Lazy Days: Taking Back My Summer

“We have to be reminded that we deserve a break, that we deserve true pleasure.”
– Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love

I was feeling ravenous as I dove into the sushi roll the server had just set before me, my friend L sitting across the table from me telling me about her recent summer vacation to New York. Her photos on Instragram had been enviable. As expected, L in turn asked me about my own summer so far, and I drew a blank. My summer has not been eventful but instead quite the opposite.

As I stumbled over my words in explanation, L responded, “Don’t feel bad about not doing something. Whatever it is that you decide to do or not do, enjoy it. Otherwise, what’s the point?” Her comment was absolutely true, but I was confused. What prompted her to say this? I realized then that I had been apologizing. My tone had

conveyed to L that I regretted or was embarrassed by the fact that I didn’t have any exciting summer stories to share.

But in truth, I’m not embarrassed or regretful at all.

For the first time in a long time, I’ve simply been hanging out and striving to achieve nothing. In my conversation with L, I expected to be negatively judged and chastised for that. I should have known my friend would never treat me that way, but I was responding to a social construct. I felt like I was supposed to feel bad about my recent lack of ambition, so I was behaving accordingly, even though I don’t actually feel bad about it.

At the start of the summer, I vowed to embrace the spirit of the season. Every year I find myself feeling as if summer passed me by without me taking any real time to enjoy it. I decided to change that this year and even made a list of all the “summer things” I was going to do. Then I remembered my favorite things about summer as a kid – free time, no obligations, and long easy days that seemed to last forever.

Sometimes we fall into the trap of always having to be doing something, going somewhere, engaging in something interesting or exciting enough to be social media worthy.   We have a “go go go “ mentality and push ourselves to constantly do more. Sometimes it’s enough to simply go with the flow and try to be more present in the moment.

The summer days of my youth were long and lazy and indulgent. In my decision to embrace the summer this year, I wanted to slow down and be more present during these long, blazing days. Granted, I work and have responsibilities to my family; there’s no shirking those, but rather than making ambitious plans and traveling, I chose a different version of summer indulgence.

And I am unapologetic for that. I wanted my summertime back and I got it. My free time has mostly consisted of floating around in the pool, daydreaming; eating what I like, including dessert multiple times a week; reading for hours at a time; sleeping in; taking a mental health day off work; binge watching Netflix and movies without an ounce of guilt.

Sounds like a pretty amazing summer, right? It has been.

Photo via Visual hunt

Advertisements

10 Easy Ways to Take 10

Vacations are the best. You get to travel to a distant place away from all the responsibilities and obligations of work and home. You get to take a break. It’s important to take a time out to relax and rejuvenate, but why wait until vacation? We face the stress of responsibilities and obligations every day, and we can easily take short breaks during our day to keep our stress levels at bay and prevent burnout.

Here are some things you can do for ten minutes every day to take a break and restore your energy and focus.

1) Drink a cup of hot tea or coffeetea-1778627_1920
I love the smell of a fresh cup of hot coffee. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. Something about it energizes me. At work however, hot tea is my favorite way to take a break. I make a cup, sip it, and daydream for a bit. It’s relaxing, and I always feel healthier after I drink it. Plus, there are so many varieties! My favorites are mint tea (any kind) and Yogi Detox.

2) Go for a walk
Unless you have a job that requires physical labor or you are chasing little kids around the house all day, you are probably too sedentary. I get focused on a project at work and won’t move from my desk for hours. Getting up and moving around is a great way to clear your head. Go for a walk around the block or around your office building.

3) Read poetry
Poetry is easy to read and takes a minimal time commitment. Plus, it often inspires deep thought and creativity. It allows you to break away and think about something else, blond-1866951_1920giving you a new perspective in the process. There are hundreds of great poets out there. Explore and pick one you like. Barnes and Noble has pocket-sized poetry books, so you can take one with you wherever you go!

4) Sit outside
Nature beckons to us. It’s our element. Spend a few minutes away from the chaos of your day to sit outside, breath in the fresh air, and listen to the sounds of the leaves, the wind, and the birds. Just sit and listen and relax. When I work from home, on my breaks I often find myself sitting in the grass in the backyard with my dogs, enjoying the quiet and feeling the sun on my face.

5) Listen to music
Music is poetry with a melody. Listen to your favorites or listen to something new. Music has a magical way of changing my mood almost in an instant. I often stream Pandora at work to keep me motivated. It’s a great activity to combine with other things you want to do on your break. Turn on some easy-listening ambient or instrumental sounds while you sip your hot tea or go for a stroll.

6) Meditate
Meditation does not require a lot of time, and you can do it anywhere, especially with the guidance of meditation apps. I have heard great things about Headspace and Calm, but you can also listen to music while you meditate, or opt simply for silence. Sit in a comfortable position and try to concentrate only on your breathing or repeat an yoga1empowering mantra. It will help you to feel more balanced in minutes.

7) Yoga
Yoga does not require much time either. You can accomplish a lot of yoga in ten minutes. Focus on slowly stretching each section of your body. Flow through some of your favorite poses or do a series of sun salutations. Yoga calms me and clears my head much like meditation, but it’s easier in that I have something specific on which to focus. I use the app Yoga Studio. It has guided practices, but you also have the option to create your own.

8) Massage
I stored my stress in my shoulders and my back, as do most people I think. The stress of the day can leave me stiff and feeling uncomfortable, especially after sitting in an office chair all day or after my long commute. Massaging my shoulders and neck for a few minutes helps me relax and let go of the frustrations of the day. Massaging your feet works wonders as well.

9) Write/Journal
Sometimes we need a break because we cannot stop thinking about something, usually a problem or obstacle of some sort. That’s when journaling comes in handy. Take ten minutes to free write, meaning write down whatever it is that comes to mind. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Just get those thoughts out of your head and onto paper. You’ll feel better and be able to refocus.

10) Playdog-963971_1920
Never underestimate the power of playtime! Take a break from knocking out those tasks on your to-do list to play fetch with your dog. Build legos or color with your kids. If it’s just you, work on a puzzle, play a game on your phone, or draw or color. I started doing zentangle in which you draw pattern designs. Do something fun that serves no productive purpose.

The stresses of daily life can easily wear you down. Incorporating mini breaks, even 5-10 minutes at a time, can make a big impact in combating that. It’s important to make personal breaks part of our routine to manage stress levels and keep our minds clear.

What do you do when you need a moment to relax and refocus during your day?