Increase vitality in the New Year

Increasing vitality may be the secret to living a more connected, successful, and meaningful life, and building a life full of vitality doesn’t have to add to your stress or take hours out of your already busy day. Here are five simple tips:

1. Get Grounded, Literally. Get outside! Take a few moments each day to take off your shoes and place your bare feet in the grass. The sensation is likely to produce an immediate sense of relaxation. The concept is literally called grounding and this connection with the Earth has been demonstrated to calm the nervous system.

2. Move Your Joints. Though it may not be obvious, joints are the body’s foundation. Not only are they where bone, muscle, and tissue come together, they are where movement is initiated and received. Joints are what allow us to walk, run, sit, bend over, stand up, lie down, and get up out of bed — at best, anything we want to do. Healthy joints are one of the keys to vitality, and one of the major factors in joint health is the daily exercise of your joints.

3. Learn How to Breathe. Becoming aware of your breathing is one of the most common practices in yoga and meditation. When you’re stressed and overwhelmed, your breathing becomes short and trapped in your chest. Instead, press your breath down to your belly so that only your stomach expands and contracts as you inhale and exhale. The calming you experience is a result of your body getting more oxygen with each breath. This will instantly shift the nervous system toward its resting state from the fight or flight mode.

4. Relax Your Nervous System. Because of stress related to work, family, and other responsibilities, our nervous system (the communication highway of our body) is constantly in overdrive. In order for our bodies and minds to recover and heal, the nervous system must be in a resting or parasympathetic mode. In addition to grounding and watching your breath, two other simple ways to reset the nervous system are taking a walk and practicing mindfulness, which simply means becoming aware of your thoughts and considering whether they are adding or detracting from your sense of vitality. By stepping outside of yourself, you become open to new and deeper ideas of understanding, creativity, and even peace.

5. Lean into Your Emotions. Emotions are energy in motion and are there to serve a purpose. They want acknowledgement. When an emotion gets suppressed or ignored, it is stored in the body and at some point will manifest itself again, whether through pain, tension, illness, or simply overreaction. The next time you are flooded with emotion, feeling it in your chest or stomach, ask yourself why the emotion is there. Feel it flowing through you. You may be surprised at how quickly the negativity dissipates and what you can learn once the emotion is acknowledged. illuminatemovement.com   Elise Wark