When was the last time you took a break? I mean really took a break. A break from work. A break from home and family responsibilities. A break from your routine. A break from doing one more task in your “spare time.”
I thrive on projects. Without one or two or three in addition to home and work commitments, I can feel lost. Projects provide direction and a sense of purpose. They motivate me to make the most of my day. But sometimes, taking a break from the projects and responsibilities that are my life-force is refreshing.
A few weeks ago, I spent time with my two granddaughters, ages three and six. For a week, we splashed in the pool, built sandcastles, kayaked, dove for gems, sipped tea, ate picnic food, sang songs including ring-around-the-rosie, and even got a henna tattoo. While none of these activities were new for me…except the henna tattoo, it was refreshing to experience them with Lola and Ara. Little compares to the enthusiasm of children.
Here are a few things I discovered during my week of play:
Slowing down is restorative. I’m a creature of habit and responsibility. Managing email, text messages and phone calls, checking one more thing off my to-do list, and rushing to fit in yet another activity leaves little time to take a breath or appreciate my surroundings. Slowing down gave my body and mind a chance to relax and unwind.
Play elevates joy. I remember playing with friends, riding my bike, exploring new territory, and splashing in a pool when I was young. My heart was light, I laughed out loud, my eyes sparkled, and I had abundant energy. Endorphins, one of the happiness hormones, were flooding my nervous system and promoting positive feelings. Giving myself permission to step into the joy of playing with my grandchildren was uplifting.
Being in the moment suspends time. The mind is designed to be active but not always positive. It’s wired to think about responsibilities, to-do lists, loved ones, and to set worry in motion. To break that adult cycle, it helped to put my attention on something right in front of me. I noticed the water on my face when I swam with Ara. I looked at the sparkle in Lola’s eyes the first time she realized her arm floats would keep her buoyant. I paid attention to the sand under my feet as I walked on the beach. I tasted the salt on my lips when the gulf water splashed over us. Time stood still in these moments, and nothing else mattered.
It wasn’t seamless to turn off my adulting ways that week with family, but the moments were rejuvenating and forever imprinted in my mind. I encourage you to nourish yourself this week with a well-deserved break and practice finding joy in your downtime.
I’d love to hear about your discoveries. Leave a comment or share by email.