When wheels have left a runway or driveway, that’s when I feel like a vacation really begins.
I had my first day back at work after a delicious beach vacation and I had no fewer than 5 people tell me, “You look so relaxed!” I’m glad to hear this, but what do I look like normally?!? It is remarkable what a break can do.
When wheels have left a runway or driveway, that’s when I feel like a vacation really begins. That sense of leaving my cares behind does seem to equate with physical distance for me. Even taking a day trip, where I both wake up and go to sleep in my own bed, does wonders. My husband and I joke about our differences. For him, a chance to unwind at home is the ultimate indulgence. I tell him he could be a shower salesman or advocate because he firmly believes in the power of “life-changing showers.” For me, showers are a chore. Another job to be done before you can go on with the adventure of your day. I’m much more likely to advocate for the influence of the “life-changing car ride.”
I think the physical space triggers a healthy process of getting mental space for me. This year, I’ve had an awesome mentor at work and one of the first things she talked me through were perspective exercises. She had me visualize holding a chocolate bar in my hand, unwrapping it and smelling it. I was salivating and felt the intoxicating desire of wanting to eat it. Then she said to imagine putting it on a table. How does this change my perspective of it? What do I think and feel? What if I move it across the table? And then move the table across the room? Now put it in a TV commercial across the room. All of the intensity and desire washes away.
As someone who gets 1000% invested in every problem I am facing, this is a radical shift in thinking of me. I am certainly not advocating we run from our problems, but learning how to set them down, get some mental space and then return isn’t just good for our mental health, it also leads to clearer thinking and better problem solving. I have been trying to practice my perspective taking this year. While it isn’t coming naturally to me, I am improving. I can even see this in my crocheting. The art itself helps shift my focus from other concerns and making up my own patterns is an exercise in problem solving. Sometimes I’ll spend a couple of hours straight, trying and ripping and trying again. I can start to get frustrated and feel hopeless, but guess what - if I put down the hook and come back to it later, that’s usually when I have a breakthrough!
On my vacation, I wanted to crack the code to a triangle shawl I wanted to create. I kept getting the angles wrong. Either too many or too few increases. Just when I thought I had nailed it, I would get further along and see a subtle slant. I went away from it for a night and then I realized - my corners were off! The fixing didn’t need to happen across the straight sides, I needed to tweak the corners. I quickly popped the loop on my hook again and - voila - I got it.
As I’ve started to notice the impact perspective taking has, I’ve been continually stunned by its power in helping my mental health and problem solving. Knowing the benefits makes me choose to seek out opportunities for mental breaks. I no longer view them as indulgences, but as essentials. Even small tips like when you are told to look up from your computer periodically, to look at something green or to just move where you are working starts to unlock these benefits. Since the physical act of moving to a different space unlocks this thinking shift for me, I am trying to seek it out. I want to do more road trips or mini adventures. I know my husband would rather have the time at home for some life-changing showers, so if anyone else wants to be my adventure buddy, let me know and we can hit the road together.