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Dolce Far Niente - What We Can Learn From the Italians



"Dolce Far Niente" can be translated as: "Sweetness of Doing Nothing." Whenever I travel to Italy (my favorite country in Europe) I am in awe and deep appreciation of their way of life. They seem to not sweat the small as much. They carve out time for a cappuccino on the Piazza while watching people and life go by... just sitting and being. They cherish the art of cooking and enjoying their meals, ideally with family and friends. Life seems to be going at a slower pace... as it should be.


During my last vacation at Lago di Garda I remember sitting for an hour enjoying an espresso, just being and lounging. It was marvelous and I wish I could bottle it. What can we learn from the Italians? Or the Danes who coined the idiom "Hygge". It stands for a quality of coziness (= feeling warm, comfortable, and safe) that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family. In Germany we are big on "Gemütlichkeit" - a word used to convey the idea of a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness, and good cheer.


I have lived in both cultures (German and American) for equal periods of time to be able to notice the differences and elaborate on the potential benefits of becoming a little more "hyggelig."


Invitation #1: Give yourself permission to slow down.

It is truly up to us to determine when it is time to take a short break and unplug. We are not serving anyone or any cause by pushing ourselves to the 'max' and ignoring our energy levels. Being tired all the time is not normal nor is it good for our health and wellbeing. Vulnerability researcher Brené Brown puts it beautifully:

"It takes courage to say yes to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol."

Invitation #2: Get off the hamster wheel.

How can we you jump off the hamster wheel and honor our energy levels regularly? What are some 'non-negotiable' behaviors and rituals that contribute to a well-balanced life? Being mindful means being present and aware, moment by moment. Being intentional about how and what we eat, how we arrange our day, how we set healthy boundaries, what we feed our mind and how we relax our nervous system.


Invitation #3: Your needs matter. Honor them.

My invitation to you is to put yourself first in line to receive your own care and loving attention. It may seem that we have to do certain things to please others in order not to disappoint them. What happens if our needs take a back seat? What if that becomes a pattern? The result may be signs of burnout, mental, physical and emotional exhaustion.


Instead: Plan for a "time out" every day. Time just for YOU. 10 minutes of alone time. Time to create space for a gentle exploration... to just be and tune in. Checking in and honoring our needs is a beautiful form of self-care. "How am I feeling?" What am I needing?" are crucial questions that will lead to an enhanced self-love practice over time.


Invitation#4: Get good at doing nothing.

Even though I am a 'Type A' German woman, I am really good at doing nothing. Taking naps was a big thing in our family. I believe that short power naps actually increase our productivity. Get yourself a beautiful eye pillow, put some soothing music on and just "chill." It's a delicious art form, which doesn't equate to being lazy or having low energy. It's a gift to ourselves. Dare to be more "Italian!"


Relaxing and honoring our needs for peace and quiet is strongly related to emotional eating. When we pay attention to our energy levels and cater to our true needs, the powerful ritual of "eating instead of feeling" will diminish over time. Be gentle with yourself. Be good to yourself. Pamper yourself.


I am here to support you and guide you on your physical and emotional self-care journey!


With kindness,

Petra




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