I saw a posting on linkedin recently that focused on “5 Genius Ways to Avoid the Post-vacation Blues,” (thanks for posting it, Pat Ahaesy).
The article reminded me that some of us need to recover from the stress of a lack of a summertime vacation – much more unhealthy than post-vacation blues!! I’ve always loved summer, but this is the first year I can remember that I didn’t really take off more than an occasional day designed to focus entirely on relaxation. Not nearly enough.
I only made a resolution to change my behavior when bad judgement from fatigue resulted in a leg injury – luckily minor, but painful. I realized that my body was stressed and craving a break and I had ignored it. So I am issuing a warning to others to recognize your needs for a true vacation, even a few days, to renew your energy and your spirits.
It’s not selfish — your health may depend on it! Benefits include a decreased risk of heart disease, depression, less stress and improved productivity. And If you are guilty of sometimes skipping vacations in any season, here’s more information on the health benefits you are missing – Healthnet.
I was running in my Brooklyn neighborhood last weekend when I came to a halt at the soccer fields just south of Prospect Park in the Parade Grounds. I often run past this area and marvel at the intensity of the young kids racing around in the grass. This time I stopped and eventually took a seat – the exuberant players were young teens and they were a culturally mixed group of pony-tailed girls. I was especially impressed by the bouncy young goalie at my end of the field, who cheered on her team, then got the opportunity to make a stunning save. As they walked off the field for a break, her teammates were circled around her, laughing.
I was mesmerized. Of course, I know girls have been playing soccer for a long time now. But watching these particular girls suddenly took me back to my pony-tailed childhood when there was very little encouragement for a girl in team sports. I grew up with two brothers and until the age of 12, I played baseball and street hockey with my older brother Bill and his friends, and chased around with them on our bikes. In grade school, the girls were taught basketball, not a sport where I excelled, but at least a lot of running was involved. However I’ll never forget the summer when my mother took me aside and said I was too old to play with my brother. I needed to be a young lady. I tried playing tennis with my girlfriend, but it never became a passion for me the way team games had been. And the next year I started an honors high school where phys ed was a low priority.
I sat there wondering if my teenage years would have been a lot less painful if girls had played soccer in my Detroit hometown. As a teenager I felt very isolated, but I realize now that the lack of team sports to channel my natural teenage anxieties and fears helped fuel a major depression by junior year. My life continued to be a see saw of minor health crises throughout college. I always bounced back, but I didn’t get my exuberant childhood health back until I joined a food coop in my late 20s, discovering biking, running and organic foods. So many of the successful women I’ve known have kept up their dedication to sports and fitness; often that commitment comes from an exposure to team sports when they were young. Men have more readily recognized that link between physical fitness and business success.
As I left the bench and the soccer playing girls, I felt so happy for them. Go, girls!