Though you like your job and love being with your kids in the summer—toting them to baseball practice, clarinet lessons, weekly trail rides at the riding academy or summer school—it does take its toll and you might prefer to be alone on a desert island with your book-loaded Kindle and tropical umbrella drink in-hand.
Well, guess what? You need mental health breaks for successfully leading a balanced life. We can’t put you on that desert island, but we can make it easier for you to cope. Women are notorious for not putting themselves first, as we all know. But look at it this way: If you don’t take care of yourself, how will you care for others?
Enjoy some tips to stay in the game and enjoy life more:
- Connect with others and keep those relationships with friends for they can be invaluable to your self-esteem and pick you up when you’re down.
- Care for yourself physically. Eat nutritious meals, avoid smoking, alcohol and other drugs, drink plenty of water and get enough sleep.
- Volunteer your time to help someone else. It’s a great way to meet others and feel good about doing so.
- Challenge yourself. Take a break and learn something new. Music lessons, a new recipe or a foreign language class can do wonders for a change of scenery and provide a sense of achievement. Plus you’ll meet new, common- interest friends.
- Learn how to deal with stress. Perhaps try yoga, relaxed breathing or meditation in an effort to avoid your stress triggers.
- Set realistic goals. Write down what you’d like to accomplish. It helps to make lists for yourself to watch your daily progress.
- Accept who you are. Some of us are clowns, looking for laughs; others cook wonderful meals and still others are talented singers. Share your lifestyle with your friends and learn about their proclivities as well.
- Keep active with regular exercise and you’ll feel better and be able to concentrate more in the moment. A big bonus: weight loss!
- Take a long weekend break. Travel with a friend to Chicago or to Fremont to shop the outlets. You’ll return refreshed and ready to tackle the kids again. If you love the outdoors, try bushwalking or ziplining with a friend for a change of pace.
- Finally, ask for help. There are many area places (some are free) that offer advice or counseling. Asking someone for counseling is a sign of strength, not weakness. Or, find a babysitter while you take the morning or afternoon off to recharge your batteries.
For Andy Wilson, executive director of Carriage House in Fort Wayne, one of the most helpful strategies for taking a break from everyday life is concentrating on his hobbies—swimming, watching movies, biking, reading and hanging out with his children.
According to Yvonne Smith, LSCW, MSSW, SAP, not taking a daily break can result in accumulating stress, which often leads to depression, anxiety and chronic physical problems. “I myself try to keep joy in my life and stress at bay,” she said. “Being out in nature, taking walks, being by the water, playing with my dog, talking with family members and friends, and prayer and listening to good music definitely makes a difference. Try something each day—even if you have only a few minutes—and see if you notice any difference in how you feel.”
Want a quick getaway?
A huge part of “getting away” from stress is taking some fun day trips. Here’s some ideas:
- Trail riding at lovely Pokagon State Park. Let your inner Annie Oakley shine as you and your horse meander through scenic woodlands.
- Visit the shops, restaurants and artwork displays in picturesque Brown County.
- Indiana Dunes State Park at Lake Michigan has 2,182 acres of beautiful and historic land and seascape for you to explore. Got a friend with a dune buggy? If so, prepare for some fantastic rides at this primitive locale.
- Mosey on down to Anderson to watch the harness races at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino. If you place a wager or two, you might come home richer than when you left.
- Like buffalo? Take a trip to Cook’s Bison Ranch in Wolcottville. Try the bison steaks and hamburgers; a healthy alternative to red meat! The owners are very hospitable and offer a guided covered wagon tour through their fields where the buffalo roam.
- If your life’s passion is fishing, grab a friend or three and charter a boat on Lake Michigan for the day. There are several charters that catch lake trout, Coho salmon, King salmon, brown trout, steelhead, perch and walleye. Google charter boats in Indiana or check out Ross Fishing Charters in Michigan City. Prices range from $300 on up and your catch can be cleaned by boat staff and put on ice for you to take home.