Today I’m going to talk about something a lot of people have trouble with: Taking a guilt-free day off from work and other responsibilities. Now sometimes it’s impossible to completely step away from our responsibilities, like say we have children, we can’t very well leave them to fend for themselves for an entire day or we will likely end up in prison. What we can do is make space for the entire family to have a day of fun with no soccer games, no hockey practices, Girl Guide meetings, music lessons, gymnastics, or any of the other million activities kids are enrolled in these days. It’s just as important for children to have time to be kids as it is for adults to take some well-deserved fun and relaxation time. When we’re all rushing around from one appointment or activity to another we never truly have the time to breathe and that can leave us all feeling overwhelmed and unhappy. Not to mention it creates an environment in which stress can flourish and lead to illness.
As some of you may know I can be somewhat of a perfectionist. When I was completing my training at IHN and I got a final course grade of 98 or 99% I would be legitimately disappointed that I had lost that one or two percent. I’m pretty sure my sister thought I was insane and I’m not sure that I wasn’t. In my experience working with myself and others perfectionism can be the product of a fear of failure or a fear of not being loved and accepted just as we are. It can be a tricky beast to overcome but in the context of creating a positive relationship with your body by fostering self-love and acceptance it begins to wane, or at least become more manageable. Perfectionism and the fears that propel it can be the driving force behind our need to be constantly doing, achieving, or striving for something. What that something is varies from person to person, but I see this tendency all the time in my practice, in myself, and in the people around me.
Anyhoo, the point is that as careful and mindful as I try to be nowadays my perfectionism still tends to rear it’s ugly head from time to time. Over the last few weeks I haven’t really taken a full day off without guilt or without at least kind-of-sort-of-only-a-little-bit-working-on-something-for-a-couple-of-hours-so-it-doesn’t-really-count and it’s starting to take its toll. My skin is breaking out and I kid you not I just got up from bed to come type this post because I couldn’t fall asleep until I’d gotten it down. Lately, even when I take a “break” during the day to go on a walk I’ve found that I’m still brainstorming, writing, or ruminating on how I can keep growing my business, help the most people, and support myself completely doing what I love. As much as running my own business is a dream and I do genuinely love the work involved, sometimes I need to tell myself to step away, take a breather, don’t make plans with people, turn off the email, Facebook, Twitter, laptop, everything, and just fully immerse myself in pure, unadulterated relaxation, joy, and adventure. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t take a real break I begin to become resentful of the people who are asking for my time and energy, which can cause issues in relationships or create negative thought patterns that are hard to turn off.
I think taking dedicated time to unwind is one of the oft-overlooked, but major keys to success for a happy, healthy, and balanced life. If we continue to push ourselves all day every day we will quickly burn out, become jaded, or just be a total asshole to everyone around us. That’s not productive nor is it pleasant. So that’s why I’m taking a whole day off. No meetings, no program development, no Twitter posts or Facebook shares. I won’t even plan to go to a yoga class unless in the moment I feel like it’s something I want to do. My day off is going to be Saturday April 6th, because well my calendar is completely booked solid until then so that’s the first day I can manage. But when that sweet day comes I’m going to enjoy every second. I’m going to read a book for fun. That might be a book about hormonal health or it might be American Gods. It doesn’t matter. The whole point is that I will decide in the moment what will best nourish my soul and help me regenerate. I will let the day take me where it will and I will not stress about all the things I’m not doing. I will be joyful, free, and present for every minute. And hopefully I will come back stronger and more full of beans, ready to take over the world. 😉
Now lest you think I’m saying you need to carve out an entire day to dedicate to yourself, I do realize this can be unrealistic for many people. Perhaps you give yourself a small amount of time every day to unwind and breathe while doing whatever makes your soul sing. That can literally be anything: painting, singing, dancing, swimming, reading, cooking and eating a delicious snack, sitting quietly and not doing anything. Seriously, do what your body and mind craves in the moment. On the other hand, perhaps you start saying no to social obligations that you don’t really want to take part in anyway, but always felt bad turning down. What I’m trying to get across here is to begin to foster the action of mindfully recognizing when we start getting overwhelmed by life. Practicing this mindfulness and telling yourself that it is ok to say no, step away, and recharge can be powerful tools in helping you achieve and maintain glowing good health. We all need to take a break from time to time or life starts to become a chore, rather than a glorious, ridiculous, adventure and who wants that?
So how are you carving more personal time for yourself? If it’s a practice you already undertake, have you seen any benefits in your relationships or productivity? Let me know in the comments.
Have a wonderfully whimsical day friends!
PS. If you’re feeling really run down and ready for a fresh start, sign up for my Reset Yourself Nutrition Challenge! It starts May 1st, just in time to get us bikini ready for summer 😉