We Real Women carry an enormous amount of stuff with us every day. I’m not talking about the stuff in our purses (although those can get mighty heavy!). I’m referring to what we have swirling around in our brains all the time.
On an average R.W.’s day, at any given moment, we may have the following topics on our minds: work issues and deadlines, family obligations, pet and child care, our children’s extra-curricular activities, homework assistance, home maintenance, bill paying, grocery shopping, food preparation, volunteer work, transportation, doctor’s visits, and juggling several family member’s schedules and actions. Of course, while our minds are full of these swirling thoughts, we are going about our daily activities. How exhausting! Handling all of this with no break can lead us to stress, crankiness or possibly even depression.
One of my husband’s co-workers used to call certain days off of work as “Mental Health Days”… at first I thought that was an amusingly cute phrase, until I decided to occasionally take a day off all to myself and realized how right he was. Taking a day away from responsibilities of all kinds truly can be therapeutic; especially for R.W.’s who try to do too much all the time.
However, although a day here and there can be a nice brief respite, it is not the same thing as truly taking a vacation and shutting down. I am coming to believe that we need to have breaks in our lives to not only relax our bodies, but clean out the pollution in our heads. We need times to NOT think about all of those things I mentioned above. A time to stare out at a view, a horizon, and just breathe and BE. Push out any intruding unwanted thoughts. I will admit this is not easy. I struggle with this, and it can take me several days to get to a mind-relaxation point. When it hits, I know I’ve reached it because my husband asks “are you ok, honey?”
The other interesting by-product of mental vacations is the change in our interactions with others. While we have been on our vacation, I’ve had different types of conversations with my husband and son than we usually do during our “regular days”. We’ve talked about what we are seeing and doing, our favorite parts of our trip, telling fun stories about the past, talking about the future – not the kind of future as in the next deadline or what else is on our list of chores, but about things my son might like to do when he grows up, other places we’d like to travel, and friends and family we’d like to visit. We have re-connected in ways that are only possible when we’ve pushed out some of the pollution and welcomed in some of the fresh air.
True, at some point, we do have to return to our “regular” lives and go back to our usual responsibilities, and start thinking about all of that “stuff” again. It doesn’t just go away. But hopefully when we get back, we can start with a refreshed outlook and take it all back slowly, a bit at a time. Whenever I return from a vacation, I hope for at least 48 hours to maintain my calm serenity before stress begins to creep back in, drawing that mind pollution with it.
When was the last time your brain was pollution-free? If you can’t remember when that last happened, start planning your time off now. Your mind and body, and most likely the other people in your life, will thank you for it.