I just got back from a week-long vacation. My travels did not take me to any exotic beaches or all-inclusive resorts. I went to New Jersey (I’ll pause for any joke you’d like to make about the Garden State) to visit friends and family. And as soon as I returned to Chicago, I started thinking a whole lot about the mental and emotional states associated with being “on vacation.”
Things I feel when on vacation:
- I feel like a kid.
- I feel free from expectations.
- I feel at peace (with myself and the world).
I’d like to examine each of these.
First and foremost, when I am on vacation, I almost immediately revert to a child-like state. Not the kind of whiny child you may be picturing who is complaining that it’s “too hot” or she is “soooo bored” while her mother lies on her Chaise lounge and tries to ignore the complaints. I transform into a more carefree version of myself, and I do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it. I feel free from the burdens of adulthood – free from to-dos, responsibilities and deadlines.
This carefree, laissez fare mentality blends right into the next emotional state of being I feel when on vacation: feeling free from expectations. The standards we are held to on a daily basis seem to melt away. The severity of deadlines and the stress of having a long to-do list become less severe, less stressful. Although I am the kind of person who likes to keep busy, even on vacation, the plans I make are fluid. Whatever happens will happen, and I feel much less like I have to control the outcome of any and all situations. If my plans fall through, so what!?
Lastly, I feel a real sense of peace when I allow myself a break from “real life.” I can take a nap on the beach and fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing. I can take a long walk without knowing when I’ll return.
We book vacations for ourselves so that we can breathe more deeply, relax our minds and bodies, and “give ourselves a break” from everyday living.
What if we could all add a little vacation into our everyday experiences? What if we allowed ourselves to feel these things more often? Could we give ourselves permission to act like a kid, take a break from the to-dos and the deadlines, just for a portion of each day?
I think we can and I want to try it even if I’m not perfect at it.
I think it all comes back to conscious self-care. If we granted ourselves these daily vacations (even if they are just 10 minutes long), we might begin to feel a little lighter every day instead of just when we physically go away from our lives. We may start to see that some of the to-dos are not so pertinent, and some of the “deadlines” are more flexible than we think. We might start to see the whole picture instead of freezing up at the thought of each piece of the puzzle. We might be able to make mistakes just like when we were kids without taking away our carefree nature. We might start letting go of expectations, even if for a little while, so that we can build a foundation of just accepting ourselves as we are. And after all of it, we might find peace daily – in ourselves and with others around us.
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