I recently read an article in the Atlantic about the importance of many short breaks rather than only taking long vacations every so often. Basically correlating brief repeated experiences with having higher value than a few extended breaks. Taking regular time to nurture ourselves and our relationships, rather than only doing so sporadically, makes sense.
While on vacation I took a break from my journaling – my morning pages. Every day I write three pages first thing to pour out all of the persnickety and intrusive thoughts, day dreams, and ideas that percolate in my mind over night. Once the ideas are out of me and on the page I can process them, determine how I want to proceed, and move on. They’re no longer bouncing around in my head like a bucket of pingpong balls dropped on a gym floor. They are now in the shape of a list. Or simply by writing my emotional labor of processing is complete and I am able to release the anger, frustration, or whatever energy was attached to those thoughts.
My vacation was necessary and important but it was also exhausting. We were outside, on the beach, and in the sun for several days. We walked everywhere, splashed in the surf, and crashed into bed each night by nine. Did I mention we were also sick? It was a beautiful experience but also draining. And even not writing my pages, while it was a break, it gave me the feeling of being stalled out despite having a full tank of gas. My energy was devoted to making dinner plans and chasing children to wipe runny noses. And in the midst of that joyful and somewhat restive chaos I ended up getting sick too.
My take-away from this experience is that we waited too long to take our vacation. We pressed ourselves so hard and for so long that we were all run down and exhausted by the time our trip came. We needed more short weekend breaks in the middle of our work – what the British call a, “mini-break.” A night or two away in the country, something different to break up the monotony and try something new. We need more joy and sporadic rest throughout our regularly scheduled lives, not just on a special occasion.
The lesson is hard-won but a necessary and worthy understanding. As I nurse this illness with doctors appointments, teas, and rest I am also grateful that it is reminding me of this very important lesson. To take time for myself to heal, to savor and enjoy life. It is not the vacations that are our only highlights. We need more magic in our every day lives. Sharing and celebrating with the people we love most yields the most wholistic, healthful, and delightful results.
Tonight, I think we’re going for ice cream, we have sore throats and need a little joy. The first day back to work and school after a trip is a hard one. I think we deserve some sweet treats and a little love in our days. I hope you find a way to bring some sweetness into your own day today too! And plan more small vacations not just big ones!
It’s also good to remember we can always vacation at home – taking a break for recovery doesn’t always have to mean travel.