Every once in a while we all need a break from our typical routine. When I was a young mom, a wise man told me that “A change was as good as a rest.” We all look forward to our scheduled vacation time. However, if we are overwhelmed, anticipating our future vacation might not be enough. Our strong feelings might be a sign indicating we need to create an experience that is a respite for ourselves.
For me, respite can take on different forms. Depending on time available, the break can range from a few minutes to days in duration. I create reminders of my intention that show up during my day. For example, to experience the wonder of nature., I am trying to sit outside for a few minutes a day. To get more movement and exercise, I have a repeating message that pops up on my computer every 30 minutes reminding me to take a short stretch break.
Last week I was running a few minutes late to an appointment when I noticed a beautiful rose bush just outside the building. The thought crossed my mind, that is so beautiful, I wish I could remember it always. I felt a little sad, because roses fade and my memory of the color would fade also. Then I thought, I can take a picture.
I put this beautiful picture as the wall paper on my phone. Now every time I pick up my phone, I am reminded of that beautiful rose. I am able to stop and figuratively smell the roses as I am transported back to that lovely warm August day when I saw the rose. It has become a short break that recreates a wonderful memory.
Sometimes we need breaks that are longer than the momentary respite achieved by looking at a photograph or sitting outside. This weekend, I am in Kentucky for four days visiting my son and his family. Arden is back at home caring for Nick, so that I can have this opportunity to be a granny. We have gone out to eat, shopped, had a birthday party and done other activities that youth and children love to do. It has been glorious as well as relaxing. This level of respite is not always possible when we have heavy responsibilities or limited finances.
I try to act on the reminders I have put in my life, so that I do have some physical respite from the stresses of my everyday life. Discovering the things that feel like a break to me has been an interesting journey. In addition, the things that relax me may not have the same affect on you. For me, watching a movie and knitting a sweater are incredibly relaxing. Nick might be in the same room as me, or in my line of sight in his room, but the whole experience can still feel like a short vacation, even though I am still caring for Nick.
In the past, I have used food as a short break from my reality. That was not helpful to me, in fact it was destructive to my physical self. I have learned that when I feel a strong desire to eat after I have had plenty of food, I need to find an activity that will generate a feeling that I have had a short break.
What works for you? Start a short list of possibilities, and start doing some of them. You will be amazed how much this can reduce your stress level and feelings of overwhelm.
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