wellness

5 very relaxing ways to take time out (in case you've exhausted all other options in 2021).

Australia's Own Barista Oat Milk
Thanks to our brand partner, Australia's Own Barista Oat Milk

“Just relax.”      

Ever been told this by a friend, partner (Nick, I’m looking at you) or family member?   

It really is the perfect little phrase to lower your stress levels and reach that elusive state of calm… said nobody, literally ever.

This year has been hectic (understatement) and everyone I speak to is fighting their own battle in some shape or form. 

For me, 2021 is the year I took the plunge to start my own business venture (read: jumps out of plane) and then in August decided to drop the safety nets and make it my primary source of income (the free-falling bit) while still building a house and navigating working from home (did I… remember to pack that parachute?).

Just to get you up to speed, my partner and I built our NSW south coast house, and shared our process on Instagram. 

I went rogue and started making Reels, and people liked them. 

Fast forward to now, and I’m freelancing by making Reels full-time, while still working as a Sports Presenter on the weekends, while building a house and navigating all of the above in lockdown.  

Try fitting that on the occupation line on your driver’s license renewal. 

Trying to keep up with the 10,000 mental tabs I have open in my brain was fairly overwhelming in the beginning. But adding these five ways into my daily routine to bring myself relaxation and calm has been a game-changer for my self-care, and my mental health.

(Well, four are daily; the fifth one is a bit of a treat when I get the chance!).

1. Make your morning coffee sacred.

As the queen of shuffling to my coffee machine in my dressing gown (I look like I’ve stumbled through a wind tunnel each morning), I know how easy it can be to write this glorious part of your day off as unimportant.

But, I need you to trust me on this one. Romanticising my morning coffee has been an absolute turning point for keeping my days calm and relaxing as soon as I roll out of bed.

Get all third-person with me on this for a second: 

She wakes up and saunters to the coffee machine. The sound of Australia’s Own Barista Oat Milk steaming cuts through the still morning silence. At the peak of her at-home-barista career, perfection awaits. She curls up on the couch and takes three deep breaths before sipping on her creamy, café-worthy cup of perfection.

See? What a gorgeous way to start the day. I’m serious though: if you’re not prioritising a quiet moment for yourself at the top of your day, are you really living your best life like Oprah taught us?

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I do this daily, no compromises. 

The feet will be up, I’m sipping the first of many oat milk lattes for the day and I take mental stock of the items I need to plan, email and shoot before the sun disappears. I definitely prefer doing this at home where it’s quiet (bonus points: I can stay in my dressing gown), and can still have café quality coffee in the comfort of my own home. 

(I’m a bit of a plant-based milk connoisseur and please believe me when I say Australia’s Own Barista Oat Milk froths SO well, so definitely my favourite for making silky coffee from home. It’s creamy, made from 100% Australian oats and you can pick it up from Coles.)

Image: Australia's Own/Yasmin Mund.

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Which brings me to point two.

2. Switch up your playlist for something smoother.

This secret weapon for slowing down pairs exquisitely with your now-romanticised morning ‘time oat.’ (There was no way I was going to sidestep this pun.)

I love a great podcast or (un)cool music playlist as much as the next person (it’s got to be early noughties boy bands for me) but swapping out your regular playlist for something smoother can chill you out in an instant, and the perfect compliment to taking time out.

So, press play on some of my favourite playlists. These are the ones giving me all the warm and fuzzies right now:

Or just go with the ever-popular ‘meditation music’ and let your stresses melt away. 

3. Stretch it out, slowly.

When I say stretch it out, I don’t mean putting on an intense vinyasa flow video and getting sweaty. I mean: take the time to listen to your body and move slowly in a way that releases tension and makes you feel good. 

Seriously, you can do this one in bed. 

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Start by slowly looking from left to right, before moving your left ear to left shoulder and right ear to right shoulder. 

Then, chin to chest and chin to the sky. 

Repeat this a few times, stretching deeper into anywhere that feels like it needs a longer hold. Invite some movement into your shoulders by shrugging them up and down, before slowly twisting your entire torso around to the left and then to the right. 

