Remember how it felt on the last day of school, waiting with bated breath for the 3 o’clock bell to ring. The hammer hit the dome declaring freedom like the ringing of the Liberty Bell, broadcasting an end to the tyranny of the classroom to students everywhere. “Go forth and taste the glories of summer vacation!” it rang. Remember the thrill of knowing that for a whole summer you could rest and turn your childhood attention toward fishing, camping, exploring, playing, traveling, and the all important “doing nothing”? Freedom, Rest, Enjoyment of Life!! That was what summer was all about.
By definition, a vacation is “a period of time devoted to pleasure, rest, and relaxation.” Statistics show that many U.S. workers do not even take a vacation anymore. Those that do, often run themselves harder than when they are at work or take their work with them – never really breaking for rest. Somehow we have lost sight of the importance of resting – the need for relaxation and pleasure. Maybe we have forgotten how, or why we need to rest. There can be times when it seems like taking a break is impossible. Finances or responsibilities leave us feeling trapped. The truth is we can’t afford NOT to take a break – to rest and feed our souls. What are the benefits of jumping off the hamster wheel anyway?
We can look at all the logical work related benefits like studies that report increased productivity when people return from restful holidays – studies showing that people exhibit increased creativity and motivation after being well rested and away from the workplace. But those are things that generally benefit your employer. What about the benefits for you personally?
In short, there is scientific proof that taking a break from work has a positive effect on your health. A medical study published in 2000 showed that taking vacations is associated with longer healthier life. In fact vacations, rest, exercise, and leisure time all appear to provide a healthy shield from the adverse affects of stress.(http://healthfinds.blogspot.com/2006/12/why-vacations-are-important.html) We are not made to push ourselves so hard. We were made to live a balanced life.
Look at nature. How does it work? Everything around us shows us that life is best lived in seasons. There are healthy balanced cycles that nature follows which give way to life year after year. What if we started to look at our lives like that? Generally, Americans tend to think in a linear way. There is a beginning (birth) and an end (death) and our job is to cram as much in between those two points as possible. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is the attitude of many.
Nature, however, functions in cycles. There are seasons of growth and production and seasons of slowing down and resting. Even on a daily basis there is a cycle, but we have abandoned that. With artificial light, television and the internet available round the clock, we have forgotten the cycle of natural light and dark. We cheat the system, and in turn cheat ourselves.
In the fight for Goodness, we know that the whole process begins by bringing Goodness into your own life. We encourage you to seek Beauty, Trueness, Love, and Life-giving things everyday because a healthy whole person is more able to pass on Goodness to others than someone who is neglecting themselves. Here are a few things we want to encourage you to think about when you consider a vacation or how to improve your rest.
- What kind of vacation would rest you and give you time to pursue things you love to do?
- What kind of vacation would promote bonding and community within your family?
- How can you plan more opportunities to rest? Start small and work up to longer breaks. If you are limited by circumstances (for instance, a single mom with no support) then find simple things that give you rest and feed your soul. An hour with a good book can be a mini vacation.
- Can you think of life-giving activities that would enhance your sense of peace and rest?
- Can you give yourself permission to take a break and begin to look at life as it is – seasons and cycles rather than a finish line?
Ponder how you would really like to live. What kind of schedule would you really like to keep? Get creative and find small adjustments and changes you can make to add rest and rejuvenation to your life. You are worth it, but you will have to make it happen. No one will pull you off the hamster wheel. Remember the joy of childhood when summer came and you were free? Give yourself permission to be free again – to rest your heart and mind. It will be Goodness to you!
A “Good” Idea:
What steps can you take to add rest and rejuvenation into your life? Make a specific plan for several small breaks, even if they are simple. Look for Life-giving things that will re-energize you.