For some people, it’s easy: all they have to do is skip town and, all of a sudden, they’re relaxed. Unfortunately, not everyone’s brain works in the same way. If you’re part of the latter group, then stress has a way of sneaking itself into just about any situation, getaways included.
Not this time, though.
The following five tips are some of the keys to finding serenity on your next vacation. Find the ones most applicable to your headspace and put them into practice upon your arrival. Then, sit back and really, truly relax — that’s what vacations are for, after all.
The social media age has given us access to our friends’ and family members’ personal lives, and with that comes a look at all of the trips and experiences that they have. Unfortunately, this type of information might lead you to believe that your own vacation should have the same level of excitement (or all-out relaxation) that someone else has had. Keeping up with the Joneses will only cause added stress on your vacation, so plan a trip that matches your personal vision of what a trip should be. That means you could find yourself zip lining through a rainforest or sprawling out with a book by a hotel pool, so long as it’s what you want to do.
Take A Deep Breath
Whether the hotel loses your reservation, it starts thunder storming on the first night of camping, or the kids are complaining about the length of the car ride, take a deep breath. Sure, it sounds cliché, but it’s one of the best ways to manage your stress. Breathe in deeply through your nose and hold your breath for up to three seconds before slowly releasing it. You’ll be physically slowing yourself down and, therefore, giving yourself a chance to take control of the situation both inwardly and outwardly.
Leave Your Cell Behind
Okay, okay: we know you can’t really leave your smartphone behind in today’s world. On vacation, though, you should do your best to unglue yourself from e-mails, text messages, and phone calls, especially if they’re coming from the office. That’s because they’ll take you right back to the place that likely causes you the most stress, completely defeating the point of vacationing in the first place.
Ensure that your call-and-e-mail load will be light by first telling your colleagues and clients that you’ll be out of town. To make your absence even less pronounced, you can provide them with an alternate point of contact should they have questions or concerns that you would normally field. And, if you must use your phone or computer while on vacation, make a promise to yourself to limit it to only what’s vital. That way, you’ll be quicker to get your mind back on what’s important: the incredible experience happening right before your eyes.
Prepare (As Much As Possible)
There’s much to be done before a trip. Perhaps the most important task on your list will be packing, which can be extremely stressful for some vacationers. You can make things easier on yourself by allowing plenty of time to get it all done in the days or even weeks leading up to your trip. For extra help, use a packing essentials checklist and go from there, adding the particular items that you need personally and that you’ll need for your particular destination.
To that end, you should also prepare your house for your return after vacation. It might sound like an added bit of stress to worry about putting laundry away, making beds, washing dishes, etc., before you leave, but you’ll be so glad you did upon your arriving at home—there’s nothing better than walking into a clean house when you get home from a trip. And, because the thought of getting ready for the real world after vacation can also cause stress, you’ll be on the road to overcoming that bit of turmoil as well.
Most importantly, you need to make the decision to go on vacation and feel good about it. You work hard and deserve time off to enjoy your family and to relax, however you choose to do it. If your head is somewhere else the entire time, then the whole trip will end up being a waste. Be present and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
If you need more incentive to let go, remember that vacations have health benefits beyond the vitamin D you’ll soak up from the sun’s rays. Those who vacation come back with refreshed minds and, therefore, make more thoughtful and productive decisions at the office. Vacations also reduce one’s risk for heart disease, increase reported levels of happiness, and strengthen family ties. We can’t think of any greater incentive than that.
So, get out there and really, really enjoy your next trip. You’ll be glad you did.