Go ahead and do it… just for the health of it.
You know all about the traditional guidelines for better health and less stress. You know you should watch your fat intake, exercise regularly, drink lots of water, maintain a proper weight, and keep your food portions under control.
But there’s another strategy you may not be following. You must…
FORCE YOURSELF TO TAKE BREAKS.
If you don’t take breaks, if you don’t take time to release your stress, the normal stresses of life will accumulate and eventually overwhelm you.
Do you need a break? The members of one police station did. The newspaper headline read: “Police Station Toilet Stolen — Cops Have Nothing To Go On.”
Maybe your work entails a great deal of flying… which is always somewhat stressful. You know you need a break from flying when you take your kids on a picnic… and board the family car by row numbers.
You may need a break if you just plain feel old and tired. As one person defined it, “Old age is when you still have something on the ball, but you’re just too tired to bounce it.”
In the meantime, let me talk about a strategy you can implement right now. And that is… you must…
FORCE YOURSELF TO TAKE BREAKS.
Try these little tips.
=> Schedule your breaks.
For example, my wife and I love to entertain. So we invite one couple over for dinner on Friday night and another couple out for a boat ride on Sunday after church. It’s always fun, and at the end of the visit, someone always says, “This has been so much fun. We’ve got to get together more often. We can’t wait so long.”
I’ve learned if we don’t say “when”… and put it on the calendar… right then and there… it doesn’t happen for weeks and weeks and months and months. True for you too?
Most of us are so busy that we’ll never HAVE time for fun and breaks. We can’t wait for our calendars to open up. It’s never going to happen. You and I have to SCHEDULE time.
That’s even true for something as easy and laid back as fishing. The fishing guides tell me of all the days to catch fish… yesterday was the best.
=> Do something fun.
In other words, do something that allows you to ESCAPE your normal routine and everyday stress. And you can try an internal or external escape… or both. Whatever you prefer.
Your internal escape may be in your mind or around your house. You may take some time to read, listen to music, or simply nap. Or watch a movie or play a game on your TV.
When it comes to internal escapes, life is actually weird. People spend a third of their lives in bed. And thanks to TV, they spend another third watching others in bed.
An especially good internal escape involves the use of your brain. The research says that people who keep their minds challenged are less likely to suffer from senility. And mental activities like reading and crossword puzzles strengthen the neuron paths in your brain.
You could try an external escape where you get a change of scenery. Visit the zoo; watch the animals, and note that life does go on… despite your stress. Just get away from it all once in a while.
=> Pamper yourself occasionally.
Notice, I said “occasionally.” When you give yourself a special treat, you’re saying that you count… that you’re important. It builds your self-esteem.
A special treat might be something like getting a massage. Human touch is healing and stress reducing. According to the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, stress hormones drop 24% with a massage.
You might even try a special dessert… occasionally… if you’re stressed out. After all, “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts.” And Erma Bombeck said, “Just think of all those people on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”
On a more serious note, Logan Pearsall Smith says, “There are two things to aim at in life. First, to get what you want; and after that to enjoy it. Only the wisest of people achieve the second.”
Maybe that applies to you. You’ve worked hard, achieved a lot, and even got a bunch of material possessions. But if you don’t have time to enjoy it, you’re off balance.
=> Look for humor.
It’s all around you. And the more of it you find, the less stressed you’ll be.
It happened to me last week at the Ft. Myers Regional Airport. Over the public address system came the following announcement. Honest to God. It said, “Attention, would the gentleman who just passed through the security check-in point on concourse C please return to security? You left your walker.”
And then, while I was watching TV on the airport monitor, a newscaster said, “There was a great loss today in the entertainment world. The man who wrote the ‘Hokey Pokey’ song has died. What was really horrible is that they had trouble keeping his body in the casket. They’d put his left leg in… Well, you know the rest of the story.”
Gotcha? It got me.
Look for the fun. Laugh once in a while… just for the health of it.
Action: Put at least one 5-minute break into every day this week.