Welcome to the first long weekend of the summer! We only get four long weekends before we start all over again in September, so this month I’m offering tips on how to plan the holiday you need. Whether you get three days or three weeks, you can create a vacation that sends you back to work with a smile on your face.
Obstacles to a Great Vacation
The Big Boss
Maybe you are like me, and there is a voice in your head that doesn’t believe you need a break. I call that voice The Big Boss. It says things like:
- Good people work hard.
- A vacation is luxury
- You can’t afford a trip or the time
- You have a ‘to do’ list! Why don’t you just work around the house and get things done.
What The Big Boss doesn’t know is that this over commitment to work is stressing me and you out, and that costs us in ways we might not even know.
On the website Take Back Your Time they argue on behalf of regular vacations. Here are some of the statistics they offer to support your vacation:
- Research shows that women who do not take regular vacations were three times more likely to be depressed and anxious.
- A majority of overweight individuals admit to mindless eating as a response to stress. Stress hormones such as cortisol are linked to increased belly fat and weight gain, which is linked to heart disease.
- People who take vacations reported an almost 20% improvement in their sleep
- Three-quarters of people who vacation regularly feel energized and more ready to tackle the tasks at hand.
- 70% of those studied reported feeling more satisfied with their jobs when they took regular vacations.
Still not sure you need a vacation?
Check out this handy little quiz from the Canadian Mental Health Association. It asks some pointed questions about how you are coping with life.
Release the Ambassador of Fun
To plan a great vacation, bring your Ambassador of Fun front and centre.
Step One: Jettison the accepted notions of vacation you see everywhere. Described with words like ‘dream’ or ‘big’ or ‘escape’. Give yourself permission to create the vacation you need.
Step Two: Don’t ask “What will I do this long weekend?” instead ask, “How do I want to feel? “. Activities give us feelings and it’s the feeling that will leave us happy or unhappy at the end of the day. When this holiday is over, how do you want to feel?
- Physically well used
- Connected to family or loved ones
I know how I want to feel, now what?
Now you can choose what you will do. If you can’t remember the last time you felt that way and you’re lost at how to start, here are two access points to try.
Sit back, relax, close your eyes and remember one of the best vacations you ever had.
How did you feel afterwards? What did you do on that vacation? Where were you were? Who was with you?
Now ask yourself: How can I create something like that?
Focus on particular elements. If it was a trip to Europe and you loved the museums, I’m not suggesting you fly to London on Labor Day weekend. Museums and a love of history might be the experience that will satisfy you. History is something you can find in your own town.
Take a moment and ask yourself: What are my top three values in life?
Work often takes us away from what matters most, and vacations are a chance to check back in on those core values.
From the list below, choose three values that speak to you. If you had more of these three things in life, it would be great. This list is a leap off point, so feel free to add anything that comes to mind.
- Fun and recreation
- Significant other
- Helping others
- Hobbies or artistic pursuits
I’m asking you to turn to feelings, your intuition, and your heart. The logical brain thinks it always knows what’s needed. Put that brain in charge of the budget and making the schedule, but let your heart find the feeling and the activities that will support that.