When Is It Time to take a Break?
By Art Ramsay

 In the Western world, busyness is the lifestyle. From the time we step foot in our first kindergarten class, or whatever it is called in your society, we are kept busy. Does it really have to be that way? If we view the rest of the world, that is, outside of whatever part is left that is not 'Westernized', we find a quieter, slower lifestyle. Most of the world was that way once; it can be that way again. The so-called 'industrial revolution' is what sparked this change, and our lives have quickened ever since.

 Is a busy lifestyle harmful? You bet it is, and in many ways. Not only is it damaging to your body's health, it is ruinous to your mental and emotional health as well. Oh but it does not stop there. It destroys relationships, splits families, and wipes out the possibilities for creative endeavors. Then why do we do it? There may be many perspectives as to why people allow themselves to be drawn into such a destructive way of life, but my answer would be that it is for power and status, which, for most people, means a need for more money. For many, it is also a perceived lack of security, thus money is needed to overcome this fear.

 Busyness is not going to go away soon, and many of you reading this article may feel stuck in the routine you have chosen. Even people, who are 'retired' from their lifelong careers or jobs, can remain very busy. But there are ways to loosen the tethers that seem to bind you to the life you are living. Many people throw up their arms and proclaim, "I don't have a choice, I am stuck." You always have a choice; even to say you do not have a choice is a choice.

 So we begin the process with baby steps to take away the other common excuse of "I don't have time." Each of us has the same 24 hours of what we call 'time'. Since our lives run on this process, we can make choices about how these hours are used. Everyone's use of time is different in some ways, and the same in other ways. But I will reiterate that how these minutes and hours are used is a choice; make no mistake about it.

 The first step then is to choose to slash a few minutes from your 'normal' routine to do something different. Something 'different' may take on many viewpoints for each one of you, but choose something that relaxes you. The time and place may vary. For example, there are people that choose to recite affirmations or listen to life-affirming speakers, while driving to work or sitting in traffic. It can be that simple.

 Other examples, depending on what you are doing at the time, are:

  • take a short walk
  • sit in a quiet place and relax
  • connect with nature
  • hum a tune
  • smile, laugh, tell a joke

The suggestions above should get you started. The next step is to vary what you plug into your new practice and to increase the number of times it is done throughout your day. Let's say you stop before you rush out the door and do a few yoga stretches, then on the way to work, you listen to something that relaxes you. During lunch, you take a walk, at the beginning or end of a long meeting you take a few deep breaths and relax. And so on. Beginning to get the picture?

 Once you have managed to sprinkle some relaxing processes throughout your day, consider a longer term 'downtime'. If you work a five-day week, what do you do on weekends? If you have a day job, what do you do in the evenings, or on your time off? Raising a family may seem like a fulltime job, especially to a working mom, but it does not have to be; it takes planning and commitment to yourself. You are not helping your kids by running yourself down physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.

 You must take some time away from your daily activities, whether it be a job, business, raising a family, or attending a school/college. Life is not about a career, or running a business, or even raising a family. Life is about living it fully by first paying attention to who you are as a spiritual being and following your dreams. Everything else has been thrust upon us by those who have chosen to try to control the rest of us in a myriad of ways.

 When you have a day or two, or even more, get away from your current locale and visit somewhere different. It is very helpful to leave the energy where you maintain a busy lifestyle, to somewhere that has a calming environment. Even though I have been retired from my engineering 'career' for a number of years, I seem even more busier then when I was raising a family. Although I live in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina (as I write this), I still desire time away from my home environment. My chosen place to "get away from it all" is the ocean. Dee and I go there three times a year and hang out in a timeshare at the beach.

 Taking your family (here meaning 'kids'), with you when you 'take some time off' may work for you, or not. Consider this seriously before you choose where to go and whether to go alone or take the family. Forget the societal guilt trip BS about being 'selfish' and do what will give you the needed rest and relaxation you are seeking. When you get there, wherever 'there' is, turn your cell phone off, and leave your computer at home.

 When you get away from your daily dose of job, family life, and other routines, if even for minutes a day, you will feel a difference in the way you respond to those routines. The situations in your life may not change, but a more relaxed, peaceful you will respond to them in a very different way. This is what you want to strive for in your 'quiet' moments. This is the result of taking the breaks discussed in this article. So the answer to the article's question is ..... whenever possible.


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