As we prepare for the hustle and bustle and busier schedules of fall, let’s hear it for vacations! “Why now?” you might ask. With Labor Day behind us, it’s the unofficial end of summer (and aren’t we all a little horrified about that thought?). But as we stare at an Outlook calendar that’s peppered with meetings and must-dos, maybe we need to re-think the notion and the importance of TAKING. A. BREAK.
I don’t mean taking another week off to go to Mom’s or even Miami. Some of us may not have even had a week off or the luxury of travel. Still, you can push back against the demands of the job, kids’ homework and extracurriculars, church, and volunteer events as they circle around you and start closing in.
How? Build yourself a force-field that includes time and space for you.
Studies show that even a 5- or 10-minute break can help you alleviate stress and ward off anxiety and depression. If hitting your emotional and physical “reset” buttons - even for a minuscule amount of time - can tap your well of strength and stamina to finish a grueling Tuesday, imagine what a half-day off can do for the rest of your week. Imagine what a whole week can do for the rest of your life!
It’s time to re-invent our ideas about vacation, to mix freedom and play into our daily routines. That said, here are four ways to claim your space and restore your sanity – in whatever time you need:
When you wake up, try sitting up in meditation - simply breathing for a few minutes - before you start the rest of your day.
At work, try a five-minute neck and wrist stretch between emails. If you’ve been sitting, get up and take a walk. Contrary to what you might think, slogging through a project can slow you down and breaks really can help you be productive. If you’ve got a cubicle, post a sign: “Mental Health Break.” If you’re lucky enough to have an office, close the door for a few.
Your body deserves just as much attention as you give your cell phone, so go to your nearest masseuse and get that 10-minute foot massage, or even an hour-long body massage - the ultimate one-hour vacation! If you want something a little more active, look for nearby yoga classes. Yoga not only relaxes but also rejuvenates.
If you’d rather not spend any money though, nothing beats a good half-hour of peace. Find somewhere quiet and just sit and breathe deeply in and out. Put some nice ambient music on in the background if that helps.
For a half-day, ignore emails and turn your cell phone “OFF.” Feel the power of that. Go catch a movie, take a nap or set up a date night with friends. This is your time.
If you can get a full day off, sleep in a little bit. Then, as soon as you can, get up and do the things you miss. Write, draw, go for a jog, play with your children, enjoy your pets. Remember the things that make you smile and make time for them - make time for you.
Consider a “stay-cation” that’s both work and play. Tackle those “must-do’s” that have been vying for your attention and stressing you out. Maybe it’s cleaning out your overstuffed basement or that forgotten storage space you pay for. Maybe it’s “shopping” your closet for fall, instead of going to the mall to spend money you don’t really have.
But this week’s not all about work. Make time for play as well: Be a tourist in your own town. Visit a shop you’ve never been in, like you do when you’re traveling. Go to a park and experience the wonders of nature. Take a tour or just wander on your own. See what new, fun and interesting experiences you can discover right where you live.
What will your new take on vacations be?