I just returned from a much needed vacation and I’m completely blissed out. Some vacations leave you feeling tired or more stressed than when you left, but others just seem to do the trick. On this particular vacation, I spent lots of time watching the desert bloom and soaking up some warmth that’s been missing in Minnesota for the past six months. This vacation took, and I’m feeling mellow.
Not only do I feel relaxed, but I’ve also spent a little time thinking about how to extend this feeling, or more importantly how not to get so overwhelmed and uptight in the first place. Obviously, the fact that I didn’t work for the past ten days certainly helped. In Chinese medicine, one of the causes of disease is overworking, which encompasses not only physical labor, but also working or studying long hours without adequate rest or recovery. However, the therapeutic properties of a vacation are more than just the absence of work.
I frequently ask my overwhelmed patients what they’re doing about their stressful lifestyle. Unfortunately, many of the sugested fixes involve doing something more; something that takes time, which can actually be…a little more stressful. So rather than committing to take another Yoga class or to meditating regularly, here are some simple things that made my vacation work. I will continue to do these (and so can you) to keep the vacation buzz going:
- Unplug. This includes TV, internet, i anythings, and phones that act like computers. When I’m done for the day and on weekends, I am going to remove myself from the Ethernet.
- Eat outdoors. There is something luxurious about eating al fresco. Whether it’s a sidewalk café or your own backyard, have a meal outside. This will soon be possible in Minnesota without needing long underwear.
- Exercise for fun. I took lots of hikes in the canyons outside of Tucson and remembered what it felt like to exercise because it was fun and felt good—not because I was trying to make amends for overeating last night. Also, moving your body also moves your Qi (energy), so find a fun way to move your booty and go do it.
- Sleep more. It took a couple of days, but I finally got into the groove of sleeping all night and taking a little nap each day. It felt good.
- Get in touch with nature. The natural world is the foundation on which Chinese medicine is built. Connecting with nature puts you in the moment and in touch with the divine.
- Be okay doing nothing. It’s calming.
- Read for pleasure. I get so busy with work that I’ve forgotten how relaxing it can be to read just for the sake of reading.
- Leave work at work. I plead guilty to working way too hard. When I leave my office for the day, my plan is to be done working. Period.
- Spend time with those you love. There is more to life than just passing each other on the way out the door in the morning. There is nothing better than sharing a meal, a hike, sitting outside, or just hanging out with your people.
This is my plan to extend that vacation bliss without signing up for classes or deep breathing. I’ll let you know how long it lasts.