Are you always on the go? Is your life stressful, frenzied and pulled in a million different directions? Do you have a hard time shutting off your mind even on vacation? A July 2008 Real Simple Magazine survey found that 93 percent of people don’t find time to have fun. With the last month of summer upon us, thoughts of beach vacations, reconnecting with family and friends and enjoying time in the outdoors can seem like a good idea but may be hard to actually do. Cell phones, Blackberries and email seem to follow us wherever we go and taking the down time we need in order to quiet our minds can be a challenge.
As Americans, we often have a strong desire to be successful, get to the next level in our jobs and live the life that our parents (or we) came to this country to achieve. When we were young children, many of us were taught that if we work hard we can get good jobs, make money and have decent lives. As a result, we are always trying to get ahead, be better and, like the Nike slogan, Just Do It!
But nobody ever talks about resting, relaxing, taking down time and having fun. Not too many people mention reconnecting with ourselves and loved ones to get the rest and rejuvenation needed to work from a centered place and truly excel at what we do. The Real Simple poll also revealed that of women surveyed who said that they were happy 65 percent set aside “me” time, while it was only 39 percent for less happy women.
So how can we stop doing and “just be”-especially on vacation?
1. Set aside time each day to “just be.” Until it becomes a natural habit, schedule in the time to “be”. Take at least 30 minutes a day to spend time by yourself or with a loved one without “doing” anything. This means no answering emails, watching television, cooking, listening to music or any other distraction. Let your mind wander, and eventually it will quiet down and be more receptive to creative ideas, brainstorms or just plain fun. And you will have a stronger connection with your loved ones by just hanging out with them instead of doing something.
2. Stop multitasking. While on vacation do one thing at a time and stay focused on the present. Don’t read the paper, watch television and make coffee all at the same time. When you stop splitting your time and energy doing multiple things at once, your mind has the freedom to slow down and really enjoy whatever you are doing at that moment. It can concentrate on doing a single task while enjoying the simple pleasures of life such as making coffee.
3. Do activities that you find fun. If you love to snorkel, sail or play tennis take the time to do those activities. When you are engaged in something 100% your mind doesn’t have the time to wander and think about events from the past or worry about work to do in the future. Engage in the things you love to do and inherently you will be living in the present. Then your mind can focus and concentrate on enjoying what is right there in front of you.
4. Get moving. Take a walk by the beach, bike instead of driving everywhere or swim at the pool or in the ocean. When you engage in physical activity your endorphins kick in and release serotonin, which makes you feel happier. When you are happier it is easier to connect with what is important, take the time to relax and be with yourself and your loved ones.
5. If you must, set aside one time per day to check your Blackberry or cell phone. To time box the amount of time you spend “doing” things related to work or business pick one time per day (e.g. first thing in the morning, at lunch time or before you go to bed) to check emails, return any phone calls and check in. Limit the amount of time that you do this to no more than a half hour a day in order to maximize your time just “being.”
Being is a state of mind and can increase the likelihood of happiness, relaxation and joy in your life. Taking time out to reconnect with yourself and with loved ones can bring immense pleasure and contentment. You may even find yourself being more efficient upon your return to daily life. I challenge you to take the chance to make time for yourself and simplify life. Just Be It.