Less Vacation, More Joy – How To Vacation Mindfully
I need A Vaction From My Vacation
When I was growing up, we went to Colorado every other Christmas to visit relatives and ski. My whole family liked skiing and since we didn’t go very often, we squeezed in as much skiing as possible.
We woke up early and drove to the slopes when it was still dark. And we’d stay until the last lift closed. We kept this up day after day only taking a break for Christmas itself.
While I loved spending time in the snow with my family, I remember coming back from vacation feeling more tired than when I left. I remember thinking I need a vacation from this vacation.
The Vacation Problem
Most people in the US don’t get much vacation time every year. So, we feel pressure to cram a lot in. When we do this, we often lose the best parts of vacation.
When I think back on the best vacations of my life they all have similar qualities. They all had lots of space, time to connect with others, and helped me break from my everyday routine.
But if I’m not careful, vacations turn into another job. I make a long list of things I want to do. And then I wear myself out trying to get it all done.
I’ve realized it doesn’t have to be this way. If I follow a few simple steps, I can help create a vacation full of memories, joy, and ease.
How To Vacation Mindfully
Set Intentions –
If you’re a regular reader, you know I think setting intentions is the key to success in many aspects of our lives. And vacation is no different.
Before you leave on vacation take out a piece of paper and write down your intentions for your trip. Try to pick four to six things you are hoping to do or experience on vacation.
On my current vacation my intentions are:
1. Spend time with my family
2. Not work too much
3. Write everyday
4. Spend time in the ocean
5. Don’t get sunburned
Set energetic intentions –
Vacations are about more than the activities that fill our day. They are also about the kind of energy and spirit we bring to then.
That’s why it’s important to know what kind of energy you want to bring to your vacation. And the energetic qualities you are hoping your vacation will create.
Before you leave on vacation, take a minute to write down four to six energetic intentions for your vacation.
For my current vacation my energetic intentions are:
1. To try and not feel busy
2. To have fun
3. To be patient and kind with my family
4. To be attentive and affectionate with my girlfriend
5. To appreciate my vacation time
Now that you have your intentions, it’s time to brain storm some strategies. Strategies are ways you can create the potential for your intentions to manifest.
If your intention is to not work much or at all on vacation, one strategy might be to set an auto responder for your work emails. Another might be to have all your work calls forwarded to voice mail.
If your intention is to appreciate your vacation time, one strategy might be to list three things you liked about vacation everyday before you go to bed.
When brainstorming strategies, come up with as many ideas as possible that support your intentions. Some of these strategies will be easy to use and others will never come up.
The goal is to come up with a list of potential tools you can use to help create the kind of vacation you want. But it’s important to remember that strategies won’t always work. Vacations are as unpredictable as the rest of life.
It’s important you aren’t caught up in everything going a certain way. Instead just do you best to go with the flow and respond with these strategies when you can.
For my current vacation some of my strategies are:
1. Only respond to the most essential emails I get.
2. Swim in the ocean everyday.
3. Spend 15 mins writing everyday.
4. If my family is at the beach I will go join them for at least 30 mins each time.
Key Mindful Vacation Strategies
While there are an endless number of potential strategies for vacation. There are a few strategies I have found to be nearly universally helpful. These strategies can help anyone get the most out of their vacation time. And they also help you enjoy a vacation that is more mindful and connected.
Create Space –
Most of us over schedule ourselves. And vacation is no different. We often try to pack in so much stuff it feels like we can never get it all done.
In addition, we often plan for everything to go perfectly. And then when it doesn’t we are disappointed.
On your next vacation instead of over scheduling, try drastic under scheduling. Even better schedule in time to relax and do nothing.
This relaxation time will help everyone take a deep breath from their everyday hustle and bustle. It also creates a nice buffer to enjoy what you are doing without worrying about missing what is coming next.
Limit screen time –
Computers are great tools for work, but they often get in the way of fun. Vacation is a great time to turn off your TV, your computer, and leave your phone in your room.
When we surround ourselves with screens, we miss out on the beautiful sights and sounds of the world around us. In addition, we limit our ability to connect and be present with others. Vacation is a great time to unplug and reconnect to nature and those we care most about.
Make a Clean Break –
Most of us have a hard time letting go of our day-to-day lives. Which is why it’s so important to make a conscious effort to break from our normal lives on vacation.
If you can’t leave work entirely behind, set a very clear limit on the amount of time you will work each day. Or the hours you will spend working.
Letting go of work can be hard, but it’s one of the big things that makes vacation what it is. This break will make you more effective when you return. And help you get perspective on what you do for a living.
Create a Vacation Buffer –
A vacation buffer is one or more days on each side of your vacation. Often in an effort to get the most out of our vacations, we schedule it so that there is no space between work and vacation.
This makes it harder to let go of work when we leave and harder to come back when we return. Instead, you can plan an extra day or even half a day around your vacation, you can spend some time honoring the transition from one way of being to the next.
This extra space can help you pack more slowly, enjoy a few hours at home to relax, and gives you time to let go of what came before.
Vacations are a chance for us to take a deep breath and be present with our lives. Not only are they a time for retreat and reflection. They are an amazing opportunity for self care.
But this can only happen if we are clear about what makes a great vacation great. It takes our clear intentions and a fair amount of mindfulness to get the most out of this precious time.
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