If you are a type-A kind of person-- driven, determined, and busy—you may find it difficult to unwind on breaks. Since you are responsible and motivated, you probably have a pretty intense job. If you have a family, you have to coordinate different schedules and different activities as well as be prepared for any curveballs life decides to throw. Being on alert keeps your life running smoothly.
However, constantly enduring high levels of stress is unhealthy for anyone. You probably already know (or maybe your doctor has told you) that you need to find ways to release the tension if you want to have physical and mental wellness and good quality of life.
Since summer is a time for vacation, it is a great opportunity to change things up and try doing new things that will nourish you so you can come back recharged and ready to go. Your biggest challenge yet might be how to loosen up and relax, but with these tips, you can definitely succeed.
If you are a busy person, it has probably been a while since you have thought about what might be relaxing. This may be as simple as making space in your schedule to walk outside and do nothing. It could be a weeklong vacation at a beach resort in a new bathing suit. Maybe you are a gourmet chef, and nothing relaxes you like a delicious meal at a new restaurant. Some people need an activity like rock climbing or drawing to focus on so their minds can be freed from their daily worries. If this is you, think about doing something you truly enjoy. Whatever your dream of a stress-free life looks like, write it down and consider how you can make it a reality. Remember, it doesn’t have to be an entire life shift. Just try out one or two things for these three summer months.
It might seem contradictory to include this, but you know that things that don’t get planned and prepared for don’t get done. So apply the same principles to this problem. If you have some ideas for what will help you relax, what needs to happen next for you to be able to actually do what you want to do? Make a to-do list. If you have a huge list and it feels overwhelming, try aiming a little smaller. Instead of a solo island vacation with brand-new everything, take your family to the beach and buy yourself a beach cover-up. Since this is important, give it the same level of respect you would give any other project you take on. Consider what you want to accomplish.
Now that you have a plan take action! Any plan that doesn’t go beyond the drawing board is dead. Keep yours alive! Buy the plane tickets for your trip. Sign up for a three-month package at the local yoga studio and dig those Capri yoga pants out of your closet. Rearrange your carpool so Friday mornings can be set aside for a weekly massage and spa treatment. Notify your coworkers that you will be unavailable for a designated time period every Tuesday and Thursday while the summer lasts. Do what you need to do to set yourself up for success in your relaxation plan.
There is nothing easier than dropping something that seems to be lower on the list of priorities. When deadlines are looming, or life hits you with that curveball, you will want to bail on your relaxation plan. Sometimes you can reduce stress by taking care of what is stressful. However, cutting out the time you have set aside to lower your stress levels doesn’t usually work the way people think it does. Stress will always exist, and there will always be pressing things that urgently need your attention. Giving yourself a chance to recover allows you to solve your problems faster. Plus, the world is unlikely to absolutely end if you choose to keep your 20-minute, hour, or weekend appointment with yourself. Don’t let those new women's athletic shorts go to waste!
Some feel the difference after taking time to relax just once. Others take a little while to remember how to calm down and enjoy peaceful moments. Unwinding doesn’t always happen automatically. However, when you plan rest time into your calendar on purpose, your body and mind get a chance to recover. It feels like we get a lot done by going, going, going, but frequently, that constant action and stress get in the way of actually solving problems. When you have a chance to step back and release all of the tension wrapped around the challenges that face you, you are usually better able to find solutions. Take this summer to rest and renew and find out for yourself how reducing stress can increase your quality of life.