3 De-Stress Tips for Busy Executives to Sleep Well and Perform Well

by Rachel Grunwell  
Life can be busy and we can hold onto a lot of stress. So, it’s important to take time to pause , unwind and to re-set. If you don’t take time for self-care, then you can wind up facing “burn out”. If this stress carries on for too long, it can snowball.

Too much stress can lead to poor sleep and poor concentration. It can then spiral into things like anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Stress chemicals can stay in your brain and body if not addressed. Worse still, your sensitivity to stress can increase if it continues to accumulate. So the trick is to embrace calming strategies into your life so you can perform at your best.

Stress can be scary. It results in chemicals throughout your body and brain. This includes adrenalin, noradrenaline, serotonin, histamine, corticotrophin-releasing hormone and acetylcholine. These chemicals activate the fight-or-flight response in the body so it gets into ready-to-run mode. This in turn impacts on you being able to have clear, logical thinking, your digestion working optimally (ie the ability to lose weight is hard!) to not being able to function well in your work or life…

I’m a qualified coach, and yoga + meditation teacher. I co-lead the Mindful Moments retreats at the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua. Here, clients get to tap into an amazing weekend getaway. They learn diverse strategies to de-stress. So there’s bound to be one technique that resonates to fit into your every day life back home. On the edge of Lake Rotorua, it’s a blissful setting. Clients also get a chance to dip into the relaxing and rejuvenating waters of the 28 pools on site. The pools are of varying temperatures. This alone will calm your body, mind and soul. The retreat also includes mindfulness and meditation training. A spa treat treatment is part of the weekend too. There’s a walk in nature in the Redwoods Forest, nourishing lunches, and restorative yin yoga. Lastly, there’s a wellness workshop where retreat-goers learn lots of science-backed wellness strategies from my book Balance, which includes 30 global experts on how to live healthier and happier. I promise you’ll leave this retreat empowered with more knowledge and how to kick-start your own health journey and goals.

Here are 3 de-stress tips I share for busy executives on these retreats:

1. Take time to find “flow”. What I mean by this, is I encourage you to do something you love. This could be exercise, knitting, painting, playing music or going for a walk in nature, for instance. This “me time” helps you to feel calm, happy and to harness your monkey-mind.

2. Have a night time ritual to help you unwind before bed-time. And of course get the mobile phone’s blue light away from your face.

3. Practice mindfulness . This helps you to live life more in the moment and to feel happier, rather than anxious.

Find out more about the Mindful Moments retreats. The retreat dates for 20/20 are now live. Click HERE

Rachel is the Polynesian Spa’s ambassador and co-leader of the spa’s Mindful Moments retreats. She is a wellness expert, coach, yoga + meditation teacher, and author of Balance: Food, Health + Happiness, which boasts 30 global wellness experts sharing science-backed advice on living healthier and happier. Find out more about the book HERE

Resolution Retreats blissful health retreat getaway

resolution retreats complex

By Rachel Grunwell

The way to achieve your wellness goals is through “progression, not perfectionism”.

These wise words ring in my ears as I attend a three-day retreat in the Bay of Plenty.

I’m at Resolution Retreats, high up in the quiet, peaceful and beautiful bush-clad hills of Papamoa. It’s so green here, the air is fresh and I feel blissful and chilled-out just simply being in this stunning location. It’s wonderful to have “me time” and to be in a supportive and welcoming place that nurtures good health. It’s a place just solely for women to transform.

resolution retreats poolside

Here, you can kick-start a restorative journey to improve your own personal and individual health goals.

I’m among about a dozen women, mostly aged 40s and over, who have different goals from weight loss to wanting to improve their overall health, fitness, food knowledge or happiness levels. Some mums and daughters (aged in their 20s) too are here for a special healthy holiday. Others just wish to take a breath, refocus and feel pampered.

Founder and nutritional consultant, Joelene Ranby (pictured below), says she and her team will support everyone on their individual goals. Questions are welcome at any time.

resolution retreats joelene

 

I love that she tells us we can go to the daily fitness workouts or health seminars, or opt out for relaxation time instead, if we wish. It’s a no-pressure environment. One option for example, is walking to the Kaiate Falls. I opted in for that and loved being in nature (I’m pictured by one of the waterfalls below – how bliss does that look)!!!

resolution retreats walk

 

Ranby says she aims to inspire, educate and motivate women with tools on how to de-stress, recuperate and refocus.

She promises to keep things “simple”. She doesn’t want anyone “overwhelmed” and “trying to do everything all at once”. This is a key theme: “progression, not perfectionism”.

She implores us to focus on one important health message daily and think about leaving the retreat with one change to truly focus on back at home. This is because one change at a time, and little by little, we can transform our lives and achieve our wellness goals, she promises.

The itinerary over three days includes daily gentle yoga and different fitness sessions (here’s a pic below of a pool work-out). Seminars range from healthy eating education, to de-coding food labels, and there is a cooking demonstration done by a professional chef who shares helpful and healthy tips and tricks.

resolution retreats pool class 

Everyone raves about the girly-girl pampering sessions (you can get treatments from massages and facials to pedicures on-site). I have a facial which is so good I fall asleep! And a back massage helps me to de-stress down another notch.

