Now that summer has officially started, you are probably thinking about, or even planning, a summer vacation. If you don’t have the time to take a real vacation, you might find yourself getting more stressed and sad that you can’t take one. However, the longer days of summer sunlight and the warmer weather mean that you can still take time to relax and unwind without going on a “real” vacation. Here are some ways to clear your mind by taking a “mental” vacation without having to wander too far from home.
Go for a walk or a hike. As I have written here many times, one of the ways I clear my mind is by walking. Walking is not only good for me physically, but I find that it reduces the stress and any sadness I might be feeling. It gets your endorphins going, and by being out in nature you get to focus on the beauty around you. Without even realizing it, you have refocused and gotten your mind off of the things bothering you. This is especially true if you walk in a new or different place, it feels like you have actually gotten away.
Have a music marathon. When I was away at college, our library had soundproof rooms that you could reserve and LP’s and cassettes you could check out. Whenever I was feeling stressed out, or studying for mid-terms or finals, I would go there, pick whatever music matched my mood, or the mood I was hoping to get in and I would spend hours just listening to music. I could listen completely undisturbed and just focus on the music. While my life is much too busy now to do this, incorporating music into my life whenever I can provides me with mini mental breaks. While in the car I listen to my iPod or satellite radio, whenever I am in the house I put music on instead of TV. Singing along is an added stress reducer. And, whenever possible, I just go in a room by myself or even sit or lie outside under a shady tree and listen to music.
Host a comedy movie festival. That old saying, “laughter is the best medicine” really is true. There’s nothing like a great, big belly laugh to make you feel better and forget all of your troubles. Get your friends together and plan a night of it. Have them choose some of their favorites and make sure that everybody turns off or puts away their cell phones and tablets and just focuses on the movie.
Plan a game night or day. Getting in touch with your inner child will clear out all of the negative thoughts and get rid of the stress you are feeling. Try to schedule monthly game nights or game days and play some of your favorite board games, card games or word games. If you want to plan something a little more ambitious, arrange a play “date” with your friends and family and go miniature golfing, bowling, or to a local amusement park.
Unplug with nature. Take the time to connect with nature and unplug. Sit in your garden or go to a garden, go star gazing on a warm summer evening. If you live near the beach or a lake, go and listen and watch the waves as they hit the shore. Just observe the sights and sounds of summer and you will feel like you had a vacation.
By Judi Gerber
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