One of my favourite tips to share with clients is this tiny wee strategy for getting the best out of your experience when you’re going on holiday. Whether it’s a long weekend or a month overseas, or anything inbetween or bigger, this simple practice can make a profound difference to how you experience your time away, and how you feel when you come back from it.
It costs nothing and it takes five minutes. You’ve gotta love that.
How often do we just pack a bag, pack the car or board the plane and take off, aware of where we’re going and that we really need a break, but with not much thought beyond that … perhaps apart from what books we want to take with us?
I’ve noticed for myself and my clients that it can mean you get home and maybe it’s the day before you’re due to go back to work feeling any combo of relaxed, bummed, devastated, rested, uplifted, inspired, tired, content, refreshed and the list goes on. It can be just a tad hit-and-miss whether you get what you needed on holiday and feel ready to face the world again.
You’ve probably noticed some people are really good at being on holiday. They switch off, they’re in the moment, they take no work with them, they stay chilled if they have to take a work call, they feel okay when they get home and then return to work. They’re refreshed. They’re okay about returning to work. They seem to have dream holidays.
How do they do that?
Because not everyone manages this, and I notice that couples with young families can find this the trickiest because there is no longer just yourself to think about; holidays become a family affair and are often quite centred around the kids. That can be a great thing. It can also leave little room for what you need from your holiday.
Now, I realised as I was writing this that I’m often having these conversations with fairly stressed out professionals who really do need a good holiday in order to refresh themselves and gather some sanity or who currently hate their job (if that’s you, also go here!), so perhaps my take on this is somewhat through that lens of ‘how can you make the most of your time off?’ But it’s also through the lens of self-care. Aside from having time off from work or your usual daily routine, and aside from perhaps being somewhere different to home, what is it about holiday time that really nourishes you? That’s the lens I’m looking through.
This simple strategy can help you, and your other half, and even your kids, to make sure you get what you need these holidays.
Here’s the scoop …
Simply take five minutes and a notebook one day PRIOR to your holiday – it could be the week before or the day before or whatever – and ask yourself two questions. And WRITE DOWN your answers. Ask yourself – what do you want to do, enjoy and get out of your holiday? And how do you want to be feeling on the day you get home/the day before you return to work or your usual routine?
Five minutes with a notebook –
1 ► What do you want to do, enjoy and get out of your holiday time?
2 ► When you get home or on the day before you return to your usual routine or work, how would you like to be feeling?
Your answers might be stuff like (1) I’d like to have time each morning to do some journalling and linger over breakfast because that makes me feel like I’m really on holiday, and I want to swim everyday. (2) On Sunday before I go back to work I want to be feeling refreshed and rested, looking forward to the month ahead, and feeling clear about how I will keep looking after myself as I go back to work mode. It’s whatever matters to you.
Don’t muck around – honour yourself by writing down your answers. This makes it more concrete, like a love letter to yourself. It also activates the RAS (Reticular Activating System) in your brain that sorts all the information coming into your system. It’s your goal setting software and will help you sift and sort your experiences on holiday to support your intentions.
As a family you can do this together – you each get to answer these two questions and of course it’s a great way to help you and your spouse to make sure you can build in plans for you each to get some of your individual needs met. One of you might want to be able to go for a morning run some days or to meditate, and another might want to take your eldest child for a special trip together. Maybe one of the kids has a dream of picking fresh coconuts or swimming with a pineapple (I did find one on a beach once!). Whatever it is, if it’s the thing that will make your holiday, then work together to help make it happen. Then everyone wins.
Doing this before you go can feel really good – you’re front-footed, you can factor in practicalities, and your whole nervous system starts to feel more relaxed before you even get there, because it can feel that you’re going to get what you need.
This is truly one of the tiniest strategies I share with clients and it’s also one of my favourites because not only it is small and simple to do, it can have amazingly big flow on effects.
Sometimes it’s just about knowing how to use the mind to your advantage, and letting the lovely results show up. I’m still constantly amazed at what setting simple intentions like this can do. It’s quite magical.
So, go wave your wand, and have a wonderful holiday. 🙂