Mid-summer is clearly upon us; the days are longer, the temperatures higher and the time is here for a little relaxation that we don’t often get the rest of the year. It could be a day trip to the beach, a weekend camping-out in the woods or a couple of weeks spent at a favorite vacation destination. Like kids who revel in the break from school we adults look to summer to provide a little rest and relaxation, too – in whatever form works for us. You know all the archetypes as well as I do – barbeques, bathing suits, cannonballs, kayaking, waves and lemonade. Just the thought of those images connotes a lighter, breezier sense of life. This week I am looking forward to taking a little respite from my usual routine so that I can take a couple of days off to enjoy myself. I am ready to go! And as I prepare myself for the break ahead – tying up loose ends both at home and at work I find myself thinking about the importance of “down-time” and the value and necessity of allowing ourselves a breather every now and then.
Growing up – people worked hard, and families took vacations just like they do now, but I don’t think that the need was as powerful as it is now. Though of course there were exceptions then, just like there are now, I believe as a society we are more driven and stressed than we used to be. Nowadays even our children’s schedules are booked to the hilt with activities and lessons. Add to the mix the pressures of a down economy and everyday life feels more like a pressure-cooker than it ever did before in our lifetimes. The result – we need to take a break from the grind more than ever, and though the resources for doing so may feel tighter than ever – the need is greater.
Not everyone can afford the luxury of a “real” vacation. When so many families are struggling to just keep up with the rising costs of living – the idea of taking time away feels harder to grasp than ever, nonetheless there is only so much pressure a system can take before it will inevitably fail. So I encourage you to do whatever you can to give yourself a little break. How you define what that will look like for you is a personal thing – it may be as simple as taking a stroll around your neighborhood after dinner, or inviting a friend over for an informal cook-out. Maybe you can spare a couple of days to go and visit family or friends, or a day-trip to a nearby lake for some of sunning and swimming. Whatever it is – do it! Have a little fun, take a little break and relax a minute. Your body, mind and spirit will thank-you for the attention. And then, wrap a little bit of it up and take it with you.
Find a way to incorporate a little down time into your everyday experience. Something just for you, and maybe something for you and your family, a little slice of the healing magic of summer fun, and keep it with you all year. This is life – this thing that we are doing every day, every moment, and when it is gone it is gone. Waiting for that one week a year to allow yourself to enjoy it is betting that there will always be another summer to enjoy. Better to hedge your bets now, stop and smell the roses, time fleets by so quickly and the only moment you know you have is this one. Enjoy it!