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Cultivate your Zen in 2021
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Cultivate your Zen in 2021

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Alright, alright, alright! A huge pat on the back to each and every one of us for making it through 2020 with body and mind in tact (or at least some semblance of in tact)! 

Considering the events of last year, it may take some time for us to move out of chronic crisis mode and into what will be our new normal. With that said, now is the perfect time to evaluate which aspects of our former lives we'd like to continue with and which we'd like to change. The toll that has been taken on many of us has left us searching for ways to heal and create a healthier more thoughtful and balanced lifestyle going forward, and through that lens, it's been a blessing in disguise.

Who doesn't need to level up their zen game a bit, right? So, let's use the motivation of having a blank slate to cultivate healthier habits to promote our health, wellbeing and happiness to make 2021 our best year EVER!

Here are some healthy habits that can help you achieve a more stress-free lifestyle this year:

MEDITATION

According to Healthline, here are 12 science based benefits of meditation.

Stress reduction is one of the most common reasons people try meditation.

Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress. Meditation can likewise reduce symptoms in people with stress-triggered medical conditions.

2. Controls anxiety

Meditation can reduce stress levels, which translates to less anxiety.

Habitual meditation can help reduce anxiety and improve stress reactivity and coping skills.

Some forms of meditation can lead to improved self-image and a more positive outlook on life.

Meditation can improve depression and reduce negative thoughts. It may also decrease levels of inflammatory cytokines, which could contribute to depression.

Some forms of meditation may help you develop a stronger understanding of yourself, helping you grow into your best self.

Self-inquiry and related styles of meditation can help you “know yourself.” This can be a starting point for making other positive changes.

Focused-attention meditation is like weight lifting for your attention span. It helps increase the strength and endurance of your attention.

Even meditating for a short period each day may benefit you. One study found that meditating for just 13 minutes daily enhanced attention and memory after 8 weeks.

Improvements in attention and clarity of thinking may help keep your mind young.

The improved focus you can gain through regular meditation may boost your memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.

Some types of meditation may particularly increase positive feelings and actions toward yourself and others.

Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, is a practice of developing positive feelings, first toward yourself and then toward others. Metta increases positivity, empathy, and compassionate behavior toward others.

The mental discipline you can develop through meditation may help you break dependencies by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviors.

Meditation develops mental awareness and can help you manage triggers for unwanted impulses. This can help you recover from addiction, manage unhealthy eating, and redirect other unwanted habits.

Nearly half of the population will struggle with insomnia at some point.

A variety of meditation techniques can help you relax and control runaway thoughts that can interfere with sleep. This can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase sleep quality.

Your perception of pain is connected to your state of mind, and it can be elevated in stressful conditions.

Meditation can diminish the perception of pain in the brain. This may help treat chronic pain when used to supplement medical care or physical therapy.

Meditation can also improve physical health by reducing strain on the heart.

Blood pressure decreases not only during meditation but also over time in individuals who meditate regularly. This can reduce strain on the heart and arteries, helping prevent heart disease.

People practice many different forms of meditation, most of which don’t require specialized equipment or space. You can practice with just a few minutes daily.

If you want to start meditating, try choosing a form of meditation based on what you want to get out of it.

There are two major styles of meditation:

  • Focused-attention meditation. This style concentrates attention on a single object, thought, sound, or visualization. It emphasizes ridding your mind of distractions. Meditation may focus on breathing, a mantra, or calming sound.
  • Open-monitoring meditation. This style encourages broadened awareness of all aspects of your environment, train of thought, and sense of self. It may include becoming aware of suppressed thoughts, feelings, or impulses.

Meditation is something everyone can do to improve their mental and emotional health. So find a quiet corner or create a dedicated space, drop a comfy pillow and just breathe.

Source: Healthline.com

Shop our handmade mudcloth mediation cushions (floor pillows).

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils are complex compounds produced by aromatic plants, typically extracted via distillation or mechanical pressing of the plant.

From aromatherapy for relaxation to topical applications, essential oils have been  gaining in popularity as a remedy to common problems. They can bring a wide range of wellness benefits for body and mind.

Here is a list of the benefits of using essential oils:

1. Help with Sleep Certain essential oils are known to have relaxing properties that can help put you to sleep and have a good nights rest. These oils contain  therapeutic properties that make them an excellent choice for treating insomnia and improving your quality of sleep.

2. Relieve Stress and Anxiety Essential oils such as Ylang Ylang or Frankincense reduce stress by sending calming signals to your brain and improving your mood.

In addition, essential oils bring mental as well as physical changes to your body, which are likely to be reason for your stress and anxiety. 

A few drops of essential oils applied to your temples can bring instant relaxation

3. Depression Oils such as Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Chamomile and Lavender are known to help treat the symptoms of depression through the relaxing properties found in these oils.

4. Mental Alertness Essential oils known to improve clarity and boost brain health are Sandalwood, Rosemary and Basil. These oils also relax your nerves, removing stress from your life which, in turn, helps your brain operate at a higher level and with better focus.

5. PMS PMS symptoms can be relieved with essential oils by relaxing muscles, fighting anxiety and improving mood, Oils used for this purpose include Rose, Lavender and Eucalyptus. Certain oils can also be used to regulate the menses and make them regular. 

For essential oil recipes see our April 14, 2020 blog post Essential Oil Recipes.

