As the Bank Holiday Monday approached I wondered how I would spend this wonderful free extra ‘me’ time.  I had to stop to think about it as the week before my son came home on leave from the army and found himself with a day free and said he didn’t know how to spend it. It didn’t happen that often and it was a problem! In the end he came round to our house and played some old video games with his sister and they both really enjoyed it. They laughed and chatted and remembered old times. Perhaps that is one idea, to take time out to reconnect and do things that make us happy with people we care about.

spring-cleaning-woman-multi-taskingMy first reaction to free time is to use it to catch up on all the things I haven’t had chance to do while working full time – clear the garden, tidy cupboards, spring clean the house.

I then consider all my neglected hobbies – finish that book, play the piano, knit a jumper or experiment making different flavoured chocolates bars. I am at the stage now,where I am saving things to do for when I retire, as I cannot seem to fit them in now.

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But is this really the best use of a day off? To fill my day with being busy? Shouldn’t I relax or spend time with others to help refresh myself? Perhaps I should explain that I gain energy from being with other people (check out Myers Briggs E type) so spending time with others who inspire me and make me feel valued recharges my batteries.  I realise other people are different and gain energy from being alone (Myers Briggs I type) and that is good as well.

So I’ve had a look round for some ideas and found these:

Switch your phone off for a day – spend the day being truly present and enjoying it without checking emails, facebook etc. Scary maybe, but you could find it liberating, so break free! You will have time to relax without interruption and achieve more without the distractions. You may realise that you need to reduce the effect your phone has on you in the future. It is there to serve you not the other way round.

Take a walk with a camera – your phone will do if you haven’t got one, walk around slowly noticing things and take pictures of anything that catches your eye – river, pebbles, clouds, trees, lamp posts, oil patch rainbows. How many things do you normally miss? How artistic and creative can you be with these?

writing-a-journalWrite a blog – these are great for just writing about anything you like – your hobbies, travels, food or just reflect on life. You could start #100daysofhappiness blog where each day you find something that has made you happy and write about it. This make you realise how much you have to be grateful for – a friend helping you, a smile from a stranger, sunshine (well it is England), achieving something. For some tips on writing to create, reflect and explore click HERE.

Spend time with family or friends

I mean those that make you feel good about yourself! Share memories and secrets, chat, laugh and relax knowing that you will not be judged and they accept you just as you are. Play trivial pursuits, sing karaoke, whatever you all enjoy together or just sit with the TV etc off and chat over a cup of tea.

Try a random act of kindness

kindnessDo something without expecting anything in return, do some volunteering – take dogs from the animal shelter for a walk, work in the soup kitchen, donate stuff to charity shops (great for clearing your clutter), let other cars in while in queues of traffic. Help others when you get the chance and it might make someone’s day, you may never know what a difference you made! For one exanple read Kyle’s friend but be prepared to cry!  Try here for ideas of random acts of kindness, they don’t have to be big things.

Think about your future

Focus on you! In our busy lives we often do not have time to think about ourselves and what we want. We end up not getting the results we want because we haven’t taken the steps needed. Use the time to think about your future and make plans to make it happen. Think about what you need to do to get where you want to be. Each day you should be working towards the life that you want that will make you happy(ier).

So these are some ideas for when you find yourself with some spare time to yourself. It is important to keep ourselves mentally and physically healthy so don’t neglect the chance to do both. We support activities focusing on promoting wellbeing in research in our #researchwell campaign so look out for these. If you have any ideas of what else we could provide to promote wellbeing in researchers then please get in touch.

So how did you spend your Bank Holiday?What worked for you?

I had a family bbq with three generations taking part and chatted to my grand daughter  about her recent holiday in Cornwall and what she wants for her 6th birthday in September- she wants some slime to make aliens – to see the world through the eyes of a child is truly amazing!

Feel free to share your stories about how you made the most of your day off using the comments section below.

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