I love this photo. Look how relaxed and happy this man is, the beautiful ocean waters spread out before him–whether it’s a sunset or sunrise–and he’s taking it easy, sitting on his paddle board, just taking it all in. How many moments in your day even come close to this? Whether you’re working full time, and/or have young children at home or are taking care of aging parents, you are probably running full speed ahead just to not fall behind. And the thought of uninterrupted time, the concept of floating, is like a dream from another universe.
What can we do? The first thing is to recognize that we’re often our own worst enemy. If it were me on this paddle board, I’d be worrying about sharks or wondering if I’d gone too far out. Others might suddenly remember that they didn’t go grocery shopping, so there’s nothing for dinner. And many others would be thinking about that huge report that’s due in a few days and then would feel guilty for taking time off.
Secondly, we buy into the concept that we’re indispensable and limitless. In other words, we believe that we must be the ones to do everything, and that we can do everything no matter how full our plates are. And guess where that leads us? To exhaustion and burnout.
Third of all, we don’t recognize that we need to rest. To stop. To re-charge. So, okay, you might not make it out to such a beautiful place on a paddle board, but look for the things you can do. What’s in reach today? Can you get to work ten minutes early and take the time to organize your desk and get a cup of coffee before the madness starts? Or could you take a break mid-morning and get outside your office building for a ten-minute walk? Time Magazine (July 25, 2016)*just ran an article about the importance of being outside, and how trees, nature, not only make us feel better, but also lower our blood pressure and can provide “relief for health issues like heart disease, depression, cancer, anxiety and attention disorders.”
What helps me is remembering that everything is a choice. If I choose to stay late at work, or choose to take on a complicated project, then I need to be especially mindful to take care of myself. My energy has limits, my family gets cranky if I’m away too much, and the most helpful word in the English language is “no”. Sorry I can’t do that right now.
Lastly, give yourself something to look forward to. Small or big, lunch with a friend or a trip you’ve always dreamed of, get it on your calendar. Make it happen. And make sure your summer has time for doing nothing. Daydreaming, a little nap, are excellent ways to re-charge.
*The Healing Power of Nature”, Alexandra Sifferlin