Katrina Mather is the founder of ‘The Body Toolkit’, an award winning health retreat in the Scottish Highlands. In her retreats and workshops she shares simple but powerful things that we can all do to nourish the body, reduce stress and ultimately help ourselves to thrive.
“Katrina is a shining advert for the lifestyle she advocates.” The Scotsman
The Power of Slowing Down by Katrina Mather, The Body Toolkit
Have you ever come back from holiday feeling in desperate need of another holiday, just to recover from your actual holiday?
The pace of life is crazy just now and we’re feeling it. Emails, social media, mobile phones… the demands on our time are coming at us from all angles. We work hard and we play hard and then when the holidays come around, our days off are precious and we cram in as much as possible.
I meet a lot of people who tell me that they actually don’t know how to relax – it’s almost like we’re addicted to busy-ness. So many of us are chronically deficient in rest and yet it’s one of the single most powerful things we can do for our health, our weight and our happiness.
Quite often when people do give themselves permission to rest, they’re usually shocked at just how tired they feel. What I find at the retreat is that most people just sleep for the first three days - which usually triggers a lot of guilt. We don’t like to be seen to be doing nothing – we feel like we should be out “making the most” of the day... although, for so many it’s probably the first time in their lives that they’ve ever given themselves time and space to do nothing.
By living in a world of busy-ness and stress, the majority are living life fuelled by adrenaline (thank you, adrenals) and caffeine (thank you, coffee). But it’s a false economy. If the minute you stop for your holidays and you feel knackered or worse still, you get sick, your body is crying out for more rest.
Rest Is Best
At the retreat, I talk about Rest with a capital ‘R’ – the antithesis of a bootcamp, in fact resting is actively encouraged. And in the three years that I’ve been running retreats in the Scottish Highlands, I’ve noticed a curious fact: people get better results when the weather’s been ‘bad’.
What?! How could bad weather affect people’s health or weight loss?
Well, when the weather is good most of us are programmed to want to get out and seize the day. But when the weather is ‘bad’ (think horizontal rain), people don’t feel guilty about sitting on their backside and reading a book, sitting by the fire or having a nap. So, poor weather is a great way to practice guilt-free rest.
In fact, the results of doing absolutely nothing for a week are incredible.
I’m forever saying that the *body’s default setting is to heal* - If we break a leg or cut ourselves, our body will do as much as it can to fix the bone, knit the wound or rebuild the muscle with the tools and materials we supply it with.
But the body is only able to heal, repair and regenerate when we allow the system to properly rest. Of course, there’s a big focus at the retreat on nutrition with lots of organic juices and soups, gentle nature walks (if you want to go out) and other gentle techniques to detox the body and mind. but the unsung hero in people’s transformations is the rest.
Prioritising rest makes us healthier, happier and more efficient
1. Slow Down At Meal Times – so many of us eat our meals on the run or in front of a screen. By wolfing down our meals, we don’t feel satisfied and our system struggles to digest it all if we haven’t been chewing properly... which predisposes us to feeling bloated, uncomfortable and putting on weight. Put down your fork between mouthfuls and chew!
2. Meditate Daily – having this as a non-negotiable part of your day is one of the best things you can do for your health and happiness. Whether it’s mindfulness, using a guided meditation that you like or even just noticing and following your breath for 10-20 mins, this is time well spent and an investment in your day ahead.
3. Befriend your Bath – if you don’t have a bath, try a make-shift footbath. A soak in a bath is such a brilliant way of practising rest – warm, relaxing and a great way to slow down for 20 minutes. I’m a big advocate of magnesium therapy, so I love to add magnesium flakes in my bath/footbath. Magnesium levels are depleted by stress, so it’s crucial to get it into us for our health and mental wellbeing.
4. Schedule Downtime in your Diary – have you ever blocked out time in your diary to do nothing? Have a glance at your diary and see where you could actually block off some time at the weekend for complete rest, or your next holiday – could you dedicate some time to prioritise rest? We really have to ditch the guilt around resting – in the age we live in, I think it’s a medical necessity.
5. Once a Month - if you’re a woman in your menstruating phase of life – prioritise rest around your time of the month. In indigenous cultures women are excused from their daily tasks as it’s seen as a very sacred time, a time to down tools, rest and reflect inwards. Even if that isn’t achievable, at least be kind and gentle with yourself around that time.
Of course, it’s easier said than done as we all have our commitments and obligations but I’m seeing far too many men and women come to me in their 30s, 40s... even in their 70s, who have never taken time out for themselves and frankly, they’re paying the price with some kind of health issue that’s now making them stop.
Time out is seen as lazy, self indulgent or even bad – and I am always explaining that it’s the complete opposite. It’s absolutely essential for us to rest, as well as sleep. When we feel rested, we make better choices – we eat better, we say kinder words and we do nicer things, which can only have positive consequences on the people and world around us.
The Body Toolkit Retreat:
An award winning, first-of-its-kind health retreat based in the Scottish Highlands, Katrina Mather’s all-inclusive, 7-day programme teaches simple techniques that empower you to make serious improvements to your health and quality of life.
Consistently described as “life changing”, guests report an average weight loss of 7lbs, a significant boost to energy and mood, improved sleep and digestion, and a reduction in aches and pains. Each retreat consists of an organic juice cleanse, gentle walks in nature, relaxation and coaching on techniques to combat stress.
Week long retreats with a maximum of ten guests, take place once a month throughout the year at the four-star Garmoran Square in Moidart, surrounded by mountains, fresh air and dramatic scenery. All-inclusive retreats start from £999 – www.thebodytoolkit.com