With quotes from Angela of http://www.spaceandtimeconsulting.com/

Maternity leave is NOT vacation – maybe it’s just the opposite!  However, it is a time out of ordinary life, and it’s made me think a lot about the ways in which we take (or don’t take) vacation breaks.

We have these set intervals in which we mark time – days, weeks, months, years, etc.  I’ve started thinking about creating little vacations in each one of these time periods as a healthy way to ensure I’m releasing stress on a regular basis.  I’ve asked yogini Angela from Spaceandtimeconsulting.com to chime in a bit about how to create “vacations” regularly for yourself.

DAILY – Studies show that when you work in short bursts, and have some non-work breaks throughout the day, that you’re actually more productive!   Sitting at your desk for hours at a time is bad for your back, your eyes, your heart, your bladder, AND your productivity! When you’re working or studying, you will be most focused on the first and last tasks in your burst.

So, having many mini study/work sessions in the day will help you retain more information and get more done.

Good 1-10 minute day breaks:

  • Get up! Stretch and dance, and take some big sighs. Don’t surf the web.
  • My favorite mid-day yoga that’s easy to do in an office: shoulder stretches! Examples include: eagle, cow, and yoga mudra.
  • Close your eyes and smile at the stillness and silence!  Or listen to some soothing music.
  • Do you need a bio-break?  It’s amazing how we can lose track of the fact that we need to use the bathroom, or that we need to drink water.

“I couldn’t agree more with this!  Often people think of time for themselves needing to be in large chunks of time, but throughout the day if you insert little spaces of time for yourself you will still benefit immensely!  I know sometimes guilt creeps in, but if you think of it as taking care of yourself it puts it into a new light.  The saying of putting your oxygen mask on first before helping others is really the key here!”  -Angela

WEEKLY – The weekend is something we shouldn’t take for granted – we worked hard and earned some rest!  The weekend is basically the ancient idea of the Sabbath – (at least) one holy day of rest each week, to honor the creative lifeforce.   You can’t keep creating if you don’t take some time to renew!

Good weekend ideas to renew:

  • Get thee to a yoga class at *least* once a week.  Please give yourself the gift of a full yoga experience, from warm-ups right through to savasana.   For most of us, that means going to a class where we don’t have to think about what’s next – the teacher will guide you, and you enjoy the journey.
  • Spend the day outside (on the beach or hiking for example).
  • Spend a day with friends (seeing a movie and going out to dinner).
  • Make an excursion to a place you haven’t gone before – a museum or park that you’ve always meant to go to.
  • Spend a day on the couch or porch reading a book (avoid TV most of the time!).

“I love this because it speaks directly to how we choose to spend our leisure time.  I choose to do yoga during my breaks because it is one of those activities that is packed with all around benefits for your well-being.  It encompasses physical, social, emotional, cognitive and spiritual domains all at one time and as Barrett stated, taking the journey with a teacher is a real gift. I find yoga is perfect for getting myself into a state of flow.

In that same vein, not all activities are created equal.  I love that Barrett said avoid TV most of the time, because it really is low on the activity index for benefits to your well-being.  I challenge people who feel they have time constraints to do a time-diary study to see how much time is spent watching TV.  It’s often one of the biggest chunks of time in peoples’ diaries.  If you can cut that out of your schedule you’d be surprised at how much time opens up to do activities that are really meaningful to you.” -Angela

MONTHLY – Inevitably, you’ll have some days and weeks where you didn’t give yourself a little vacation from the grind.  Every month, I try to look at my calendar and see what’s coming up that I’m really looking forward to.   Almost every month, there is a holiday – for example, we’ve got Labor Day coming up.   I’m trying to use those holidays, or special visits from family and friends, as a way to more consciously build in relaxation.   If you are someone who likes weekend getaways, aim for one a month to recharge you.   Finally, if you’re really a yoga aficionado, there are weekend intensives every month in Boston with top teachers ready to help you dive in!   Try a few of these every year – they will take your yoga practice to the next level!

“This idea of looking toward the future is great.  Having positive things to focus on and plan for keeps you moving forward, and also helps you to put the current moment into perspective.” -Angela

YEARLY – Our last cycle of time is the year.   Take a real vacation every year, for at least a week!   Every winter, I make the commitment to go someplace warm to get the chill and the gray of the winter out of my system.  Also, my partner and I try to plan a vacation every few years that’s a big one – to a special place in the world (Israel, Europe, someday to India), and we try to go for a longer stretch of time.   These things help keep us feeling alive and connected to our sense of adventure.  I try to do a yoga training once a year to keep my skills sharp and my spirit renewed.

Carving out some restful time, in small and large increments throughout your days, weeks, months and years, is so important.  It relaxes you, and also helps you reset back into enjoying the moment.  Most of us don’t do this enough.  It’s counterintuitive to think that we’ll actually get *more* done with more time off.  But it’s true – and you’ll enjoy it all more as well.

“I would love to see Americans shift their values to create a culture where we are not only expected to, but encouraged to take time off from work. According to a 2010 Expedia.com survey, only 38% of Americans said they take all of their vacation days!  We can begin to change this one person at a time, one day at a time, and one moment at a time.  How do you begin to carve this time out.  What would it look like?  What choices would you make?  What activities would you choose to pursue?  I am happy to give you a free phone or email consultation to help you get started!” -Angela

See you on the yoga mat for your daily vacation!!