By Anna Underwood
Have you ever gone on vacation and come back more stressed out than when you left? Packing, figuring out transportation, making arrangements for things to be taken care of in your absence, adding up how much everything will cost, being outside of your comfort zone, not to mention getting along with other humans in close quarters – it’s tempting to just stay home!
Despite all of these potential worries, we NEED vacation, or at least an interruption to the everday cycles we get ourselves caught up in. Stepping away from your schedule, even for a weekend, is necessary for gaining new perspective and a renewed spirit. Here are three tips for making the most of this special time by bringing intention and awareness along with you.
1. Pack some peace. Bring mindful books, a journal, a chill music playlist, incense or a small candle, an eye pillow, a yoga mat, your favorite tea – ANYTHING that might bring you a few moments of intentional calm. Even if you never get these items out of your suitcase (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brought my yoga mat on a trip and never touched it), just having them with you means that you are prepared if and when you might need a few mindful moments.
2. Take time for you. No matter how many people you’re traveling with, how packed your schedule is or how unaccommodating the accommodations may be, find a few moments for yourself. And once you find these moments, try not to escape into your cell phone, a gossip magazine or the TV – use the time to be aware of what’s going on with you in real time, how you are engaging with or reacting to what’s going on around you and how being away has shifted your perspective. Just a few moments of dedicated “you time” can do wonders for your overall outlook and mood.
3. Connect with your surroundings. Whether you are standing on a mountain peak, lying on the beach, rushing down a busy street or bumping along in the car for hours on end, traveling is an excellent opportunity to breathe in the awesomeness of this life simply by being “somewhere else.” An easy way to connect with what’s around us is through nature. Sometimes nature is hard to miss on our vacations, like going camping or being by the ocean. Other times, we have to remind ourselves to look up at a different piece of sky hovering above the skyscrapers or notice unusually beautiful wildflowers on the side of the highway. Another way to connect with our surroundings when we travel? The people we encounter along the way. Think of these folks as your fellow travelers on this human journey. Bring an awareness to what their experience is like and listen to what they have to say. It’s amazing what learning about others can show you about yourself.
Wherever you can go for however long you can, just get out there. Traveling reminds us not only that the world is big and beautiful, but also about the great things we’ve got going on in our own little worlds back at home. Being mindful on the journey helps us to make the most of this precious time. Remember, you’ve made great efforts to be on this vacation and have probably been looking forward to it for a long time – you don’t want to miss it!
*Bonus Tip: Find somewhere to do that thing you like to do. CrossFit, hang gliding, cooking, macramé, sewing circle, Pilates, Tai Chi, Scrabble - whatever that thing is you like to do, see if you can find a community group or studio to plug into while you are away.