Relaxation and reflection-two very important concepts especially within the helping professions. As I sit here on the long holiday weekend relaxing, I have the time to think about what is really important in life. Being in nature and spending time with family are two of those things. When camping, you are limited in what you can bring, so you pack sparingly and focus on needed items. If you forgot something you make do or see if a camping neighbor can share. People are friendly overall and everyone is focused on relaxing and spending time as a family. There is nothing like sitting around the campfire at night, making s’mores and staring up at the stars to make you appreciate your life in general.
In winter it is playing outdoors in the snow and coming in to sit by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate, surrounded by holiday decorations, the smell of cookies baking in the oven and music playing in the background that lifts your spirit.
There seems to be two groups in society-those that care about appearances and materialistic goods and those that do not. All of us at different points in our life flit between the two groups and part of it is age related, how one was raised, friends, family, colleagues and advertisers/marketers influence us. The question often becomes, are we drawn in/do we take the bait? Think about it. Which group or category do you belong to at this moment in your life? Is it the group you want to belong to?
The point of the question is for each of us, no matter what segment of the helping profession we work in, social work, mental health, psychology or counseling to reflect and contemplate the important issues in life. Will owning a fancy, expensive car make your life have value? Importance? Make you feel better about yourself? Perhaps it is designer clothes vs. a department store brand that will make all the difference in your life. The same can be said for electronics. Do you rush out to buy the newest IPhone, tablet, or laptop and if yes will owning one make you feel better about yourself or make you part of the ‘in’ crowd? Does it really matter? Will putting yourself into huge debt to focus on this materialism be what matters most-showing everyone around you that you have all the new and best things in life? Personally, I think the stress alone of trying to live up to this standard will get to you and if you really think about it-none of it really brings you true joy, happiness or peace.
Your true friends will not care and will like you for who you are as an individual. Perhaps it is your sense of humor, your humanistic approach to life, your generosity, your work ethic, a vivacious spirit, your ability to see the positive/bright side in life or your ability to forgive and move on. Today, I heard a nurse say: “You cannot control the future so why spend time worrying about it; you cannot change the past so why dwell on it; and the only moment is today/right now so focus on this.” What great advice! Not easy to do though. Many of us worry about the future. Many of us wish we could change something we said or did in the past. Perhaps we should look at the past as a learning opportunity and move on and focus on the now.
Every professional should take the time to reflect. Without doing so we cannot grow as professionals. Every person needs a relaxing weekend to recharge. And at this time of year when many are off work for the holidays, perhaps the time can be spent asking yourself some of the above questions.
So, do you do enough of the 2 R’s, relaxation and reflection?