The Value of Doing Nothing this Summer

It’s the time of year where days are long, kids are out of school, and it feels great being outdoors in the sunshine.

It’s also the time of year where it’s easy to feel emotionally and physically drained with all the activities: BBQ’s, vacations, sport camps and swim parties.

Sometimes it feels like there’s not enough time to get everything done. When work and kids and relationships and school and sports and family are all so busy that it doesn’t feel like there’s time in the day to fit everything in, let alone time for you or your wishes.

I get nostalgic thinking about how slow and relaxing summer felt when I was a kid. It felt like time was endless. I would spend hours doing nothing, lying by the pool, reading, watching movies, or just sitting with friends at a park in the shade.

Summers don’t feel that way to me anymore.  And honestly I wish they did.

Yesterday was the official start of summer and this year I’m going to take a different approach.

I’m going to pick and choose where I spend my energy.

Instead of scheduling every spare minute, I’m going to prioritize my time.

I’m going to invest in and place a value in down time.  Time where I can lie by the pool, read a book for hours on end, or sit with friends at a park in the shade.

I’m going to say no to extra commitments that I’m not 100% passionate about.

Some of my hang-up around taking time for doing nothing is it feels like a waste of time. I know I’m not alone in this. In my work with many amazing (and slightly over committed individuals) when your “to-do” list is a mile long and it’s hard to justify spending two hours doing nothing.

For me, this summer will be different.

I will value down time.  I will value doing nothing. I will value long leisurely naps in the sunshine or sitting with friends talking for hours on end, without pressure to ‘do’ something.

What about you?

Are you willing to watch another summer fly by without having a moment to relax, unwind, calm down and enjoy?

What can you (and what will you) prioritize today so you feel more balance with your time?

As an adult there are some things that won’t go away, like the responsibilities that keep your life and family running. What can change is your mindset; the over commitment and devaluing the importance of doing nothing can disappear.

Here’s to a relaxing summer!

Adriana

(One way I'm shifting my time is by taking the next few weeks off from blogging. I'll see you all in August!)

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from painful life experiences and traumas, support for individuals exploring their gender identity and expression, and the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email adriana@adrianajoynertherapy.com.

Need an energy boost? Here's how a lunch break can help.

Ever leave work so drained when you get home you just want to sit on the couch and stare mindlessly at the television?

You may have had great intentions to have a fun, exciting evening (have some friends over, go for a drive, try a new restaurant, play a board game with the kids, make an amazing dinner, or whatever).

Yet you find yourself utterly and completely exhausted and have nothing left to give?

You aren’t alone.

Millions of people have this same experience.

In fact, this used to be me.

I used to work long, non-stop days. I was routinely on-call so even when I was at home in the evenings or the weekends I was still working. When I was in the office I would work through my breaks and lunches. I would respond to emails, type up a report, eat while at a meeting, multi-task. In part this was the expectation in my workplace, in part this was my own pressure to succeed in my position.

Then I was put on jury duty.

The first day of the trial they released us at noon and asked us to return at 1:30pm. An hour and a half lunch break... I almost didn’t know what to do with so much time.

I recall sitting down and eating lunch that first day and having the realization that I hadn’t actually taken a lunch break in many years, let alone an hour and a half lunch break.

I ate, walked around downtown, sat in the sunshine by the fountain outside the courthouse, read a book, texted some friends, checked in at work, and still had time to spare. 

At the end of the day I remember being surprised at how much energy I had. I still had “worked” almost a full day, in fact I had a much lengthier commute while on jury duty, but by the time I got home at that night I was full of energy. 

This was a stark difference between my typical workdays where I worked 8:30 am – 5:00 pm and by the time I got home I was drained, exhausted and unable to do much beyond sitting on the couch watching TV mindlessly.

Looking back, jury duty was my wake up call.

I realized then how draining it was on me to try to push through eight hours without taking breaks. I also realized that I would hit a wall during my day where my focus, attention and quality of work diminished. Sometimes this wall was in the late afternoon, sometimes in the morning.

Without taking care of myself I wasn’t able to be the best possible employee. I would turn to caffeine in the afternoon to improve my focus. Music to shift my mood. Anything to help get me by. But something was missing.

I wasn’t caring for myself emotionally and it was draining my energy. Actually depleting it.

Something as small as working through a 5-10 minute break was sucking away my energy.

Over the last year, through the support of colleagues and business coaching, I’ve identified better how to care for myself. I’ve learned how VITAL it is for me to take breaks so that I can be the best therapist possible. Even five minute breaks here and there recharge and rejuvenate me.

