How are you living your summer months? This is the time of year that many people travel, kick back and visit the beach, find themselves in or on water somewhere, or in a tent in the woods. Does that feel indulgent to you?
We are encouraged to always be producing in some way or another in our culture and if not, we open ourselves up to being “productivity shamed.” So much value is placed on results, that the process it takes to get to those results is way undervalued. And there goes our life, because it truly is the journey and not the destination that matters most.
When we are constantly focused on producing, we bring feelings of guilt and disparaging words to describe ourselves like lazy, worthless, or time-waster. This renders the time off that we do have as not at all time off, with no space for replenishment. Instead we are cruising social media with a neurotic fear of missing out.
A healthy balance of living is an oscillation between stress (hopefully good stress) and relaxation. True relaxation is allowing oneself to step away from any “should,” “have-tos,” or “to-dos,” and really give yourself the gift of space in your day – or half day, a day, a week, a month, or a summer – where you can daydream, take in the beauty that surrounds, allow new thoughts, deeper thoughts to bubble up and meander around in your mind without seizing on them to make into a fully formed idea. Doesn’t that sound refreshing?
Successful farmers know that the fields must lie fallow after a season of robust growth in order for nutrients to be restored in the soil. Constant replanting depletes and drains the soil, rendering it useless for future crops. And so it is for us.
To really embrace respite, relaxation, rejuvenation and renewal as part of the whole cycle of living, even of living as productive beings, means to push back against and set boundaries around the constant habitually striving voices that come from within and without. To own our responsibility in creating a balanced healthy life for ourselves, not one dictated by work culture, the culture at large or family conditioning.
Taking back our autonomy to choose what we want, what is best for our continued care and feeding, is the best gift we can give ourselves. And it is the best gift we can give our loved ones as we model healthy balanced living and are able to kick back, have some fun and be totally present with them.
Take the time to feel the summer breeze on your face, the warm sun penetrating your skin, the joy of real relaxation on a carefree summer day – it’s all here for the taking, you just have to choose it.
Diane Ingram, PCC, is a Coach, Coach Trainer, Workshop Facilitator, and Speaker for Personal and Professional Development. She is a regular contributor to Pawling Public Radio and the author of five books. To learn more, visit DianeIngram.com online.