If you feel up to it, move into some traditional yoga poses like cat/cow (the one where you’re on all fours and rounding your spine toward the ceiling… I’m sure you’re picturing it), downward facing dog or a forward fold. Listen to your body and move any way that feels good to you. 

Still need a little guidance? Search for beginner yoga stretches and there is some amazing video content out there to help get you started.

4. Simply, sit.

Do not disturb on, magazine away; just you, your afternoon oat milk cuppa and *gasp* your thoughts. 

If this makes you feel a little uneasy, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Easing into stillness can be challenging when you’re new to the game of relaxation. 

We’ve all become experts at juggling the highest of mental loads, a million to-dos and at a pace that seems to get faster each year. So much so, that intentionally taking things slower can feel... uncomfortable.

I like to think of myself as a ‘hustler’ in recovery. For a long time my entire self-worth was based around how many productive things I did, and how little I said no to: meaning taking time out to sit and just ~be~ was simply not on my radar.

So my advice? 

Start small. Set aside 10 minutes a day, even five minutes is a great starting block to simply sit. Avoid having your phone in-hand. 

Steady your breathing and if your mind drifts, trying to slowly shift your focus from your thoughts down into your body. 

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What can you smell, hear, feel, taste? (Hopefully Australia’s Own Barista Oat Milk if you know a good recommendation when you see one!) Slowly work your way up to 20 minutes per day, and thank me later. This kind of time out is completely underrated.

Bonus points: level up your sit, and do it with a face mask on (or marinating in your favourite skincare). Even sit yourself in a warm bath with essential oils or a body scrub. I’m feeling at least ten times calmer just at the mere thought.

Image: Ena Skincare.

5. Make some proper time for yourself and book a local getaway.

Yes, booking a one-way ticket to Barbados might be on everyone’s mind right now. But making some time to be nurtured by nature in the comfort of your local area (when we all can) is just as therapeutic.

Besides being way cheaper than heading to a tropical island (unless you already live on one, in which case I’m super jealous), holidaying locally is a great way to experience the beauty of where you live in new ways, without the usual commitments and stresses of everyday life.

With all fingers and toes crossed, I’m wishing for all of us to be able to do this ASAP.

Earlier in the year, my partner Nick and I took a weekend away in Mollymook, which is about 40 minutes from where we live. 

It’s like, you know these beautiful places are right at your doorstep, but for some reason you decide to spend your weekends doing DIY projects or cleaning the house instead of heading out to explore them? Yeah, us too. 

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We ate incredible food, explored the local beaches, spent quality time together and just relaxed. 

The time out did wonders for our minds, and is the reset we all need periodically. It would have been the same feeling whether we travelled the 40 minutes or 14 hours on a plane for our stint away. 

The best part was we were home in a flash with plenty of time to unpack our suitcases, cook dinner and get ready for our week.

(I definitely left the suitcases for 5-7 business days, got takeaway and fell asleep on the couch.) 

Australia's Own Barista Oat Milk is finally here, and exclusive to Coles. To celebrate, Australia’s Own are encouraging Aussies to take a little 'time oat' for themselves – a bit of time to be nurtured. Take some time oat in your day, and head over to their Instagram to win Time Oat prizes, thanks to De'Longhi Australia, West Elm, Tiny Away and Ena Skincare.

Feature Image: Supplied/Instagram @lozmarkham

Australia's Own Barista Oat Milk
This month, Australia’s Own is helping you take some much-needed ‘Time Oat’, to celebrate the launch of their new Barista Oat milk. They’ve teamed up with brands like De’Longhi, Tiny Away and West Elm, so you can up your at-home coffee game, plan a weekend getaway to get nurtured by nature, or revamp your home coffee nook. Head to Australia's Own’s Instagram to check it out and go in the running for some amazing Time Oat prizes. Australia's Own Barista Oat – Australian made and owned with 100% Australian oats. Available now at Coles.