Making the most out of your time – skip ahead to: Week/Weekend

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Okay, so I took a little more time off from writing than I had expected. To be honest I think I was still on beach time! We had such a wonderful vacation the other week that I had to jump the series to talk about all the relaxing things that we did that I could share with you. We made the most out of our vacation and time off, which is really what it’s all about. It’s not a “vacation”, if you spend the majority of the time on your phone, checking emails, making work calls, etc. News flash — everyone needs a vacation! Your brain has to have the time to reset itself from all the hustle and bustle of your everyday life, which is what this series is all about: finding the time to reset, to get back to your best.

You know it’s time for a real vacation when you get lost in time, meaning you don’t know where family time starts, where work time starts and stops, or where time for you starts. If your brain is feeling like a jumbled mess and you’re finding it harder and harder to control the impulse to just shout at the next person who walks in your office, or, eek!, your bedroom – then let me be the first to tell you…

YOU NEED A VACATION!

Not sure what to do, or where to go, to get in that much needed R&R? We took our rest and relaxation to the beach, but really it’s all about soaking in what’s around you – being a tourist for a moment in your own city/or another city and taking in the sights, smells (the good ones, at least), and opportunities to have fun that the place you choose has to offer.

Here’s a list of 6 enjoyable activities we did while on our week getaway that may give you some ideas for your next planned escape.

  1. Walk everywhere. What I loved most about our beach vacation was that we hardly ever used our car! Now, for some of you who maybe live in New York or a big city where you basically walk everywhere, every day, anyway, this may not sound so fun. But it’s a different feel when you are “strolling” along the streets to go to dinner, grab some ice cream, visit the local stores, versus rushing to get to the subway, running across the street so you aren’t hit by cabs, etc. Living in a rural area outside a big city (which I do love by the way) makes for some long days in cars. So having the opportunity to get outside and not have to fight with the littles to get in their seat and “hurry, hurry” so we aren’t late for this appointment or that, was so freeing!
  2. Get ice cream. And I mean REAL ice cream, not fro-yo, fake, soft serve ice cream (no offense to those that enjoy that), but real ice cream – the kind that melts in the cone and leaves your hands sticky and smelling like candy for the rest of the day, kind of ice cream. Oh, it was SO good!
  3. Visit the local stores. Now, if you’re like my husband, you may only see “crap that we will throw away once we get home or will just clutter my house” (got to love that man!). But for me, it took me back to my childhood to see my oldest son, who’s only 4, looking at all the beach animal figurines, and the beach toys, in just awe. He thought they were the coolest things, and of course wanted everyone he saw, and it just reminded me of a more innocent time in my life before adulthood happened with all of its responsibilities that come with it. It reminded me to enjoy the little things, and don’t get so bogged down with having to rush through life’s moments.
  4. Get a pedicure/manicure. I know; you can do this any day. But something about getting the pedi/mani while at the beach made it that much more enjoyable. I think it was because I didn’t feel like I was having to squeeze it in between a lunch hour, or running between getting off work and going to the grocery store.
  5. Play. We played in the sand, in the water, in the house. We just took the time to be with the kids and enjoy the fact that we didn’t have to run around to this practice or school or work. We built sandcastles, mud drip castles, buried each other in the sand, looked for seashells, and went night searching for crabs with flashlights. We just played with no sense of time or worry about being late for something.
  6. Make a checklist of activities you want to do beforehand, and do them. You might not be a planner, and if you aren’t, don’t make this a stressful list. But if you’re trying to make the most out of your time, especially with kids, lists can be helpful and make the trip more enjoyable. About two months before we were heading out, I had made a list with my 4 year old little and told him to think of all the things he would want to do while we were at the beach. This was mostly so that I knew how to keep him busy so I didn’t have to listen to the “I’m bored” whine while we were there. He made a list of 35 different things he wanted to do! They included the things I listed above, along with others of course, and we took the time to make sure we did each and every one of them. The delight on his face that we had made this special for him was all it took to remind me of the things that are important.

I bet some of you have fantastic ideas that you could add to this list, and I’d love to hear from you! You can either comment below, or send your thoughts to me at jchristopher.healthymind@gmail.com.

Get out there and start planning your next R&R escape! Happy relaxing everyone!

Making the most of your time: Part 2 – 15 minutes

Put down those dirty dishes! Stop dusting/sweeping/mopping; just stop whatever mundane activity you have gotten yourself into that is not creating a relaxing, joyful, and exciting thrill for your life.

Are you done? Ready to read on? Okay! That’s what I’m talking about J

As you can read again in my “Part 1 of Making the most of your time- 5 minutes”, everyone has to find the time for joy, happiness, and relaxation in our crazy, busy lives. Stop right there! No excuses; remember! Yes, I know that as a mother/wife/working mom myself, the dishes have to get done at some point; the clothes need to be washed so my child isn’t wearing 4 day old pants, again (not that I would EVER do that); the floors have to get swept and mopped; yada, yada, yada. This is not a post to keep you from the things that make our lives run, but it is to remind you that without pleasure and enjoyment in our lives, we start to get bitter, angry, and just an uglier version of ourselves.

