Let’s be honest – taking vacations is usually a lot of fun! But, that doesn’t mean that going on autopilot is helpful. It’s actually possible to be mindful about how you vacation. We have talked about the power of vacations before. But, sometimes things can sound easier than they are in practice. This past week, I was on vacation in California. I really tried hard to be mindful about practicing what we preach. Here are some of the lessons that I learned. I’ll also share ways that I applied the research we have discussed during my week in Malibu, Carmel, and Napa.
Plan to Detach to Vacation Mindfully
As we have discussed before, it is really important to detach from work when you are vacationing. Otherwise, you won’t reap the benefits of your vacation. For me, and I’m sure for many of you, this is really hard to do. The planning to detach had to start way ahead of time. That way, I was actually able to focus on the vacation and not be stressed about missing work.
First, I made sure that I was declining work-related meetings while on the road. I got a few requests to take meetings while I was gone. I severely resisted the urge to take a few minutes to check back in. Instead, I explained that I would be on vacation. To my surprise, many people actually encouraged me to enjoy my time off. But, if I had never said anything about being on vacation and just accepted the invites, no one would have known. In that case, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to advocate for my time. So, always make sure that you block your vacation time. It’s better not to be switching back and forth between work and vacation.
Relax on the Way to Vacationing Mindfully
We have shared travel tips for staying healthy on planes, in hotels and anywhere else you might go. So, I tried to stay true to them. I had some reading that I had really wanted to catch up on. I brought it on the plane because I had a chunk of time to get into it. While the reading was related to my work (articles about hope in the workplace, such as this one), it was reading that I really enjoyed. So, don’t feel like you have to totally ignore anything that is related to work. If your work and personal interests align, some work-related activities can still be relaxing.
I also made sure to take care of my physical comfort by packing early and thinking about what I would to be wearing on the plane and when I landed. Layering is always key for me when traveling, especially if I’m switching climates. If I’m headed to the beach, I usually wear a roll-up pair of flats so I can switch to flip flops after my flight is over. Also, a six hour flight is a long enough time to have to think about your well-being in the air. So, I also got up several times on the plane to stretch my legs. That way, I wasn’t so cramped and I hit the ground running!
Vacationing Mindfully is Supposed to Be Fun!
Once you’re there, forget about the grind! I actually turned off my email notifications so that I wouldn’t feel stressed seeing them on my phone. Once I was free from distraction, I made a conscious effort to connect with others around me. I took pictures and videos, but I didn’t live through my phone. We saw so many beautiful sights and it was really important to take them all in.
Connecting with nature is key in relaxation, and we saw the ocean, forests, canyons, wildlife – you name it. It can be difficult to try to stay present when you want to be where you are, check up on work, document your travels, and share what you are doing with friends. Here are some tips that worked for me!
Try doing only one thing at a time. Truly concentrate on really “being” where you are. If you absolutely can’t avoid it, set aside dedicated time to check on work but don’t think about it otherwise. Every time you take a picture make sure that you also take ten seconds to appreciate the scenery without seeing it through a lens. Save all of the pictures you have taken and post them all at once, so you aren’t spending time posting to social media when you could be enjoying your environment. Make sure to catch up on sleep, as we have discussed previously. Tell the people you are with how much you appreciate their company and the environment you’re in. If you can do these things, you will soak it all in and you will benefit from vacation more!
Easing Back in After Mindfully Vacationing
So, this is the hardest part – truth be told, I am currently writing this post while in the airport, waiting for my flight home. But, I made sure that tomorrow, I only have calls from home scheduled and I have plenty of time in the morning to catch up on emails. While I will likely get some work done on the plane, it’s work that I enjoy doing. I didn’t bring anything too difficult and I won’t work on the hard stuff until later in the week. Making these little moves can help you get back on track when you return. No one is perfect but I hope that what I did helps me to preserve some of the benefits of my vacation!
What tips have you used from our site or on your own to make sure you maximize your vacation? That time is precious – we want to learn from you about how to take full advantage of it! Comment below with your tips!