Summertime is the season when we press pause on our everyday life. The right moment in which we actually find the time to reflect on where we are, where we want to be going and how we are going to get there. Whatever phase of life we are in, it’s vital to make time to pause.
However, our society seems to get used to the idea of “being busy” as the default. The ironic result of all our constant work is that we don’t have time to enjoy our holidays and our life, which actually makes us less productive. In this case, it’s our attitude towards leisure time that needs to be adjusted.
An article by the American Magazine Inc. on ‘4 scientific reasons why vacations are good for your health’, found that: “The average U.S. employee takes only half of their allotted vacation time.” In addition, 3 in 5 workers admitted to doing work whilst on holiday, and 20% of employers were contacted by their supervisor about a work-related issue whilst on holiday. Plus, those who are self-employed can often worry about work when they are on holiday too. That means for several people it can actually be pretty difficult to shut themselves off from work entirely and enjoy their holiday to its full potential.
To avoid the negative effects of chronic stress and burnout, we need time to replenish and return to our pre-stress level of functioning. This recovery process requires “switching off” from work by having periods of time when we are neither engaging in work-related activities nor thinking about work. It is critical that we disconnect from time to time, in a way that fits our needs and preferences. When possible, let’s take time off to relax and unwind, so we come back to work feeling reinvigorated and ready to perform at our best.
According to Terry Hershey, author of a classic bestseller, ‘The Power of Pause‘: “While waiting for perfect, we pass on ordinary. While waiting for better, we don’t give our best effort to good. While waiting for new and improved, we leach the joy right out of the old and reliable.” Terry invites us to embrace the sacrament of the present, to see, hear, taste and touch grace and the sacred in our world. To stop the noise, distraction, compulsion to perform, and fear of rejection. To make space to live today open, available, curious and surprised by joy.
Our time away from the hustle and bustle will allow us to rest and rejuvenate our mind, body and spirit. We need to recalibrate and in order to receive the benefits of the process, we must power all the way down. This means disconnecting from the outside and reconnecting with the inside. It’s also important to channel our thoughts; we shouldn’t waste our reflection time on pettiness and things that don’t matter. We should reflect on our actions, our decisions, our strategies, our words, and our next steps.
We should give ourselves permission to designate joy, fun, play, reflection and idleness or quiet time as top priorities and schedule them in until it becomes routine. We really don’t have to earn leisure by getting to the end of the to-do list. So let’s flip the list. What makes our heart come alive today?