Tips to make your next vacation more restorative and leave you feeling vibrant
We've all been on a number of vacations. Some of them left us feeling relaxed and refreshed, like that better version of you. Others may have been enjoyable but left you in need of another vacation upon landing. This post will be part of a series focusing on our well-deserved time off and how we can have fun yet come back to 'our daily grind' refreshed, balanced and ready to tackle our goals. The next post will then move on to keeping that vacation feeling once you are back to everyday life. This blog is all about becoming more balanced and vacation helps us get there, so how can we find and keep more of that amazing vacation J’ne sais quoi?
Broadly speaking there are 3 types of vacations: The super restful where you relax and have drinks served to you poolside, the vacation where you do some real relaxing and some playing, and the all play holiday. You know, 10 hours of sleep in 3 days - maybe.
Depending on what age group you the reader fall into probably helps determine what type of vacations you take. I for one took 'party hardy' vacations for a number of years, but that has now changed quite a bit as those of you who follow me on Instagram will soon see! Your personality type and whether you have kids will of course also be a factors as well. What kind of vacation is right for you? Think about this and which one will help you release those shoulder muscles, relieve nagging concerns and allow you to vacation mindfully and live in the moment?
All too frequently we choose to set our vacation time and date then book it for every single moment possible (I see this as a downfall of American vacation time since we generally receive and take less than many western countries). We land or drive back home late in the day arriving tired, dreading the following day and wondering when our next vacation will be. Sound familiar?
How can you make your vacation more ideal so it leaves you feeling balanced, energized and alive?
Point number one though: it's NOT bad to take vacation! Too many Americans (though this trend seems to be decreasing) feel that they are stronger, better or more successful at work if they don't take vacation. Many companies have found this to be so untrue and now require a minimum amount of vacation! Was that enough to stave off any vacation taking guilt?
What is a relaxing vacation and why use my vacation time on that? Generally speaking our bodies were not made to function like an Energizer battery bunny – go go go. Once upon a time 'downtime' aside from sleep was always a factor whether it was intentional or not. Walking or taking the bus to school, waiting for an appointment or friend to arrive, we had time to kill. Staring lazily into space, watching trees move, making idle observations. We were bored and wanted to make use of that time but could not. Now we have cell phones and the internet to occupy that time which ironically helps make us feel frenetic and worn out. Quite simply, we switch to idle mode much less frequently which adds to our stress levels.
When you take time off, allow your brain to take some time off too. Many of us are not so good at this and rather out of practice. You can easily get used to this if you exercise a bit of self control and follow my tips below.
Now it’s time to choose your relaxing vacation destination and generally what you may want to do. Sit beach side or hike in the wilderness for instance. Both of these options can be relaxing and rejuvenating. Nature rejuvenates us too! The thing is you need to enjoy it, avoid rushing whenever possible and avoid strict schedules. You may need one for kids or an excursion but don’t over plan.
By taking a vacation where we enable ourselves to truly relax, our breathing deepens, our minds settle and our muscles begin to release from tense positions.
Choose a vacation in which you have a significant amount of time to chill you are restoring and recharging your body. Those fun filled and action packed vacations are great but don't typically leave you feeling ready to tackle all your goals and dreams. Are you going to a big destination like Europe, Asia or Africa? Great! Plan different places and excursions, but traveling and changing hotels every day is a lot and quite frankly really limits how much you see in each location. Choose strategically and know that you can always go back again if you want to see more. Now that is not to say you shouldn't volunteer or spend time out having fun and living it up on vacation. Just ensure you sleep well and spend a good amount of time at rest (both sleeping and just chilling out), or what we all too easily tend to call 'bored'. Allow your mindset to change about what boring is sometimes.
How to get that relaxing vacation started:
• Set deadlines for items that must be finished before leaving and push off deadlines for less important items. Put some thought into this and don’t drive yourself into the ground just before you leave for holiday.
• Pack ahead of time and not the night before.
• Do you have the time/money to avoid the 5:30am or returning at 11:47pm flight? Then allow yourself the comfort and rest of avoiding a 4am alarm! It’s vacation and taking the flight two hours later will only reduce 2 hours of time from your destination but it will feel like far longer while you doze peacefully in bed. Allow for adjustment time when you return as well.
• Turn off email alerts, etc while away so you are not constantly noticing the buzzing of more work coming in. Some of us can’t turn off work completely and need to be contactable, but ask those around you to flag urgent items as such so you only check what you need to. If you must check email set up a time to do so twice a day and stick with it!
• Check in online the night before so you don’t have the hassle the day you fly out.
• Traveling abroad? Spend some time getting your passport, Visas etc. in order well in advance so you are not digging around the night before wondering where your passport is.
A few ideas to relax further:
Deep breathing exercise – you can even do this at the airport, transportation to relax more while ‘en route’. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 7 then exhale to the count of 8. Sometimes folks feel a bit dizzy when they first do this and only do it when you are not moving physically! A longer exhale triggers your body to relax.
Mindfulness - Notice what is around you! Just sit and take it in. One of my favorite things to do as a tourist abroad is to sit and do what locals are doing and just watch. Take in your surroundings like they do. Enjoy the moments and use this mental picture to re-experience the moment later when you are back from vacation life!
Move – Yes, I know I’m spending a lot of time in this post telling you not to do so much and now I’m saying to move. Do 10 minutes of yoga each day, go for a walk or take a swim. Our muscles do want to be used, and leisurely activity is very different from a 7 hour intensely upward hike up a mountain side. If you do want to take a hike like this, enjoy the destination before you leave and take it easy before and after the hike.
In the next of these two posts we'll dive into how to keep that vacation feeling once you are back!
Has this post been helpful for your next vacation and keeping an open to what is important for you and how to accomplish this? What do you do to ensure your holidays have that needed downtime?