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Bare Essentials

Tried-and-tested techniques to banish the winter blues and put a spring in your step…
Keeping it simple has never been my strong suit. In the university of life, I majored in complex and got a master’s degree in complicated. But there’s one thing I’ve come to know for sure: sometimes we’re better served by stripping things down and getting back to basics.
If you’re like me, you know all about self-care and what we could and should be doing to take care of ourselves. But the truth of the matter is there’s a big difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it, and I’ve been guilty of not always practising what I preach. We could all benefit from a periodic gentle reminder—or a swift kick in the rear end—to inspire us to do better and be better. After a winter spent holed up inside and hibernating, who couldn’t use some help thawing out and getting back on track?
I sat down with my friend and yoga instructor, Adam Bolton, one of the founders of Men’s Retreats (a community of mindful and active men supporting one another), to get his thoughts on simple strategies to fill up our tanks so we’re not running on empty.
Get some sleep
We’re busy, overstimulated and constantly distracted, and getting a good night’s sleep is often one of the first things to fall by the wayside. We can tell ourselves we’ll make it up later, but don’t get it twisted: sleep deprivation is real, and its effects can have a tangible impact on the overall quality of our lives. According to Bolton, the single most important thing we can do for ourselves is to reset our brains and bodies by getting a good night’s sleep and establishing a sleep regimen.
Tip: Try not to check your phone in the hour before bed, and charge it where it’s out of reach.
Take up yoga
These days, even if you don’t do yoga yourself, you probably know someone who does. If you’re thinking about taking it up, you’re probably trying to gure out what the core benefits are and if there’s a specific style of yoga that suits you best. For Bolton, yoga is just one piece of the puzzle where the focus is on rebalancing and regulating the nervous system…and that’s something that would bene t everyone.
Tip: Don’t research a style of yoga; research a teacher you connect with.
Give mindfulness meditation a try
When we hear the words “mindfulness meditation,” there’s a tendency to tune out, but there really is something to it. Mindfulness can be described as the non-judgmental awareness of our thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. “I would distill it down to mental training,” says Bolton. “You need to think of training your mind the same way you think of training your body.” The goal of mindfulness is not to clear or empty your mind; it’s about creating a safe space for stillness and observation.
Tip: Download a mindfulness app and practise seven minutes daily at the same time each day.
Establish community connections
It’s human nature to crave community and to seek out a sense of belonging. This desire to connect takes on even greater significance for those of us in the LGBTQ community, who often feel isolated and excluded. Bolton stresses that cultivating community takes effort and isn’t always easy; we have to actively choose it and make it a priority. Being in community can be challenging at times, and we should be willing to give support if we want to receive it.
Tip: Join a book club, or sign up for cooking or art classes. Whatever you do, be sure to show up for yourself and for others.
Be of service
Giving back and reaching out to help someone in need is something we’re all called to do. Loving our neighbours and loving ourselves are one and the same. When we volunteer our time, energy and expertise in service of the greater good, we’re being a demonstration of love in the world. And it’s hard to disagree with the argument that the world needs as much love as it can get.
Tip: Find an organization whose mission you believe in and contact them about volunteer opportunities that match your skills and time commitment.
Self-care isn’t rocket science, so keep it simple, sweetie.
Adam Bolton and Men’s Retreats are joining forces with OUT Adventures for their upcoming Big Gay Cottage Getaway (www.outadventures.com). To nd out more about Adam’s upcoming workshops and retreats, visit www.adamboltonyoga.com.

JUMOL ROYES is IN’s Marketing and Sponsorship Manager, and a Toronto-based PR and communications strategist with a keen interest in personal development and transformation. Follow him on Twitter at @Jumol.



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