Recently, I took a much needed vacation after a grueling semester of what seemed to be endless reading, weekly assignment deadlines, quizzes and exams. One would think returning to school 14 years after receiving an MBA would be a piece of cake but a piece of cake it was not. I was overwhelmed in the beginning but gradually fell into a pattern of keeping my schedule eventually devoting the majority of my weekends to study. Returning to school was a huge sacrifice for me, but one well worth it in the end.
I decided months prior, I would travel somewhere, anywhere, because my birthday coincided with the end of the semester and what better way to celebrate Phase 1 of my Accredited Financial Counselor Certification and my birthday than taking a trip. I decided on the Dominican Republic. The history is rich and the beaches are beautiful. What was significant about this trip was I traveled alone, and in doing so, I had time to think, to ponder my life, its direction and my purpose. I can’t do that in the city. Too much “white noise.” The irony of it all was I had to travel out of the country to “find myself.” I know. It sounds cheesy and so cliche’, but it’s the truth.
Spending time alone while away allowed me to look deep within. I discovered what I want in life, what truly makes me happy, and the stillness provided much needed direction. Not that I hadn’t pondered these things before, but there’s a certain comfort that comes with walking alone on the beach, the sand between your toes, the crescendo of the breaking waves and the breeze gently caressing your cheek allowing your mind to expand and your thoughts to flow freely. It seemed to be an epiphany, the “Ahh Ha” moment Oprah Winfrey makes mention of. Suddenly everything became clear to me. And then all was calm. I’m confident I returned from my trip not a “different” person, but a “better” person, if that makes any sense.
Obviously, it isn’t necessary to travel out of the country to take time for self, so until you’re in a position to do so, here are a few suggestions that may help:
- Consider a “staycay.” Tell your husband/wife (s)he’s on “Mommy/Daddy Duty” for the weekend/day/night or drop the kids off with your mother/mother-in-law and run away from home. Check into a nice local hotel for the weekend in your city or if possible, opt for a change of scenery by driving to a neighboring city. Austin, TX is my “go to” city. No television, no phone. Just you (and room service if possible.)
- Create a space in your home free from all distractions. This could be a closet or a small room in your home. Create a tranquil environment with candles and the soothing sounds of soundgarden/spa music. Draw the blinds, close the door, relax, free your mind and find your center.
- Meditation/Yoga. I’ve always admired how people are able to close their eyes and block out everything, no matter where they are. It takes serious concentration and mental ability. Yoga is also a great way to a healthy mind, body and spirit.
- Appreciate beauty. When was the last time you visited your local arboretum or took a long stroll around the park? Consider a hike at your local reserve. The beauty and appreciation of nature can have extensive healing powers.
Employing some or all of these tips can help you relax, re-center, and recharge. Each requires very little effort or money and is worth your peace of mind. And trust me, when you have peace of mind, you’re free.
~Andrea Coleman (The Financial Hack) ©2016
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