Why Taking Time Off Should be Mandatory – And How to Stick to it

I just came back from a transcendental meditation retreat at a Maharishi AyurVeda health centre, located in the beautiful town of...

Why taking time off should be mandatory - and how to do it

I just came back from a transcendental meditation retreat at a Maharishi AyurVeda health centre, located in the beautiful town of St. Odilienberg in the Netherlands.

The weekend was all about deepening my meditation practice, being fully present in my body, connecting with others, and giving myself the space to rejuvenate, and come back to me. Things that I believe are among the most essential you need to do to be happy, healthy, and to live a full, and vibrant life.

To make sure I get enough of such experiences, and that I never go without them for too long, a few years ago I decided to made time off for myself mandatory.

Why taking time off is so important

Taking time off is incredibly beneficial to your well being. This has been proven time, and time again by science. Some of the benefits include:

  • clearing you mind from thoughts, and worries,
  • resting your mind, body, and soul so you can be more productive once you return to your activities,
  • create better relationships with others,
  • develop a wider perspective about your life,
  • and so much more.

Besides these, and many other health benefits, I believe it’s also part of living an intentional life. And since you’re reading this post, I know you’re committed to giving yourself the best life possible. You’re setting goals for yourself to achieve things that make you happy, you’re educating yourself about life, and how to live it to the fullest. Maybe you’re working your way through a difficult time, or looking for tools to help you overcome things that might be hard for you to live with… I know how it feels, believe me, I’ve been there.

I’ve felt the cold sweats of fear, the exhaustion from having anxious thoughts swirling around in my head without giving me a minute to rest or take a break. In the past six years, I’ve worked my way out of many things that held me back, or made me unhappy. And as I did I learned several incredibly valuable lessons.

One of which – the one I’m talking about today – is the importance of making what makes you happy mandatory, in this case taking time off.

Not an easy thing to do, believe me. I had to learn it the hard way. Although it might not seem like a difficult habit to create, it was much harder for me to get the hang of than, let’s say, switching to a vegetarian diet – which was a really challenge in an of itself!

Why taking time off should be mandatory

When it came to time off, there was always resistance. I would say that I wanted to take a day or two off, I’d mention to my husband that I’d love to go on a getaway with him, I’d even make reservations, and buy the plane tickets. Like the time we planned a trip to Thailand, and all arrangements were made. And still we ended up not going. Every time telling ourselves the same old story: we were needed at work.

There would always be a reason to cancel, or to postpone.

Looking back, none of those cancelled trips, and moments make sense anymore. The jobs we stayed home for are long gone, the results might have been good but they’re long gone too. There was never anything going on back then that couldn’t have waited at least a few weeks…

The thing about time off is that it’s not only mandatory to make it mandatory. The act itself is essential to live a happy life. Periods of activity must be followed by periods of rest (thank you Mia for deepening my understanding of this lesson this weekend). That’s why we need to sleep every night, why we can’t exercise for hours on end, why we can’t carry on even the nicest conversations forever…

Taking time off allows you to rest, to reflect, and to better prepare for the world again. That’s why it’s so important. And why it must be mandatory.

How to make sure you stick to it

Simply…mark it in your calendar! Cross out a few days every month that you’ll use to focus on yourself, your loved ones, the things you really care about.

Make those days about you, about rest, not about all your have to-s or your work. Learn something new during those days, take up a hobby, seek out a new experiences, meet new people… retreat in a peaceful world like I’ve done this weekend, or go to a music festival, be with friends.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but you must commit to it.

Like I did. After yet another cancelled trip because of work. That’s when I decided: no more! I marked time off in my calendar, got my husband on board, and together we pledged to make our time off mandatory, and treat it like the sacred thing that it is. We’ve done so ever since, and it has transformed our lives.

Now you. Are you taking enough time off? When was the last time? Do you have something planned? Use the comments below to let me know x

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