It sounds innocent enough. In the midst of our hectic lives, we are reminded to give ourselves a gift – be it a trip to the sauna, a yoga class, or an evening out with friends.
When we think of treating ourselves, we think of something that is additional – something we might not need, but which we desire.
However, more often than not, those activities with which we “treat ourselves” are in fact necessary to our health, wellbeing, and ability to live a balanced and fulfilled life.
The definition of rejuvenation is “to give new strength or energy to something.” We have all had days or weeks (or months) when our energy feels zapped. Our brains are foggy, our ability to concentrate minimal, our mood full of edges and spikes that repel those around us from venturing near. It is when we are in these states that we are most likely to say “tomorrow I will treat myself to a day at the sauna.”
But a day at the sauna isn’t a treat. It is a necessity.
Like the seasons in nature, all humans have seasons within themselves: the seasons of a relationship, the seasons of a work project, the seasons of a semester at school, etc. The Chinese philosophy of Taoism illuminates this concept of human seasonality, which they call periodicity. Taoism argues that periodicity is eternal and unchanging. For example, while the seasons may change within themselves – one winter might be bitterly cold, while the next is relatively mild – they never change in their relation to each other. Spring always follows winter, and autumn always follows summer.
Similarly, we each internally experience all of the seasons in their proper order, and must learn to adapt to and work with each of them in turn.
For example, my friend Julia recently returned form working as a volunteer team leader on Cumberland Island. During this three-month period, she internally experienced all four of the seasons.
When she arrived on the island she was in spring-like state of optimism and new growth. She read voraciously about the history and ecology of Cumberland and worked with energetic enthusiasm to get the volunteer program off the ground. During the following few months, she celebrated the achievements of summer: the volunteer program was a success, and she felt assured in her abilities as a leader and environmentalist.
Image by Julia Moore
However, spring and summer are always – without fail – followed by autumn and winter.
After the zenith of summer, Julia began to lose some of her energy as she entered autumn. She spent time reflecting on all that she had learned, and began to contemplate how she could integrate this learning into her future endeavors. This time of contemplation was soon followed by the winter of rest and restoration. By the time she left the island, she was exhausted. Holed up back home in Atlanta, she spent weeks simply resting, sleeping, and watching as many movies as we could lend her. She needed to rejuvenate before she could move forward.
For most Americans, it is second nature to embrace the successes of spring and summer. However, we often resist the seemingly less productive times of autumn and winter. It seems unfair and unwise to slow down and rest when there is work to be done, especially when everyone else seems to be moving so quickly and pushing so hard.
However, adapting to our circumstances is exactly what needs to happen in order to maintain our wellbeing and productivity. If we attempt to skip over these times of restoration and try to create an endless summer, we will find ourselves burnt-out, brain-fried, more prone to illness, and less able to enjoy our work.
If any of these experiences seem all-too-common in your life, try emulating Julia: take a break. De-stress. Hibernate. Do nothing. Get a massage. Go on a hike. Put off until tomorrow what can’t be accomplished with any great success today. It isn’t a treat: it’s a requirement.
Rejuvenating Activities in the ATL
Saunas & Spas
JeJu Sauna – Duluth
Pretty much one of the best things that ever happened. JeJue is a traditional Korean bathing house located just minutes outside of Atlanta. For only $25, you can spend your day soaking in a steamy bath, lounging in a sauna, meditating in a healing room made of crystals or jade, or just napping. Open 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, this mecca of relaxation also offers a gym, a pool, a Korean restaurant, massages, scrubs, and acupuncture.
Natural Body Spa and Shop – Buckhead & Decatur
Looking to get a mani-pedi, bikini wax, facial, and massage all in one day? Hit up Natural Body Spa. One of the best things about this place is that the products they use are environmentally friendly and natural. Their business practices also keep an eye on sustainability, from the recycled paper and soy ink used in marketing materials to the repurposed barnwood flooring, rubber floor tiles made from recycled bus tires, and lack of toxic cleaning products.
Exhale Spa – Midtown
Located inside the Loews Hotel, Exhale offers an enormous range of resources and amenities, from cardio, yoga, and core cycling classes, to sauna and steam rooms, to an expansive spa area with face, body, and nail therapies. However, the coolest part of the experience is the traditional, co-ed, detoxifying Turkish bath, or hammam.
Hikes, Nature Trails & Nature Preserves
Morningside Nature Preserve – Morningside
A hidden yet treasured labyrinth of trails that cover more than 30 acres of forest, this gem is located on the northern rim of the Morningside neighborhood. The hiking trail begins at the trailhead alongside Lenox Road, traveling through the forest to the sandy and wide shores of the South Fork Peachtree creek, a popular location for dog-parents.
Arabia Mountain – DeKalb County
An ecological wonder just minutes outside of Atlanta, Arabia Mountain is a fantastic mini-escape for nature-lovers, hikers, and those seeking to commune spiritually with the natural world. The huge expanses of rock – shaped by natural and man-made forces – create worn-away havens where fragile ecosystems have survived in this harsh environment for millenniums. This place is sure to fill you with wonder.
Woodlands Garden – Decatur
This seven-acre garden sanctuary serves as a unique showcase for trees and plants native to the north Georgia Piedmont. You can wander through a large stand of native azaleas, bursting with yellow, pink, orange and white blossoms. Native trees such as tulip, white oak, red maple, and ironwood also thrive here, while trillium and ginger carpet the ground. If you’re interested in learning about gardening and local ecology, consider volunteering here every-other Wednesday.
Counselors, Therapists, & Meditation Providers
Clementine Malta-Bey – Cabbagetown & Buckhead
Clementine is a highly-sensitive, responsive, positive, and thoughtful counselor specializing in trauma recovery, counseling for creative, couples’ therapy, and counseling for highly sensitive and alternative people. If you’re a little to the left of “normal,” Clementine might be right up your alley.
Atlanta Shambhala Center – Decatur
The Shambhala vision is rooted in the principle that every human being has a fundamental nature of basic goodness which can be developed in daily life so that it radiates out to family, friends, community, and society. The Shambhala Center offers a wide range of meditation works, retreats and classes that cater to beginning meditators to advanced practitioners. A beautiful space and a warm vibe also helps you connect more deeply within.
Becky Butler – Toco Hills/N. Decatur
Becky is truly exceptional. A licensed clinical social worker, Becky has been a therapist for over 25 years and a meditator for more than 35. She works as both a therapist and meditation teacher. Becky’s psychotherapy practice informs her meditation practice, and vice-versa. She therefore offers an integrated model of emotional healing and spiritual cultivation.
Mark Dannenfelser – Briarcliff
Mark is a licensed professional counselor who specializes in the treatment of trauma, post-traumatic stress, anxiety disorders, panic, stress, and substance abuse. Mark utilizes mind/body techniques and Mindfulness training as well as cognitive-behavioral approaches. Mark is down-to-earth, thoughtful, and super easy to talk to. He also leads group retreats and workshops.
For more on the healing power of rejuvenation and it’s role in a balanced life, click here.
For more on The Connection Project and to find out about their services, click here.