Mental holidays are probably the most overlooked resource in the toolkit. Whether you take five minutes or 2 months (grin), it offers time to gain perspective, information, and rest. It's a great coaching and mentoring technique that should be discussed more often.
Mentally stopping… to think about nothing, think about a problem, walk, sing, meditate… gives us the ability to see things from a fresh perspective. There is a lot of research that points to the need to let our unconscious mind sift through the great library we mentally store and let ideas surface. If you've ever forgotten a name or an idea and said "Just give me a second; it'll come to me!" then you know how this process can't always be forced through willpower and concerted effort.
Peter Bregman wrote a great post on HBR "The Best Way to Use the Last Five Minutes of Your Day" a few years ago. Though taking five minutes at any time can sometimes be more productive than continuing to run at the pace we seem to follow during the days.
A mental holiday can also mean deferring a decision or discussion to allow emotions to settle. It can mean allowing ours team to take on extra ownership without having us peer over their shoulders.
Most importantly, it should mean we return to the process /problem /idea with a relaxed and open state of mind… however you personally best achieve that.
It's been a long summer for many of us. My mental holiday was trusting my team to keep the plates spinning while I was dragged into other arenas. And I spent an hour each week simply sitting on my porch and letting my mind wander while I listened to the squirrels in the trees. I am not sure if I have more ideas or fresher thoughts but I am prepared to start trying with a bigger smile and some excellent research in my pocket.
Please share your ideas of a great mental holiday?