Slowing Down in the Summer (and Beyond)

Estimated read time... 3 minutes

White peony

As a child, summer meant hanging out by the pool, going to summer day camp, swimming in lakes, running through the woods, spending time with friends and being free from most responsibilities.  Now that I’m very well past that nostalgic time of freedom, summer means that I’m busier than ever – work schedule has required more than the usual late nights, East/West coursework has become the center of my universe, weekends have been spent upstate or at home, I feel like I’m the go-go bunny!  I don’t like it!  Part of it is my fault: I’d booked social engagements, extra-work engagements, and fun activities in so much that I didn’t book much downtime since the “downtime” at home I had had to be spent cleaning, doing laundry, catching up on things at home from the aforementioned engagements/activities!  Thanks to a friend and herbalist, I was instructed that I must take one day off a week – no excuses.

As such, the past two weekends I’ve only done enjoyable things on Sundays – things that I want to do, things that are fun, things that relax the mind and body.  I’ve had to do a couple of hours worth of things each of those days, but when the timer goes off I stop what I’m doing and move to something else.  All of this has made me realize how little I take time to just enjoy being home, watch a movie (with organic popcorn!), and just be.  As one of my most wonderfully great teachers says, we need the balance of both doing and being.

Besides, summer is the time for storing up our energy reserves to get us through the long winter!  It isn’t meant for pushing ourselves harder, faster, and longer!  When we push ourselves so hard in the summer, we are depleted going into fall and winter, and end up getting sick.  I’m giving you permission, like my friend-herbalist did for me, to have a day off, ask for help, treat yourself to a full day of “being.”

With my instructions to “be” for a whole day once a week, I’ve realized how much I push myself and that I’m always “doing”.  Even my idea of “being” has elements of doing in it!  I can’t stop!!!  I have been brought up to think that “being” is akin to laziness (whether this was something I’ve implied/formed on my own or was instilled in me, I don’t know) but I’m learning that you have to “be” so that you can “do” (and vice versa) and that being is not lazy but necessary!  It makes me so so sad to know that I really could have (and should have) slowed down, stopped to smell the roses, and laze about my home in the interest of dolce far niente.  Not everything needs to get done, I can’t do everything I want to do, and that’s going to have to be okay.

So, what’s a gal, who doesn’t like to slow down, do to slow down???

1.  Take a bath, I (like my mother) adore Epsom Salts.  They not only help to replenish the magnesium in our body, but they feel oh so good!  If you have lavender essential oil, put 5-6 drops into the bathwater before you get in.   If you have flowers, put them into a muslin bag (or brew a strong tea) then add to your bathwater.  I also really like adding powdered rose petals to the bathwater, just a tablespoon or two.

2.  Drink a cup of tea.  My favorite is chamomile-rose at the moment, but I also like lemon balm too.

3.  If you are so inclined, laze on the couch, put a movie on – any movie that makes you happy – and watch it from start to finish.

4.  Read a book!

5.  Talk a stroll through the park, make it leisurely and long.

6.  Get together with loved ones or friends and spend the afternoon together.

7.  Take time to meditate – sit, lay down, walking meditation, etc.  Enjoy the stillness and silence of yourself, take the deep breaths into the vastness of your soul and spirit.

8.  Most of all – don’t do housework, cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc.  I am learning to reserve one day a week as a day of rest, and I’m learning to protect it as something special.  It has been far too long since I’ve taken a day to rest and relax, years at least!

9.  Check out Rosalee de la Foret’s post on the Human Nervous System for more information too!

What do you do to relax?  How do you like to spend your days off???