Our guest blogger this month is Nandini Natasha Austin, who is not only a dear friend, but also a former colleague from our time working together at Morgans Hotel Group. Nandini is the co-founder of The Cocktail Architect and is currently working on launching her new lifestyle brand this fall. “Revel in the Moment” is an online platform that showcases Health, Wellness, Food and Drink & Innovation, all with the aim of living a life in balance.
In today’s working environment where we are reachable 24/7, sleeping fewer hours and bombarded by technology, it’s not surprising that most people suffer from a lack of work-to-life balance. We have a hard time prioritizing our health, instead allowing work to take precedence. Putting health first is a strange notion and certainly not how we're accustomed to operating. However, as a business owner and a mother, it’s a concept I’ve had to learn to embrace. Through commitment and a few minor changes, I have felt both my happiness and productivity levels soar. So why not use this month to make some valuable changes that will help make mindfulness part of your lifestyle.
Here are six of my tips to help you achieve just this:
1. Embrace the outdoors
Research has shown that immersing yourself in nature has a positive effect all the way down to the cellular level. This will help your immune system work better--so get outdoors ASAP! Spend a day strolling through the woods or spend a long afternoon at the beach. If you can’t venture far, then consider a day trip to one of my favorite local haunts, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens or Prospect Park. There is nothing like being in the fresh air to awaken your senses and enliven your spirit.
2. Carve out some much needed YOU time
If you can't get away on vacation, take advantage of the slower summer months and schedule some downtime to indulge in whatever makes you happy. I mean actually put it down on your calendar and hold yourself to it. It could be that much-needed pamper session (think Aire Bath spa), or trying a new hobby to rejuvenate you. I recently took up Yoga at Integral Yoga in the West Village, which has really helped slow me down. Even spending time reading will help calm your mind. It does not have to be much, but try to consciously put yourself first.
3. Spend time with people who energize you
Not only do friendships enrich your life, they boost your mood, giving you a sense of purpose and thereby lowering your stress levels. Social media, although necessary for business, can be rather anti-social and isolating at times. So instead of “liking” your friends posts on social media, why not call them up the old fashioned way and plan a visit instead? Being part of a community has also shown to increase happiness levels. So get active in your neighborhood by joining or starting a cause you believe in.
4. Shut off from technology
The ubiquity of technology has come to mean that we are accessible all the time. It can be exhausting to check our social feeds, direct messages, emails and whatsApp messages, so it’s beneficial to disconnect once in a while. Imagine for a moment that your mind works like your iPhone. When you have multiple apps running in the background, they are constantly draining your energy and depleting your battery. So shut them down and schedule a day free of technology to fully recharge.
5. Get more sleep!
Ok, we have heard a million times that sleep is essential for cell rejuvenation and repair. But as New York has been dubbed “the city that never sleeps,” New Yorkers seem to think it’s normal to neglect their personal sleep too. Getting much-needed sleep is necessary for the mind and soul to feel nourished and revitalized. You’ll be less prone to mindless eating and have a better attention span and memory too. I use the free sleep mode function on my iPhone to track my sleep and remind me to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night. I also turn off any electronic devices in my house at least an hour before going to bed to disconnect from stimulating blue light.
6. Experiment with meditation & self-reflection
In a bustling city, it's hard to imagine serene places where you can find some peace and quiet. When September hits, it will be a relentless race again, so why not get into the habit of slowing your mind down now with some mindfulness in the form of meditation practice? Inscape is perfect for the beginner, offering private booths with guided meditations. If the thought of meditation turns you off, how about trying dance and meditation along the lines of Five rhythms -- I took an exhilarating class in London with my sister and they offer the same classes here in New York.
Life after all is about those little moments you can never get back. We are all busy making plans for the future, or living in the past that we forget the present. So seize every opportunity to live in the here and now. Revel in your downtime with loved ones and pursue life in terms of health, not wealth.