When I was growing up in New Mexico, in the Fall, when the Aspens were at their peak, my parents would pull us out of school to take us to the Santa Fe Ski Basin to have a picnic and hike up the ski hill amidst the gorgeous golden leaves.
My parents called this a “mental health day”, and saw it as something not only acceptable, but pivotal to our health and growth. I loved these mental health days, and not just because we got out of school, but because I got to spend quality time with my family.
Plus, although I didn’t realize it at the time, my parents were demonstrating to us the importance of taking time to slow down every once in a while, and enjoy nature and the company of people you love.
As I got older, there were a few times in high school where I felt like I had reached a breaking point (break up with my boyfriend of almost 2 years, getting too stressed and run down during finals and/or training for swimming, etc.) where I remember my mom saying “ok, I’m calling you in, you need a mental health day” and we would go to Starbucks to chat and relax, or go for a hike.
Well, I was reminded of the beauty of mental health days when one of my best friends from home mentioned taking the week of work, calling it her “mental health week”. I realized that Hawaii was my mental health vacation. As I mentioned in this post, I was really burnt out and in a rut before leaving for Hawaii. But Hawaii completely boosted my motivation.
I lost track of that motivation, and the mental health benefits I had enjoyed from Hawaii, because of the stress of last week, but it’s time to get back to how I felt during, and right after, Hawaii. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m on my own pursuit of happiness and I’m taking control of my life. We all have the power to create the life we want. Every.single.day.
Life is too short, and, really, too great, to not feel motivated, happy, and like you’re living with purpose.
These are some things I noticed about my thoughts/intentions while in Hawaii:
1. Just worry about today. Yesterday is past, and who knows what tomorrow will bring, but we are lucky for the day upon us. Take the time to appreciate it and use that day to it’s fullest.
2. Exercise because you love to. In Hawaii I would wake up on my own at 6:30 AM and be EXCITED to run. Even when I ate indulgently the night before, not once did I go for a run because I felt like I had to to burn off the previous day’s dinner. I did it because it was beautiful outside, it was time for me to be with mom, and because it felt good.
3. Take life as it comes. In Hawaii I didn’t worry at all what I was doing with my life, or if I would ever amount to the ambitious and successful person I had always envisioned I would be. I didn’t worry that I was never going to find a career I was passionate about, and good at. I didn’t worry that I am going to be older than I had originally (naively?) wanted to be when I started my career. I just lived. I enjoyed what I was doing at that moment, and when thoughts of the future, or what I should be doing with my life, did pop into my head, the only thought was a certainty that I will eventually find a meaningful and enjoyable career, and I needn’t worry about it right then.
4, Eat when you’re hungry. In Hawaii, I was so active between running, swimming, hiking, etc. that I was hungry a lot of the time. Also, I was so happy, and having so much fun that I didn’t think about food hardly at all, not until I was genuinely physically hungry. Not once did I think of food because I was bored, or stressed, or needed something to keep me awake. I ate because I was hungry and it was meal time. And because I love food.
6. Focus Less on What You Look Like-in reality people are more focused on what they look like than what you look like. In Hawaii, I did not focus on what I looked like. I almost never focused on whether or not my stomach pooched out too much, or my legs looked too big, etc. while in Hawaii, and these thoughts certainly didn’t dictate my happiness or feelings of self-worth that day. While I am way better at this now than I was a year ago, I still need to remember how I felt in Hawaii, and emulate that.
7. Fall to sleep each night thankful for the day you just had, the things you did accomplish, and excited for what the next day holds. I had no problem doing this every night in Hawaii, but in “the real world” I am almost always going over what I did not cross off my to-do list that day or the impending to-do list I have for tomorrow. So, this one is huge for me. I need to focus more on relaxing, being thankful for all of the wonderful people, experiences, and opportunities I DO have in my life (which FAR outweigh anything negative in my life), and take things in more of a “one day at a time” approach.
After realizing these differences between the “Hawaii, happy Laura” and the “NYC, stressed Laura” I am going to really work on creating less of a disparity between the two Lauras. Keeping these things in mind, this is going to be one way I move forward and take control of my life, like I talked about yesterday.
I am also going to keep the glory and necessity of mental health days (or weeks!) in mind a little better.
Hope everyone’s weekend has been fabulous so far. Mine certainly has.
Questions of the Day: What can you do in YOUR life to make each day more appreciated? What can you do to feel confident in your abilities and your direction in life? When you create an umbrella goal for yourself (like me taking control of my happiness and life), do you like to break it down into smaller goals, too? Or do you just focus on the big picture?