It's true that human beings naturally crave touch and connection, and it's something that is central to living. But the busy nature of life nowadays means that we've all become a little reliant on always being surrounded by people, noise, and stimulation. In reality, being alone has been presented as something that is negative, and something to be avoided (remember that time you struggled over the concept of eating alone in a restaurant or staying in alone on a Friday night?). In order to find solitude, boundaries and true downtime, it's high time we all found ways to celebrate time spent on our own. In fact, over the last year, journalist and author Francesca Spector has revolutionised this very concept and coined the term Alonement - a celebration of how to be alone and absolutely own it. As she says: 'It’s no coincidence that alonement sounds like ‘atonement’, because choosing yourself can feel this sometimes [...] Practising alonement doesn’t always come easily. We’re taught social skills growing up – but not solitude skills [...] Learning to value time alone – whether that’s an hour alone or weeks in self-isolation – is a transformative process that will help you lead your most fulfilled, independent life.'
There's a lot of power in rituals, hence why we feel passionate about bringing you a new Restful Ritual to trial for a month in our exclusive newsletters. Think about Christmas and all the things you love the most about the joyful season - found yourself down a rabbit hole of traditions and nostalgic rituals? We thought so. Performing something regularly or at a certain time in a certain place can create a sense of comfort and calm. It's for this reason that incorporating certain rituals into your lives can abundantly help you to switch off when it's necessary. Don't confuse it for routine, though. Rituals are meaningful acts that you look to do with intent - ultimately, they achieve something. Perhaps you look to journalling to switch off, offload and ease into a day, or maybe you look to prioritising a bath when you know you need time out. A slow coffee morning where you savour every last drop while taking the time to read your favourite publication and listen to the elements outside... That's the type of restful ritual we're talking about.
Ever taken some time out and then realised you're no less rested or stressed at the end of it? Often, it's because your time spent switched off wasn't considered well enough or didn't serve you for what was needed. Although time spent switching off is time away from being productive, as such, getting the most out of situations, time and experiences is a central element to human happiness. Take time to evaluate what's important to you and factor this into your downtime - leave your time spent switched off feeling as though you've achieved something. You'll be more inclined to prioritise it in the future. It could be as simple as resting, feeling as though you've filled your cup up, or caught up on sleep.
Proven to lower blood pressure, reduce cortisol levels and increase serotonin, nature is a pretty special thing, especially when it comes to helping us out and allowing us to maintain a sense of balance. Our affinity to nature goes back to evolution and is deep-rooted in our genetics. The grounding elements of nature can have such a powerful effect on our wellbeing, so utilising this within your allocated switching off time can reap huge rewards. Research has shown that forest bathing and opting to consciously connect with plants and green spaces allows people to have optimum nervous systems and ultimately be more aligned. In fact, a recent survey showed that countryside therapy boosted wellbeing throughout the pandemic and lockdowns. Aim to make sure you are getting outside as much as possible, and immersing yourself within natural environments.
Approach your time spent switching off with intention, and look to use the time wisely doing something that helps you to calm down. Find a hobby or activity that becomes your ultimate state of relaxation, something that genuinely helps you to forget about those phone calls or meetings at work, and helps you to reset completely. Considering the intention behind your activities, hobbies or things on your to-do list can help you to really feel as though you are making the most of every moment.
It goes without saying that this is something that we are passionate about, but there really is huge merit in taking time out from the constant companion of your phone and digital belongings. We're so immersed in our phones and digital media every day now that it's crucial that we separate ourselves from it every now and then. Switching your phone off and not using it when taking time out for yourself is a great way to ensure you're not overstimulated, not distracted and that you refresh your brain from the constant screen time. It allows us to be more present and aware of the moment and allows for a micro-mindfulness that can be deeply nourishing.