7 May 2012

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A holiday without taking time off

When we are working hard or finding ourselves stressed over work and other responsibilities, we often day dream about going on holiday and having lots of leisure time. Unfortunately, we want a holiday when we are least able to take one: when you have to work extra hard to pay back debt, when you have a new baby, when you want to earn a promotion or when you just feel run down but nothing specific is draining you.

 In How to Reclaim the Lost Art of Lingering, Courtney Carver says that by choosing to reprioritize and by enjoying the little things, you can bring the feel of a holiday to your everyday life. On holiday we forget about time and we do things slower. We cook food and dine at restaurants instead of nuking something in the microwave and eating in front of the TV. You come back from holiday feeling rested and being able to concentrate better. The lesson seems to be that when you are not focussing on doing everything, you can focus better.

But how do you begin to live like you are on holiday? Luckily it requires little effort, but making the decision to take it slow takes some getting used to. Instead of looking forward to the weekend so you can lie on your couch the whole day and finally just do nothing, find ways to re-energize yourself now. Lingering means being less focused on the distractions around you, but focussing on what your surroundings can do for you. It’s taking control of your time by not filling up every second of it.

This may seem like a bunch of contradictions, but when put into practice, it makes a lot of sense. When you open your eyes in the morning, don’t think of all the things you have to get done and check your phone or PC. First, look outside your window. Wake up earlier so you can make breakfast that is nutritious and sit down and eat it. Making more time to eat well is something all of us can benefit from as fast food and fatty, high sodium, low nutritional value convenience food is not only expensive, but contributes to many health problems in the long run.

When you have breakfast sorted, dress to make yourself happy and feel comfortable. When you rush you often get out of the house without realizing your shoes pinch or your top is too tight to go with the pants you are wearing. Dressing well also contributes to self-confidence and being comfortable means you can enjoy life more. For lunch, don’t grab something from the vending machine to wolf down. Instead, go out with a colleague for lunch or meet a friend somewhere. This is what a holiday is all about: taking your time and making time for the things that you enjoy.

If buying lunch is too expensive, pack your lunch the night before or before work and sit somewhere quiet where you can unwind, preferably surrounded by nature. Studies have found that after people were surrounded by nature or just an environment that looked and sounded like the outdoors, they could focus better afterwards and had a better memory. This will prevent that after-lunch slump where you keep looking at the time and can’t seem to sit still.

When you need a pick-me-up during the week, instead of looking forward to lying on the couch that weekend, plan something to do that is a break from the routine of your weekday life: see friends that aren’t in your immediate vicinity, go somewhere you’ve never been for a day even if it’s a park, a garden or a different part of town. Seeing new things makes us feel like we are on holiday and experiencing the slow things in life. Don’t rush and don’t plan out your whole day: allow for surprizing things to happen or to do something new on a whim.

Image courtesy of SashaW

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