The pace of modern life can take its toll on any one person, no matter how strong or happy with the life they are leading. It is at times like those, when the hectic rhythm of life and our every day routine become a overwhelming, that you just need to get away from it all. Away from screens, phones, messages, social media – the works.
Taking advantage of a long weekend, I did just that last Friday. I took two days off work, making it a five-day R&R excursion, and trekked to the mountains. I walked in the hotel early on Friday afternoon, and did not leave the premises until late on Monday afternoon. In the process eating healthy, enjoying the ambience, relaxing.
The benefits of taking time off cannot be overstated. Without the usual distractions of modern life – not even TV – and with the assistance of abundant fresh mountain air, I got to reconnect with myself. I know that advice such as control your breath rate, eat healthy, avoid noise, and enjoy nature sound dangerously like they were pulled from some self-help book or were recited by a guru of sorts – both of which I am not the biggest fan of. The truth though is that those things work.
You do not have to take a self-realization trip to Asia or anything like that. You would not even need to take a trip to the mountains or a secluded beach and meditate using a yoga mat in order to get away from it all. Your own home, no matter where it is, will do. Just set aside a parcel of time – preferably a quiet time of the day when outside noise and distractions are at a minimum – and let go of everything. Relax (but don’t go to Hollywood like Frankie did), breath deeply, close your eyes, try to focus on the sounds of nature – a bird chirping, the wind, anything. And remain like that for 10 minutes. You’ll be surprised how refreshed and energized you will feel afterwards.
Some of you might say that other activities relax you – doing the dishes, playing video games, reading a book, watching TV. All valid activities that can help take your mind of the hustle and bustle of modern life. But that is not the point of this exercise. I myself relax whenever I go to the archery range (which I try to do three times a week), or when I watch TV (which I try not to do that often). The truth however is that your brain continues to work during those activities and you do not get the opportunity to truly relax.
Now, I am not saying that I have the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything – which is 42 by the way. What I am proposing is just one step towards what I think is a happier life.
One last thought. When did it become a badge of honour to be busy. When did our employment start defining who we are on an exclusive basis. Maybe its just me, but I grew up in a world where your work, your vocation, was just part of who you were and was complementary to all of your other activities and qualities. Nowadays it seems that busyness is being worn like a badge of honour. Coming through the belief that unless you create something groundbreaking or work somewhere that has a visible benefit for the world or is perceived by the world to be important, often at the expense of our lives, we have been unproductive. As my former boss very beautifully once put it (and I am paraphrasing because it has been a while), free time has become the most precious commodity.
I know this post was not directly related to MS, despite time off being especially beneficial to people suffering from any autoimmune disease. But it goes to show that my condition does not define me, that there is more to me than the MS.