When your time belongs to something else—work, parenting, caregiving, your business—it can seem as though you’re trapped inside of someone else’s agenda. Entrepreneurs easily fall into this cycle, sacrificing themselves and their time to long-term goals and the needs of others. If you’re not careful, the daily stress of giving yourself away begins to diminish any sense of self and well-being.
I recall my twenty-plus years of working in corporate: a fifteen-minute drive to the train followed by a forty-minute train ride into the city, then a brisk twenty-minute walk from Chicago’s Union Station to work. The commute was filled with paperwork and scheduling so I could lessen the load before a hectic 8 to 10 hours in the world of local news. At last, I followed the routine of my reverse commute home to my kids for the few short hours we had together.
I loved my job, and being a mom, but what I didn’t love was the feeling of being lost inside the mechanics of every task-filled day. I rarely stilled my mind to capture the most important moments in life, or to create a space that felt like mine, because I belonged to everyone else. I never stopped to realize that I was lost, that there was something inside of me that felt unsatisfied—until one early morning when I missed my train, which left me with a rare twenty minutes to do nothing.
I felt nearly giddy with the anticipation of a precious few silent moments to myself. I randomly strolled across to a little coffee house where patrons cheerfully bantered with the fun-loving proprietors while in line for their lattes and mochas. “Oh my! A cinnamon scone,” I thought. “Dare I? Oh sure, it was a special day.”
A special day? Why? It hit me then that treating myself to a few laughs with strangers, a fresh cup of coffee, and a cinnamon scone filled me with giddy anticipation of the next moment, and the next. I took my warm coffee and scone to a park bench and savored them, along with the joy that filled my heart as I noticed, for the first time, the beautiful fall colors that had begun to tinge the leaves of the old oaks. “I feel like I’m on vacation,” I thought blissfully. I went to work that day with more emotional and physical energy than I’d had in a while, with a bit more spirit in my step.
That evening I journaled about my mini-vacation experience, and I found it so meaningful that it was decided, then and there, that I would “put a little vacation in every day.”
So, what does that really mean? Missing your train, or a meeting, so you can sit idly in a park warming your hands on a cup of joe? What if it wasn’t that random? What if, without sacrifice, you could escape the everyday demands to capture time for yourself? To connect with yourself and your surroundings in a way that eludes you on a typical day? To stop and smell the roses, as they say.
It sounds like too little to mean a lot.
Too good to be true? You may ask, how can 5 or ten minutes make a difference in the way I feel? What might this do for your well-being, health, and spirit?
- Let’s look at the more practical side of this concept first. Research tells us that taking purposeful breaks (anywhere from 5–60 minutes) to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus. This is especially true during periods of intense concentration, like study and work projects. Short breaks will give you more time to do other things because they will make you more efficient and accurate.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the more meaningful side of taking your little vacation breaks.
- Purposeful mini-breaks can change the way you think. This is what I call, Bullshift™.
When we don’t have time to ourselves to just “be,” much of life’s more meaningful content gets swept under the rug. We neglect to find gratitude and appreciation for the good stuff and tend to focus on the more stressful aspects of our day-to-day life. Your mind is like your body, it becomes what you feed it. We must nourish our brains with positive thoughts, intent, and beliefs to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life.
When you take yourself away from the hustle for a few minutes spend that time finding the good: breathe deeply, look for something beautiful in your surroundings, notice the feel and scent of the air, savor the taste of something delicious, or observe an exchange between happy individuals. These simple actions will reinforce new neural pathways in your brain that eventually become automatic. Translation: You are teaching your brain to default to a positive attitude!
A little vacation in every day has become second nature to me, and I hope it does for you as well. Negativity is exhausting! When we can teach our brains to find the positive, even during difficult times, life is more fulfilling and hopeful. Rather than allowing daily demands to deplete you, capture something special in your day to make it yours, because you deserve it!
January is right around the corner and that means new beginnings, new goals, new hopes, and dreams. Join my Group Coaching Program, BullShift! to make it all happen!