and even find meaning in life.
Photo by SunKiss
Take A Feel-Good Siesta
Also, if you love to indulge in a feel-good siesta, then we have good news for you: those afternoon moments of slumber might be benefiting your brain health. At least, those are the findings of a study that adds to an increasing body of data showing a correlation between afternoon naps and improved mental agility and cognitive function as we age.
Published in the journal General Psychiatry, the study reveals that elderly individuals who complement their night-time sleep with afternoon naps show significantly higher cognitive performance compared with those who do not.
The researchers also noted that not all daytime naps are beneficial. Particularly, naps longer than two hours can actually hurt your cognitive function, so make sure to set an alarm!
Learn more about how afternoon napping makes for healthier brains from optimistdaily.com.
Scent Does Wonders For Your Well-Being
In addition to napping, have you ever noticed how a certain scent can conjure up a lovely memory or a beautiful moment? Scents are powerful. They can evoke emotions and take us back in time in an instant.
They can also make us feel relaxed and happy. The nose is the only organ that has an almost direct influence on our emotions because it is closely linked to the amygdala, otherwise known as the emotional centre in our brain.
Essential oils have been used for nearly 6,000 years, with the aim of improving a person’s health or mood. Diffusing essential oils is a simple, effective way to get the stress-relieving benefits of scents.
Photo by SunKiss
From the citrusy flavours of bergamot to the sweet and spicy aroma of neroli - get your guide to some essential oils that can help ease anxiety, boost your mood, and help you sleep better.
Please bear in mind that “natural” products are also chemicals, and they can be hazardous if used in the wrong way. It is important to follow the advice of a trained professional when using essential oils.
The Healing Power of Cats
Lastly, if you’re still feeling a little tense consider hanging out with your cat. Spending just 10 minutes in the presence of a purring cat is enough to slow your heart rate and blood pressure right down.
When a cat purrs, it releases endorphins in their brains, and it can do the same thing in humans, too. These endorphins are hormones helpful in lowering blood pressure, and for healing.
So, what actually causes this? Science says it’s the sound. For centuries, healers have used the power of sound in their work. It is believed that certain frequencies can have varying healing effects on both mental and physical health.
A cat's purr vibrates within the range of 20-140 Hz, which can have many therapeutic benefits, including lowering stress levels. The same frequency has also been shown to aid in the healing of broken bones, joint and tendon repair, and wound healing.
Learn more about what science says about the healing power of cats from petkeen.com.
Please share your best tips on chilling out with the SunKiss community with #SunKissLife, we love hearing from you! 🌻