Who doesn’t love a good vacation? For a few days you get to leave the stress of work and home behind. You slow down and allow refreshing calmness to seep in. You play and sleep deeply and explore. Then, you return home feeling rejuvenated and ready again to take on daily life. Yet, before you know it, you are planning for and counting down to your next little escape. Right?
Why do you only treat yourself to these rejuvenating moments when you’re away on vacation?
It is possible, you know, to find little snippets of retreat, to relax, and to get a recharge every day. It is possible to get that ‘vacation feeling’ without actually leaving your daily life. You just have to give yourself permission to do so. You also need to know where to find these moments… So, here it is: your guide book to finding daily vacation moments.
What am I talking about when I say a ‘vacation moment’? Well, I once heard a comedian joke about the 30-second vacation he takes when he closes the van door after getting his family inside… that quiet as he walks to the driver door. If you have kids, you know what I’m talking about: that’s a vacation moment. What about when you’re at the office, it’s noisy, it’s busy and you happen into an empty elevator? There you have it, another vacation moment! Waiting in line at the post office, at the bus stop, at school pick up, walking the dog, taking a shower, watering the garden: these can all be little vacation moments if appreciated and savored.
How can you keep that vacation feeling long after the vacation has ended?
So, how do you turn everyday routine events into opportunities for recharge? Well, it simply takes a tiny little mind shift… and here are seven the little tricks to help that happen:
Stop living for your next holiday and start living for today
This is the biggie, the hard one. Unfortunately, I can’t give you the magic formula for altering your inner thought patterns (that’s kinda a huge life shift); however, what I can do is plant the seed of suggestion and ask that you start evaluating where your thoughts stray to. Some people are worriers, some are stuck in the past, some are dreamers, and then there are some people who can sit comfortably in the here and now. That’s your goal: to enjoy the day you’re living without comparing it to yesterday or today.
Try this: When you wake up tomorrow take a moment to think about what you are looking forward to. Then, when you go to sleep at night look back on your day and take note of some pleasurable moments, something funny that happened or a kindness you received or gave. This is particularly nice to share with kids or your partner as a regular night time routine.
Turn off your devices
I say it like it’s easy; I know it’s not. We are constantly tempted and bombarded with those phones and tablets. The pressure to look something up, check in with friends, read your news-feed and email or watch the latest cute cat video is never ending.
Did you have your device attached to your hand on your last vacation? I would guess the answer is “no”. Well then, maybe try turning your electronics off once and a while.
What if you sat quietly enjoying the sun on your face at the bus stop instead of reading (ridiculously irrelevant) anecdotes about your high school friends’ kids (that you’ve probably never met). Or, how you might feel if at your kid’s piano lesson you didn’t catch up on work email and instead you actually listened to and watched as those tiny fingers coax melodies out of a piano?
Try this: Make sure electronics are never at hand when the family is eating together. Also, enjoy your morning tea or evening wine without looking at your device.
Learn how to breathe
Remind yourself to breathe deeply once and a while. Fill your lungs and empty them completely. Years ago when I worked in a stressful job, I would relish the quiet of the bathroom stall… and use that minute to separate from clients and let go of their struggles. This was definitely a vacation moment for me and a very important technique for maintaining professional and personal boundaries.
I know that as a mom of young kids, the bathroom may not necessarily imply solitude, but somewhere in your day there are moments for breathing, you just need to look for them.
Try this: Find a regular activity to attach focused breathing to. Maybe while you’re in the shower, walking the dog, playing playdoh, or folding laundry. The goal here is to associate calmer breathing with a regular activity so you are reminded regularly to take a moment to breathe.
Have a drink and enjoy indulgences
Alright, I think it’s fair to assume that on vacation we tend to indulge a little more (or a lot more). Either way, the likely difference is that on vacation you are aware of and feeling entitled to that special extra treat. You might say to yourself “I’m on vacation, sure, I’ll have another glass” or “hey, we can’t visit Legoland without those deep fried apple slices dipped in whipped cream”. My point here is this, you are going to eat and drink, so remember to take some extra pleasure in it once and a while.
Try this: Buy the fancy coffee once a week; treat the family to ice cream sundays; take your first sip of tea while looking out the window, or make a regular habit of trying new recipes and restaurants.
Seriously, this one is so easy! People on vacation smile more; I’m sure of it. I guarantee you that if you smile more, you’ll feel less stressed and happier (due to endorphin levels). Why wouldn’t you want that?
Try this: This one’s simple, just smile. Make sure you give every family member a meaningful smile when first you see them in the morning and after school or work. Also, make an effort to smile at every person who assists you in any manner throughout your day (just like you would do on vacation). And, for every un-returned smile, just pretend you’re in foreign hostile territory and it will really be like you’re on vacation.
Be a tourist
Maybe you live in a concrete jungle, or a factory town. Maybe you live in the suburbs or maybe you’re a hermit in the woods. Wherever, you live, I promise you, you are surrounded by a world waiting to be seen with new eyes. So go out and explore and be active. Check out your town’s information center to get ideas of places you’ve not been to. Or here are a few other suggestions: find a scenic bench to frequent, join a community running club, put your kids in Boy Scouts, or take up geocaching.
Try this: Pick one day each week to explore somewhere new. Get out the maps, pack a snack, and go on an adventure. The goal here is to take advantage of your current living locale and if you can find like-minded families and friends to share these new adventures with, then all the better.
Take a literature escape
Okay, yes, the running theme in the above pointers is to develop a mindful appreciation of your current situation, but I just had to recommend reading too! I love to read on vacation; many people read only when on a holiday. In fact, I know of people who save their ‘really good reads’ solely for vacation times. But why? Why can’t you read the slutty, mushy, super predictable, or light and fluffy books when you’re at home? If a book is a pleasurable escape for you, then I say, make the most of it! Maybe even try some travel and fantasy writing to really get taken away.
Try this: Look at your reading list (if you have one) and pick the book you’ve been saving. Read it now. Enjoy it! Read it in the tub; read it with a glass of wine; call in sick and curl up with a blanket… you get the idea.
I could go on and on with ideas and suggestions. Like turn your heat way up and listen to loud polka music, try wearing a damp bathing suit under your clothes, put threadbare sheets on your bed, let a few lizards free in your house, and eat questionable meats that you cooked outside over burning garbage. If you are used to a more luxurious sort of travel you could put on Elvis’ Blue Hawaii, try turning your air-conditioning way up, buy super heavy all-white bed linens, and hire a chef to cook all your home meals!
Or, you could just try a few of my above (simpler) suggestions. It really is possible to get that vacation feeling when you’re not on vacation. You just need to put a little effort into being mindful and appreciative of your current surroundings. The world around you is a beautiful and giving place; you just have to find a few easy ways to bring that vacation calm into your day. Remember, no matter where you live and what your life is like there are people out there eager to take a vacation in the world that surrounds you. So, take a lesson from them and start focusing on where you’re at, not fixating on where you’ll be going.