I like that the retreat kept things accessible, realistic, and there are lots of real-life ideas shared. Food is super healthy (like this yum meal pictured below), but filling, and I cope okay without sugar (I’m generally a chocoholic!)

resolution retreats meal

The snacks are delicious too on the retreat. Check out this blissball goodness!

resoltion retreats snack

My bedroom is a tranquil oasis and boasts an inside and outside bath. Check out how lush it looks!

resolutuon retreats accommodation

 

I left the retreat feeling inspired and relaxed. What an amazing place where women can focus on themselves… and truly escape briefly the never-ending to-do-list and needs of the kids, partners and work commitments. I’d recommend Resolution Retreats as a friendly place that can empower women with real-life tools to live healthier and happier.

 

Top tips from the retreat:

Quit the guilt.

Keep things simple and focus on one health goal at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself. “Ladies tend to see the bar too high. We all do it!” says Joelene Ranby.

Protein can help to keep you fuller for longer.

Be organised with meals. It will help stop you reaching for unhealthy snacks.

Figure out the things that “slip you up” and plan around them ie if you love chocolate and chips perhaps don’t buy them or maybe keep them in a place you can’t see them.

Ask yourself before snacking: “Am I eating because I am stressed?”

Exercise and get your heart-rate up before breakfast – even if it’s just for a few minutes. It will help kick-start your metabolism.

This piece was published in Herald group newspapers. The piece was penned by Rachel Grunwell: wellness writer & columnist, marathoner, yoga teacher and the director of this lifestyle website InspiredHealth. Follow InspiredHealth on Facebook (click HERE) & Instagram (Click HERE). We have amazing regular health giveaways and inspiration on living “well”.

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Resolution Retreats runs numerous retreats throughout the year, ranging from three days to three weeks. 

 

 

 

The Tussock Traverse – one of NZ’s most scenic courses

Tussock Traverse

By Rachel Grunwell

It’s a New Year and so it’s time for new adventures. Training for an “adventure” is a top way to keep fit.

It can also scare you out of bed in the morning to train!

A unique event (for walkers and runners) is the Tussock Traverse, one of the most scenic courses in New Zealand (on January 30). 

It’s an off-road adventure like no other.

The event showcases the eastern area of the World Heritage Tongariro National Park encompassing Tukino and the Round the Mountain and Waihohonu tracks before finishing at the majestic Chateau Tongariro in Whakapapa. 

Victory Events director Jason Cameron says most Kiwis can take part in the event. “Unlike its near neighbour the Goat, the Tussock Traverse is not highly-technical and is very achievable with its range of distance options”.

He says there’s an event option for most ages and abilities (6.5km, 13km and 26km). “It’s not highly-technical; it’s achievable”.

In the 26k expect some rock hopping through a lava field before negotiating the rolling lunar like landscape with volcanic sands through native vegetation before reaching formed tracks in the last 10km.

He says at one point in the race, entrants are “dwarfed by Mt Ngauruhoe on the right whilst capturing stunning views of Mt Ruapehu out to the left”.

Project Tongariro (formerly known as Tongariro Natural History Society) is the event’s charity partner and so entrants help give back, and conserve, the area too.

craig kirkwood

Pictured: Craig Kirkwood running in the 2015 Ironman NZ event.

One participant this year will be Craig Kirkwood, 41, an elite runner and coach from Tauranga. He “runs” Craig Kirkwood Coaching. He says this event will be “a training run” for the Tarawera Ultra 100km event on February 6.

His tips for doing the Tussock Traverse (which he came second in last year): Expect the course to feel 10% longer than running on-road, take a good quality raincoat in case the weather turns and “smile” and “enjoy it!”

* For more info check out: www.tussocktraverse.co.nz

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Rachel is the director of inspiredhealth.co.nz/ 

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Piha Walk

Piha Beach is only 40km from Auckland city and it’s one of the best escapes – for the stunning wild and wonderful surf and that beautiful black sand that sticks to your toes. But there’s a walk close by that’s absolutely magic too for a family stroll.
If you haven’t been before, you should check out Kitekite Falls walk in the Waitakere Ranges.

Piha story

The walk kicks off at the end of Glen Esk Rd and the walk is well signposted; you can’t get lost. A colossal kauri tree stump greets you around here and my kids love to hide in it and pretend it’s a play house.

You must use special spray bottle provided here to blast your shoes to stop a lethal pathogen that is attacking our beautiful kauri trees.

On the walk you encounter a stream, bridges, beautifully-made steps including some that even spiral, and the lush bush here is an absolute escape. Feel the stress from your shoulders evaporate… The air here is just so fresh and energising. But the star of this show is the falls. You’ll stop in your tracks and “wow” will escape from your lips. You glimpse this multi-drop waterfall, that’s 40m high, first through the bush. Then minutes later the falls are near your toes and you rock-hop past it. You can swim here if you’re brave and don’t mind an ice-cold dip.

The walk takes 60-minutes all up if you take it leisurely – or shorter if your strides are strong and you’re not waiting for little ones to catch up.

By the way a doctor named this place. He felt the area reminded him of Scotland. Glen means valley (Gaelic) & Esk means water (Celtic).

ps. A great website on Piha is www.piha.co.nz which gives great ideas on things to do and info about the place.