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I’m writing this blog post after a long weekend in Muskoka. A break that feels at once too short, and also a privilege and an indulgence. I consciously watched the sun set three evenings in a row. I happily played in the water, but I didn’t do a workout or count strokes. I went zip lining in the afternoon heat, then lounged in a deck chair. I taught my sister to make Sonoma Chicken Salad and grilled portobello mushrooms, but I also snacked on chips and drank wine on the beach. I didn’t read any of the important books I brought with me, but I did go for a hike in the morning mist and play Yahtzee until I was too sleepy to roll the dice.
It felt so good to put my life on pause for a few days–even a few hours–that I had to ask: Why don’t I give myself permission to take a break more often? Research shows that adequate rest is vital for better mental health, increased concentration and memory, a healthier immune system, reduced stress, improved mood, and even a better metabolism. Rest is a fundamental part of success, health, and happiness. In our digital world, there will always be demands for your time and attention, but learning to unplug is key to your overall long-term health. According to an article in Forbes, the human body is built to thrive in a series of short sprints. This explains why taking breaks–even short breaks of a few minutes–can feel so refreshing, and help promote creativity and productivity.
In my adult life, I’ve been guilty of working long hours, head down, squeezing in extra clients or classes until I start to lose my marbles, and then taking high intensity vacations that keep me on the go from beginning to end. I’ve also been known to force an early or late workout into my schedule, even when my body is telling me to sleep in a little longer or go to bed early. This weekend, I wanted to shift things into a more neutral gear. Am I even me if I don’t plan a minimum of three activities each day? I wondered. Is my partner feeling alright if he takes an impromptu afternoon nap? It turns out that a slower pace will not kill a person! It was actually nice to not have big plans, to be able to enjoy the quiet beauty of nature, to rise when I felt rested, not when the alarm went off, and to eat and move intuitively. On one of our walks we found a baby snapping turtle on the side of the road, seemingly in no big rush, but so tiny compared to the world around it. I’m going to hold the image of that turtle in my mind this month, as I try to ignore my frantic internal clock and keep a few boundaries in place against the world that will eat me up and spit me out. My goal is to enter the month of September knowing I’ve refuelled and restored my mind and body with good books, nature walks, time with friends, fresh fruit and vegetables, and more sleep! I’m ready to embrace The Power of Chill. Who’s with me?
Retrofit Master Instructor
Lead Instructor/Operations Associate