Relax! It’s Summer Time!

If only we could regain the knowledge we possessed when we were younger. There’s something built into our hard drives that tells us we should relax a little during the summer time, but we learn shortly after graduation from high school to override that function and replace it with a work ethic that keeps us running from place to place, working long hours, and ignoring the urge to take it a little slower and enjoy ourselves that the warm temperatures and increased absorption of Vitamin D inspires in most of us.

I am as guilty of this as any, and guiltier than some. We’re busy. The days of the single income family as the norm are behind us. We have to keep up with ever increasing cost of living increases, and a change in social temperament over the past twenty-five years has taught us that our work is what is respected, not our personal health or over-all well-being.

Still, we try. We go to the beach. We schedule our annual trips to the amusement parks and maybe a weekend camping on the lake. But do we really relax in the summer time? For me, and for many of my contemporaries, these summer time fun excursions are as detailed as a board meeting and as tightly scheduled as a layover at O’Hare. We work as hard at our relaxation as we do at our jobs. We’re looking for rejuvenation and come out exhausted for our efforts.

So, how, with our busy lifestyles and manic schedules, can we get back a little of the relaxation our bodies so crave during the summer time? Well, there are a few options we can explore.

1. No extra projects. We’re always trying to get ahead at work and really make ourselves stand out. That drive is admirable and will take us far, but unless there is a promotion, demotion, or other career altering change on the line, summer time is not the time to be taking on extra work. We’ve got nine months every year to show the boss what we can do. I’m not advocating slouching on our duties, but to simply give summer time a nod and scale back on the extra work we’re always picking up which, in most cases, rarely garners us the proper amount of recognition, any way!

2. Embrace the grill. It’s right out there in the back yard. There’s no need to pre-prepare all the dishes, pack up a whole load of food and utensils, and go away for a picnic; we have everything we need right here, at home. Things just feel more relaxed outside, particularly at dinnertime, when the hot summer sun is dropping and the air is mellowing to a nice warm glow. Live in an apartment, don’t have a grill, or just don’t like to work that hard for your food? Stop by the deli section of your local grocery store and let them do the food prep for you. Either way, take it home, and take it outside!

3. Use those personal days. Is it time for us to take the kids on an action-packed weekend away and we just can’t face the thought of showing up to work after the long, exhausting journey? Do we have a weekend that involves a trip to the beach, the grocery shopping, a visit to Grandma’s and a play date for the kids already scheduled? Think how much less rushed and anxious we’ll feel throughout our packed weekend if we know that we’ve got Monday off to pick up the pieces. It’ll save us from feeling that we’ve got to squeeze in time to run the vacuum over that pile of cat hair or find a space to pick up the dry cleaning. Let’s just enjoy ourselves. The damage can be undone on Monday.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference between summertime relaxation and scheduled chaos. While none of these tips are likely to make us feel like we’re lying on a beach in Bora Bora being served Mai Tai’s and fruit platters, they just may help to make the difference between relaxing from work and working to relax.

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