"Vacation used to be a luxury,
but in today's world it is a necessity."
This morning I received an email from a reader asking me if I could provide some insight on the concept "vacation is a state of mind." I thought to myself: What a great topic! I should write a post on that! Lately I've been craving a vacation. Dying for one, in fact. Work has been busy, life has been busy, and the thought of relaxing (preferably on a beach) and doing absolutely nothing thrills me. However, seeing as I just went on a vacation last month, it doesn't look like a getaway is in my near future -- which is why the concept of a "vacation state of mind" is so interesting to me right now. Thinking about it has made me realize that you don't have to travel to be on vacation; you can, in fact, be on vacation anywhere.
Sounds like a nice idea, right? But in theory it's a bit trickier than just saying you want to have a vacation state of mind. It's not easy, with all of life's distractions and stressors, to feel that ease of mind that comes with being removed from your routines and finding solace in relaxation. In fact, it's downright difficult do so at any given moment. For this reason, I've come up with some tips to help myself (and you!) get into a vacation state of mind:
5 Ways to Embrace a Vacation State of Mind
1. Break away from routines. Repeat after me: "I am not my routines. My routines do not make me." Okay, maybe you're nothing like me and you scoff at the idea of having a routine (aka, boring) life, but I love my routines. Adore them, in fact. However, they are one of the first things to go when I take a vacation. Hard as it might be to part with them sometimes, I always feel relieved to have let them go and to relax more into the moment, forgoing (even just for a day or two) my beloved patterns of life. Breaking away from routines when not physically forced to do so can be difficult, but it's possible -- and essential to embracing a vacation state of mind. If you want to launch yourself into vacation mode, assess your routines and determine which of them you could use a break from for a little while. Don't feel like you must abandon them -- just vacate them for a little while.
2. Slow down your body. When embracing a vacation state of mind, one of the first things that comes to me is the idea of slowing down. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis. I have trouble doing pretty much anything slowly. Walking. Working. Eating. Talking. Just yesterday I was thinking, "God, why can't my hands move as fast as my mind!" while trying to capture a thought using the keypad of my iPhone. I'm usually in a rush and, over the years, the only consistent criticism I've received from teachers/bosses is that I need to slow down when doing my work. Living a fast-paced life has its benefits, but so does slowing down and taking life in. And that's what a vacation state of mind is for. It's a way to slow down. To embrace it when not on an actual vacation, slow down your body. Eat slowly. Walk slowly. Talk slowly. Breathe slowly. Allowing your entire body to slow down is a surefire way to begin embracing a vacation state of mind.
3. Think happy, peaceful thoughts. When I found the image above, I was instantly calmed just looking at it. It reminded me of long, languid walks down the beach, with nowhere to go. It reminded me of the sun in the late afternoon beating down on sand-speckled skin. Clearly, these images connote some pretty powerful vacation-y stuff for me. Upon looking at the image, I realized that one of the best ways to get into a vacation state of mind is to think of the things that make you feel happy, peaceful, and relaxed. They don't necessarily have to be vacation-related (though they can be). They can be anything that makes you feel as if you are in a happy, relaxed place. Thinking of these things won't instantly put you on a sunny beach, but it will help your mind to relax and focus on the positive things that make you feel happy. Thinking about these things will also help your body to be more mellow, making #2 a lot easier.
4. Bring bits of vacation to you. Much as we might all like to be prepping ourselves for a much-deserved vacation, for many of us that's not reality. We have to work, to care for other people, to live up to our daily obligations. But that doesn't mean we can't be in a vacation state of mind while doing so. If you can't go on vacation, bring the vacation to you! Think about the best vacation you ever had. What was so great about it? What did you love most about it? Now, think about how you can bring a bit of those favorite moments to life right now. Put a few seashells on your desk at work. Frame a picture of you looking joyful on vacation and hang it in your bedroom. Whatever it was that made you so relaxed and happy on vacation, find a way to bring it to you and keep it with you year-round. You might not be able to go on vacation every day, but there's no reason you can't embrace a vacation state of mind every time you look at your favorite vacation memento.
5. Indulge in relaxing activities. One of the reasons we like to vacation so much is because vacations give us carte blanche to do tons of relaxing activities without feeling guilty or feeling as if we aren't doing something more important, something we "should" be doing. Well, in my opinion, there's no reason to isolate those relaxing activities -- free of guilt -- to vacations. Set aside some time to do something you wouldn't normally do -- get a massage, go for a long walk alone, spend a day reading a book -- and don't let those little notions of guilt creep into your mind. Even if you are at home and you have a million items on your to-do list, you (yes, you!) can afford to set aside some time for a relaxing activity without letting your mind wander back to all of the things you "should" be doing. In fact, not only can you afford to do this, you almost can't afford not to do it. Allowing yourself to indulge in relaxing activities -- even if it's as simple as a half-hour bubble bath -- will help you feel refreshed and will make you even more productive as you tackle your to-do list.
Though we would all probably love to be on an actual vacation right now, it never hurts to give a vacation state of mind a try. It's a great way to not only feel relaxed, but also to gain a new perspective on what's happening all around you. Just like a real vacation, a vacation state of mind can help you to feel rejuvenated and can help you to dive back into your routines feeling refreshed and motivated. For more on the benefits of taking a vacation (or embracing a vacation state of mind), check out this article: Take a Vacation (or Staycation!) from Your Life.