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According to recent American Express Trendex data, three in four consumers say travel is one of the top activities that they miss most right now (and we couldn't agree more). While virtual travel and domestic trips are certainly possible, one way to channel your inner explorer is by bringing wellness practices from around the world into your own home—especially during these trying times when we could all use some extra TLC.
But it can seem a little intimidating, right? How, exactly, are you going to conjure up a Japanese-style onsen? Where can you spread out your yoga mat with enough room to stretch your whole body—and do so in peace? It's easy to let the planning part get in the way.
The nice thing about the entire concept of wellness, though: it's really, really versatile. It can mean whatever you need it to mean—what makes you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally well? It doesn't have to be a physical activity like yoga (but it certainly can be). It doesn't have to involve meditation, soaking in a bath, praying, or aromatherapy (but it certainly can). When you're trying to engage with a wellness routine at home, allow yourself to think outside the box. Consider your natural environment, the stars, and your resources at home—and then take inspiration from those destinations that you're missing the most right now, and allow yourself to find that place of balance and peace.
Below, we'll help you sort out how to bring different wellness and calming rituals from around the globe to your home, without much of a fuss.
Create an onsen-inspired experience in your bathroom or practice shinrin yoku.
Soaking in an onsen (a natural hot spring) is one of the most practiced wellness rituals in Japan. And while you may not have a bath fed by a nearby natural spring inside your home, you can certainly mimic the experience for a little therapeutic soak.
First things first: take a shower before you get in the tub. If you were in Japan, you'd always rinse off before getting into the hot spring, so as to not dirty the water that you'll be soaking in. Once squeaky clean, draw yourself a hot bath, ideally in a bathtub next to an open window. Turn off the lights and rest your head as you ease yourself into the water and soak for about 15 minutes, breathing in the smell of water and fresh air. If you want to be really authentic, use a traditional wooden bucket and stool set to rinse off as you soak ($130, amazon.com).
Another ancient wellness practice that dates back centuries in Japanese culture is shinrin yoku, or forest bathing. And while you don't literally bathe in water (save that for the onsen), this ritual involves absorbing the peaceful atmosphere of a forest. To do this, leave behind your electronics (or just turn off and store your phone) and take a stroll through a wooded area nearby. Hone in on the sounds of the trees, the feeling of the air on your skin, breath in the earthy scents, and enjoy a natural rejuvenation for both body and brain.
If you're interested in rounding out your Japanese-inspired wellness ritual with some meditation practice—an excellent addition to onsen experience and shinrin yoku—you can explore virtual meditation sessions with Zen meditation master, Rev. Takafumi “Zenryu” Kawakami via the Japan National Tourism Organization here.
Channel hygge—even if it’s still warm outside.
Adding a dose of hygge to your lifestyle doesn't have to happen in cold seasons only—who says you can’t get cozy before winter begins? The Danish concept is all about making yourself as cozy as humanly possible. And while this is certainly a no-brainer in cold months, give a try during the warmer months, too. Find a quiet place, curl up on a blanket with a cup of (maybe iced) coffee, and luxuriate in the practice of doing sweet nothing.
Give your face some extra love with gua sha.
This ancient practice is historically based in Chinese medicine—it was used to treat heatstroke, seasonal diseases, and muscle pain. However, the facial rejuvenation effects of gua sha were discovered more recently by acupuncturists, and in the past couple years the gua sha trend has taken off on social media and within the wellness industry. While you can get all sorts of tools touting anti-aging results (like this one: $129, goop.com), there is something to be said about the anti-wrinkle benefits, this rigorous form of massage really provides a deep tension-relieving experience for the body.
Look to the stars.
So many societies across the globe hold stargazing, star charts, and astrological readings as an incredibly spiritual and healing practice. Research has even shown that looking up at the night sky can lower stress levels. Try making time—start with 30 minutes every week—to walk outside and look up at the stars. You can start trying to identify different constellations, or just enjoy the beauty of the vastness.
Jumpstart your stargazing practice with a top-tier telescope, like this one ($930, wayfair.com).
Go foraging near your home.
Foraging for natural food resources—which has been in practice since the time of hunter-gatherer societies—may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of wellness rituals. However, considering how intrinsic engagement with nature is to our overall wellbeing, foraging is an excellent way to take a moment to center yourself in the natural world around you. (You could even go forest bathing after you forage!)
Invest in a good wild food book—you can likely find one specific to your area, but this one ($14, amazon.com) is a great place to start—before you embark on your journey. Note: you want to be absolutely sure that the plants you forage are safe to eat, so consult a guidebook and/or professional forager before preparing any wild foods.