The Six Rs

One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Let me explain.

We have a tendency in this 21st century world we live in to work hard. Play hard. Do just about everything at breakneck speed.

We’re always on the go.

In fact, sometimes we get so caught up in the frenetic pace of our everyday lives – doing this, remembering that, dashing here, getting there  – that we forget why it is we’re doing it all. Sometimes we lose sight of what is truly important to us.

Vacations have long been the time when we tell ourselves we’ll get our act together. We’ll rest our weary, sleep-deprived bodies. We’ll catch up on reading that book or two we’ve been meaning to read, or start that much-needed exercise program.

Perhaps we’ll go somewhere. Do something. Start something new.

Whether it’s for a weekend or a few weeks, at home or away, we all have a tendency to place great expectations upon our hallowed vacation time. We fret about the weather, hoping that our precious downtime won’t be marked by rain and/or uncomfortable temperatures.

We may look forward to seeing exciting new places and doing interesting new things, yet desperately pray the crowds of similarly minded folk will magically disappear.

We might attempt some incredible feat, hiking or climbing or biking our way out of our daily doldrums.

We may choose something quieter, perhaps getting back to nature at the beach, in the mountains or anywhere in between.

We might get together with family or friends. Or just get away from it all.

And sometimes we just close the door, unplug the phone and the computer, and curl up in bed for a day or three.

It really doesn’t matter what you do, or where you are when you’re doing ‘it’ (including nothing), as long as you feel you are breaking your regular routine and doing what I refer to as the Six Rs.

Relax: First and foremost, we need to unwind. We need to set aside our requirements and ‘to do lists’ and goals and worries. This is often easier said than done; getting more sleep certainly helps. (Ah the restorative powers of a few good naps!) Regardless, a conscious effort must be made to take deep breaths and slow ourselves down. Then lather, rinse, repeat.

Restore We have a tendency to assess how good our vacations are by what we did, where we went or how deeply we felt (e.g., amazing, excited, exhilarated, etc.). I would argue that we need to either simplify or expand (your personal choice) our definition of ‘good’ to include achieving mental and emotional equilibrium.  I think most of us know intuitively when we are a little ‘out of whack’, and it definitely feels better when we are in balance.

Rejuvenate No true ‘vacation’ does the trick unless it helps us feel as though we’re back to a fresher, newer version of ourselves. Look up the word rejuvenate and you’ll find something along the lines of ‘becoming younger or young again’. We’re not talking eye lifts and botox here, but the freeing of our spirit. Think about how it feels to do a cartwheel, jump rope, swing on a swing, go for a swim or ride a bike for the first time in ages. It’s about feeling young(er) again, not necessarily looking younger. Yet when we feel that way, our muscles relax and we do tend to look better.

Reboot Relaxing is what we do when we rest and unwind. To reboot is more along the lines of resetting oneself, giving ourselves the gift of starting anew. Just as we reboot our computer, we’re getting rid of the flotsam interrupting and wreaking havoc with our basic operating system. You don’t go back to a blank slate, but back to the fresh start of your own system.

Recharge Even as we’re resting, relaxing and rebooting, we need to slowly rebuild our physical and emotional energy stores. Some people recharge by taking up a new activity or learning a new skill; others do it by reading an inspiring book or having an enlightening experience. You may jump-start your flagging exercise regimen, introduce cross-training, or make some much-needed dietary changes to feel more energized.  

Reconfigure Finally, time away from  our usual patterns (in conjunction with the five aforementioned Rs) helps give us insight into changes we want to make. We gain perspective on what’s working and what isn’t, and why. Whether it’s an adjustment to our daily routine, a change in job or career, identification of a new goal, elimination of unnecessary clutter or a reprioritization of how we spend our time, most of us return with a change or two that we want to implement for a more satisfying life.

Taken together, the Six Rs do work wonders. When we relax, restore, rejuvenate, reboot, recharge and reconfigure, THAT is when we can truly say we’ve had a great vacation.




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