Now More Than Ever
Now more than ever, we need to be in charge of taking the best care of ourselves! So let’s get started so you can get started right away too.
First step is to frame your retreat into a model for you to follow. Since “mother nature” is our best source for natural healing, we can follow the frame work of the elements of nature: Fire, Water, Earth, and Air.
Humans are intimately connected to nature, and our physical and mental health is influenced strongly by our environment. The "elements," classically described in humoral theory as Fire, Water, Earth, and Air, all may impact our mental health. Harnessing the Four Elements for Mental Health.
Element of Fire
This element pertains to the influence on our mood of direct exposure to light (sunlight or artificial light) or heat (including sauna, or heated objects applied to the body, e.g., hot rocks). The effects of sunshine exposure on mental health may in part be mediated by vitamin D since low levels of vitamin D appear to be associated with depression risk.
Fire strategies to enhance your personal retreat
Exercise to warm your body
Warmth and cozy glow of a candle
Fire in a fireplace or wood stove
Blanket or shawl for extra warmth if you get chilled
Artwork incorporating actual fire
Red rug, or carpet, or pillows, etc
Turn on a table lamp for the warm glow of light
Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames. Rumi
Element of Water
With the body consisting of 60% water, adequate hydration is necessary for electrolyte balance, intracellular function, and extracellular communication. Dehydration can affect mood and pain levels.
This element also pertains to the exposure to water, including the use of general hydrotherapy, balneotherapy (treatment of disease via bathing in natural mineral springs), and water-based physical activity.
Water Strategies to enhance your personal retreat
Have water nearby and drink frequently
Set a goal of drinking 8 glasses per day
Small table-top water fountain running and relax with the sound
Picture of water - rivers, oceans, lakes, rain, mist and snow
Blue pillows, rug, etc
We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one. Jacques Yves Cousteau
Element of Earth
Adequate exposure to nature provides benefits for general and mental health and even impacts the health of the microbiome which can be related to improved mental health. The benefits of spending time in nature for mental health are related to increased exposure to sunlight and fresh air, in addition to psychosocial interactions. While this may be beneficial, when interacting with soil, some caution is needed in terms of potential contaminants (e.g., chemicals and harmful pathogens).
This element pertains to the influence of direct exposure to earth/soil and flora, time spent in nature (in particular wilderness environments), “forest bathing”, “greenspace exercise,” interactions with animals, and novel interventions such as clay art therapy.
Earth strategies to enhance your personal retreat
Add plants or flowers to your home environment
Stretch breaks every hour
Walk barefoot outside daily
Sit in the grass while you eat lunch
Lay in the grass for relaxation
Plant flowers or vegetable garden
Have fruits and vegetables ready for snacks
Prepare healthy plant-based meals
Artwork that incorporates landscape or forest-y images
Sandy area rugs.
“Stay close to nature and its eternal laws will protect you.” Max Gerson
Element of Air
Increased urbanization and exposure to excessive industrialization have increased air pollution and caused health issues such as inflammation, COPD, asthma, etc. If there is one bright spot in this pandemic, the shut down of industries and many automobiles has led to better air quality, we see sights we never saw before and the planet is beginning to heal.
This element pertains to the influence of direct exposure to fresh clean air, conscious and more effective breathing, and specific breathing exercises (such as utilized in yoga, known as pranayama) which reduce stress and anxiety.
Air strategies to enhance your personal retreat
Open a window for fresh air
Sleep with windows open
Practice slow deep belly breathing hourly
Provide “conscious” breathing breaks outside using Yoga, Tai Chi, etc
Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Final Words of Wisdom
Hopefully, this will provide you with multiple strategies honoring the 4 elements that can reduce stress and anxiety, improve your life balance, and enhance your level of wellbeing.
Here is an easy way to incorporate all 4 elements into your day from another wellness blogger:
My grandmother had four daily rituals in with which she honored the four elements. To honor water, she put her feet in running water. For earth, she made sure her feet felt grass. For fire, she made sure she saw the sun. And for air, she stood underneath the canopy of stars each night. Balancing the Four Elements for Health and Wellbeing
BLISS WITHIN RETREAT
Harnessing the Four Elements for Mental Health
Feng Shui: What it is, its Five Elements, and Basic Strategies for Modern Interiors
Please share your ideas related to the 4 elements and how you use them to create your own at-home retreat. We can always learn from each other during these challenging times.