If you were granted a gift of an extra hour that was yours, free and clear, with which to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? What about an extra six hours? How about an entire day? It doesn’t take long for the brain to start spinning with options and ideas, and before long, we’ve got an arm-length list. Would you sleep? Enjoy a lengthy hike? Cuddle with a loved one? Maybe you’d finally play that board game that your kids got last Christmas? The anomalous Leap Day is right around the corner – one of the rare times when it really does feel like the whole world is given an extra day. While it’s possible that many folks will not get to fill their extra day fantasies, given that February 29th falls on a Monday, this day can help us to examine our priorities, and how well we are, or aren’t, living them out in our day-to-day. How we envision our own “perfect” day is usually an indicator for what we’d like to see more of in our lives.
If you would choose to slumber the whole day away, you’re likely not alone. A 2013 Gallup poll reported that 40% of Americans are getting less than the 7 recommended hours of sleep per night. If you’re one of the unrested masses, perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at your evening schedule. Can you squeeze in a bedtime that is even 20 minutes earlier than your usual? Or if it’s the quiet calm of sleeping that you crave, can you devote the last 15 minutes of your day to an electronics-free, on-your-own meditation or prayer session? If every day feels like a too-tall order, perhaps commit to 4 days a week of granting yourself some extra rest.
If, in your extra-day dream world, you’re up to your elbows in movies, crafts, and games with your family members, that’s a sign that perhaps some quality family time is in order, pronto. Considering that unadulterated family time is often better in smaller doses anyway, maybe ponder some ways to amp up your family’s quality time together on a regular basis a few times a week. Hint: with family time, the key word is intentional. It’s easy to have everyone in the same room, but be mentally miles apart in their own little screen-induced la-la land. Dinners together, evening board games or outdoor walks are enjoyable, easy ways to reconnect with your most-loved ones.
Did your mind immediately start moving toward a day of practicing some long-overdue self-care? If things like going for a long walk, getting a massage and re-reading your well-worn favorite book are on your extra-day list, it sounds like it might be time to pay more attention to taking care of YOU. If you’re on a regular massage schedule with your massage therapist, decreasing the time between massages by even a few days can be a welcome, healing change to your routine. Aside from this, think about ways that you can incorporate “stolen luxuries” to your day. Can you grab an extra 10 minutes of your lunch hour to simply sit outside, enjoying the sun and sounds? Can you throw your responsible eating plan to the wind once a week, and indulge in a stop at your favorite gourmet ice cream shop? As long as you’re responsible most of the time, treating yourself to some decadence is not only fun, it’s also good for your willpower long-term. Holding yourself to permanent perfection standards pretty much ensures that you’ll overindulge in the near future, while allowing some grace for splurges will make your good efforts seem a little easier.
A whole day to do whatever you want is fun to daydream about. Although it may not be possible to devote an entire day to doing whatever you want, incorporating some sought-after aspects of your life that currently seem in short supply can make the regular days seem like ideal days.