We all can remember when we were children and the anticipation of having the summer off to do as we pleased. Whether we went anywhere special or not, that time of not going to school and attending classes all day was considered "VACATION."
I like to call those memories our "Childhood Summers."
It was a time before we were old enough to have a job, and still naive to the responsibilities that lie ahead. These were days unencumbered by any plans that gave us space to simply be...and perhaps the time to dream, explore our inner-selves and learn who we are.
Today we are the adults in the room, and that sweet freedom of our childhood is a distant memory. American workers today take less time off than most other first world countries--by a long shot. In Europe, it is mandatory to take 6-8 weeks off a year. That's a far cry from the 1-2 weeks many of us usually manage to squeeze out of a calendar year...and yet we STILL somehow manage to feel guilty about even just that!
The great outdoor philosopher John Muir had this to say about it - “I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.”
That "news" we are now learning is that this work ethic costs us more than we realized. Getting back to nature actually can be measured to show that it results in marked changes in the brain, and significant decreases in negative emotions. In other words, getting away to a place where you can really relax may be vital for your mental health.
A recent Stanford study finds that simply "walking in nature yields measurable mental benefits and may reduce the risk of depression." When we lose our feeling of being alive by spending too much time working, it is easy to lose track of those simple things that brought us joy. Other scientists even write that a trip to the beach enables us to reset our entire body clock simply by hearing the timing of the waves. It puts us back in tune, so to speak.
Here's a suggested personal remedy to get into the right frame of mind when you do get away, and perhaps even for those times when you're still "here" but need your mind to go "there."
Close your eyes and remember the feeling you had on that last day of school and those first few days of total freedom. Don't think about the things you did, but just focus on how you really felt at the time, and bask in that sweet feeling of the memories that wash over you. Realize that even if it's just for a short while, you don't really need to answer to anyone but yourself. Now just be...
As an old television commercial used to say, "Try it, you'll like it." For just a moment, have yourself a fabulous trip back to yesteryear, even if it's just in your head. You might even find yourself trying this more than a few times...I hope so.
Best of the Best,