NOTE: Plants and herbal products contain many bioactive compounds that may harm your health, and essential oils are no different. Essential oils are generally considered safe. However, they may cause serious side effects for some people, especially if applied directly to the skin or ingested. NEVER apply an essential oil directly to the skin, always dilute with a carrier oil (we like Jojoba oil).

Essential oils can be used in many ways: Diffused as aromatherapy, ingested or applied topically.

Shop our essential oil rollerball necklaces to keep your oils close so that you can use them any time you need them.

Source: Healthline.com

JOURNALING

One of the most important journaling benefits is that it gives you a space to unload worries before they build in unhealthy ways. Some of the mental and health benefits of keeping a journal include: enhanced ability to heal both physically and emotionally.

Here are some additional benefits:

1. Reduces Stress An overabundance of stress can be damaging to your physical, mental and emotional health. That has been proven. Journaling is an incredible stress management tool, a beneficial habit that lessens impact of physical stressors on your health. In fact, a study showed that expressive writing (like journaling) for only 15 - 20 minutes a day, three to five times over the course of a four-month period was enough to lower blood pressure and improve liver functionality. Plus, writing about stressful experiences can help you manage them in a healthy way. Try establishing journaling as a pre-bedtime meditation habit to help you unwind an de-stress.

2. Improves Immune Function Expressive writing can strengthen our immunity and decrease your risk of illness. Those who journal boast improved immune system functioning as well as lessened symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Expressive writing has been shown to improve liver and lung function and combat certain diseases; it has even been reported to help the wounded heal faster. 

3. Keep Memory Sharp Journaling helps keep your brain on it's A game. Not only does it boost memory and comprehension. it also increases working memory capacity, which may reflect improved cognitive processing. 

4: Boosts Mood A unique social and behavior outcome of journaling is this: it can improve your mood and give you a greater sense of overall emotional well-being happiness.

 5. Strengthens Emotional Functions As journaling habits are developed, benefits become long-term, meaning that diarists become more in tune with their health by connecting with inner needs and desires. Journaling evokes mindfullness and helps writers remain present whole keeping perspective. It presents an opportunity for emotional catharsis and helps the brain regulate emotions. It provided a greater sense of confidence and self-identity. Jouraling can help in the management of personal adversity and change, and emphasize important patterns and growth in life. Research even shows that expressive writing can help individuals develop more structure, adaptive, and integrated schemes about themselves, others and the world. What's more, journaling unlocks and engages right-brained creativity, which gives you access to your full brainpower. Journaling really does foster growth.

Source: IntermountainHealthcare.com

Shop our journals and get writing for a happier, healthier you!

CANDLES

 If you've never thought much beyond just lighting a candle for ambiance, you might reconsider once you learn that these decorative gems offer some potential general wellness benefits. 

1. Enhance the Atmosphere Psychologists have known for some time that a person's environment can impact health and wellness. The colors, sounds and structure of a room or space can greatly influence a person's sense of security, mood and mental health by:

  • Adding more warmth and light on a gloomy or cold day
  • Creating aromatic feel
  • Adding to a relaxed and tranquil setting

2. Aromatherapy and Stress Relief Lighting an aromatherapy candle is a fast and easy way to ease a bit of stress or boost your mood.

Choose a candle based on the scent and the kind of relief you're looking for:

  • Lavender is calming and soothing
  • Jasmine can be beneficial for tension and anxiety relief
  • Lemon scented candles could help ease symptoms of nausea or stomach discomfort
  • Eucalyptus has the dual power to clear sinuses and improve your energy levels

3. Support Mediation and Spirituality You can take the mood-boosting qualities of candles even further by including them in our mediation practice. 

4. Make a Creative Statement Candles can be quite beautiful. On their own, they can create a statement based on their color, shape, or the vessel that contains them. And when lit, they can transform a room.

5. Improve Sleep The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports that 10% of adults don't get the recommended 7 hours of sleep every night. While it's all too common for people to complain about not getting enough rest, lack of sleep can have many negative health effects like weight gain, memory loss and other more serious condition like diabetes.

Use a candle to help calm and ready yourself for a good night of sleep. Incorporate this into other practices like avoiding screen time right before bed and ensuring your room is completely dark.

6. Create a Daily Ritual You can use candles to signify routines and rituals in your schedule. 

Light your favorite relaxing aromatherapy candle as a part of a nighttime wind-down routine before bed, in the morning during meditation or during your coffee before you head to work.

Though it's simple, lighting a candle during part of your day can make it more meaningful and help you stay present and not rush through life.

- Humblemusings.com

Shop our handcrafted artisinal soy candles.

ENERGY CLEANSING RITUAL

If you're looking for a way to keep the good vibes flowing, burning palo santo or sage smudging might be your answer.

With a growing consciousness around energy and spirituality, more people are turning to the ancient practices from cultures who lived closer to the land for holistic wellness. 

Palo Santo wood comes from a South American tree called Bursera Graveolens. For centuries Palo Santo (translated to mean "holy wood") has been burned as an energy cleanser.

The uses for Palo Santo are these:

1) Resets energy that was tainted by negativity or conflict

2) Neutralize issues before they begin

3) Attracts sacredness and benevolence to a space

Whether it’s conflict at work or a stressed-out partner bringing you down at home, Palo Santo is said to show agitated and harmful energy the door (literally), bring in positive healing energies, and allow you to approach things with an unburdened mind. This way, you’ll be better prepared to establish harmonious office relationships and start spending comforting QT with your partner.

Source: Women's Health

Shop our handcrafted artisinal palo santo burn plates.