Stress

What I Learned during my Time Out

Mom needs a time out

A couple weeks ago I found myself  in a low-grade grumble. You know those moods?  When anything anyone does is just wrong and annoying.

Then I yelled at one of the kids.  Not that I never yell at them, but this time I felt, shall we say, “a bit feral”.

It was bedtime, we’d just gotten back from a baseball game that went late and I was tired of negotiating with people under 5 feet.

I had decision fatigue, parenting fatigue…whatever you want to call it.  I was stressed and I needed a break.

After my time out.

After the kids were in bed I told Doug I needed a “24 off”.  A time out.

He quickly responded with, “No problem, you can take off when I get home from work Thursday.”

Smart man.  Love him.

Now, what do I do with myself

The next day I hemmed and hawed about what to do with my free time.  Should take the time to do work, or see a friend, visit family or just chill and maybe get a massage?  Do I need longer?

When I was in college I loved to take road trips.  One of my sisters lived in DC, I had family in NH and friends sprinkled in between.  So I drove up and down the northeast coast to visit everyone with just a map and my pile of CDs.  I loved the adventure of driving and taking different routes. Even now, I enjoy throwing the kids in the car and taking them on visits or adventures to different places.

I out!

Thursday morning came around and I was giddy with excitement.  I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going with my big bad self, but it didn’t matter.  As soon as Doug got home at 8:00am, I was outta there!

Free at last!

By 12:30p I had finished some client appointments and I was truly on my own.

Hitting the road, finally!

I still didn’t have a plan, but I was hungry and I was dressed to run.  

After Googling “vegan restaurant”, I found a place about 40 minutes east in an area of our small state that I never would ordinarily go to.  With a new podcast started, I hit the road.

This place was super cute, Not Only Juice, they had lots of smoothie and juice options, plus a bunch of great bowls and salads.  Check it out if you’re in the area.

While I waited for my lunch I found a suitable spot for my hike/run.  I figured I’d eat my lunch at the peak, buuuut …the beet burger didn’t make it 5 minutes in the car, it was too good!  

Beet burger from Not Only Juice. SO GOOD!

Getting a late start

When I got to the trailhead it was close to 2:00.

The first quarter mile was straight up and I was so happy to be in the woods that I was actually smiling.

Unimpressive, but QUIET view from the top.

I reached the lookout point, which wasn’t super impressive, but I was alone and my shoulders felt relaxed.

I spent about half an hour at the top, just breathing in the clear air and writing some notes from the book I had finished earlier in the week (“Girl Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis).  

It was great.  So quiet. (Although, I didn’t have my hearing aids in 😝.)

As I continued the loop, I was grinning and could feel my jaw relax.  Skipping over rocks and roots, running through the ferns, crossing over streams…ahhhhh, nature sure does have a way of making me relax.

I got back to the car by 3:45.  Seriously? I had to do a double-take.  I felt like I had been gone from my family and responsibilities for two days already!

By the time I was really on my own, after working in the morning, to this point had only been three hours.

Then it dawned on me, I’d been thinking about this self-care and stress reduction thing all wrong.  

I LOVE how blurry ferns look, almost like a magic eye puzzle.

What is self-care, really?

I talk about it with my clients and read about it, but I understood it from a whole different perspective after this day.

It doesn’t take a whole day or week away for self-care.  Yes, that’s amazing to do as well. But it takes small things compounded over time.

Basic self-care is doing something you love, for even a short period of time.  Something that makes you feel like the real you. Not someone’s mom, wife, co-worker, sister, daughter or whatever responsibility you have.

Maybe that’s the point.

Maybe if I just took an hour or two every week to myself, doing NOTHING that has to do with ANY of my responsibilities, maybe then I’d be able to handle those responsibilities with more vigor and clarity.

Great ending to the day

Even though I felt rejuvenated and it was only 3:45, there was no way I was going home until  after everyone was in bed!

I drove the hour back to town, showered at the YMCA (even though the family was at baseball), and enjoyed a long dinner with a friend.

As I pulled in the driveway at 9:00 PM, I felt calm and smiley on the inside.

Now what?

  • A little bit of time.  That’s it.
  • A few minutes a day of deep breathing, prayer or meditation.
  • A few hours a week of adventure.

Those are my goals to handle life and stress, what’s yours?

~Catherine

2 Comments

  1. Cath, this make so much sense!! After a few hours of alone time I do feel rejuvenated – ready to jump back in. I love your idea of trying a new restaurant and communing with nature, it’s so grounding. Thank you for reminding us it doesn’t have to be a day!!!

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