So many of us feel like we need a break but do not take one. You could go all out and take the full on beach or mountain vacation or you could stay home and have a stay-cation. It doesn’t matter as long as you are taking a break.
In honor of my own spring break trip, this week we are going to look at the need to take a break. Many people talk about how much they need a break, yet many struggle to take one. In a culture that values output, taking a break can feel like laziness or missing out.
There is a natural need to take a break. Sammonds, Mansfield, and Fray (2017) found that drivers in a simulated experiment showed increasing discomfort as drive time increased and decreased discomfort following the break. A break serves to help us reset our attention and allow us to reconnect with ourselves. By taking advantage of the break we are more energized, productive, and happy in our work (Steinborn & Huestegge, 2016).
Now lets talk about taking a longer break, a vacation (and vacation workouts). So many people never take all their vacation time each year. This is detrimental to our health. In my research I studied the impact of chronic psychological stress states on the physical body. There is a cascading effect of the endocrine system when one is under too much stress for too long. During periods of chronic stress the body pumps out a number of hormones and neurotransmitters. When these chemicals are not metabolized in the system they wreck havoc on physical structures. The impact is things like; chronic pain, joint pain, cardiovascular issues, difficulty sleeping, concentration troubles, sexual problems, obesity, and decrease in skin/hair, nail health to name a few. When we do not get a break to re-set and recharge our physical system our health suffers.
A vacation does not have to be lengthy or costly. You can practice “vacationing” on a regular basis to help yourself reset your system. You can do the traditional holiday and plan a get away for a few weeks or a month, or you can take 5 minutes and “go away” in your office. The benefits of each are different, however both are helpful.
Here are 25 ideas to get you started taking your next break.
The Traditional Ideas:
- The beach, mountains, forest, or desert
- Road trip for distance and enjoy the small towns along the way
- National or state park tour
- Bike touring
- Backpacking & Hiking
- All inclusive resorts
- Explore an exotic locale like a local
- Hut / cabin trips
- Sailing / boating
Closer to Home:
- Get a screensaver that helps you visualize yourself on a vacation
- Find an app that has guided meditations about locations you would like to visit
- Home spa stay – pick a few treatments you can do at home and plan a relaxing few days in the comfort of your own home
- Enjoy your home town like a visitor
- Sit and enjoy the outdoors
- Explore a new section of town / class / landmark / shop you’ve never been too. Take your time and enjoy the adventure of finding something new
- Enjoy a local sporting event – even if thats on TV at the new locale from #6
- Take in a theater production, symphony, or concert close to home
- Enjoy a really nice dinner – either prepared at home with friends or out on the town
- Road trip to the nearest cool town you want to explore
The Hard Part: No matter where your vacation takes you (far from home or just lying down for a unusual nap at home) the trick to taking a break is to really shift your mind away from all the things you have to do, all the chores that have not been completed, and all obligations you have for yourself. Here are some ways to help yourself shift (and stay shifted) away from all those mental actions.
- Write a list of all the things you have to do and give them a date of completion or timeline so you can rest knowing you have already planned for those tasks. You may need to break it into smaller tasks to be effective.
- Recognize that you cannot complete everything before you rest. There will always be more to do. Honor the struggle of chores and be present to the moment you are in, not the one with everything complete and prefect.
- Use headphones to help yourself control stimulation and outside noise while you meditate or rest. It can help you learn to tune out things you do not need to focus on for the moment.
- Learn to follow your breath. The breath is the easiest way into your nervous system. This is because the breath connects you to your heart rate, heart rate signals the brain – rest or run. As you pay attention to your breath, allow yourself to sink into the support you are using. This allows your body to rest as well as your mind.
- Focus on the people you are with, the experiences you are having, and the things you are seeing. As you commit to be present to what you are really doing (not your deadlines and to lists, heaping laundry pile, or the toilet that needs scrubbing), you learn how to shift your attention in the moment, moment by moment, to your experience. This experience becomes embodied and you become more grounded. This translates to more effectiveness in your everyday life and an ability to shift more easily toward resting more often.
Today give yourself the gift of “getting away” – even if only for 5 minutes. Take a break and be present.
Steinborn, M. B., & Huestegge, L. (2016). A walk down the lane gives wings to your brain. restorative benefits of rest breaks on cognition and self‐control. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 30(5), 795-805. doi:http://dx.doi.org.tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/10.1002/acp.3255
Sammonds, G.M., Mansfield, N.J., and Fray, M. (2017). Improving long term driving comfort by taking breaks: How break activity affects effectiveness. Applied Ergonomics, 65, 81-89.
