When you hear the word “vacation,” there should be a feeling of excitement and relief that comes with it. Granted, a getaway can look different for everyone, but most consist of traveling to a destination away from home and taking the opportunity to do fun activities to relieve stress or to simply relax. And according to the Allianz Partners USA, Americans are taking more vacation days and making traveling a priority. In the year 2022, it marked the highest percentage of Americans who reported traveling within a year since 2009.
While on vacation, people tend to fulfill certain needs that are not being met amid their regular routine. Because of this, people perceive vacations as an “escape” from their own reality. This can lead to dread when it is time to return home and settle back into that exact routine. But wellness consultant, Tawn Williams, doesn’t believe that our vacation should be the only thing that brings us that feeling of ease.
“The vacation is not going to fix things for us. The bigger challenge is how do we create systems that allow us to disconnect or fully drop into a mindful space? Whether we are on vacation or not,” says Williams.
Shifting to a wellness mindset will alleviate some of the post-vacation blues we may feel when we get back into the office. According to Williams, there are a few things that we can implement from what we learn on vacation into our work or personal life. Incorporating wellness into our daily routine is the goal if we want to keep the same excitement and relieved feeling that’s ever present while in vacation mode.
The Rule of Three
Like when you plan out an itinerary of cool activities on vacation, you can do something similar while at home. Being intentional about your priorities each day can help with feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Williams says that creating a list of three things is a great way to narrow down needs versus wants and more time for yourself once those three things are completed.
“This is an opportunity to self-reflect and learn why we feel these things need to get done. So if we try to narrow things down and prioritize them after reflecting on the needs versus wants, then you can see your list a little more clearly. The three tasks should consist of one thing you do not want to do, but you know you must, a thing that you are excited about, and a third thing that is attainable, but you really do not care about. You want to be doing things that fill you up and drive you to be the best you can be.”
When we are feeling relaxed, like on vacation, we are less likely to worry about things and so we appreciate being present in the moment. Williams says including breath work into our routine helps with regulating our mind and being more in control of how our body responds in times of stress.
“If you take at least three deep breaths, we slow down our brain waves. What happens is that when you begin to slow down those brain waves, you get into theta mode. Theta mode is that subconscious programming mode and it releases serotonin, dopamine, and other chemicals that make us feel really good. Once we can calm our minds a little bit, we tell ourselves that we feel okay, and we have the power to reprogram what may be running wild in our minds that is causing stress. The deep breaths help with the feeling of ‘I am here now, I am checking in with myself, and this is how I am going to approach the next thing,’” she says.
It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle and bustle after spending time on the beach or in the sun. We can start focusing on negativity rather than positivity. Williams believes practicing gratitude allows us to change our perspective on things, no matter the environment around us.
“When I am feeling overwhelmed and I acknowledge that I am not acting as my best self, I switch my mindset to gratefulness. It is a moment where I can list things that I am grateful for. The gratitude practice is really powerful because a daily gratitude practice actually improves heart health too.”