How to Take a Day Off

As a nation, it seems we have forgotten how to take a day off. A recent study by Kelton Research showed that nearly half of American workers didn’t use all of their allotted vacation days last year, and a similar study by American Travel Behavior Survey indicated that the older you are, the more unused vacation time you tend to have sitting on the shelf.


Sure, the cost of travel can make a big vacation prohibitive, but what about taking the day off? What about the power of a personal Ctrl+Alt+Delete? A personal day here, a mental health day there… have we forgotten how to rest? What if we’ve forgotten how to spend a day without errands, oil changes, grocery lists, and a visit to the post office?  Take a little time to do a personal inventory to find out what you enjoy, then get excited for a day of renewal.

What did you enjoy when you were a child?

Close your eyes and remember your favorite ways to play. Picture yourself in the midst of your happiest times. What were you doing? Who were you with? How do you feel as you recall those memories? When was the last time you had those feelings, as an adult? What were you doing?

When was the last time you did something fun, just for fun?

What current activity or experience brings you close to those feelings of abandon, that unabashed playfulness of your childhood? What are some things you would love to do, by yourself, especially if nobody is watching or taking pictures for Instagram? What’s something fun you intended to do, back when you dreamed of being an adult in charge of your own life?

Join your children on the playground

You could run and play, and do what they do. Scale the climbing wall with your little girl, or swing high on the swings with your growing boy. Or, you could bring a book and read on the swings or under a shady tree. Take a blanket, a journal, some markers, and a coloring book.  Bask in the sunshine and let your color splash the page.


Abandon the gym

Maybe you’re one of those people who loves everything about the gym, and you get all excited over the idea of treadmills and barbells. But if by chance you’re not energized by that environment, free yourself to find a different way to get your body moving. Sign up for a dance class. Shoot some hoops. Hop in the swimming pool with your kids. Take a class in rock climbing or boxing.  Inject your routine with some playfulness.

Bring Pinterest into your real life

Pick one of the DIY projects you’ve pinned on Pinterest, and then choose a day to actually do it. Try some new recipes, and make that dessert you’ve been talking about. Create the decoupage you’ve been admiring. Make your ideas come alive in the space around you.

Rent a convertible

For half a day, rent the car you’ve always wanted to drive.  Throw a scarf around your neck, pack some snacks, and feel the wind in your hair.  Your brain thinks differently in a different place. Give yourself a new perspective, and see what comes to mind. New spaces bring new ideas. Not all who wander are lost.

Maybe it’s time to reconnect with yourself to find what fills your cup and lights you up.  Remember when you couldn’t wait to be an adult, so you could chew gum whenever you wanted, sleep on the trampoline, and eat ice cream for breakfast? Do your eight-year-old self a favor and sprinkle some fun into your life, just like you intended to.



Tricia Lott Williford is a remarried widow, a writer, teacher, reader, and thinker, and the author of three books. Her newest book is You Can Do This. Thousands of readers join her each morning for a cup of coffee as they sign online to read today’s funny, poignant stories that capture the fleeting moments of life. She collects words, quotes, and bracelets, and she lives in Denver with her husband and two sons. You can get to know Tricia through her regular posts at

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