Don’t get me wrong. I still don’t take leisurely hour and a half lunches like the court house does! Sometimes it’s just 15 minutes. Most often it’s 30-45 minutes. I enjoy my meal, read a book, chat with a colleague, or go for a walk outside. Take a few moments to unwind, let go, slow down.

I return to my office energized and ready for the rest of my day.

It’s easy to get caught up in a company culture that discourages taking breaks, even if it’s a subtle and unwritten policy. Recognizing how this culture impacts your productivity, happiness and energy may be the key to a healthier balance in your life.

What is the belief system you are operating on that keeps you from taking breaks regularly or, in particular, not taking a lunch break? Is this belief system health for you to maintain? If not, then why do you?

Fueling your ‘tank’ with small breaks and self-care throughout your day will give you more energy, make you more productive, and give you a general sense of happiness that lasts long past your work day ends.

What are you willing to do to create more balance in your life, to give you more energy at the end of the day?

If you would need some help finding that balance in your life, click here to arrange a free, no-pressure, telephone consult. I’d love to hear how mixing up your day and incorporating breaks is changing your energy and attitude!

Adriana

 

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT, is a Sacramento Area therapist specializing in counseling for people healing from painful life experiences and traumas, support for individuals exploring their gender identity and expression, and the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email adrianajoynermft@gmail.com.

How to Focus your Energy - Finding Mindfulness in Nature

It’s easy to get distracted and disconnected this time of year.

You have multiple lists of things to-do, gifts to pick up, and errands to run.  Your normal routine is still in place but you have 50 extra things to add on to your already busy schedule.

Your anxiety is high trying to manage everything; it’s like juggling five balls at once. You are trying to make sure your family is cared for and has the best holiday and New Year possible.

You are often in last place on your to-do list. Self-care feels like something from your distant past.

Now is not the time to add on a complex self-care routine that will feel more like a chore. But something needs to change to help you feel more present, manage your mood and actually relax enough to enjoy this time of year!

 

Let’s try a simple and easy way to improve your mood!

A huge part of regulating your emotions (from anxiety to anger to sadness) comes from your five senses (touch, smell, sight, sound, taste).  

Soothing your senses will help you shift your mood away from uncomfortable or ineffective emotions to a mood that will help you manage your stress and extra responsibilities this time of year.

 

When you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or unhappy find ways to soothe your senses:

  • Sight: Surround yourself with images and items that are appealing, attractive and comforting. It can be something small, like looking at photos in your phone, or hanging up a picture of your favorite vacation destination at work.

  • Smell: Identifying smells that bring positive memories and emotions – maybe the smell of baked goods, pine branches, or certain flowers. Keep those items around (or have a Scentsy air freshener going) to keep the smells enjoyable.

  • Touch: Now’s the time to put on your favorite sweater or scarf and feel it cozy on your skin.

  • Taste: Splurge on a tasty treat that you enjoy – perhaps a piece of dark chocolate, go out to your favorite meal for lunch, or grab a fancy coffee drink. 

  • Sound: Putting on your favorite music can snap you into a positive mood. Find something soothing and enjoyable.

 

If you want to take it to the next level, try soothing your senses while connecting with nature.  

Here is a fun article about helping children connect with nature. While this article focuses on kids, I think it’s just as applicable for adults to use too! Let’s try the Five Senses Wildlife Hunt.

 

We are lucky to live in the Sacramento Area which has amazing and vibrant seasons, and yet is still moderate enough that you can head out doors for a stroll in winter. One of my favorite places is the Effie Yeaw Nature Center.  This tiny gem is easily accessible from Gold River, Fair Oaks and Carmichael, has a three-mile dirt trail following the river, and is home to an abundance of wildlife. It’s hard to walk the trail without seeing deer, turkey, coyote and woodpeckers.

 

So here’s your mood-improving challenge:

Go on a five-minute outdoor walk today.

 

Easy right? Focus on your five senses for five minutes:

  • Feel the air, wind, or rain on your skin

  • Hold a leaf and feel the different textures

  • Notice the smells around you; fill your lungs with fresh air

  • Watch all the movement in everything around you, small and large

  • Observe the trees bowing in the wind

  • Watch beetles running under a rock

  • Pay attention to the squirrels searching for nuts for winter

  • Notice the multitude of colors in the trees

  • Watch the changing colors in the sky and the movements of the clouds

  • Feel the texture of bark on the trees

  • And if you’re really daring, taste a raindrop on your tongue!

Connect  with being fully and authentically present in the moment.

 

I’d love to hear how you connect with nature or about your mindfulness practice. Share with me in the comments or send me an email at adrianajoynermft@gmail.com.

 

Adriana Joyner, LMFT is a Sacramento Area therapist who provides counseling to people healing from trauma and abuse, and those within the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email adrianajoynermft@gmail.com.