Wait, what?! I want to be on vacation not working out. This workout you can do while taking a nap or strolling on the beach, so no need for alarm. Taking a vacation is the perfect workout to build your creativity and attention muscles. When you are caught up in the demands of the day: deadlines, appointments and the daily chores of living, it is difficult to really pay attention and “see” with creative eyes. Your mind is focused on your to-do list and you are in automatic mode. Taking a vacation, or a break from the usual daily routine, will allow you to see with fresh eyes. That is what weekends were made for but many times in our connected world we are still looking at work emails, news articles or spinning our clicks on social media.
How can you disconnect from the world you see daily? What can you do to build your attention muscles? How can you do this without spending a fortune on a fabulous vacation?
Go Somewhere New
Yes, this may be a vacation, a long weekend, a day or maybe you simply drive a different route to a usual destination. When you break up the routine you will see with new eyes. When you take the same route to work, school or the store you begin to not notice things, you are thinking about something else because you know the way. When you travel a new route your brain says"this is new territory and I need to pay attention in order to survive", you look around and notice things.
Associations and Memories
Anytime you try something new or different you will work your association muscles. I noticed while hiking in a new part of the country how much it reminded me of another part of the world. I began to pay attention to both similarities and differences. So not only was I paying attention to what was in front of my eyes, I was also engaging and paying attention to my memories. Two different parts of the brain and I got bonus points for a double workout.
Take a nap
This may be an easy one for you, or not. I am not a good napper, but my husband is. He easily fits one in a couple of times a week. I have learned to simply close my eyes and let my brain rest. Whether you are napping or resting your eyes, you will be getting fresh information downloaded and when you open your eyes look around your surroundings as if you are seeing them for the first time. Really notice the quality of the light, the objects around you and any sounds and smells. This is wonderful to do while you are on vacation because you will be surrounded by the unfamiliar.
Now you may not want to do this on your way to the hotel or rental destination for your vacation, but once you have arrived just take some time to wander around without an itinerary, get the lay of the land. If you live in a city try getting a little lost in an area you aren’t familiar with. If you live in a rural area try driving down a road you have never been on. Just like going somewhere new, when you get lost you will be in a heightened state of awareness. The added part of being off the grid can add to the excitement.
Look for Relics in a City
I love to go to ancient sites when I travel. Ancient ruins from civilizations long gone spark my curiosity. But I can also unearth relics in the city. Look for indications of a culture that used to live in the area by reading the signs or plaques as you roam about. You will learn a bit of history and it could be the spark for a new project. A building with a sign from decades ago or even things like a phone booth can open your imagination to create a story.
Beauty in the Discarded
One person’s discard is another one’s inspiration. Estate sales or antique markets are a great way to discover the recent relics of our civilization. I love to play the game with old tools or instruments, trying to guess what they were used for. While you are at an estate sale see what object inspires you. My friend once found an old broken miniature ladder from a chicken coop and incorporated it into an assemblage art piece that now hangs on my wall.
Pay Attention to the Mundane
Look at the things most people don’t notice, textures on walls, cracks in sidewalks, plants peeking out from impossible places. You are always surrounded by beauty, when you look with fresh eyes.