It's finally (or almost) here! School's out for summer! It's that long-awaited break you've been waiting for all year.
As you know, I'm a fan of self-care and making sure we have some appropriate down time to rejuvenate. I also believe it's important to make sure we are intentional about what we're trying to accomplish during our time off. So I give you "The Summer of George [or insert your name here]!" Seinfeld fans, you know what I'm talking about. But check out the video below for an all-important refresher!
Take some time off
I think it's ALWAYS important to take some time off right after a major event or stressful time (I think finals count as a stressful time). That allows you to decompress and not have some responsibilities for a bit. If that's not completely possible, then be careful about not putting too much extra things on your plate.
I personally like to take time off and do so little that I actually feel bored. For me, getting to that place helps re-ignite the fire for what I love to do and why I love to do it. It's also a time where a lot of ideas come to me about how to be more helpful or take a new angle on projects.
Take some time to figure out intentions
Notice, I said INTENTIONS, not GOALS. Personally, I find setting intentions rather than goals to be powerful. Goals tend to be focused on the future, focus on a destination, and are often external. On the other hand, intentions tend to be present focused, are a way of life, and focused on your own internal dialogue and experience.
Being intentional helps us focus on the moment, which leads to us being more present in what we are doing (essentially mindfulness). We know mindfulness has a variety of benefits including reducing stress and improving performance. So for me, focusing on our intentions, seems like a no-brainer!
For me, the summer is a time I focus more on writing and creating or tweaking programming for student-athletes. I do this because I believe it's my responsibility to contribute to the literature and provide good programming. But even more importantly, I do this because it nourishes a part of my spirit in a different way. (The nerdy part of my spirit!)
It's easy to let other activities take priority over this. Therefore, I intentionally carve time out of my schedule every day so I can focus on this aspect of my life. It's a great way to rejuvenate me, stay on top of the science in my field, and feed that academic side of me!
Act in accordance with your intentions
Now the tricky part: make sure your behaviors are in line with your intentions. The cool part about being intentional and mindful is that the entire purpose is to PAY ATTENTION. So even making the point to be more intentional is going to help you focus on making sure your intentions and behaviors line up.
Of course you're going to encounter times where this isn't the case, but just check in with yourself and problem-solve why it's not happening. I like to use these questions to guide making changes:
- Is my behavior in line with my intentions?
- If not, why do I think it's out of line?
- Do I need to revisit my intentions? Is it the right intention for me right now?
- What is one thing I need to do right now to make my behavior more in line with my intentions?
I like to check in with myself every week regarding my intentions, just so I don't get off track. It's also a great way to make sure I'm being present and feeling fulfilled during my "Summer of Erin."
So maybe your summer will involve working on honing your mad frolfing skills. Or maybe it will be focused on managing emotions more effectively in sport. Maybe it's working on communication skills in relationships. Whatever it is make sure you take some time to think about it and ask yourself what you REALLY need this summer!
Dr. Erin Haugen is a licensed clinical psychologist and sport/performance psychologist located in Grand Forks, ND. She specializes in helping college student-athletes excel in sports and in life. She is a former basketball player, current triathlete, and LOVES dogs.
Disclaimer: You should consult an appropriate professional for specific advice tailored to your situation. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, you should call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.