We’ve made it. It’s March 1st, meaning we only have 19 more days until our calendars remind us that it’s the first day of Spring. It already feels like Spring here in Texas and I’m completely in love with the beautiful blue skies and warm, sunshiny 75 degree weather. I don’t handle Winter well, so I rejoice every year when the temperatures start to warm up and the air feels new again.
With all this warmth and Spring right on the horizon, I’ve been daydreaming about picnics in the grass and days sitting on the beach and weekend afternoons napping in my bed with the curtains dancing to a lovely breeze. It just feels right to be wrapped up in the great outdoors after so many months of closed windows and dry air pumping out the heaters and long pants and fuzzy socks.
And with this seasonal change, which is my favorite of the year, I feel compelled to remind you that you need to take a break.
This Spring, you may need to sit outside without your cell phone buzzing at your hip and think about your life with an open mind. Are you doing what you want to be doing? Helping who you want to be helping? Is your life fulfilling? What do you need to change?
You may need to curl up on a rainy day and listen to the drops hit your windows and contemplate how precious this one life you have is, how beautiful the people you know are, how miraculous the moments have been. You may need to cultivate a posture of thankfulness without the TV screaming loud or social media screaming louder.
Can you take a day or two off of work? Can you get away for a night, go to a hotel downtown or a friend’s house and let your mind and body rest? You may need to taste some new food and laugh with someone you love and leave the to-do lists and projects and payments and future plans at home.
You may want to watch something grow. Go to your local garden shop, pick up some seeds, and plant them. Take care of those seeds, water them, put them in the sunshine, watch as something grows from nothing. Remind yourself that great big things come from small beginnings.
Do you have weekend plans this weekend and the next and the next and the next? Can you cancel them? You may need to take an entire weekend to dance around your house in your pajamas and cuddle with your dog. You may need to sleep in late and take a long run and bake a big batch of brownies because isn’t that why you run anyway?
It could be time for you to step outside of yourself. Find somewhere to volunteer locally, and pour your time and energy into caring for other people. Put your worries and concerns and up-all-night-spinning-thoughts to rest by gaining perspective. This allows for soul-rest.
I don’t know what speaks to you, but I do know this: you need to take a break.
You need to allow yourself unapologetic time to rest. To feel grounded. To feel alive. The work of life is hard, it’s draining. It’s driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic and paying bills and showing up to work in itchy pants and uncomfortable shoes and trying to push through tough relationships and staying strong and putting on a patient front when you want to scream Why isn’t THAT happening for me? and it’s going to bed too late and waking up too early and pacifying the pain with technology and it’s a lot and it’s hard.
It’s likely that no one is going to put their hands on your shoulders and tell you that it’s time. So I will, across our screens. It’s time to take a break. You need to take a break.
So think about one now. For this Spring. Take out your calendar and schedule a break. Or three. Or seven. If you can afford it and you want to, go away for a night or two, even if you stay in your own town (“staycations” are sometimes the most fun of all). Getting out of our daily environments is extremely refreshing. If you can, take off of work for a few days. Make plans if you want, but think about a clear, unscheduled day to unwind and breathe and eat what you love. Go outside this Spring. Sit in the sunshine and feel the wind wrap you up. Take a book to the park and read for hours. Find someone to take walks with a few evenings a week.
Don’t allow yourself to buy the lie that going-going-going is equal to success. Because who really wins when you’re worn out physically, emotionally drained, spiritually empty, and mentally exhausted?
I know Summer is coming, and lots of us have getaways and vacations planned. But listen: we can’t live our lives for a one-week getaway each year. This is not healthy. This is not practicing self-care. This is not showing up as our best selves to others. We need to build breaks in to every season, every month, every week and even every day if we can.
(To my mama-readers who don’t get breaks and can’t just “take off,” try thinking outside of the box. Could you and a girlfriend take turns babysitting so that each of you could have dates with your husbands? Could grandparents watch your babies for a night so that you could sleep in a bed you won’t have to make? Could you take a long bath once a week? Could you and your littles plant a garden together? I’m not in the season of motherhood yet, but I want you to know, you’re my heroes. If you can find a way to take a break, do it. You deserve it.)
Life isn’t a sprint; it’s a long, long, (long) marathon. We all have to learn when it’s time to step back and the wise ones know to schedule time to step back ahead of time. So do your future self a favor this Spring: make time to take a break. You need it; we all do.