This time of year seems to be a time where we long for a vacation to somewhere far, far away, but social and work calendars plus other obligations are blocking the way. Fret not, friend — you can still get away for a few hours, and if you truly plan it right, you can feel refreshed and restored as if you just went on a mini vacation.
Just to be clear, I’m suggesting a true and proper afternoon break, not necessarily a “Staycation,” which Margo has so eloquently detailed how to plan right here. And if you don’t have a few hours, then take a few minutes; a 15 Minute Self Care Break might be just the thing.
First: Unplug, Log Out
If you’re taking a few hours for a break to get away, it’s important to break digital ties — because their tentacles are deep! Turn off social media notifications and log out of email on your phone; ensure that anyone who needs to know is aware you are unavailable except for true emergencies (ones that involve a fire department or ambulance). Don’t check in until your break is over.
Trust me, those notifications can wait. The next few hours are about you.
Next: Choose a Destination
Just like a proper vacation or weekend getaway, I think an afternoon break needs a bit of a focus point. That’s not to say you can’t just have an afternoon adventure full of serendipity, but you have to start somewhere. Here are some suggestions:
- Sip Some Café Culture: If you have no ideas here, start by finding a café where you can go and sit. Honestly, if you take nothing else away from this article, consider the idea of spending a few hours at a café, doing nothing more than enjoying a hot beverage and people watching. Maybe you’ll have a journal with you and take some notes of inspiration, or maybe you’ll stumble upon a newspaper or left-behind book for mental stimulation.
- Soak Up a Neighborhood Vibe: Neighborhoods are great to transform your attitude; pick a place that has a nice variety of things going on, from spa treatments to bakery treats. Show up and see where your feet point you, while noticing any details in between — graffiti that has a positive message for you, a new shop with charms and gems, or a bookstore!?!
- Go Farther Afield: What’s within a one-hour drive of home? Maybe there’s an unspoiled tract of nature that is calling your attention? A neighboring town full of quaint charm and a more relaxed atmosphere? It’s amazing what a change of scenery (and the thinking time in transit, while singing loudly to the radio) can do.
If you want to stay at home for your afternoon break, I suggest staging the scene appropriately: maybe an afternoon tea party, maybe a reading nook on your back porch, or build yourself a pillow fort — who are we to judge? Don’t forget the tea!
No matter your budget or time limit, take this time for your afternoon break to just enjoy. Enjoy some gratitude that you have this opportunity! Enjoy the quality time if you’ve brought a friend or your partner with you. Enjoy looking for new sights or for old favorites. Enjoy that you don’t have to rush right now, you don’t have to be anywhere for a bit. Enjoy that you get to focus on you, not someone else. Doesn’t that feel good?
Before You Plug Back In….
Now that you’ve taken a lovely afternoon break and are feeling recharged, I’d like you to stop for a second and do one last thing before plugging back in. I’d like for you to take a piece of paper for a fresh page in your journal, and answer this question: How do I feel right now?
By answering this question, I hope you will realize the power of an afternoon break and you’ll go into your calendar and mark out time for the next one right now. At the end of your life, wouldn’t you like to reflect on all those amazing experiences you savored here and there?