By Barton Goldsmith
Tribune News Service.
I am not great at taking time off. I really love my work, and most of the time, writing and seeing clients is more motivating than not, but sometimes I can overdo it. The result of not giving my body and mind a break is that I will get a cold or injure myself (because I was too tired to be careful), which can put me in bed for a couple of days, giving my body the rest it needs. But this is not the way I (or anyone else) wants to relax.
I was talking with a colleague awhile back, and we both joked that the only time we ever got sick is on weekends. It seemed our bodies learned that we would only stop if we had the time, and then it’s back to work. We laughed about it, but really it’s more serious than that. Without taking a break, you do not give your body a chance to heal or your mind to focus on yourself.
It is widely known that Americans take less vacation time than folks in most other countries. Yes, we are hard workers, and achieving the American Dream has been a huge goal for millions of people. But if you don’t make time to rest, you will be unable to dream at all, and you will always be playing catch-up.
By resting your mind and body, you actually create more mental space and greater physical energy. Even if you think you need a vacation from your vacation (in case you decided to climb Everest), getting away from things that may be troubling you, or just taking a break from your routine, will improve your life.
Even if your time off is a little chaotic, it can recharge you. Taking the kids on a vacation or going to a family reunion can be stressful, but you need to factor that into your mental plan of how you are going to help everyone (including yourself) enjoy this time away.
If you only take one vacation a year as a family, or less, this time is precious and needs to be held close to your heart.
This is what creates the ties that bind. Just being together and having a few laughs can make all the difference in your attitude when you return to the real world.
Due to the financial downturn and more hours spent working, the staycation has become popular. You can take a couple days off and go to a place near you that you haven’t seen yet. The idea is to get your mind to focus on restful and beautiful things, which will give your thoughts some time off. That is one of the many reasons we need time away from our work lives: It actually promotes healthy thinking and greater creativity.
When you return from your holiday, go ahead and plan for the next one, because having that goal will give everyone in your family something to look forward to. So go away and take it easy. Your mind and body will thank you.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”)