Know When to Give Yourself a Break

It seems these days we face pressure on every side; all day, every day. There is always something that needs doing, someone you need to call, errands to run, a job to go to, attention to a significant other, kids, grandkids, pets, hobbies (if indeed you get to do them), and so on. There is the pressure to stay in shape, eat the right foods, drink more water (and stop using plastic bottles because we are polluting the planet with plastic), save the whales, the manatees, the tigers, the polar bears, the spotted owl; save the this, the that and the other thing.

There are the everyday tasks with which we saddle ourselves, too–don’t forget to floss and brush our teeth, get yearly checkups, take our vitamins, and mend those slacks that have been stuffed in the back of the closet since–when?? Oh, and then there’s maintaining the house, apartment, condo, townhouse, etc.–vacuuming, dusting, polishing, the laundry, the dishes, re-organizing the cupboards, filing the papers in the office, updating our computers, keeping up with emails, paying bills, getting the pets to their regular vet checkups, and the list just goes on and on and ON.

So–how do we get off that daily treadmill of duties, deadline, commitments, responsibilities, and just keeping our noses above water? When do we get to relax, have some fun, sit on the porch in the sunshine, paint our toenails, read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk, and just breathe? How about we spend a bit of time saving our own sanity?

The great gift of getting older has a way of making us slow our pace and take stock of things. We realize we have more years behind than ahead, and we have learned that a hurry-hurry-hurry lifestyle can often do more harm than good. Oh, I’m not advocating giving up on everything and sitting around the house eating chips and watching “As the Stomach Turns” all day.

Look  at the humble battery. It has a definite lifetime, and when it starts to go, it goes fast. One day the batteries in our flashlight work, the next day, they don’t. Life is like that, only it doesn’t come with a manual or a guarantee.

So that said, how about we fit some time in each day if we can to just–BE? As for our homes—the dirt, like the poor, will always be with us. As for our lives, they are meant to be lived fully, happily, joyously, and WELL. There is no shame in taking a break to recharge our bodies, minds and souls. It is a scientific fact that you cannot pour water out of an empty cup; you must fill the cup first.

In our case, we need to make time to fill ourselves with joy, happiness, comfort and appreciation–even if we can only spare 60 seconds. Right now we are in mid-summer—the long cold and snowy winter is behind us, and the days are warm and soft. There is birdsong to hear, flowers to enjoy, deep green leaves on the trees to shade us from the heat of the day, and we can walk barefoot in the grass.

Here is my recipe for a good break: fix yourself a cup of whatever you prefer; coffee, tea, lemonade, a shot of tequila (hey–no judgement!), grab a book and go sit somewhere that is lovely and quiet. Listen to the birds, especially cardinals, who have an unearthly lovely range of songs. Slip off your sandals and wiggle your toes in the grass. If there is even one flower nearby, get up and take a sniff. Then sit down, enjoy and just BE.

However long you take, this will nourish your soul, body and mind. And no “shoulding!” Do NOT say to yourself, ‘oh, I should go in the house and do—‘ Stop right there. You are entitled to a break or two each day. Don’t let this incredibly beautiful summer go by without enjoying and appreciating it.

NOTE: I am saying this as much to myself as to you. ENJOY!

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