It’s summertime, vacation season for many American families. But it’s not always that easy to leave the office, home and other responsibilities behind. While the relaxation experts may have a different view, here are some ways I’ve found to be effective in leaving it all behind.
- Keep things simple.
Vacations are supposed to be restorative, a time to rest, relax and regain your balance and perspective. They’re not meant to be a nonstop schedule of attractions, cramming too many activities into a time that you’ve allocated to be with the family.
For example, do you really need to go to five amusement parks, just because they’re there? Instead, commit to visiting just one, and have a terrific time. Make it a two-day event, if that allows the family to explore and take part in what the park has to offer. Stripping away the nonessentials from your trip will maximize fun, minimize stress, and keep your thoughts far from what’s waiting for you back home.
- Opt for a device-free zone.
While this won’t be very popular with some of the younger family members, and you’ll likely find it difficult to become untethered from your own smartphone, tablet, or laptop, the best way to leave office worries and work behind is to set an example and declare several days or certain locations (mealtime, after dinner, fishing, on the beach, etc.) as device-free zones.
- Take lots of photos — but don’t miss out on the fun.
Snapping photos of where you go and the things you do on vacation is a time-honored tradition. Where you get into trouble is taking what should be a casual, occasional pastime and allowing yourself to become obsessed with it. Don’t miss the whole experience. Reliving it by looking at pictures is not the same.
- Listen, share and love.
The special bond between family members can be greatly enhanced and strengthened during your time away if you make a concerted effort to listen attentively to what others have to say, share what you’re feeling, and demonstrate your love both in words and actions.
In fact, there’s no better or more convenient time to do so than when you’re away from the constraints of work and home. Be present in the moment. Don’t be tempted to drift off, worrying about what you’ll return home to. Just be with your family. These moments are precious and the memories you’ll make priceless.
- When things go wrong, take a deep breath.
You might be a Type A personality, used to getting things done your way. On vacation, like so much else in life, things have a tendency to go awry. If you cling to the habits you employ at work and charge at it like an enraged bull, you’re going to ratchet your stress to unhealthy levels. That’s not good for you or your family.
The solution is to take a deep breath. Acknowledge what’s wrong or the problem you identify. Accept that it happened. Now, what? It isn’t the end of the world if your reservation isn’t ready or you’ll need to cool your heels by the pool while the room is made ready. Think of this as an adventure. What can you do in the interim to turn a negative into a positive? That’s thinking like a vacation pro, someone who doesn’t let problems get in the way of a good time.
- Give yourself a cushion.
If the vacation’s drawing to a close and you’re dreading the return to work, one of the best ways to avoid choking anxiety is to ease back into it. You could choose to leave at the last possible moment so you pack one more day into the itinerary, but that means you’ll be scrambling to get home, arriving tired, annoyed and anxious.
Instead, plan the trip home a day early. Use that last day at home to rest and get ready to return to work. At work, take it easy that first day back. You want the good vibes you’ve amassed during vacation to sustain you for a while. This is the way to do it.
- Opt for a device-free zone.