Are working hard to make life changes only to feel defeated by those around you or yourself? It may be time to look beneath the surface of the change process and find the deeper meaning in the struggle.
For each obstacle from Thursday’s change plan worksheet consider 2-3 options for coping with each on the way to your goal.
Maybe it is changing location, moving away from particular people at a party, going a new way to work, having dinner at a different time, saying a particular phrase, etc. There are many ways to address and deal with your challenges – and they will come up. So plan to meet them with grace and confidence.
The Spirituality of Change
This brings an aspect of living your essence and spirituality. As you work on changing, you must face yourself – sometimes this is the hardest person to face. You must take an honest look at who you are and who you want to be. Then do the difficult work of change. Through this process we often find parts of ourselves we do not like, want around, or understand. It is in facing these aspects of our being that we become a better version of ourselves. If you find yourself lost in the struggle, it may be worth finding a support system for your change process – a group, class, or therapist to help you navigate the steps and set you up for the best possible results.
Finding your voice
Sometimes explaining your desire to change to others is hard. Sometimes they work against you – like crabs in a bucket, pulling you back into old patterns and behaviors. Remember, you do not have to explain your changes to anyone else. You do not have to justify your new behaviors or work to get the to understand your reasons, purpose, or dreams. Your change is all about you and you can chose who to share it with and when.
A few simple statements go a long way, like:
- I’m the DD tonight
- I am working on a new fitness plan
- I am trying a new meal plan out
- I am working on shifting my sleeping pattern
- I’ve been reading about _____, and I want to try some of the suggestions
- I have a friend who did ____, I am hoping to have similar results
- I noticed I feel better when I do _____
You can create all sorts of simple statements that give enough information but do not require you explain or rationalize your new behaviors. Just make sure you are creating statements you can back up if they ask later – i.e. if you are telling people you are working on training for a race, you might want to make sure you are planning to run a race. When people ask how’s the racing going you don’t want to be “aaaaaahhhh …” and stumble trying to make something up on the spot.
In the end, relax into the change process, enjoy the ride, find yourself, and become a better version of you. It is here you find your spirit and strengthen your soul.
All movement comes from your core – even movement from your feet is connected to the middle of you. Without a strong core your body is operating at a loss. Here’s a workout to make your core strong and ready for anything.
Workout Basics and Warm Up
To plan your workouts think about doing something focused 3-6 times a week and taking 1-3 days of what’s called active rest (clean house, walk the golf course, go for a hike, take the dog for a long walk, do squats throughout the day – link it to every time you go to the bathroom for example.
This movement is important for recovery and allows your body to do something active for fun, wellness, blood flow to the sore spots from your focused workout, etc. This keeps the body oriented toward energy flow and movement.
Making sure to get a weekend workout in is a great way to make sure your active rest days are not consecutive. Consecutive days off can make it harder to return to your focused workouts on Monday.
Make sure to warm up. Spend 5-10minutes doing easy movement, stretching, and allow the muscles you are going to work to “wake up”. Work to include all the big joints and major muscle groups. It’s a great time to get your music right, your shoes tightened or loosened, or make sure you hair is out of your way. By fixing these things now, you are more likely to stay focused on the work portion.
When you complete the round, give yourself a pat on the back, a fist pump, something that celebrates your accomplishment. This is a big deal for helping habits stick, and helps you be realistic about all the hard work you are doing.
If you are unclear about a movement, look it up (Check out my YouTube Tutorials Here). There are lots of resources online that allow you to make sure you have good form. Always work up to adding weight or making a movement less stable. Good form comes first.
- Dead Bug – Lying on Back (supine) bring knees up over the hips, bent at 90 degrees. Stretch arms out above your shoulders. Lower one foot and the opposite arm to the ground. Lift and repeat on the other side. Work to keep the abdomen strong and the lower back pressed into the floor. To make it harder straighten leg as you lower the foot, and then increase difficulty by hovering the leg and arm just above the ground before lifting back up.
- Alternating Crunches – hold medicine ball in hands, feet high/above hips. Lift the shoulders off the ground as you bring the medicine ball to the outside of one thigh. Alternate sides
- Full Stretch Sit-ups – place medicine ball between feet on the floor, knees bent. Sit up and grab medicine ball, roll down bringing the medicine ball above head to the floor with straight arms.
