What image comes to mind when you think of the word Relax?
Napping in a hammock? Soaking in a hot tub? Floating in a pool with an umbrella drink in one hand?
Those sorts of activities can bring us moments of relaxation, but there’s only so much lolling around most of us can do before we get bored. To really find rest for our souls, we need something else—something that does more than provide our bodies a brief rest. We need activities that restore us from the inside out, activities that help us slow down, focus on the moment, and drain the stress.
The specific activities that restore us vary from person to person, don’t they?
For some it may be getting out in the open water on a sailboat. Or a long ride on a favorite horse. Or beekeeping. Or painting a picture.
Do you know what activities rejuvenate your mind, spirit, emotions, and body? If not, take a moment now to consider the question.
For my husband and me, taking a hike in some beautiful and uncrowded place is a favorite restorative pastime. It doesn’t matter if the terrain is mostly level, or steep and rocky. The important thing is to go outside, surrounded by nature, and then, remember to pay attention to the view.
Racking up steps on the Fitbit is not the goal. Neither is racing to the top so we can check that peak off our list. While exercise is both good for health and a stress reducer, the real restorative power of our hikes is taking in the sights and sounds around us. Taking time to pause and enjoy the scenic overlooks, or the verdant streams in their narrow valleys. Tuning in to the rhythms of nature.
We’ve spent the last two weeks doing just that, hiking in the Catskills (NY), the White Mountains (NH), and in Acadia National Park (ME). We made the most of it. We climbed a lot of steep, rocky trails. We worked up a good sweat. We huffed and puffed. And it was all good.
All that hard work was relaxing—because we were doing something we love to do, and soaking up the restorative solitude of nature while we did it. Along the way we glimpsed a grouse, a bald eagle, and pileated woodpeckers, along with other more common creatures. Sadly, no moose, but we did enjoy a nice lunch on top of Gorham Mountain with this friendly fellow…
But the hard work didn’t end with climbing rocky trails. We also worked hard to connect with each other, and disconnect with the everyday world we left behind. We didn’t totally abstain from email, social media, the news, etc. but we kept it to a bare minimum. We watched a smidgen of TV and not a single movie.
Instead we talked, read books, wandered through scenic coastal towns, and visited museums. (Learning about everything from granite, to antique airplanes, to lighthouses.)
We came home happy and refreshed.
No regrets. (Except the foodie tour that was canceled on us. Bummer. But we made up for it by making good use of the $5 per pound lobsters the locals sell along the roadside.)
Your definition of rejuvenation may be different than ours, but I hope you make time in your life to do whatever your soul needs to stay healthy.
Even if it takes work.