How To Take Time Off (and mean it!)


We all lead busy lives and some of us have a niggling habit of relegating time off to the bottom of our priority list. Others try to cram a year’s worth of relaxation into two weeks of paid vacation, only to de-stress just in time to go back to work.

You know what I mean, right? You worry about what could happen at the office when you’re not there, how your family can possibly survive without you for a weekend or the latest gossip you’ll miss on Facebook.

Perhaps if we spent more time establishing restorative habits in our daily lives, we’d feel continually happy and nourished, instead of desperate to get out of dodge.

There are ways that we can rest and relax each week, if we set the intention to actually do it. Here’s how you can take time off and truly mean it.

  • Unplug. We’re surrounded by technology and sometimes, it’s a stressful tether as opposed to a productivity tool. Take some time each day to unplug from all your devices and take a walk, have a cup of tea, or read a book (an actual paper one). You don’t need to disconnect for hours at a time to feel refreshed – even 20 minutes to yourself can help you recharge your batteries. If you’re feeling brave, you can try shutting everything off for an entire weekend, or you can set a goal to work up to a weekend of unplugging.
  • Unwind. When you’re not working, enjoy leisurely activities that take your mind off the office and nurture your soul. Love cooking? Whip up a new, creative dish. If you adore exercising, hit the gym or a hot yoga class. If you’re too busy to explore your hobbies on a weekly basis, even short bouts of meditation can help you greatly reduce stress, inflammation, pain and anxiety.
  • Schedule downtime in your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself and treat it like any scheduled meeting, task or assignment. Plop restorative blocks into your schedule and stick to them. You might find when you take these breaks you’ll feel more motivated to tackle the work-related areas of life.
  • Focus on the present. Don’t ruminate over what happened last week or worry about what challenges might surprise you a month from now. Focus on savouring your time away from work. What are your senses telling you? What can you see, taste, smell, feel? Observe what is happening in the present moment, whatever you’re doing.
  • Relax with the people you love. Time away from work isn’t restorative if you’re trading work drama for personal politics. Spend your downtime with the people you love; the friends and family who accept you for who you are, make you laugh, offer interesting conversation and don’t pressure you with constant demands.

Sondi Bruner