You don’t want that? Good! I don’t want that for you either. I want to help you find a distraction, or distractions, that gives your mind something else to focus on long enough to let relaxation settle in. And from there, it is more work to get your mind back on what upset you in the first place. Honestly, who needs, or wants, MORE work? Through these different posts, I’m hoping you can find something that you find time for your in life, even if it is just for 15 minutes, which will bring you back to your spunky, fun-loving, and awesome-self again! So read on to see if something will spark and ignite your reason for wanting to have more out of your life. Sometimes all it takes is a little R & R.

If you have 15 minutes alone –

Pick up a magazine

Not a tablet or your smartphone, but an actual magazine. You remember, the ones with the pages that you can touch and thumb through that doesn’t require a swipe of your finger. Yeah, that one. Read that article you saw on the front page that caught your attention and that you swore to yourself, “The next time I get a break, I’m going to start my planning my bedroom romantic escape that the article promised me I can do in under a budget of $100.” Hey, you can make that work, but right now, the point is to sit down and READ the article.

Detoxify

You know those posts that you read on Facebook from “friends” that drive you crazy, make you angry, or just make you think, “Really?!” – delete them from your feed. I’m not saying delete them from your total social media life, but if this is not a person that you have constant contact with, then take them off your news feed and see if you even really miss all their negative and aggravating posts that they put up on Facebook. And if you don’t, then maybe they weren’t the best for you life, anyway.

Hello, Yoga

Yoga does wonders for you mind, body, and soul. When muscles are tense and stressed, it causes added stress to the brain, leading to negative and more anxious thoughts in the mind. But the opposite effect is also true – relaxed muscles, lead to a calmer mind and more positive and constructive thoughts. Yoga can help you achieve a healthier mindset, whether you are a beginner or an expert, you can practice these moves here to achieve full relaxation and more energy in as little as 15 minutes. Try here if you need some guidance: http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/seated-yoga-poses-that-will-work-wonders-on-your-health/?ref=pin

Podcasts are amazing

Podcasts can inspire you, make you laugh, get you thinking about your life, etc. And there are so many different kinds of podcasts, or TED Talks, whichever you prefer. You can even create your own, just to express something that made you happy, angry, etc. in as little as 15 minutes (even if it’s not something that you share with the world). The point, here is, just letting your emotions stay bundled up inside you doesn’t help anyone, and it really doesn’t help yourself chill. If you aren’t sure where to start with communicating feelings and thoughts, listen to a Podcast that teaches you about assertive communication!

Take a nap

Yes, I give you permission to zone out and rest those beautiful eyes! But notice I have put this under the 15 minute relaxation blog post. Research suggests that a nap up to 20 minutes can invigorate us and re-energize us to finish out the rest of our day strong! But any longer, and of course the research starts showing other effects – more grogginess, irritation and all those pesky feelings we were trying to subdue by taking a nap! Um, yeah, we don’t want that.

Play a game of Solitaire

With actual playing cards! If you can’t remember how to play without the computer, watch a quick YouTube video. Playing cards helps you to lose focus of what has you angry, annoyed, upset, whatever that is not relaxed feeling, and allows your mind to wander to just focusing on playing a game.

With your partner –

Reminisce

Studies have shown that reminiscing can bring all kinds of lovely feelings pouring in about the good ol’ times! And who doesn’t love to think back on all the fun we had when we were younger and could actually stay up past 8:30 PM! Take the time to remember all the things that brought you two together. And if that doesn’t get you feeling good, look below…

Afternoon delight

So you have 15 minutes and the kids are napping, or away with grandparents/sleepover/etc., and you are looking for some alone time…yeah, I think you can figure this one out 😉

With your kids –

Exercise

Now this is not going to be your body sculpting, hard core workout that you would get in a gym. This is more let’s-pretend-we’re-a-snake type of fun and entertaining workout for you and the kids! I do this with my oldest little (he’s 4) and he asks me to do it when I forget to ask him! I let him choose 4 exercises that we do, and then I try to get him to do 1 or 2 of mine (like pushups or crunches, something easy) to demonstrate some real exercises for him. It gets them interested in exercising and gets them thinking creatively for what exercise they want to do next. And we all know how great exercise is for the brain!

Play a board game

There are some easier games that really only take about 15 minutes to play – Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, etc. And if your kids are too old for these games, show them a fun card game, like Go Fish, or even Rummy. I love games, so I will always use any excuse to sit down with my kids when they ask me to play a game. They think it’s for them, but really, it’s for me!

Take the dog for a walk

Again, it’s all about getting away and soaking up some Vitamin D. If you get so involved in the walk and talking to your kids that it’s been over 15 minutes – who cares! And KEEP GOING!

Make a blanket fort

If you have never made a blanket fort and have no idea of what I’m talking about, you have not lived! I always loved throwing any blanket I could find over the back of the couch and the back of chairs to build a fort where I could run in and just read a book, or play with my dolls, whatever I wanted to do. And I always thought that it was the coolest thing. Now, my kids do, too! Even the 2 year old! And having fun and sharing something with them that I used to do as a kid, relaxes me every time.

Side note – I am on vacay this week, so I will be trying to stay away from electronics as much as I can. You will likely not get another post until I return, and maybe them I’ll have some other fun relaxation tips to share from the trip!

Have a safe and relaxing week, everyone!