5 Ways to REALLY Take a Break & Destress

If you want to be as passionately committed to your time off as you are to working and taking action, you need to find a way to safeguard that time off, no matter what forces try to invade it.

July 27, 2017
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Adapted from An Oasis in Time

Every week, reasons not to step into your rest and renewal time will crop up. Prepare yourself to handle them. Plan to stick to your goal of creating oasis time. People exhaust themselves by doing so many things that they think will please others or even please themselves but that don't actually fill their own reservoirs even during their leisure time.

But taking this break is never easy, to start. Initially, you might find that saying no to certain activities doesn't fit your idea of who you are, but if you are growing, those initial things will change. You might discover that certain television shows belong on your day of renewal, or you might learn that you lose your sense of peace and delight when you watch TV. With careful self-observation and discernment, you will find that creating your personal version of the Sabbath is worth the effort. If you are logistically and emotionally prepared for your oasis, you will have an easier time getting to it.

More: 10 Warning Signs of Burnout & Excessive Stress

"Protect and prepare" is the meta-gateway, the gateway of gateways to oasis time. When I protect and prepare my oasis time, what I am really doing is protecting the time and planning and preparing for the other four gateways. This is the pivot point of happy, satisfying oasis time.

If you want to be as passionately committed to your time off as you are to working and taking action, you need to find a way to safeguard that time off, no matter what forces try to invade it. Then you prepare for it. But how do you do that?

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Find your "big why"

Start by enumerating the reasons you need, want, and must have regular time off. Do this now. Set a timer for two minutes, and list every reason you can think of for committing to oasis time. Don't fret about why you can't get oasis time, simply focus on why you need it. Write down the price you pay for how you live now—frayed relationships? Health issues? Feeling out of sorts? Then list what you could gain—time with friends? A good night's sleep? Equilibrium? 

More: 15 Relaxing Things You Should Do Before Bed

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Say no

In the beginning, I safeguarded my time by saying no to any off-purpose request. A lot. I said no to myself as well as to others. What helped was that the benefits were immediate—oasis time gave me more energy, focus, and deeper contact with the sacred aspects of life, which in turn supported my determination to say no. Constantly referring to your big why helps you juggle your big and little nos.

Try this partner exercise. Give your partner a list of everything you think you have to do. Then, when he or she says, "You should...," you respond by saying, "no." Go down the list. Then switch. This gives you—and your partner—the chance to practice saying no, even if the idea seems far-fetched at the beginning! This exercise is meant to be rapid fire and feels good when it gets silly. Do it in lightning rounds and have fun with it.

More: 3 Ways to Enhance Your Daily Gratitudes

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Start small

Don't immediately take a whole day off if that commitment sounds overwhelming. I started with half an evening a week. I went to a Shabbat dinner, then came home and worked. Soon I dropped the work part, and very slowly, over years, I grew my commitment to a day a week. You could start with a specific hour once a week when you turn off your phone and take a walk with a friend, listen to a favorite piece of music, or do something else that sustains you. Then expand to an afternoon or evening. You might stop there, and that might be respite enough for you. But you might find that the oasis benefits are so powerful you want more. That desire will be your best motivator to cordon off and protect more time. 

More: This One Easy AM Habit Gives You Crazy Productivity (And It's Not Meditation)

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Make a plan

It may be hard to know what to do with your newly free time; I struggled with this myself. I was so used to working that I had to learn to trust this nonwork time.  had to stop myself many times from doing "just a little work" to stay on top of things. Avoid that situation by planning some activities in advance to give a little structure to your hour or day.

Be intentional so that you don't fritter away your precious time oasis. Perhaps you plan to take a morning of rest; or open a book that you have been meaning to read; or, in a quiet, mindful way, finally make that big pot of soup you have wanted for a while. You might schedule afternoon childcare so you can enjoy a long-desired nap or luscious, slower sex. You might arrange to join with friends for a meal. Remember: You will always be able to think of reasons not to rest and renew, but over time, the reasons for renewal will increase and seem greater.

More: 10 Healthy Rules for a Pain-Free Life

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Seek validation and reinforcement

There is a whole world of people who are sick and tired of being on the run all the time. Talk to people about what you are trying to do. read books, follow blogs, and listen to podcasts by folks who are talking about their oasis time and other kinds of time off. The more oasis time is on your mind, the more real it will become, and the more you'll be able to find others to join you as you seek your oasis. It's so helpful to find a buddy to explore with.

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