What do you do to “get away from it all” when getting away isn’t possible? How do you leave your cares behind when they constantly surround you? How do you make time for yourself when you never seem to have enough? None of these questions is necessarily easy to answer, but all of these questions can and should be answered if your job–or your life–stresses you out.
My favorite getaways (when actually getting away isn’t possible) often involve faraway lands if not faraway worlds. I love jumping headlong into fantasy series or films–or simply fantastical thoughts–to immerse my mind in another time or place. By doing so I find myself, if only for a chapter or the span of a movie, ensconced within a conjured world. Am I really getting away from it all? No, not really. Are my cares really left behind? No, they’re not. Do I always have the time to enjoy these pursuits? No, I don’t. Now, if I only attend to these “no’s,” I gain nothing from–and lose interest in–my escapist endeavors. However, if I understand these “no’s” and still allow myself to be moved, to be “careless,” and to take time for myself, I usually am able to find the stress-relief and -recharge I need.
I also don’t stop with books and films. I’ve imagined emigrating abroad, and have even filled out the forms, because the idea fascinates me. I’ve taken naps to momentarily escape from the conscious world because I enjoy the tranquility of sleep. I’ve assumed the identity of a movie star or a CEO or a time-traveler if only in thought, because I love carefree playfulness. I’ve even escaped into the lyrics of songs, because I love being transported by melody.
What does all of this have to do with you? Well, my best guess tells me that you, like me, live a life filled with stress. If you’re one of the few who lives a relatively stress-free or “stress-controlled” life, then more power to you and please share your secrets with the rest of us! To everyone else, I’m encouraging you to regularly take time to relieve and recover from your everyday stress.
If my thought-based ideas don’t resonate, imagine ones that do. Consider what relaxes you, what takes your mind off of things, and what your are able to make time for. I intentionally included imagination-based examples to point out that time and money need not be obstacles. Similar ideas (that don’t necessarily require much time or money) include listening to relaxing music, imagining a luxurious vacation, doing some calisthenic exercise, or taking a long lunch break. Other ideas involve yoga, meditation, bowling, or enjoying a meal out.
Takes minutes or hours–whatever time you have or can make–and choose a time-appropriate activity. What’s most important is that you enjoy whatever it is you choose to do, that it doesn’t involve focusing on or rehashing whatever it is you’re escaping from, and that you’re relaxed and mentally engaged by the activity or inactivity you choose. Enjoyment naturally counteracts non-enjoyment that is created by stress, and relaxation and mental engagement naturally minimize tension and mental overload that most often accompany stress.
At this point you might be disappointed because I haven’t talked about hatching a real escape plan? After all, if your stress is specific to work, you may only be less stressed in another position if not another workplace–in which case escape means changing one or both. If your stress is specific to home, you may only be less stressed in another relationship if not another locale–in which case, yet again, escape may mean changing one or both. If stress-related personal or professional change is something you have been considering, it’s definitely worth mindful reflection. The bottom line is that your happiness should be paramount and only you can know when the stressors of work or home require a literal change as opposed to a figurative one.
If change is deemed necessary in either sphere, my best advice is for you to take the time to honestly and objectively assess the pros and cons of your present stressful situation. Also to assess the pros and cons of your intended situation. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be much more prepared to make appropriate decisions to promote the reduction of your stress and the expansion of your well-being and best self. For those who aren’t considering that level of change, but who are desiring escape from everyday stress: Make time for yourself and involve yourself in activity or inactivity that reduces–and enables you to recover from–stress. You’ll be happy that you did. 🙂