I Dare You to Take Time Off

Do you ever take time off for yourself? No, I’m not talking about a family vacation at the lake or the beach, although that can be fun. I mean taking time just for you, to relax, release and recharge. Time where the only thing you’re in charge of is yourself. Do you do this? Have you daydreamed about it? What does it look like?

For me, the ideal solo spot is a cabin by the water with a stack of books and journals and some food that’s nourishing but quick and easy to make. Or perhaps some Indian food delivered to my door.

Your idea of time out might involve walking the busy streets of a thriving city and shopping in an open-air market. Or being fully nourished in a spa resort. Or simply a quiet hotel room with a big bathtub, hundreds of TV channels and good room service.

Whatever it is, can you book that time away, today?

I know, I know – if you’re a parent or caregiver, plus you run a business or work a 9-to-5 gig, it can be challenging to carve out time that’s yours and yours alone. But the thing is, it’s those of us with the jam-packed schedule who need a break the most.

Contrary to the beliefs of mainstream culture, time off – completely off, with your phone shut down and laptop closed – actually makes you more productive. Your mind and body need time to rest and integrate. Living a go-go-go lifestyle gets old, even for those who thrive on stress and deadlines. You need a break now and then.

August is the ideal month to take time off. It’s a season when many people are away on vacation, so it’s expected. It’s common to take family vacation trips before school starts up again. I’m not suggesting you forego one of those, but can you add a weekend or a few extra days just for you? Extend your booking and send the rest of the family home while you stay and savor the extra time in nature.

Find a couple of days during the week to do a little mini-retreat at a hotel or Air BnB. You don’t have to go far from home – but do make sure everyone knows not to disturb you unless it’s truly urgent.

What will you do with your time to yourself? That depends on your preferences.

If you’re looking for ideas, here are a few suggestions:

Make it an Artist’s Date.
This is a concept from the wonderful book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Take yourself on a solo date that will stimulate your imagination. Go to a museum or to a movie. Do some people-watching. Take in a concert. Window shop. Let your senses be delighted.

Go out to lunch or dinner by yourself.
Does that sound uncomfortable? It doesn’t have to be. “Eating alone by the window in a quiet restaurant is one of life’s greatest secret pleasures.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Get out in nature.
Put your bare feet on the ground. Watch the birds. Sit and observe a body of water and the waves or ripples that move across the surface.

Go to a yoga retreat or other guided event.
Sometimes it’s more restful not to have to figure out what you want to do. Pick an event with a theme that calls to your soul and immerse yourself in the experience. Let yourself be led.

Ready to travel?
Find a cool tour to join.
You’ll have the safety and stimulation of traveling with a group of other people, but also your own room or cabin to retreat to when you want to be alone. Your time away can be as elaborate or as simple as you desire.

Even if the longest time you have is a couple of hours while the kids are at day camp, take it! The laundry and errands can wait. Go for a walk at the park with your phone in the car or on silent. Take some pictures. Sit on a bench and just daydream.

I dare you to plan some time off just for yourself this month. Who knows? You might love it so much that you make it a regular thing.

Happy vacationing!

Nikki Starcat Shields is an author, writing coach and leader of transformational writing retreats. She's also a licensed Pagan priestess. She invites you to a process of unfolding creativity. The world needs your unique wisdom - now is the time to finally take your inspired book idea and bring it forth into the world. Learn more at NikkiStarcatShields.com.

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