You are NOT the Energizer Bunny

I read a blog post a few days ago that was extolling the virtues of taking time off! The concept is not news to me, just as I am sure it’s not news to you. While I believe it is important to carve out time to take several days off in a row because of the therapeutic value of truly being away; it is also beneficial to take a few hours off.

If your life is starting to feel like a treadmill, it’s time to hit the stop button. When you’re in the thick of things, it’s hard to get much perspective.

It is an idea I want to embrace, but in reality have a hard time accomplishing! In my case, because I work on Saturday, I really only get Sunday off and a good portion of that day (in my life) is already planned. Over the years, I have tried many things to take time off. A couple of years ago, I went to see a movie every Tuesday afternoon. It was fun. It was time off. But prior to that year, I had seen 3 movies in a theater in 10 years and it didn’t fit with what I would do if I just had a day off and it really does not allow me time to just think (something I enjoy and need).

However busy you are, you can find time for yourself – even if you have to start with just a few minutes each day, or an hour or two every week.

Me on the beach

Yesterday I took a couple of hours to enjoy the place where I live (AKA the beach). There is something very therapeutic about sitting and watching the waves. It is definitely healing to walk along the shore. It was a perfect day also! The surf was relatively calm. The stretch where I sat was not over populated. The temperature was not too hot or too cold. The wind was neither too strong nor too light. The sun was shinning and there were but a few white puff clouds.

You NEED Space

We all need time to recharge our batteries! I enjoy time to sit and contemplate the world around me. It is often during these times when I am able to reach a decision or when I have a major revelation. If you, like me, are engaged in any creative activity – writing, designing, running a business – then down-time is vital to not only your business but your success. You need to be able to get away from the constant activity in order to do your best work. Yesterday offered me neither great revelations, nor grand eye-opening experiences. However, I did enjoy the quiet contemplation of things I already knew.

It is hard to look at a long to-do list and decide, yes, it is a decision to go do nothing for a few hours!

I think that is why going to see a movie once a week was something I could stick to doing. I wasn’t doing nothing! I wasn’t wasting time! However, it did not have the same rejuvenating impact. This year I am trying to remember that while all time off is beneficial, the quality of the time off matters.

Here are a few suggestions for getting a few hours of quiet contemplation:

~ Go out to a coffee shop on your own for a couple of hours;

~ Take a long walk on the beach or in the countryside if you’re landlocked;

~ Get lost in a bookstore;

~ Go for a drive in the country;

~ Find a shade tree and sit.

I would love to hear your ideas for a place / way to steal away for a few hours of quiet. Leave me ideas in the comments.

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How Long Can You Hold It?

Everyone has stress in their lives. We stress over bills. We stress over relationships. We stress over our jobs. The list can and often does go on ad infinitum.

A young lady confidently walked around the room  while leading and explaining stress management to an audience; with a raised  glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question,  ‘half empty or half full?’….. She fooled them all… “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem.  If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced.

Are you taking the time to put down your stress everyday? Or are you carrying your stress into sleep with you? Are you making time to have fun and enjoy life?

 

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Back to Basics

My friend Ted owns a successful retail business and a booming online shop. Ted volunteers in his community and has the usually family issues added in. Ted is a man with a lot of balls in the air.

Photo via flickr.com/photos/maximumac

Yesterday morning Ted called me. I’m sure neither of us remembers the real reason for his call, but we spent over an hour talking about why we do what we do. Ted had hit a wall in his life. He is working more and enjoying less. His statement to me was ‘why am I working so hard to be successful when it just means I work more?’ Ted’s passion for surfing is what made his business successful and yet, Ted no longer has time to surf.

It is one of those things that can happen to any of us. We begin a project or a business because it is something we feel passionate about. We are gung-ho and anxious to succeed. However, we forget to keep doing what made it our passion.

Ted shared with me that on the few times he had tried to surf this summer, he either felt such stress to catch as many waves as possible in the time he had allotted to surf or he felt so guilty that he couldn’t enjoy the experience. In the example of Ted, my advice was to take an hour three times each week to get back in the water and surf.

