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16 Nov, 2020

Nadia & Katia Narain's Simple Ways to De-Stress

Authors of International Bestsellers Self-care for the Real World & Rituals for Every Day, sisters Nadia and Katia Narain are both powerhouses in their own rights. Nadia is one of the UK’s top yoga teachers (counting Kate Moss, Reese Witherspoon, Lara Stone and Rachel Weisz as followers). While Katia has worked in wellness, food and massage for more than twenty years, and now runs the innovative Nectar Café in London. Here we speak to the sisters about the importance of rituals, avoiding burnout and getting a good night's sleep.

Health

Do you think routines and rituals are important for stress-management?

We both love having rituals in place. Especially when life changed so drastically in March with quarantine, it was important for us to have things in place that felt familiar and adapt new things to fit with a new way of life. Instead of spinning out and feeling out of control, there is a familiarity about certain things that makes you feel like, “OK the world is in a mad place, but I have certain things in place that make me feel sane and somewhat “normal”. Katia started to make sure the whole family went for a bike ride or a walk after dinner, which was a new and beautiful family ritual. Nadia went on her daily walk and there was comfort in a familiar path.

Can you talk us through your own morning and evening rituals?

We both have different rituals because we have different living situations. For Katia it’s a matter of getting the kids ready for school and the day, so her rituals are walking the dog and making a nice breakfast before work starts after the kids have gone and the house is quiet.

Nadia has more space in the morning to meditate and journal before the day starts.

Both of us enjoy having a “turn-down” routine in place so that we set the bedrooms up to be calm and welcoming from when we are home, so that it is easier to fall into a relaxed state when we are ready for bed. You don’t want to come to bed with towels on the floor and clothes everywhere and an unmade bed from a rushed morning.

You recently co-wrote “Self-Care for Self-Isolation”. Could you share with our readers a few of your top tips/techniques for dealing with the fallout of a global pandemic?

Yes, we wrote this at the beginning of quarantine. We wanted to try and get as much out to others as we could and to document this most unusual time.

We both got on the phone with each other the day before we were heading into a lockdown situation. Neither of us could breathe. We both went from having successful careers to no jobs overnight. We had no idea what the months to follow would look like. So, we took some breaths, addressed our bank accounts and our financial situations and decided that the only way to be is so grateful that we both had roofs over our heads, warm food, good family, clean water and the kindness of all those around us. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

Another top tip was that we practiced staying as present as possible. Staying in the NOW and not in the future.

We had to cut down on news and social media and be really disciplined about trying to get the most of the situation as possible.

There was a lot of beauty in lockdown that (hopefully) will never come again. It became a time to really think about what was important to us and how we can also help others close to us. It became very clear that we had moved out of the “I” and into the “US“ and that we had to look after each other as much as possible.

How can our yoga practice impact stress and energy levels?

As we know, exercise is important for keeping our happy hormones up. But breathing and relaxation is also important to keep us out of the feeling of flight and flight and keep us in a place where we feel relaxed and grounded and able to remain present in such a chaotic time.

Any advice on how to keep a clear head while working from home?

One way we try is to make a space for working and to clear that space when we are finished. It made it very difficult to concentrate and work if things were left out like laundry and dirty dishes etc. And at the end of the workday it is nice to clear everything at the end of the day so that your home is your home again.

How do we create a schedule that doesn’t lead to burn out?

The thing that helped us both was getting into nature each day. Whether that was a walk or just standing on the grass for 10-15 minutes.

There is a great app called Pomodoro that also helps keep things in check, so you are not just on the computer the whole time. It makes you work for 20 minutes and then you get a 5-minute rest or change, whether that’s to stretch or dance or walk around the house. After a few rounds of 20 minutes you can up your rest time to 10 minutes. Not only does it help with concentration but looking at the computer all day and sitting on your sofa can play havoc on your eyes and your posture. So, making sure you have a break and turning things off at the end of the day is important.

Also, it's important to understand that this is a mad time on the planet for EVERYONE. We don’t have our usual releases that we normally have whether that’s going to a dance party, going to the football, going to church, going on holidays or whatever else helped us release tension. So, rest is important to keep our immune system strong and not allow stress to wear us down. We like the idea of doing at least one nice thing for ourselves each day in stressful times. However small you can manage.

Top tips for a good night’s sleep?

The turn down we spoke about earlier is really important to us. Setting our bedrooms up for bedtime felt relaxing and welcoming and trying to get to bed by 10 or 10.30 really made us notice the difference in the quality of our sleep. Going to bed that tiny bit later at 11 or 11.30 made sleep feel more broken.

We also try not to watch the news or read anything stressful before bed.

We often do a little foot rub before bed with a drop of lavender or cypress oil mixed with some coconut oil or a foot cream. If you have a partner you may take turns massaging each other’s feet or if you are on your own, rub your own feet. It’s a lovely little action of self-love before bed.

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You can catch up with Nadia and Katia on their website here.

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