I just got back from vacation. One week without attending to work tasks, schedules, or paying bills—just some good beach, exercise, fun, food, and family time.
I am generally quite aware of stress in my life and am careful to watch my schedule so I don’t over commit. I meditate, workout, eat well, and get good sleep—you know all those good things. Yet, at the end of my vacation week, I was so much more rested, sharp, and refreshed than when I left.
Sometimes we don’t know how stressed we are. We’re involved in work and family routines. We move through our “To Do” lists. We get caught up in the endless flow of activity and demands on our time and attention. Even if we have regular practices of checking in with how we’re feeling, letting go of tension, and self care—a vacation is something different.
Even low levels of consistent stress can drain your vitality and exhaust your inspiration. If you find yourself lacking enthusiasm or daydreaming of the beach, you may need a little down time. In this brief article, let’s explore some simple ways that you can take a vacation from stress to re energize your life.
1. Take five
Take a five minute break every day and do nothing. While you’re “doing nothing” you could close your eyes and take slow, deep, relaxing breaths. Another great thing to do while you’re doing nothing is to sit by a window or go outside and gaze up at the sky. Become absorbed in the clouds or the blue expanse, as the case may be. Allow the sky to elevate your mind above it all and lighten your thinking.
Even 10 20 minutes of meditation every day can bring fresh air into your life. Meditation relaxes your body, calms your emotions, clears your mind, and focuses your intention, so you can handle everything else you need to do more effectively and efficiently. Taking time to meditate first thing in the morning starts your day from a positive reference point that you can easily return to when you feel stress coming on. Taking a meditation break during the middle of the day can be like a mini vacation.
3. Take a half day
Speaking of mini vacations, how about taking one half day off every month? Or even better, if your life allows, could you take one half day per week? You probably take a half day here or there to go to the doctor, the dentist, or to attend your kid’s school play. How about taking a half day just for yourself?
4. Take at least one day off each week
In most religious traditions, there’s one day per week that is planned for rest. Heck, even God took the seventh day off after all that creative activity. There’s great wisdom in this. Schedule at least one day each week when no work enters your mind. Schedule something fun to do, so you have to get up, get out, and be away from work and home.
5. Take more vacations
As often as you can, take vacations. While all the ideas above are tremendously helpful, there’s nothing like getting away from it all. It doesn’t have to be far away. It could be a short drive, bus, train, or bike ride. The key is to go to a different environment, do new things, see new places, meet new people, and see life through a different lens. On vacation, I usually give myself permission to sleep more and do less as well.
Even if it’s just a weekend trip, I’m always amazed at what a difference this makes. Getting away from the normal routine gives me a different perspective, helps me to let go, and re inspires me with enthusiasm for life. Incorporate any or all of these mini breaks into your life and watch your stress fall away.