5 Tips for Optimizing Your Relaxation This Summer!
5 Tips for Optimizing your Relaxation this Summer
by Samantha Steitz
1) Plan a Long Summer Vacation
On teaching blogs, the question What do I do during summer months leads to an annual discussion regarded with trepidation and anxiety. Families travel, kids don't practice, payment systems prove unstructured, gah -- the list goes on. Sadly, there's no easy answer to this question. However, one common theme I unfortunately often witness is teachers adapting their summer schedules to meet the demands of their students. I strongly believe this must be reversed.
Summer is a time to enjoy sunshine (wearing lots of sunscreen, of course), being with your family, lakes, oceans, water, lemonade, games of capture the flag, tomato salads and other garden-fresh favorites. In other words, summer is wonderful and we should all enjoy it.
I always plan a long summer vacation into my annual teaching calendar. During the summers that I have been in town enough to teach for a 2-4 week window, I’ve simply planned a "summer session" mandatory for students in town. However, the easiest way to handle summers is by far to build vacations into your annual schedule and bill all families monthly over the course of a year. Aside from income consistency on the teacher’s end, the 12 month billing system removes the hassle of ever discussing tuition with families after the initial contract is signed (Teacher Tip: If you don’t already have a contract system in place, I highly suggest setting one up!!) But best of all, you get to plan your time off. The world is a big and beautiful place. Get inspired and go see it!! If traveling across the world isn’t possible, there are likely dozens of beautiful places near your home that you’ve never taken the time to discover.
Summary: Take a long summer break and don't feel guilty at all. You'll re-emerge in September refreshed and excited for the upcoming year and to see the kids you've found yourself really missing!
2) Declutter your schedule
This is a tough one mostly because once families have "their" after-school time spot, they will defend it fiercely. Even the teacher, whose time it is, is hesitant to broach this fragile topic.
Let's consider a situation many of us have faced: It’s the end of a weekday and the last student is arriving. You're famished and almost delirious but find a way to smile and teach a reasonably OK lesson. However, you know it might be better if it were your first lesson of the afternoon.
Difficult as it may be, sometimes we need to audit our own lives. If a few lessons are dragging you down and making your days too long, find a way to change your schedule the next month or term. Remember, you picked this job partly because you would have time for yourself, instrument practice, and family. Make sure you're creating and maintaining a schedule that doesn't overwhelm you. You'll end up thanking yourself big time.
3) Daily Movement: Find an Outlet you Love
My life changed when I began a daily practice of yoga/pilates/meditation around seven years ago. Finally I allowed myself time to sift through thoughts and connect with my breath/physical self. Mysterious as it sounds, my daily movement practice also helps me work through any frustration and put things in perspective. As my wonderful yoga teacher trainer Hagar Harpak once aptly put, “Yoga does not fix everything, but it can help a lot."
While yoga is my bliss, physical activity preferences will vary from person to person. For Rhythm Keeper’s co-author Steve Aho, cycling is his happy place, preferably for 2-3 hours and up steep mountains. While the thought of putting myself through an experience like this makes me seriously cringe, it brings him joy and, somehow, also energy. For Musikal Husky’s Christian Marshall, diving is his happy place and even helps his viola practicing which he wrote about two weeks ago here. For others, it's a long walk with dogs, kick boxing, swimming, hiking, or running.
Holistic Living Tip & Summary: Find something you love and plan your schedule around this daily movement. If you wait to “have time” to do your preferred activity, I can guarantee you that it won’t happen: there’s just too much to do in any given day and too many things to be distracted by. However, if you carve out 10-30 minutes a day, this essential step of well-being is easily incorporated into your daily routine. You’ll feel more energized, alert and grateful for all that is going well in your life.
4) Spa Day
Here in Austria, we are lucky to be surrounded by many day spas or overnight wellness centers. In these places, the only thing to do is relax. Pool, sauna, pool, sleep, sauna, pool, eat repeat. In other words, they take relaxing very seriously here.
There are many day spas in all European cities and most across America. Treat yourself. And not once a year, but often. It is during these moments that great ideas will come to you. Given the chance to rest, you will be amazed at how your energy changes with your students; perhaps you’ll be slightly less irritable and more open. Why? Because you're taking your well-being into your own hands and not resenting anyone for infringing on your happiness -- it’s YOUR life to love and live to the fullest.
5) Let Yourself Rest.
There was a time that I truly couldn't recall the last time I had taken a day off. Had it been a few weeks ago, several months? Yikes.
In America this type of workaholism is common, perhaps even encouraged and celebrated. But I’ve come to believe, particularly after living in Austria for a year, that it's not healthy or even necessary. Give yourself time to really rest. Don't plan anything for an entire day. Read a book. Call your college best friend who you've neglected, hoping that liking their facebook posts will suffice as ongoing communication and care. Take that spa day. If you have kids, it's even more critical to give yourself this time to de-stress.
As Ferris Beuller said "Life happens when you're busy making plans." Remember that living often means just living! Aside from carving out time for daily meditation/movement and creating a schedule that is manageable, remember to eat lots of vegetable and fruits, drink water (especially chlorophyll water), start your day with a smoothie, surround yourself with things & people that bring you joy, get outside, read books, cuddle dogs, and get lots of sleep! Hope these tips are helpful!