Earlier this month, my body started trying to get my attention. At first it was just plain ole’ garden variety stress. Then I felt achy, like my body was fighting something off. This was followed by a feeling of tiredness that goes beyond what most parents often feel at the end of the day.
During an attempt to meditate one morning, a potent message came in the form of a mad little voice inside my head. “You need some real rest,” it said. “If you don’t chill out, I’m going to force you to get some rest by getting sick.” My own body had resorted to threats against me!
We all know we need times of rest and refreshing. Research confirms that rest will help our bodies rejuvenate and may even prolong our lives. Even God rested on the seventh day. The thing is, life can be so busy sometimes and the To Do list can get so long that we can feel counterproductive and guilty for putting the brakes on.
As proof of my commitment to Get My Important Things Done, I had three (3) gift certificates for spa treatments that my family and friends had given me languishing in my desk drawer. Friends, can we agree that if a person has more than two unused spa gift certificates in her possession something is terribly out of balance?
There was too much on the calendar to take a beach vacation, but I knew I needed relief NOW. So I X’d out two precious weekdays on my calendar for the following week, and let my clients know that I’d be out of the office. Just anticipating the time off ahead made me more relaxed during the following days. I also called the spa and booked an appointment.
Here’s what I did over my two days off and the weekend that followed:
* Just as if I was going on a real vacation, I set the auto-responder the night before my Staycation so I could take a break from e-mails.
* I imposed a ban on the ‘To Do’ list and stuck it in a drawer. No additions or subtractions allowed.
* Day #1 was the morning after the CMA Awards, and because I have apparently been living under a rock I didn’t know that Darius Rucker, former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman, had crossed over to country. So I listened to “It Won’t Be Like This for Long,” a song that made me cry, because I know that these happy/tired days of keeping up with my young son won’t last for long. Rucker’s happy song “All Right” made me dry my tears and tap my feet.
* I did a craft project. I can’t remember the last time I made a craft that wasn’t in conjunction with a kids’ party or classroom activity. It’s hanging on our dining room wall, and every time I look at it I smile.
* I went to the spa and had a hot stone massage, a facial and a pedicure. Oh my friends, it was pure heaven. I came home feeling so relaxed, I crawled in bed and took a nap.
* I practiced yoga.
* I drank lots of water.
* I ate good, healthy food. Mostly.
* I drank chai tea each afternoon and slowly ate one of the Belgian dark chocolate-covered sea salt caramels my friend Darla sent me. I licked my fingers.
* I took a walk.
* I had unhurried telephone chats with my Mom, my sister and two girlfriends.
* I took some photographs of the sunrise.
* I caught up on recent episodes of The Office. (Don’t you love that so many shows are now streaming episodes online, to be watched at our leisure?)
* I meditated, prayed and wrote in my journal. During one of those sessons, I made two lists. One was entitled ‘What Makes Me Feel Stressed’ and the other was ‘What Makes Me Feel Peaceful.’ The process of writing the lists helped me get clearer about steps I might take to support and increase the peaceful aspects. (If you want to read my lists, click here.)
* I promised my body that from now on, I would take one Staycation per quarter – including a trip to the spa. In return, my body promised to hold off on any more threats — as long as I kept my word.
When I have been through a personally challenging time, my friend and professional life coach Diane Sieg will often ask, “What was the lesson you needed to learn?” Sometimes our life lessons are subtle, but in this case mine was crystal clear. Three times over four days, I encountered this phrase: “I am a human being, not a human doing.” When I read it for the third time in Sunday’s Denver Post, I shivered with recognition.
How about you? Could you use a Staycation? Do you sometimes feel like a Human Doing instead of a Human Being? What steps do you take when life gets too busy and you need a time out? I’d love to hear your experiences and comments.
With the holidays approaching and the opportunity to enjoy peace and joy this season instead of stress and exhaustion, let’s all seek ways to bring rest and refreshment into our busy lives.