TAKE A BREAK

by Sari Roth-Roemer, Ph.D.

When was the last time you stopped and did something just for you? Yesterday? Last week? Good for you! Last month? Last season? Last year? Uh-Oh! I’m here to tell you that taking a break just for you is NOT a luxury in life, it is a necessity. You don’t have to fly to a faraway destination (although that would be a lovely gift to yourself), but you do need to stop, breathe and focus on meeting your own needs on a regular basis. If you don’t, you may just end up paying a price.

We are very busy people; it’s true. “I don’t have time to exercise. I don’t have time to sit and meditate. I wish I did.” Have those thoughts ever come to your mind? You aren’t alone. So many of us wish we could hit the pause button on the ever-moving treadmill of life and relax for a while. Guess what? You can. That “pause button” is in your mind. If you make the choice to push it, to make it a priority, you will reap the rewards. The problem is convincing yourself that you’re allowed to, that you have time for it.

When you were a kid, what were you taught about taking time off to play with a friend or go on vacation with the family? What were you taught about taking time for yourself to do something creative or read a book? Was it encouraged or were you taught that those things were less important than chores and “real” work? The things we learn early in life are lessons that stay with us unless they are brought out into the light of day and examined for what they are… childhood lessons.

What’s good for you when you’re 10 years old and under the direction of your parents is not necessarily what is still good for you as a capable adult. Some of it may be, but some of it may actually now be blocking you from moving forward. Obviously most of us know this intellectually, but are you fully aware of the automatic recordings that are playing in your head: “I don’t have time for that;” “I should be spending my time on something worthwhile;” “It’s more important to take care of others first.” Without paying close attention to what you’re saying to yourself, when faced with choices to take care of yourself, you’ll miss out on a valuable opportunity to update these childhood scripts to better serve the adult you.

By now you’re beginning to see the trick of it; of course what you say to yourself about taking time off is what makes the difference. As always, it’s all in your perspective. If you tell yourself it’s not okay to do something, then it’s not okay and you won’t do it. Time to start taking creative license and rewriting those childhood scripts that have been stopping you without you even knowing it.  Instead of “I don’t have time,” you can redirect yourself to “I’m looking forward to how good it will feel after I spend 20 minutes doing a yoga DVD.”  Or, “If I take time to take care of me, I am really taking care of those I love because it keeps me healthy and well.”

An important piece of this, of course, is finding balance. We’ve all heard the “All work, no play makes Jack a dull boy” platitude. But we also know that all play, no work isn’t the solution either. I’m talking about planning opportunities to slow down, relax and enjoy – not necessarily in equal amounts of time but doing it intentionally and on a regular basis. What happens if you schedule time to meditate or read for 20 minutes before bed, walk 30 minutes in the morning or practice piano or guitar for 20 minutes in the evening? What happens if you treat yourself to a massage or plan a weekend getaway? Your heart and your mind will sing, your body will stay healthy, and well, and you’ll perform better in all areas of your life…that’s what will happen! I mean it; when you stop allowing the soul to express itself and stop the body from moving regularly, you shut down parts of yourself, inhibit your personal growth and put your health and well-being at risk. Yuck! Who wants that?

So now’s the time. Are you up for it? Think of what you’d like to spend a little time doing to make yourself feel good, smile at the thought of it, give yourself the thumbs up, and GO DO IT! Don’t forget to breathe and enjoy while you’re at it!

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Sari Roth-Roemer, Ph.D. is a medical psychologist and director of Intuitive Psychology.  For more information, visit www.intuitivepsychology.wordpress.com.