Improved Digestion & Balanced Hormones—Why Taking Time Out Is Good For Your Health

Because we all need a breather from time to time!

revivo wellness retreat
Image: Revivo Wellness Retreat

Overworked, overachieving urbanites here’s a question for you: when’s the last time you pressed pause and took some time out?
When hustling to strikethrough the to-do list, juggle a fitness regime, some obligatory self-care and perhaps a semblance of a social life, sometimes despite good intentions our bodies, and minds, become overwhelmed with the extraordinary speed of our lives.
Leading to an increased susceptibility to lowered immunity, burnout, depreciating mental health and alarmingly early-ageing, in our aspiration to have it all, we often miss the opportunities to live more consciously and enhance our wellbeing.
When overwhelm becomes the norm, it’s time to hit the emergency stop button. Sometimes that may be as simple as logging a mental health day, but if chronic stress is your constant companion, checking out of your everyday and into a wellness retreat may just be the luxurious change of pace that will revive you back to life.
Read on to know why you need to consider taking time out for your mind, body and spirit with the help of Revivo wellness coach, Kathy Cook along with her team.

#1 Resets your digestion

If bouts of IBS, wretched stomach pain and a ballooning belly by bedtime are all too familiar, taking a break may be the remedy needed to reset the digestive system. Recent research into the microbiome indicates how specifically our gut health affects mood, concentration and longevity. Yet we rarely have opportunity to nourish, by way of pre-and probiotic foods, and the idyllic, low stress conditions in which our bodies best absorb the nutrients we fuel with, to effectively allow digestion to occur.
Many of us consistently live in the “danger zone” of constant high stress and high cortisol, where precious blood supply usually recruited for digestion, is shuttled to the limbs in anticipation of urgent action. Taking time out shifts the body into a more relaxed state, where the reduction of both physical and mental stress allows you to shift into the optimal condition of rest and digest, repair and reproduce.
Kathy Cook suggests looking to include nourishing, gut-friendly fuel sources, such as sauerkraut, prebiotic green banana or kombucha, alongside slowing down the pace at which you are eating (that means chewing!) to allow optimal digestion to occur.

Image: Revivo Resorts

#2 Give your nervous system a break

In a digital world competing to win our attention, the nervous system can quickly become hijacked by constant stimulation. While we may believe we are masters of multi-tasking, regular overstimulation is a staple of our existence, detrimentally leading to increased inflammation, high blood pressure, elevated cortisol and heightened anxiety.
In tandem, instead of listening to the warning signals of our nervous system–such as jitters or a racing heart rate–we fuel our sugar and caffeine addictions, further wiring our bodies to run on adrenaline. If you’re on the brink of burnout, hitting pause allows the body to move into the pace of the parasympathetic nervous system, where slow, controlled and conscious breathing encourages the body and mind to return to optimal, healthy functioning.
To allow the nervous system opportunity to recover, it’s necessary to slow the pace down and remove unnecessary stimulation. To unwind, digital detoxes, significant breaks from routine and entering a soothing environment can be beneficial. The Revivo team suggests trying out salt water floats, where the body is fully supported to unwind, while extraneous stimulation is removed, and a conscious awareness of mindful breathing and sensation of release occurs.

Image: Revivo Resorts

#3 Aids mental stress

If you’re dreading getting out of bed every morning, lacking concentration, losing basic recall, questioning your memory constantly or unable to make simple decisions, the alarm bells may be ringing that your capacity to manage mental stress has tapped out. Taking a break from your daily routine gives the time, and space, to unshackle from the grips of constant work and life stress.
A break removed from your usual environment, nourishing your mind through relaxation techniques of meditation and mindfulness practices–because let’s be real, during a busy day these practices drop to the bottom of the priority list–intuitively invites the mind to relax. This helps strengthen the mind-body pathways, while effectively enhancing mental clarity and may combat early signs of ageing.
Engage with mindfulness practices to cultivate a sense of calm engagement and focus. Revivo encourages a daily mindfulness pause, offering simple takeaways to all retreat members to help transition into a lifelong journey of wellbeing. Try this one out: as you take your morning shower, spend a minute feeling the water on your skin, notice the temperature, the pressure and the sound as it falls.

Image: Revivo Resorts

#4 Releases physical tension

Just as we hold the physical effects of a tough workout in the body, we also store emotional tension, often a result of constant stress or trauma. Both can block our movement capabilities and energy potential. Like dogs after a fight, who literally shake the trauma out of their bodies, humans need to release this storing of tension from our systems.
If you’re a twice a day gym junkie, this can be as simple as taking a break from your consistently heavy workout schedule and focusing on nourishing, restorative practices such as yin yoga or a meditation class. However, for a complete overhaul, stepping back from all routine and implementing bodywork recovery practices such as massage, hot/cold therapy or fascial release can help – you’ll thank us when those shoulders finally melt away from your ears!
Cook encourages the use of hot/cold therapy techniques to enhance autophagy–the body’s natural process of cleaning out cells, where membranes scrape out dead or diseased  cells, recycling the remaining cells for efficient energy or new cell formation–a key process to prevent disease and assist longevity!

#5 Balances hormones

Living in a high stress state brings with it the side effect of constantly elevated levels of the stress hormone–cortisol. With this elevation and the body and mind on high alert, our system shifts into sympathetic nervous system dominance, where all focus is on the fight or flight response–even when the only “threat” is your unread emails! Long term, this has a compounding effect on hormonal balance, and specifically for women on reproductive hormonal health.
With the body intuitively placing reproduction on the lowest rung of priority, you may find irregular or skipped periods, anovulation, ovarian cysts and associated weight gain or loss, become a feature of your cycle. Taking time out allows the body to dial down intensity levels, effectively lowering cortisol, and sending signals you’re in a stable, safe place. This helps kick-start a healing hormonal process, however keeping methods from your break in practice within your everyday routine is imperative in the pursuit of balancing hormones.
Engage in mindful movement practices that encourage gentle movement of the body paired with conscious breathing. Practices such as yoga and Pilates ensure the body meets resistance training methods, whilst engaging breathwork to control the nervous system and alleviate and creeping increases of cortisol.

Image: Revivo Resorts

#6 Shift ingrained habits

Kicking your vices to the curb is extra challenging when you’re constantly surrounded by them and willpower is weak against the siren call of the office treat table. If you’re serious about shifting away from ingrained habits, such as giving up your 3x daily coffee break, curbing sugar addiction or quitting smoking, heading to a retreat and taking a break can effectively initiate the process. Being removed from your usual temptations or weaknesses, with a change in scenery, priority, pace and routine is a highly beneficial way to find both motivation and support to shift your behaviours. This awareness tends to also incite reflection, whilst imbedding new practices and psychological shifts that can return home with you for long-term wellbeing.
A detox from your vices is often beneficially supported by following a specifically created nutritional plan, suitable for your personalised needs. At Revivo, nutritionist chef Aliwalu has created specific menu items that support the detox process, assisting in digestion, better sleep, and blood pressure, helping you shift ingrained routines and habits.
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