By Mary Reitano
An American exploring Africa employed local men to carry his gear to a remote village. In mid-afternoon, they stopped to set up camp. The explorer was frustrated, because he was in a hurry to get to his destination. The locals explained, “We have travelled very fast, and must allow time for our souls to catch up to our bodies.” 1
A continent away, we often drive at 70 miles per hour or more. We get used to high speeds. Upon exiting the expressway and slowing to 35 miles per hour, it feels like we are “crawling” at a snail’s pace. “Develocitizing” was a term coined to name the process of adjusting to a slower pace. This is also true in our personal lives–we do not realize our crazy pace until we slow down and feel restless. It may be hard to slow down when beginning a vacation. We may feel a compulsive need to be productive–to prove our worth by “doing.” This can contribute to stress and may be driven by performance anxiety. By allowing ourselves to relax, we achieve emotional and spiritual freedom; we can just “be” and not feel a need to “strive.”
We probably do not need another warning about the dangers of chronic stress on health. But, it is wise to listen to our bodies. Mayo Clinic wrote: “stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit.” 5 You may feel irritable, have angry outbursts, feel depressed, or rely on alcohol to relax. Besides vacations, Mayo Clinic offers tips for reducing daily stress (see Sources below).
Summer vacations are a wonderful opportunity to change our pace. Hotter temperatures encourage our bodies to slow down, schools are out, and many scheduled activities are postponed until fall. But, we may need to work on slowing down to enjoy our time off. A popular song from the 1960’s reminds us to “slow down, you’re moving too fast, you gotta make the morning last….” 2
According to Susan Krauss Whitbourne, “Vacations have the potential to break into the stress cycle. We emerge…feeling ready to take on the world again. We gain perspective on our problems, get to relax with our families and friends, and get a break from our usual routines. That’s if the vacation is “successful.” 4
Sean Doyle wrote “We need to slow down. Slowing down re-energizes us and allows us to nurture ourselves so that we can enjoy what we are doing in the moment we are doing it. It allows us to connect with people, rather than just check in. It opens us to awe and wonder, and it lets us play and discover the beauty that exists all around us.” 3 In closing, the photo of the sign on this page reminds us—“Relax—you’re on lake time!
Next month – Part 2 – Vacation – Savoring Positive Moments
1 Dick Staub. Letting Your Soul Catch Up With Your Body. http://dickstaub.com/staublog/letting-your-soul-catch-up-with-your-body/
2 Paul Simon / The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy). http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/simongarfunkel/the59thstreetbridgesongfeelingroovy.html
3 Sean Doyle, JD / “To Slow Down” from Positive Psychology News Daily website.
4 Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201006/the-importance-vacations-our-physical-and-mental-health