I am just returning from a few days off. And it never ceases to amaze me how different people are in what constitutes a “vacation”.
I think it is critical to know what rejuvenates you and to actively include these activities in your schedule. I will admit that I am not very good at taking long vacations (although I am starting to think about them more seriously), but I do think I am fairly good at knowing what re-energizes me, and including those activities in my daily and weekly schedule.
Unfortunately, I think the media blitz we all face daily plus reports from others around us bias us away from those activities which we may really desire. Let me share a few examples of categories of rejuvenating activities (and feel free to share your own ideas).
Nature. This is first, because it is my #1 category. I truly don’t feel like I have been on vacation unless it includes some significant time in nature — staying at a cabin in the woods, hiking, fishing, rafting, swimming in the ocean or a lake. I am fortunate that I live in an area where I have nature surrounding my house (trees, birds, singing insects & frogs, deer and other animals). So when I come home from work, I have the opportunity to have a brief respite from the stresses of the day.
Music. Music can be very restorative. And different kinds of music help us in various ways — soothing instrumental jazz, mellow folk music, energizing bluegrass or classic rock, classical music of various genre’s. I personally am finding selective use of music is more impactful than having it on all the time (e.g. in the background).
Silence. We live in a busy, noisy world. And we add more noises to our lives with talk radio, the news on TV, background music. Finding a quiet place can be a challenge, but incredibly rewarding. Sometimes after I arrive and get settled in my office, I take just 5 minutes to sit, be quiet and enjoy silence.
Solitude and reflection. I am an extrovert by nature, and in my early adult years, I would rarely choose to have an extended time of silence and reflection on my own (I was always looking for a party!). And I still cannot take as much time by myself as my wife enjoys, but slowing down, not sitting in front of the TV (or computer), getting by myself, reading some reflective material (and even occasionally writing in my journal), certainly has a place in restoring my inner soul.
Social interaction. Some people (usually extroverts) actually get energized by being around others. They (we) enjoy the energy from being in a social situation or experiencing an event with a large crowd. Like anything, getting energized by being around others needs to be done in moderation (extroverts can become like over-tired two year old’s — everyone else knows they are tired and need to go to bed before the person themselves do!)
Spiritual reflection and learning. This could be similar to solitude and reflection, but sometimes activity is more self-focused — reflecting on one’s life. This activity may include reading sacred writings, inspirational books by spiritual leaders, or going to a retreat to obtain spiritual instruction. Without keeping one’s life centered on your core spiritual beliefs, your life is at risk for spinning out of control.
Physical activity. For many of us, our work and daily lives are sedentary and inside. Getting physical activity and exercise, along with experiencing the sunlight and breeze on our skin gives us more energy than if we continue to sit at a desk or lying on our bed. (For me, the combination of physical activity + nature is a wonderful combination.)
Hobbies, artistic activities and recreation. This is a combination of a fairly broad range of activities but, when done appropriately, they are restorative — they re-create us. The activity can vary tremendously — painting & drawing, building models, gardening, playing softball, knitting, woodcarving — which is part of their beauty. Each person can pursue a wide range of hobbies over their lifetime (think of the different hobbies you have done over the years.)
I am sure there are many other ways to become rejuvenated. The real trick is to: a) find out what is restorative to you (and not do something because someone else likes to); and b) do it as part of your daily, weekly and seasonal life.
I want to continue to learn and grow in practice in these areas. Please share lessons you have learned over the years in how to consistently restore your energy for life.