Increasing numbers of us are buying books, downloading apps, memorising mantras and taking classes that help us relax. In fact, the quest for Zen can sometimes feel quite stressful. Here are three new ways to chill
1 The calm workout
What is it? A new breed of holistic workout that promises to care for your head as well as your heart. With an emphasis on mental wellness as well as physical, it’s about freeing your mind (while toning your body).
Who does it? Stressed-out urbanites who want to look – and feel – good in a pair of microshorts.
What does it do? Take Psycle, a new spinning gym, where classes take place in darkly lit rooms, with inspiring music, ballet moves and a meditative “free time” section in the middle of the session. Other Zen workouts include CardioLates classes – part spin, part Pilates; gyms such as Third Space already have resident “wellness” doctors, offering all manner of treatments, from zero balancing to humanistic counselling. The trend is gaining pace, with a host of calming workout classes scheduled to arrive here from America, among them Spynga (a fusion of spinning and yoga) and SoulCycle, the hit US holistic spinning class, which opens in the UK early next year.
2 Getting the needle
What is it? Did you think drips were only for the sick or the woefully dehydrated? Get up to speed. Nowadays the in-crowd are getting their vitamins straight into their bloodstreams from drips at select medispas and private clinics.
Who does it? Everyone who’s anyone (magazine editors, models, celebrities) has taken to getting their calm fix at the end of a needle. Cara Delevingne and Rihanna are among those who have done it (and posted the evidence on Instagram).
What does it do? You can have all sorts of bespoke concoctions at the Drip & Chill lounge at London’s EF MediSpa and at Nosh Detox’s Infusion Clinic. Their Fitamins drip contains magnesium to “calm and nourish” the nervous system, and claims to ward off anxiety and irritability. It’s combined with vitamin C, B-vitamins (which often get severely depleted by stress) and other trace minerals. The solution runs into the body in about 40 minutes, by which time you are meant to feel completely rebalanced, though presumably not if you’re trypanophobic. And the £227 price tag will be too painful for most. Critics point out that the body can’t actually store water-soluble vitamins, that you excrete excess levels of them and would need new supplies daily.
3 The mindfulness revolution
What is it? Buddhists have been meditating using the mindful technique for more than 2,000 years, but over the past five years the trend for living “mindfully” has become inescapable. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that encourages devotees to “live in the moment” by focusing on breath and acknowledging the fleeting nature of thoughts. Practitioners learn how to do this (from a book, app or course), then find time to zone out during their daily routine.
One of the most accessible books, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide To Finding Peace In A Frantic World, has sold 250,000 copies worldwide.
Who does it? Anyone can do it, but it has a strong following among stressed-out executives. Arianna Huffington swears by her daily hour spent on mindful meditation.
What does it do? Mindfulness is a form of mental training whose practitioners believe that by slowing down your life and focusing on the small stuff, you can achieve balance. Take a raisin: start with an examination of the fruit, looking at its skin, colour, the wrinkles on it, before popping it into your mouth and concentrating on its firmness, the sensation of its flesh… You get the idea. By clearing your mind of clutter, devotees claim you can focus on the things that really matter. It’s been made popular by Andy Puddicombe’s Headspace app, a programme of daily 10-minute guided meditations, which has been downloaded 1m times in the two years since it launched. There isn’t much that hasn’t been rebranded under the umbrella of mindfulness – from mindful eating (a successful diet book that encourages you to reflect and savour every mouthful) to mindful walking and mindful dancing. And yes, that includes sex.