It is important to remember why you chose to begin. What passion drove you to begin your project? Are you still feeding that passion? Or have you allowed the project/business to steal your passion?

 

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Call a Time Out

I'm Watching the Waves

I’m still enjoying a few days off. Maybe, you should too 🙂

Today, I am sharing with you three reasons you should stake a vacation. Bon Voyage!

1. You’ll live longer.
The Framingham Heart Study, a decades-long research project into the causes and risk factors for heart disease, found a strong link between vacations and longevity.  Go away on vacation at least once a year and your risk of death falls by 20% compared with those who keep working.

2. You’ll strengthen your family.
A number of psychological studies have shown that buying experiences — such as a vacation — increases happiness more than buying possessions.  Go back to your own childhood for a minute: Can you list all the presents you got for each birthday? Probably not. But chances are you can still have clear memories from family trips taken decades ago. Travel strengthens family bonds by creating shared memories.

3. You’ll come back a more effective leader.
We all know that sometimes problems need a fresh eye. Yet we still come into the office, day after day, thinking we’ll be hit with a sudden burst of creativity amid the usual routines.

The only way to get a new perspective is to get away. That means at least a week off (not a quickie three-day weekend) with minimal office contact. Only once you’ve cleared your brain will there be room for new, creative ideas to flow.

In the immortal words of Nike….Just do it!

Call a Time Out

You can’t afford not to.

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Stop the Mental Hurricane

Hurricane Irene

If you live on the east coast you probably experienced Irene over the weekend. Perhaps you, like me are a veteran of many hurricanes or perhaps this was your first adventure. Either way, I hope you survived without incident.

What Irene taught me is that I am too addicted to my electronic gadgets and to my online connections. I spent a perfectly good opportunity to relax and read chatting on Facebook and twitter. When the storm had passed, I was filled with regret that I did not take the opportunity to relax and enjoy a good book. In essence my mind was just like the hurricane; whirling non stop with new information and moving from topic to topic.

Has your life become a mirror of my Irene experience? Are you so caught up in the trappings of modern life that you can not enjoy the simplicity of relaxing? Are your thoughts constantly whirling? Are you living in constant information over-load? It’s time to take out the mental trash. It’s time to stop the information over-load. It’s time to let go of our outer trappings and mental over-load and become reacquainted with our inner self.

Once you “take out the trash” mentally, and have a clean slate to think on, you will be amazed at the ideas and creativity that comes out.  Usually, during your routine, you have so many things to think about that there is just simply neither the time nor room for out-of-the-box thinking.  Looking from a different angle or perspective can really open your eyes to things you may have never have considered.

I challenge you this week to find an hour or two and unplug. Turn off your cell, and computer. Don’t check your mail or Facebook. Stop tweeting and allow yourself the time to relax and reconnect with your inner being. You may be surprised at the results.

 

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The Power of Time-off

Americans Are More Stressed-Out Than Ever And Crave Time Off, But Work Woes Keep Majority From Taking All Their Vacation Days, Says New Survey By Westin Hotels

Nearly 70% Feel Healthier and 60% Feel Less Stressed after Vacation Though 75% Too Busy to Take Much-Needed Time Off

Use it or lose it, companies say. But with jobs at risk and economic woes lingering, more than half of American workers are too worried and busy to take all their vacation days, according to a survey released today by Westin Hotels & Resorts.

According to the Westin Hotels “Wellness in Travel” study of 1,500 Americans, more than half of workers fail to take all their vacation days. Just how desperately is America in need of some time off? More than half (58%) of respondents feel they are in more need of vacation than last year and 64% have canceled vacation due to work worries. The cancellations come even as respondents pine for the benefits of time away from their desks. More than 67% feel healthier on vacation, while 64% sleep better while taking some time off. Married folks take note – rest and relaxation can also contribute to wedded bliss. More than half of those surveyed feel taking vacation contributes to a stronger marriage.

Live happier, live longer, give yourself permission to take time off.

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