- SuperMans – laying prone (on your stomach) on the floor, stretch your arms out in front of you. Lift one arm and the opposite leg off the ground. Alternate sides
- Locust Lifts – lay prone with arms outstretched above your head. Lift both legs and arms off the floor at the same time. Hold briefly and lower.
Medicine Ball Plank Set
- Stability Plank – place both hands on the medicine ball beneath chest. Hold in high plank position for 30 seconds. Rest. Repeat.
- Medicine Ball Pike Rolls – Place both feet on the medicine ball. Lift from the hips and roll into a pike position. Return to plank position.
- Quadruped (on all fours) Crunches – Lift and extend one arm and opposite foot. Stretch to move the hand and foot as far apart as you can while keeping the core tight, belly button pulled up to the spine, and hips level.
- Reverse Table Top Hold – turn over, place hands behind butt on the floor, fingers pointing away from the body. Feet flat on the floor knees bent. Lift hips up and try to flatten out front of body. For extra challenge aim to straighten legs and point toes or place toes on the medicine ball and hold for stability up level.
YOU DID IT!! Now that you have finished the “work” portion, it is time for flexibility training. Spend some time stretching all the muscles you worked – in this workout, it’s full body so give all your major muscles a good stretch. Then grab a good post workout snack. Together these get your muscles ready for tomorrow’s movement and make sure you are ready to meet your goals.
Words of Caution …
Please make sure to follow your body. Do not push through pain. Discomfort/Challenge are different than pain. We want to challenge ourselves we do not want to hurt ourselves. Find the level that is right for you and move at that level. Make sure to choose weight and stances that support your body style – if you have to use the wall to do your push ups do that, if you need a chair or a bench use those. Make sure you are doing what you need to do for your body type and current personal level of fitness.
As always have a fun living in your body today!
Want to feel more engaged in your life? Finding your personal flow by examining your patterns and being open to change.
As we move through change it can be helpful to track and notice patterns. In the tracking we find how we build our personal flow. What works, what does not. From here we can create ways to build more flow into our daily routines. Check out this post for help tracking your patterns and organizing your life changes.
This awareness lends itself to offering you more opportunities to bring flow into your life, thus creating a positive cycle to make your life more engaging and interesting to you.
And wallah … you begin living a life in flow more often than not.
How are you doing outlining your new habits? Are you tracking habits you want to break? Here’s a cheat sheet to help you focus and make change happen in your life. Download the worksheet below
Want a breakfast that looks great, tastes good, and is easy to prepare? It can feed just one or two people or a whole bunch of you. If you don’t want to share save the leftovers for lunches or future breakfast meals.
I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.
- Butter or other cooking oil – olive or avocado oil works well here – enough to cover the bottom of your pan
- Scrambled Eggs – 6 to 12 depending on the number of people eating and how big your pan is.
- optional: Milk or half and half for scrambling
- Broccoli – 1-2 crowns
- Shredded Carrots – 3-4 large
Garnish Items – if you want:
- Shredded cheddar cheese – enough to cover the top of the fritta.
- Amount will depend on personal preference and size of the pan.
- Sliced grapes tomatoes, pico de Gallo, or salsa
The Cooking Part …
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In an oven safe pan, melt the butter in the pan over the stovetop.
- While it melts dice the onions and garlic.
- Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter.
- Chop the broccoli into small pieces, eliminating the hard parts of the stems, and shred the carrots.
- Amount of carrots and broccoli will depend on your preference and how many eggs / people you are feeding.
- You want enough to have the fritta feel hearty but not so much that it drowns out the egg.
- Add broccoli and carrots to the butter, onion, and garlic.
- Cook on medium to low heat until the onion is transparent and the broccoli and carrots are soft, but not withered looking. About 5-10 minutes.
- Scramble the eggs and pour over the mixture and cook until the egg sets up.
- Transfer pan to the oven until the egg is cooked through. The top begins to set.
- Add cheese if you want and return to the oven. Place on high broil for 5 minutes to melt the cheese
- Top with the tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado
What to serve with …
All sorts of breakfast foods – toast & jam, fried potatoes or hash browns, fruit, breakfast salad, juice, coffee, tea.
This meal will keep in the fridge, it is also great as a left over for lunch the next day or you can freeze and reheat as needed for future breakfast meals.
So many people bite off more than can chew when it comes to habit changes. They know the big goal they want to accomplish but it is too big, too overwhelming and they never start or stop too soon to see the change happen. Don’t be that person. Just start small and keep going.