Summer is quite possibly my favorite season of the year, not because I like the weather so much, but because it reminds me of a time long gone. As the sun rises earlier and the days stretch out before me, I am filled with the optimism of my childhood. I have that sense of being carefree and filled with possibility and adventure.
Vacation is defined as an extended period of relaxation and yet it seems that for many of us it has become a period of time off that leaves us exhausted by demands that we feel unable to refuse and activities that stress us out rather than rejuvenate us. How many of you have come home from a vacation and stated that you needed a vacation from your vacation? The sweetness of vacation leaves many with a bitter taste in their mouths.
For many people today a long vacation of 2 weeks is out of the question for myriad reasons. The question for many of us is how do we get that sense of freedom, rejuvenation, and relaxation when we are confined by limited resources and far too many obligations? In my practice I often talk about finding balance through the four Rs. No, I'm not talking about reading, writing, and arithmetic. Rather finding balance through rest, relaxation, recreation, and relationships.
Rest and relaxation need to be a part of our daily practice of living just as eating and exercising are. When we get into a habit of something it becomes easier. As a culture we would benefit from cultivating the habit of resting and relaxing. It is essential to our well-being and will actually increase our productivity. Take a moment to breath during your day and to let go of the stress and tension that have been building up in your body. Using your breath is a good way to reset physically and mentally. Start with two minutes. No one is so busy that they cannot spare two minutes to breathe.
The other two Rs: recreation and relationships usually go hand in hand. Take time to spend with family and friends. Go do something with the people you love. We get so caught up with "doing" that we often stop living our lives and our values. Ask yourself what is most important to you and if you are making choices that reflect those values. Take a break from the daily grind to do something fun, to laugh, to sing, to dance, to create, to build, to play.
Create balance in your life so there is less desperation for that long vacation. When you go on vacation, hopefully the daily and weekly practice of rest, relaxation, recreation and relationships will prepare you for what vacations are really meant to be. Take a break today and practice one of the four Rs.