This post is an excerpt from Philanthropy and Digital Civil Society: Blueprint 2018, my ninth annual industry forecast. Read the entire Blueprint series and join the conversation on social media with…
Why getting away, even for a weekend, and especially for a Long Weekend, is good for the Body and the Mind
Here in Southern Ontario, one of the first sure signs that summer has finally returned is the Victoria Day Long Weekend, endearingly referred to as the May Two-Four weekend. This nickname comes from two very different sources. As Victoria Day, the holiday falls on the Monday in May that is on or just before May 24th to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday. In the late 20th and early 21st Century, it has come to be associated with the cases of beer that are generally consumed over the course of the three-day weekend… or in significantly less time. A case of beer, holding 24 cans, is a “two-four” of beer, as in “a two-four of Bud Light”. There is a strong association between long weekends and beer in these parts, and since the May 24th weekend is related to 24, “May Two-Four” has become the standard name for the weekend.
But regardless of what the weekend is called, and regardless of what it celebrates — the birthday of a Queen in 1819, or the King of Beers — long weekends, or any weekends spent at a cottage, trailer, or vacation home are one of the very best kinds of therapy around.
Easier to Take a Break
When you remove yourself completely from your work and home worlds, it’s much easier to shut off the Monkey Mind chatter about what needs to be done, what needs to be scheduled, and who needs to be contacted. For most people, those things can wait until the next business day. It’s also much easier to shut off all the chatter about what needs to be done at home — the cleaning, the fixing, the maintaining… it can all wait until you get home, too. The relief of being able to set aside all the To Do’s and Honey Do’s, just for a couple of days, gives the mind more time and space to think about less pressing and more enjoyable things. While a weekend away doesn’t give the same kind of break that a whole week away in Mexico would give, it does provide enough of a break to refresh the mind for another week at work and at home. True, high speed internet availability does mean that you can stay connected even when you’re away, but it can be turned off. It doesn’t HAVE to be turned on. Going off the grid and being unreachable, even for a day or two, is very refreshing, and I highly recommend it.
Easier to Relax
I am writing this while sitting on the deck at the trailer at 9:30 am on Victoria Day Monday. The sun is almost above the trees at the east edge of the lot. The birds are singing their hearts out in those same trees. Most people are still sleeping off their late nights last night, so it’s peaceful and inspirational around here. It’s so much easier to just sit and let the mind wander in a place like this. I usually find that I sleep better here. It’s likely a combination of increased fresh air and sunshine, increased exercise because we have to walk to everything, and the chance to let go of all the busy thoughts from home and work. And rainy days here are the best. Two days ago, on a rainy, overcast Saturday afternoon, I decided to pull up the fuzzy blankie and indulge in an afternoon snooze. Six hours later, I finally woke up, relaxed, rested, and totally gobsmacked that I’d slept for the entire afternoon! I guess I really needed some rest. And there is nothing quite like sitting out on a deck or dock, indulging the senses and soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells of nature all around. There’s a reason that photos of Muskoka, or Adirondack, or Cape Cod chairs on a deck in the evening are so popular…
Easier to find peace and clarity
Sure, there are still things that need to be done at a vacation home. Cutting grass, raking seaweed, sweeping, cleaning, cooking, washing dishes… but there’s no super rush or hurry about doing those things. It’s really easy to fall into a sort of Zen State while doing those tasks, falling into the rhythm of the task and letting the mind wander. Meals don’t have to be served at a particular time in order to get to another activity. Sweeping and cleaning can wait — until tomorrow, or until next week. There are far fewer distractions to sidetrack and hijack our thoughts. There’s nothing quite like letting the peace of the waves on the water or the glow of the campfire flames lull you into a quiet, free-flowing place where your mind can wander at will and explore thoughts as they happen without any pressure or direction. I think that’s part of why lakefront property is so desirable. We are blessed with countless small lakes here, and I don’t think there is anything quite as therapeutic as sitting beside the water, doing nothing… on purpose.
Easier to slow down and spend time with others
It’s part of the slower pace of life. This is probably more of a trailer thing than a cottage thing, but when people are walking somewhere, and if someone they know is out on the deck or working in the yard, they’ll stop and chat for a minute, five minutes, ten minutes, half an hour… it’s all good. There’s no rush to get where they’re going — they’ll get there when they get there. The slower pace means that there is time to stop and say “Hi”, to spend a few minutes, to connect with other people. That just doesn’t happen much at home or at work. Everyone is working against the clock, racing to be productive and get stuff done. The busy-ness of work and home all but eliminates having the time to stop and connect with others. A vacation home makes time almost irrelevant. It means there’s almost always time to stop and connect.
Easier to find ways to exercise
Vacation homes are synonymous with boats, canoes, kayaks, bicycles, swimming, stand-up paddleboards, baseball, horseshoes… all of the outdoor sports and activities that make summer so much fun. It’s just so much easier to get outside and get active in the summer than in the winter. I’ve always said that I like summer best because, at least in Southern Ontario, the only thing extra that you need to put on to go outside in the summer is sandals… and sometimes not even that. But there are so many ways to get outside and get active that there really are no excuses for not getting some form of exercise in the summer. Even cutting grass or raking seaweed can be good exercise if it’s hot enough…
Large doses of fresh air & sunshine
Provided that it isn’t raining, there is no reason whatsoever for staying indoors at the cottage or the trailer. The barbecue means that we can cook outside. Patio furniture is there so we can sit and dine comfortably outside. Trees, awnings, gazebos and umbrellas mean we can sit in the shade outdoors when it gets really warm. Campfires are there so we can enjoy the warmth and the light, even when it’s cooler and dark outside. Coolers are there to keep our food and beverages cool, fresh, and refreshing. The best days are the ones spent almost entirely outdoors, enjoying the sunshine, the fresh air and the peace.
There are so many reasons why cottages, trailers, and vacation homes are good for the body and the mind. I know that I start to feel better just pulling out of the driveway at home, knowing that I’m heading for the trailer. I would suggest that, given the chance, you should never pass up the chance to spend time away at a vacation home — even just 2 days will be more than worth it!
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