photography Leonie Fernhout
model Julia van NiJhuis
Bad days. Nobody is immune to them. I, for one, am no stranger to stressful situations in life. As an entrepreneur who has navigated the ups and downs of the business world whilst raising a young family, I have felt both the ecstatic rewards and the “oh my god, this is so hard!” of my reality.
During the tough times, the “type A” in me wants to control the outcome and is not satisfied with anything less than perfection. But the “zen” in me says, “Chill out, lady!” Luckily, she mostly calls the shots these days. She realizes that each struggle is an opportunity to learn and to grow fully into who we’re meant to be. Each disappointment is a life test. We’re constantly being asked, “How bad do you really want this?” Instead of allowing feelings of defeat to set in, we must allow the subtle guidance of the Universe to lead the way. Instead of resisting and controlling, we must go with the flow.
Despite this blissed-out outlook on life, I will admit that I still have my crazy stressful days creep up at times. In these moments, I notice my breath becoming more shallow. I find that I have a little less patience. My energy levels are not where they would normally be. My focus not as sharp. And, I just don’t feel like my fun-loving, outgoing self. Do you know these days?
When the stress of life edges out the joy, it is so important to connect to your free spirit within. Let her loose. Let her soar. When you lose touch with your precious inner child, your light does not shine as bright. Life becomes less joyful. We become blind to the beauty that surrounds us. It’s imperative to your health and well-being to shift that energy around. Yes, you do have the power to do so. When you find yourself feeling anchored down and heavy, here are a few of my favorite ways to lighten up and let loose that beautiful free spirit within.
Get upside down — As a yogi, I love playing with headstands and handstands. What better way to turn your perspective around than to literally turn your body upside down, contrary to how we spend 99.9 percent of our lives. I find the rush of fresh blood and oxygen to the brain provides a mental lift and energy boost. If you’re not ready to walk on your hands just yet, no worries. There are plenty of more gentle inversions for beginners: legs up the wall, standing forward bend, and downward dog to name a few. These all have the same wonderful benefits. The next time you need to get creative or out of a funk, think about pointing your toes toward the sky.
Dance it out — Dance is a means of expressing oneself without boundaries. Doing so uninhibitedly can be incredibly spiritual, healing, and freeing. Living room dance parties have become a regular in my household. It’s a win-win because I get to shake out any lingering stress along with what-my-mama-gave-me alongside the beautiful free spirits of my daughters who love to join in. Dance wildly. Dance often.
Go outside and PLAY — Do cannonballs in the pool and cartwheel on the grass. Climb a tree, and skip down the sidewalk. Who cares if somebody is watching you? (Just be careful not to hurt yourself, okay). As our bodies grow older, it doesn’t mean that inner child has to completely grow old too. Remember how much fun you had playing as a kid? Who says you have to stop now? You know what they say about all work and no play.
Be Inspired by Children — Hang out with kids, but do so totally on their level. These little pint-size cuties really know how to have fun. Their imaginations are absolutely boundless and it is totally inspiring. If you need a refresher on free spiritedness, spend an afternoon really playing with them. Get involved with their games. If it involves hiding in a closet, running around the house, pretending to be an animal, making up silly words to a song, and/or sudden outbursts of laughter, than you are on the right track!
Get Creative — Paint a canvas, write a story, create a craft, pick up an instrument, or try your hand at cooking a new exotic recipe. You don’t even have to do any of these things particularly well — no judgement in the artist zone. Allow yourself to just be the beginner and explore. Free spirit loves to invent. When our creative juices flow, we become so mindful, intent, and absorbed in our activity, that we don’t have the mental capacity to worry or stress. Art is healing. And we are all artists within.
Reconnect with the Why Behind what You’re Doing — Your passion is your fuel. Staying linked to your reason for being is the ultimate act of freedom and honoring of spirit. Don’t let the other details of life bog you down. Tap in to your higher purpose. Keep your core desired feelings at the front of your mind. And, let your passion come out to play. Connecting with and living each day through the “why’” behind your “what” is immensely empowering.
Imagine the Possibilities — Look up at the sky and take in the utter vastness of it all. We are but a spec of stardust in the scheme of things, yet powerful beyond measure. Let your mind wander and ponder the infinite possibilities. There is nothing un-achievable, even if seemingly so in this moment. The forces of the Universe are conspiring to bring you to your highest good. Knowing and trusting in this gives your spirit fuel, hope, and energy. Tap into this truth, spread your wings, and soar. Next time tough times come your way, know that this too shall pass. Life is so much bigger than the crappy experiences that come our way. Learn to let go of the trying moments and create space to tap into the beauty and power of your free and loving spirit within.What about you? How do you reconnect with your own inner child and let your free spirit soar. Add to the list by sharing with us in the comments below. -PQ