“So on the seventh day he (God) rested from all his work.” —Genesis 2:2b
My family and I just returned from a vacation in Florida. As the days to leave approached, we packed, scouted out places where we wanted to eat, and talked about the different games we wanted to play at the beach. I also did one more thing before leaving that I believe was my most important planning step for vacation; I prepared to mentally rest during our time away.
Because my mind runs non-stop with ideas, I knew that if I did not prepare mentally to rest, I would find myself working while away. If I worked while away, my marriage and family would suffer. So, I knew that I needed to create a plan that would allow my mind to rest while also being challenged to grow and engage my wife and kids.
If you are taking a vacation soon, below are four things I suggest you plan on doing in order to truly mentally rest for your health and for the health of your marriage and family.
- Plan to turn off your phone and other electronic devices. Yes, I said that correctly, TURN THEM OFF! I found that having my phone and other devices, including my smartwatch, “out of sight, out of mind,” led to lots of mental rest and uninterrupted family time. Disclaimer: I did check my texts and phone calls twice a day; once in the morning and once at night because you never know when your extended family might need you.
- Plan to visit a place that will expand your worldview. I know, I know, I said vacation was supposed to be a time of mental rest. But, you engage different areas of your brain by engaging in new experiences. So, while not responding to work emails, texts, and phone calls, my brain rested. But, it was also challenged to grow when we visited The National Memorial for Peace and Justice where my family and I learned so much about the horrible institutions of slavery and racism while also celebrating the strength of the African-American journey. Our visit to the memorial led to great family conversations around Jesus, loving our neighbor, and racism.
- Plan to read a book (or books). Part of what made the vacation so mentally restful for me was that I spent a lot of my vacation at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ok, not really, but mentally I was there and it was a lot of fun! My brain was able to rest from real-life issues because I was concerned about Harry Potter and his friends. My reading led to in-depth family discussions about the characters and plot of the entire Harry Potter series.
- Plan to spend lots of time with those you love. My family and I watched movies, played putt-putt, explored new restaurants, and spent a significant amount of time in the water. I was reminded of the restful and therapeutic process of tossing a ball back-and-forth in the ocean with those you love. We laughed, played, slept in late, and just talked about random life stuff.
You might be thinking, “But, Paul, we’re not going to the beach.” All four suggestions above can be done anywhere on any vacation. Just make sure you mentally prepare to rest as much as you physically prepare for vacation. If you do, you’ll come back mentally rested and feeling much more connected to family.