There are so many ways to R and R. Rest and Relaxation is code for “anything but work…” But I like to add another “R” – Relax, Recreate and Recover. For some, R & R means getting away from the everyday – work, family obligations. For some this means enjoying much needed peace and quiet. Maybe turn on some good music; curl up with a book; drink a glass of wine or a cup of tea. Depending on the situation and timing, that sounds perfect to me too. But for all of us, R & R should also be about the outdoors – a kayak trip down the river, snowshoeing, paddle boarding, hiking, or any other active outdoor activity could also be the ticket. No matter your take on the perfect R & R, consider the importance of it in your life right now. Ask some questions and then make a plan to get outside for some relaxation, recreation, and recovery from life’s challenges.
How do you discover what the best RRR activities are for you? How do you make them therapeutic instead of just more you have to do? Adding to the stress and busyness of our lives is not the goal of RRR. The purpose is to come home refreshed, ready to face tomorrow a little more relaxed, if not a little more tired and dirty. Here are some things I like to do and some people (and doggies) I like to do them with. What are your favorite RRR activities?
Time to get outside
Right now, most of us are finding that outdoor activities are safer, easier to manage, and more fun than time at home. We have all spent a lot of time at home the last few months, so getting out and about feels like a respite well earned. Living in Montana in the summer usually means spending lots of time outdoors with family and friends. Sunshine, warm evenings, and cool nights equal time spent hiking, camping or doing fun things in or on the water. Most of us don’t even wait for the weekend to recreate. These long summer days mean there is lots of daylight available even before or after work. Here are some suggestions from Outside Mag online if you are looking for suggestions. But as you can see by the pics, my friends and family enjoy the outdoors all winter long as well.
These activities can be done inexpensively if you just remember to think outside the box a bit. Go with activities close to home, seasonal, that don’t take a lot of gear. Day hikes, a swim in the river or lake, camping close by are all cheap and readily available to everyone. In the city, you may have to take a short drive, or stay over. But getting outside can fit into ANY budget with a little imagination. You don’t have to get on a plane to enjoy a little RRR. Consider switching an indoor activity, like your yoga practice outside.
Stepping up and out
I don’t know about you, but I have always loved the outdoors. I grew up in a home where we hiked, camped, canoed, swam or fished in the river. We recreated our way through every summer. There was just my sister and I growing up first in the Midwest and then later moving to Montana. My parents made sure we were either outside with them, the neighborhood kids, our cousins, or other family. As we grew older, I guess we also chose friends, and eventually boyfriends that liked to “do” things outside. You could say we were “outdoorsy”. But it was also a time to forget our problems and the complications of being in a family. None of us are perfect. Humans are messy. Just a little time outside can cure a host of concerns and change our perspective for the better. We discover more about a person when we hike with them, but also more about ourselves.
Time recreating was like that for me. I found that if things were challenging at home, I looked forward to outdoor activities to relax, forget my problems and recover from anything too challenging or difficult in my life. Welcome distractions were how I saw outdoor activities. Over the years, I realize I nurtured that when I had my own family. It helped us to bond, but also to escape a little from the world. Recovery felt good. Outside time began to mean being healthier physically and mentally. Those activities helped us to grow into a happy, healthy family. So when the complications of life came knocking, we had a place to go for respite, recovery and recalculation. More than once, RRR saved my soul, my body, my heart from life’s entanglements. I see the same need in my children. Doing something outdoors is their go-to. It makes me so happy to know I had a small part in that.
As we get older, we all seem to do more reminiscing about the past. As we age, there is a lot more that has already happened in our lives than there is ahead. Plus we learn not to wish away time or look forward to things too far in the future. Early on, as kids, we established friendships based on “doing” things together. Usually these activities involved things our friends also liked to do. As we established our adult lives, the process continued to work. Add children? Continue to grow the process. We would hook up with other friends and family that liked the same activities and share the time together. We went skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer, spent time on the lake water-skiing or jet-skiing. Almost always with family or a few close friends, including all the kids and their friends. The RRR grew to be a necessary part of life. Not just a pastime, but a necessity.
There never seemed to be enough time to get in all the fun things, especially working around coaching summer sports or those sports our kids played. But we managed a fair amount of outdoor time in between it all over the years. Unknowingly, without a real plan to do so, we taught our our kids the value of RRR. By setting the example of RRR, we taught them to step away from jobs and responsibilities for some much deserved recreational time. In doing so, we gave then a very important gift: the gift of recovery. Recovery, just like sleep allows us to recharge and get back to the important work of living our lives.
I am actually one of those lucky people who has almost always liked my job. My careers in education and the arts have provided a constant recharging of my soul. I also like doing projects around the house. What might be deemed “chores” by others, is just an art project to me. When a friend or family member asks if I would like to go along for an outdoor activity, I try to make the effort to go. I used to weigh the pros and cons, trying to talk myself out of going. But as I have gotten older, I have realized that saying yes always brings with it a basketful of memories that brighten my days and make me feel more alive. I borrow the necessary equipment or try to have it on hand so there are no excuses not to go. There is just something about getting outside that allows our mind, body and soul to recover, even if we don’t realize we need it. WE DO!
For that matter, there is nothing wrong with making outdoor activities part of our daily individual activities either. Walking, running, cycling are all easy to do by ourselves. No friends needed. Sometimes the relaxing and recovering parts are easier to enjoy alone. Especially if we begin to use these activities as our daily workout or just as importantly as therapy. Even if it is a quick walk around the neighborhood in a spring rain, a walk in the park in the snow in January, or taking the dog to the dog park in October and enjoying the crisp leaves under your feet, get outside!
Get out there!
Have you ever stopped to question as an adult why you should make time for outdoor activities? Is it simply because these pastimes allow you to be distracted from the boring requirements of life like work, errands or chores? Or do you make time for these activities because you truly enjoy them? Gain something in return? What about those of us that always “say” we are going to go play that round of golf, or get out on the river but never do? Do we not get around to it because we are truly “too busy”, or is it a matter of setting priorities? Could it just be a matter of scheduling so we make time, or is it a form of avoidance, fear or apathy? Do you say yes when that friend asks you to join the float on the river? Or do you make excuses because it is too much trouble? Is there fear? Pressure to go? Pressure at home not to go? There is a lot more to consider than we might think. Consciously considering the “why” behind our choices allows us to choose with more thought, confidence and assurance that we are being true to our own needs.
I encourage you to say YES more often to outside activities, to breathing that open air, to moving that body in the big outdoors. Say more NO’s to sedentary activities like watching tv and gaming. Say YES to friends that ask you to go on outings, but also reach out to them with ideas for outdoor activities. You will gradually find a core group of people that are willing to join you. Remember – it is perfectly alright to take some me-time that is purely alone time too. With others or alone, get outside. Make memories. Relax. Recreate. Recover. Repeat. RRR and R. There is apparently no end to the possibilities…
Cheers to being outside!