Vacation time is meant to allow you to relax, recharge, and refuel. Make sure to make the most of your vacation instead of making these common mistakes:
Mistake #1. Ever feel like you need a vacation after a vacation?
This is more common than we realize. Taking a break doesn't mean to pack everything possible into the days you have off, only to become exhausted and realize you need at least a day to run errands around the house, shut your brain off, and sleep in.
More and more, my friends and I talk about the importance of putting in buffer days before and after we travel and count those as part of our vacation time. We shouldn't feel guilty for curling up on the couch and reading a good book, or playing video games, or binge-watching a favorite Netflix show. A vacation might include exploration and seeing new things, but pace yourself.
What to do? Include a healthy balance of play and relaxation. I encourage you to think in 2s. Perhaps explore 2 cool things in one day, but make sure to schedule in at least 2 things that will make you and your vacation partners feel happy and relaxed.
Remember, being exhausted and stressed from too much activity is the antithesis to the purpose of a vacation.
Mistake #2. Technology rules the vacation experience.
I fall into this trap more frequently than I would like to admit to, but leave your laptop and your phone behind as much as possible. I understand that having a smartphone is helpful: it helps you located new points of interest, map your way to a new place, or can be used in an emergency.
That being said, checking social media sites, browsing online, and furiously checking email in order to make us think we're still being productive not only saps away our own vacation time, but it takes us away from being present. You don't need to ban technology entirely (but how cool would that be?), but if you must use it, use it in moderation.
What to do? Turn off all your alerts and notifications. Hearing a 'ding' every time an email comes in makes you want to check your email. Disable that! Turn off your notifications from other apps as well. It's a time-suck. And if you want to post pics from your vacation, wait until you finish your vacation. Be in the moment. Post pics when you return. This allows you to relive those moments and somewhat extends your vacation time.
If being on social media or randomly browsing feels like it should be part of your vacation time, reserve an hour a day to do so and stick to it. An hour is a long time! If you sporadically are on your phone and laptop throughout the day, you might be surprised how often you're online without any real purpose and I bet it would add up to over an hour.
Remember, please don't do work on your vacation - you're on vacation! You'll come back to your work with fresh eyes when you actually take a break from it!
Mistake #3: Focusing on the future instead of enjoying the present.
It's completely natural to think about the next adventure when you're on a current break. Vacation time makes you dream about the next vacation. Future dreaming with friends, family, or on your own is an important and healthy process.
But spending too much of your time thinking about work, what you need to do when you get back, and focusing on anticipated future fears that may not be grounded in any reality, can be dangerous. This takes you out of your relaxation mode and lands you in stress mode.
What to do? Be in the present moment. This is what mindfulness is all about. If you're reading a book, read that book. If you're enjoying a meal, truly enjoy that meal. If you're watching a movie, watch the movie. These seem obvious, but with the increasing distractions around us, and with our phones and laptops in reach, we might pause to look at something else instead of fully being present in the moment. Yes, this does happen. Haven't you seen the many people who are on their smartphones while they're out having dinner together at a restaurant?
Remember to be fully present to make the most out of your vacation time.
Mistake #4: Don't just focus on relaxing, remember you need to refuel.
Some people are great at taking relaxing vacations. They'll park themselves on a beachfront and just lay out each day. Swim, tan, eat, sleep, repeat. There's nothing wrong with this. In fact, as I write this, I would love a few days of this myself. However, vacation isn't just a time to unwind, it's also a time to recharge and refuel. It's important to awaken the creative and playful sides of ourselves and provide opportunities for us to recharge our minds and bodies.
What to do? Work out. Pick up a hobby. Create something. My husband and I are playing tennis. We go to the gym together. We take long walks. We're keeping active and having fun. Our bodies are thanking us for it.
And we're writing a novel with two other fantastic friends. Our brains are loving the creative process and we're having more fun writing and collaborating on a novel than we realized was even possible. It's a real page-turner by the way. I'll let you know once we're done.
And, I love to paint. This is my passion hobby and is my regular mini-vacation throughout the year. I like to create a painting in a day. It feels rewarding and I can feel my creative juices flowing. It's a way that I recharge.
Remember to not only relax but to also refuel your body and your brain.