For the first time this year, I'm getting on a plane and flying to another state--and it's not for work. I'm actually going on a real vacation.
As part of my conscious commitment to unplug more frequently, I'm heading to Hawaii for five days to drink out of coconuts, eat too much pineapple, and do my best to avoid the sun. I've already spent far too much time and energy picking out just the right sundresses and bikinis and trying to stuff them into a tiny carry on. But there's one thing I did to prepare that was absolutely essential: I painted my toenails a delicate, shimmery pink.
Honestly, the color isn't terribly important. It was the act of painting them that mattered.
I haven't always valued or even enjoyed painting my nails. I grew up as a tomboy, so I never painted my nails as a child. I would have shriveled up in horror at the thought, and run away screaming if someone had approached me with polish in hand.
I actually can't remember painting my nails before this summer. As I started modeling, I learned very non-tomboyish skills like how to style my hair and put on makeup. But as an art nude model, you can't have your nails painted while you're shooting. The goal is to look natural, and that's difficult when your toes are rainbow-colored. So I just never bothered to try it.
But my metamour suggested it a couple of months ago, and I figured why not? It was a Summer Challenge point. And besides, I didn't have to work for a few days. I wouldn't have to take the polish off immediately after, so it didn't seem as pointless.
For the next several days, I walked around with bright red nails. I would notice them every time I looked down--they were so out of the ordinary, seeing them was startling! And every time I saw them, I would realize: I don't have to work today. Today is a day off.
The visual reminder helped me to relax. Previously, I'd had a hard time letting go of my to-do lists to take any rest time. But whenever I started fussing about work, I would look down at my toes and remember that I didn't have to worry about it.
I liked the reminder so much that I started painting my toenails every time I had a few days off in a row. Now it's practically become a ritual. It's an external reminder that I don't always have to be working.
If you have trouble relaxing when you have time off, maybe trying something like this would help you, too. I think a habit that reminds you to relax is a useful one. It doesn't have to be nail polish if that's not your style: I've talked to some people who drink the same flavor of tea, or sip it out of a specific mug when they start their time off.
But what I love about painting your nails, beyond the habit of it, is the visual reminder. It's like tying a string around your finger to remind yourself: I am relaxing. I am taking today off.
I'm here to relax and have fun. I haven't vacationed much so sometimes I need to remind myself, and now I have ten bright pink reminders poking through the sand.