If there is one thing we can all agree with, it is that we all love to go on vacation! Why? We enjoy the adventure of traveling to a new place, sights to see, foods to taste, and most importantly just being able to escape from our normal life responsibilities… or to be more specific, the stresses of them. The most important benefit of vacationing is allowing our physical, mental, and emotional states to de-stress and recharge from the wear and tear of work/family/personal life. Let’s face it, we all need a vacation on a regular basis. If you’re not taking at least a week off every 3 months, it’s not a regular basis.
Sadly, for many the time to vacation isn’t coming anytime soon and stress continues to build up, which continues to take a toll on their body and mind. Eventually, that results in burn out, and now they are running on an empty gas tank. It doesn’t stop there. After living off on an empty gas tank for long periods of time, the body and mind start to rebel, screaming out for attention through symptoms like: fatigue, headaches, back pain, re-occuring colds/flu, acne, weight gain, loss of short term memory, and so much more. What’s even more sad is some will ignore the symptoms and develop what we commonly hear of as chronic pain and just accept it as a “normal” part of life. If a person accepts this as “normal”, then I would be brave enough to say they have accepted the unnecessary life sentence of a slow physical/mental/emotional death… and possibly even much faster.
If you are one of the folks I’ve just describe above and taking time off anytime soon is just not going to happen, I understand and share my compassion because I was once there. I hope that a vacation is on your to do list sometime this year, but in the meantime you can still give your body and mind a vacation by following some easy steps for 10 days. Why 10 days? Well, it will take you at least 3 to 5 days just to get used to and stop resisting doing the practices (sort of like a withdrawal period) and the rest of the days to really start to experience the physical/mental/emotional benefits. Some people will experience them sooner. Be kind to yourself and trust the pace your mind and body wants to go at.
Before you begin Day #1, look at your calendar and start scheduling in when to do some of the steps. That way you won’t forget. Enjoy this 10 day adventure and have fun!
Here we go. 5 practices to do everyday for 10 days. To get the optimal experience, please don’t skip any of the practices:
1. Pick at least 2 or all the items of this list to avoid:
a. Sugar (i.e. candy, pastry)
b. Soda (including diet and energy drinks)
c. Coffee (if you do drink, treat yourself to only a cup a day minus the sugar)
d. Fast foods and Refined starches (i.e. white/wheat breads, pasta, white rice)
f. Alcohol (a glass or 2 of red wine during the 10 days is OK)
Eliminating these items will give many of your organ systems like your liver, adrenal glands (gas tank), and even your brain some time off to recover from the ongoing stress they create. Your body will be more useful when it can function more optimally. Instead, eat lots of vegetables, good sources of protein (ie. poultry and fish), fruits, nuts, sparkling water (some come flavored), tea, brown rice. Try to avoid deep fried anything.
Make sure to eat breakfast (include protein), and eat something every 3 hours to get your metabolism going and fuel tank filled throughout the day. The rule of thumb with water is drink half your weight in ounces, but if you’re nowhere close to that, slowly drink 1 more cup each day of what you are drinking and build it up from there.
2. Take a break from all of the following:
a. Watching/reading/listening to the news
b. Watching any shows or movies that have too much violence or are really depressing (i.e. Horror, War)
c. Playing video/digital games (Wii fit is OK!)
If you usually spend 30 minutes playing games or watching the news, then spend that 30 minutes, instead, watching, reading or listening to anything that is inspiring, empowering, soothing, or calming. This will give your mind a break from over stimulation, and it can help you to boost your mental stamina!
3. Spend at least 5 minutes laughing. I highly suggest you go to YouTube to look up funny videos (i.e. Laughing Baby). Laughing has been proven to be physically and emotionally beneficial!
4. Write 5 things and people in the day you’re thankful for and why before going to sleep. Make sure to include at least 1 thing about yourself that you are thankful for. This practice of gratitude really deepens our appreciation for life and is nourishing to the spirit.
5. Spend at least 5 minutes (10 is ideal) in complete stillness and silence with your eyes closed.
You can focus on your breaths
If thoughts come and go, don’t fight or try to get rid of them
Search the web for 5 minute meditation or breathing exercises for more ideas
As soon as you complete Day #10, take a few minutes to write down what positive changes and improvements you have experienced physically, emotionally, mentally, and maybe even spiritually. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you didn’t experience drastic changes. That just might mean you may have to practice these steps longer than 10 days or even make some permanent. At the very least, it would be excellent to do this 10 day practice every few months to give your mind and body a vacation if you don’t have an actual one planned.