As those of you who follow my blog closely have noticed, (not assuming there is any such person of course but according at least to my analytics tool there are a FEW of you who do tune in that aren’t part of my immediate family or circle), this is my first post for about a week now. I just returned from an admittedly too-brief vacation that involved some family time, catching up with old friends, and a much-needed getaway with my girlfriend. During that time, I promised myself I wouldn’t check into work, I would leave my phone off except for using it to tell time and direct me to the nearest restaurants (does anybody wear a watch anymore anyway) and take some time away from technology overall. This included a break from the blog, which despite being my life’s number one passion project, I felt was necessary to break from.
This post is about the importance of taking such breaks. Too often in our lives we allow our focus to be shifted from what really matters towards what society tells us matters. Since returning to work this morning I have somehow managed to spend 6 hours responding to emails, updating reports, joining calls, and catching up on all that I missed. That is just work. I have also probably checked my social media no less than 10x, likely more as I so often to this compulsively with no real need, and as such I have spent a quarter of my precious day feeling totally out of control in my own thoughts and actions, welcome back to the world we live in today.
Luckily, I was able to regain some perspective thanks to my time off. While that vacation already feels like a distant memory, I was able to walk away with some valuable feedback for myself. This was the first time in over a year where I had taken more than 2 consecutive days off from work, as well as the first time that I had been able to go more than 48 hours without spending a considerable amount of time scrolling through my phone. Even though I now find myself back in the chaos that is our normal world, I feel better for having had the time off and am able to recall my thoughts, feelings, and emotions during those few blissful days and carry them as a reminder on how I should conduct myself moving forward, now that I am back to reality as it were.
The first observation I have from my brief time off was perspective on the importance of quality time with special people. I was able to spend the first few days and nights enjoying my parents’ company, and catching up with old friends, two of whom I was lucky enough to watch get married and share in their happiness. The remaining nights were spent exclusively with my girlfriend enjoying some time at the beach together. While I wasn’t able to see EVERY person who mattered, I was able to spend time with a few of the people on this earth who truly do mean the world to me. Though they teased me on my visit for referring to them in this blog as “aged” I will reiterate again, despite their objections, that the reality is that my parents are old and that we may have precious few moments left to truly enjoy our time together. It isn’t only them, just this morning my girlfriend spoke to me about some discontents with her current work-life balance, or lack thereof and her desire to be more present around home, as despite our relative youth, even we truly have no idea how much quality time the two of us will enjoy. Taking a break from work, and from technology reinforced the importance of quality time to me, and allowed me to truly enjoy some of said quality time with memories that I will honestly cherish for as long as I am able to hold thoughts. If I had not taken time off from work, or made a commitment to put down the cellphone, this memory would be tainted, or at least obscured and devalued because of the distractive nature of work and social media stealing my attention and preventing me from fully appreciating where I was at that moment.
The second observation was how pleasant it was to be able to fully control my own thoughts. A normal day for me, like most of you I am sure, involves checking sales bookings reports several times a day, immediately responding to every email, checking on my blog views, making sure my fantasy-football lineup is set and more. The beauty of this time away was twofold: that I got to focus instead on the person I love next to me, to relax on the beach listening to the sound of waves, to enjoy watching nature in motion seeing the seagulls, the crabs, dolphins, and turtles about their daily lives and more; plus – none of the aforementioned daily distractions suffered in my absence. My sales bookings trended upwards despite me not refreshing 3x a day, my emails didn’t get answered immediately but no harm was done, the blog stayed up in my absence, and most importantly, my fantasy football team did win (and even if they hadn’t, would it really have mattered)?
The point is that so much of those concepts I just referenced often feel like they are of pivotal importance to our existence when in reality they couldn’t matter less. The beauty of taking some time off is that it enhances your opportunity to bond and connect with the people who matter, and it allows you the time to appreciate the beauty of your existence, your harmony with nature, and to not feel your mind torn in dozens of directions.
It isn’t just the news, social media, or work that can be a distraction or add pressure to our lives. I will admit, I even enjoyed a break from this blog. This blog is a great source of joy in my life but at times I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to deliver content. As such, it can occasionally add stress to my life. While I love doing this and I sincerely hope that it benefits others, my first priority is and always will be to myself, and if I can benefit myself with a miniature break, then that is what I must do, and that is exactly what I did.
I do realize that not everyone has the luxury, and luxury it is, but if you are able, I highly encourage you to put your “normal” life on hold, taking some time to connect with your loved ones and taking a moment to care for yourself without the noise. I don’t believe you will regret it, and your happiness and overall wellness should be dramatically recharged.