To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.

~ Bertrand Russell ~

Take A Spring Break

June 9th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 3 mins, 29 secs

Just think of it: you could take a spring break as a bike stand...

Just think of it: you could take a spring break as a bike stand…

No spring break for us Downunder. Nope. We mostly work right through the March period and beyond. Though, we still find some ways to fit breaks in all the same.

The spring break, as Americans and Canadians have it, must be a lovely time. Still, given Tasmanians enjoy warm autumn in March, it’s still a great time to be out and about anyway. And, seeing as we sometimes have Easter in March as well as 8 Hour Day, we manage okay.

But having time off is the big thing. “You deserve a holiday “ as we say (meaning a “vacation” not a public holiday). A pleasant spring break is good, but a decent break of a few weeks at least is what everybody needs at least one time a year.

Years ago, Ruth and I were working so hard in our consultancy that we skipped holidays/vacations for four years in a row. That was how I learned first hand why a decent time off is so vital.

Nowadays, I am a strong fan of the spring break, the summer break, the winter break, and any other holiday (at least in spirit). Time off on vacation gives us much needed variety and puts the other parts of your life into better perspective.

It doesn’t matter in the slightest if you take a big trip or stay at home (Though I admit I love big trips!). Nor is it important when you go (a spring break might be nice, but really anytime is right if it means a proper getaway). Taking a break from your responsibilities is the restorative thing, and I’m sure you deserve that.

Now I’m not implying you can’t be happy without a vacation. But I suggest it’s a quality of life measure that can help you think more clearly, lower your stress levels, and put more zing into your relationship (that’s a good return, given you’re only taking a spring break or similar).

Having said that, I know implicitly that some people don’t understand the concept of a break. For them, it has to be go, go, go so they engross themselves in tight schedules and ridiculous itineraries (“Okay, at 9.05am we see the Eiffel Tower… then at 9.10 we head straight to Notre Dame…”).  This constitutes something vaguely like what they have a home: a tightly packed diary of events to have to attend to, and stress about.

Which defeats the purpose of rest and recreation in the first place (not to mention it undermining relationships, generating tension, and probably causing international friction). For a spring break to work it needs to connect you with the sunshine, the outdoors, and lazy days enjoying people and your favorite pleasures. Likewise, if it were fall, then the sight of autumn leaves, the growing, crisp stillness, and clear night air could fit in somewhere. Why? Because place and season set the scene for cosying up with someone you love and enjoying the romance of the occasion (And why not?).

What matters is the enjoyment of nature and relationships to bring us back to simpler, more fundamental feelings. Tight schedules? Get rid of them! Hugely expensive options?  Unnecessary. What is required is unstructured time and the opportunity to find calm so often missing in this noisy, rushed world. Like all good vacations, a good spring break has a lot to offer.

But, if you need more action then by all means go for it! Just intersperse quiet times in between so you can still create a sense of rest.

I no longer listen to those haranguing the community about holidays equaling “losses in productivity”. They are missing the point. As human beings breaks are a need not an indulgence and any good employer would want their staff to be refreshed. Even people who never take a break their entire working life don’t impress, because a change of pace offers fresh insights into the way each of us works. Taking a well-earned spring break and kicking your heels is good for everyone.

Vacations at fixed times is an interesting phenomenon (e.g. like the August break in Paris, the North American spring break, and those long Aussie Christmas holidays for students and fortunate employees). Whilst they might not be very strategic, they create an important social rhythm that puts the spotlight back on families.

So take a tip from someone who has skipped too many breaks. Take that spring break, golden week, summer hols, or whatever else is on offer. Make it revolve not just around location but your favorite pastimes, good food, and relationships. Avoid the temptation to think of your time away as some product (it’s about enjoying life wherever you are – even when you are still sitting in the airport waiting due to plane delays). Oh, and savor every day because breaks reacquaint you with different ways to live. When life demands so much, time away is just what you need.

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