how to let go of what you don't need
happy, happy, happy halloween!

take a vacation (or a staycation!) from your life

"A vacation is like love --
 anticipated with pleasure,
experienced with discomfort,
and remembered with nostalgia."



Life can be pretty hectic, and it's so important to remind yourself to take a break from time to time. We often (or at least I often) get so caught up in, get so excited by, what I'm doing that I don't remember to take a break. For example, I often spend hours at my computer without getting up to stretch or give my eyes a rest. This, as we all know, is not good. And, in so many other ways, I don't give myself the breaks I probably need to be healthy. I don't usually take a break from doing things (unless I'm asleep) and I certainly don't take a break from thinking (I know, I know I need to start meditating), and, after a while, the lack of a break can take its toll. When it comes to me and taking breaks, I often have to be forced into it. I usually don't think to do it on my own and so it's wonderful when someone else gives me an opportunity to take a break and fit some relaxation into my life.

This week I'm going to (hopefully!) be spending a lot of time relaxing in beautiful, sun-kissed Jamaica. Because I'm sure I wouldn't have arranged such a vacation for myself, I'm very grateful to one of my best friends for getting married in a sunny, distant locale so I have the opportunity to pack my bags and take a mini-break from my always-on-the-go life. Normally I would prepare a nice long To Do list for the trip, crafting a schedule without even realizing it -- but not this time. This time I'm going to relax, to take in the sunshine and just be. Will this hard? Sure! I don't like to just sit calmly. I don't do well with the activity known as "relaxing." But I'm sure going to give it a try on this vacation.

While I'm gone, I'd encourage you to find a way to take a break (even if it's the stay-at-home kind) from your life. It really is important to take a step back from your life and whatever project/job you're absorbed in and just relax. I'm probably the worst at this so I understand that it's difficult. Because of that I'd like to emphasize the benefits of taking a break (to remind myself mostly!) and provide some suggestions for how you can take a break without having to fly to a tropical island (oh, I know, you feel so bad for me, don't you?)...

The Benefits of Taking a Vacation

  • Gain a new perspective. There's nothing like being in a new place (even if it's outside vs. inside at your desk) to help you have an new outlook. Staying in the same place doing the same thing gets stale and it's important to take a vacation, even if that "vacation" is just getting up from your desk and going for a walk outside. When you expose yourself to new things, you'll open up your mind to seeing the world differently and this is a really great way to live in the moment.

  • Rest and refresh your mind. Taking a vacation gives you an opportunity to rest your mind, to take a break from your daily routines and allow your body and mind to refresh themselves. It's important to take breaks every now and then in order to allow your mind to have a break. Meditation is a great way to vacate your mind, though I can't say I've actually done it (yet!).

  • Find exciting inspiration. Yes, you can find inspiration anywhere, but sometimes a break from your routine and a new environment can really help to inspire you. No matter what you do for a living, it's pretty likely that when you take a vacation you'll come back with new ideas and insights. One of my favorite things about vacationing is having the opportunity to be inspired by new things.  

  • Experience health benefits. I'm no doctor, but apparently those who vacation reap healthy rewards, such as less stress and fewer heart problems. I don't know if there's scientific proof for this, but I do know that I usually feel great after I've allowed myself to have a nice, relaxing vacation (Note: The relaxing part is key. I don't always do this when I'm on vacation and I end up more stressed than I was when I left. Going to work on that this weekend...).

  • Free yourself from stress. Stress, whether you like it or not, is part of most people's lives. It's hard to avoid some sort of stress (work, school, relationships, etc...), but you can take a break from whatever it is that's stressing you out. For most people, a nice vacation is just the thing to put whatever is stressful in their lives into perspective or, better yet, a break from the stress may inspire you to find a new way to deal with it when you return!

  • Celebrate the moment. There's something about being on vacation that allows you to live in the moment. When you're in your routine life, there are many, many distractions that can take you away from the moment, but often vacations have fewer distracting elements and allow us to really take in the now and embrace every moment. I'm not always the best as being present and vacationing really helps me work on that.

Unfortunately not all of us are lucky enough to have fabulous friends who decide to get married in Jamaica and therefore encourage them to break out of their humdrum routines, but that doesn't mean we can't all reap the rewards of vacationing. During the sagging economic climate, the term "staycation" gained its popularity. People want to do something different -- want to experience all of the great benefits of taking a vacation -- but it's not always affordable (or convenient). If that's the case for you, take a look at my suggestions below for how you can enjoy your very own stay-at-home vacation...

How To Staycation (a.k.a. Vacation without Traveling)

  • Pretend you're a tourist. This is one of the easiest ways to take a vacation right in your own town. Pretend you're on vacation there and do all of the tourist-y things that other people do when they come to visit. (If you live in a small town, take a trip to your closest city and try this out.)

  • Spend time doing what you love. More often than not we get so caught up in work and family and friends that we forget to spend time doing what we really love to do. If you can't hop on a plane and vacate your life, at least take some time to do what you love to do.

  • Eliminate work-related distractions. Hard as it might be, turn off your phone and email. There's no way you can operate on vacation-mode if you're constantly checking your BlackBerry (yes, I know, I know, this is so hard for some of us!). Eliminating work distractions can be a vacation in and of itself!

  • Read about far-away lands. As you may or may not know, I'm a HUGE fan of reading. It really is one of my favorite things to do and it can be a great way to take a break from your life. Think about where you'd really like to visit and then pick up a book (novel or nonfiction!) about it and dive it. Yes, it's not the same as going there, but it's still fun!

  • Engage others to staycation too.It's pretty hard to take a staycation when everyone around you is in super-busy, work mode. Try to find a friend or a family member to take part in your staycation with you. Not only will be more fun, but it'll be a lot easier to know that someone else is also vacating their world for a little while too.

  • Stay (of course!) in the moment. This can be hard when you're still in your own home or town, but it's important to act as if you're on vacation. Live in the moment, take things slow, don't rush around like you normally would. Pretend (hard as it might be!) that you are somewhere else and ignore all of the routines and regular tasks you normally fret about.

Because I'm truly trying to separate myself from my life for a few days (not because it's a bad life, mind you, but because it's healthy to do so every once and awhile), comments for this post will be closed. Additionally, comments for Friday's post will also be closed. However, if you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share the link on social media sites such as Twitter (you can follow me @positivepresent) or  StumbleUpon. I hope you all have a chance to take at least a small break over the next few days. Though I know it's hard (trust me, it's like tearing a tantrum-throwing two-year-old from a toy store for me to pull me away from my computer or Blackberry), but it's so worth it to take a break every now and then.