It’s OK to take time off.
Like actually shut off your phone and computer and live your life in a more analog (dare I say, more human?) way. For an hour, a day, a week, a month.
Modern life values doing. Here in the U.S. businesses say two weeks of vacation should be all you need. But that doesn’t by any means mean that’s what’s good for your body or soul
So recently I’ve been taking a break. Scaling back. Doing less. Traveling more.
After near-religious blogging regularity for over a year, I took the past two months off. It wasn’t intentional. I didn’t say “two months.” I just said “I need a breather” and my breather lasted that long.
I’ve also had extremely satisfying blocks of time offline by going on two week-long trips. One was to Joshua Tree and mostly offline. The other was to my beloved Wilbur Hot Spring and was completely offline. The result? Awesomeness.
I got to slow down. Be outside nearly all day. Spend hours watching animals and clouds do their thing for “entertainment.” Sleep as much as I needed. Eat slowly. Savor books. Feel my mind and nervous system calm down. Re-connect with my inner knowing. Remember how long a day can feel and how expansive it is to look up at a clear sky without light pollution that’s filled with stars.
I also remembered what pace allows me to stay calm and connected to my body – which is significantly slower than my usual pace. And how fulfilling it is to move with what feels good in the moment, instead of letting monkey/planning-mind lead me around all day.
In our regular lives we’re plugged into screens, tasks, doing, movement, and machines much of the time. If this isn’t done with intention, and balanced with much that feeds the other parts of us, the effect can be a mind that’s overstimulated, a soul that’s under attended to, and a body that’s depleted.
Time off – whether it’s a delicious week off or one, regular and well-enjoyed hour each day – is soul-food. It’s deep nourishment time. It’s a time of rebalancing where we can plug INTO our bodies, our souls, our dreams, and calm our over-taxed minds. It’s a way to come back to center, gain perspective, create harmony with parts of us that have been living separate (and sometimes conflicting) lives, and hear the parts of us that get drowned out by the buzz of daily living.
Spain in one of my favorite places I’ve traveled to so far and in 2002 I spent the summer working in Ibiza. I lived on the Italian, French, and Spanish side of the island and sometime near the end of July it seemed like the entire country of Italy showed up. I was fascinated and learned that Italians take the whole month of August off! Imagine how different you might feel if you lived in a country that valued time off in this way!
Here’s the thing: our environments deeply effect us.
The cultural imprints about what it means to be productive and successful, and what you need to do to survive, work their way into you and shape your thoughts, motivations, lifestyle, and health. We can develop acceptance about what is ridiculous (eight hours a day in front of a screen and two weeks off a year, for example) and unwittingly slump into a state of learned helplessness where we stop asking for what we need because everyone else seems to be able to handle it.
My guess, if you’re reading this post and/or this blog with any regularity, is that you hear a calling from your soul, your creative spirit, your heart, and/or your body saying, “Come back to me.”
If you hear the whisper, do it. Create your own environment, turn off your phone and computer, and give yourself the soul-time to do what nourishes you.
30-minutes a day. One afternoon a week. A weekend each month. A weekly trip once every two months.
I will be right there with you carving out moments to feed the spirit.