When we arrived on the Big Island of Hawaii this summer it was lunch time and my whole family was starving. Never having been on the Big Island and not really knowing where we were going, we turned to Yelp; which can be a great tool or an overload of choices whose reviews all average out to, well, average. But, this time we got lucky and stumbled onto the Lava Lava Beach Club, a restaurant that was right on the water with a view that looked like a postcard. And on the menu were parmesan, truffle tater tots. Vacation had begun. But, it wasn’t just being in paradise, there was a perceptible shift in all of us and we’d only been there for an hour. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it takes a little while to really settle into vacation and relaxation, but, on this trip we all dropped in right away. I credit the view and the tater tots.
Over the course of our trip, my husband and I kept talking about how relaxing it was and wondering what was it about getting away that can so completely transform our mindset? We decided that for us, it was a lack of responsibility. But, that wasn’t entirely true, we had our two kids with us and we were swimming in the ocean-a lot. So, we hadn’t abdicated all responsibility, But here’s the difference, we weren’t doing anything that we didn’t want to do, we were just following fun.
I have no idea how many hours I spent on the beach reading, resting, or enjoying the view. I rarely do that at home, I get it in my head that things need to/have to get done on the weekends. I can’t lay around and read or nap. On that trip, I got in the ocean almost every single day, because I wanted to. There was nothing I had to do. There was no pressure. There was just adventure in and out of the water. I exercised more and even jumped into the ocean one night to swim with manta rays. It was thrilling (you can read about that here).
So, the question we kept asking ourselves, was how do we bring vacation home? How do we hold on to the vacation mindset when we are back in our everyday? It struck me to write about this now because the holidays are coming and while they can be a joyous time, they can also be a trigger and bring up a lot of stress. We need a vacation mindset more now than ever. Here are some ideas on how to bring a little vacation to your everyday:
Responsibility: We all have it, but, do we have as much of it as we tell ourselves? If I get really honest with myself sometimes my perfectionist dictator is driving my thoughts around what has to get done and when. Where are you taking on too much? Where can you hand some off to your kids, your partner, siblings? What can you just let it go?
Forget the Rules: Do you have an unwritten rule that work/chores/unpleasantries have to be completed before you can have fun? What if the fun comes first? How would that impact your attitude when you finally turn your attention to what needs to get done? How might you feel differently if you give yourself the gift of fun first?
Get Outside: Research shows that people who move to areas with more green space have an immediate boost in mental health. Memories of vacation are generally about the view of the ocean, the mountains, the landscape, not about the inside of a hotel room. Get out and enjoy the outdoors. It doesn’t have to be a spectacular location, just a change of pace and fresh air.
Try New Things: While traveling we are trying out new foods, making our way through unfamiliar streets and maybe trying a new activity like a surfing lesson. Routine can make real life seem boring. Try bringing in some adventure into your everyday. Become a tourist in your home town, where can you explore? It can be as simple as trying a new restaurant. Psychologists say that we can increase happiness in our daily lives by just changing our actions, circumstances do not have to change.
While I realize none of these put you at the beach on a tropical island (or maybe it does, depending on where you live! :D). Rather, this is meant to provide a diversion from routine and shake up what maybe has become mundane. Give yourself permission to ease up a little, have more fun, question your beliefs around what has to get done and bring in a little more of that vacation mindset in your everyday.