4 Tips For A More Enjoyable Break
The Summer has arrived, bringing with it the prospect of long days on the beach and warm evenings under the stars. In fact many of us spend far longer looking forward to our summer break than we do actually on our summer break. After all those weeks of daydreaming, the reality can sometimes be a shock.
It’s lot to ask of ourselves; after all we’re used to being busy, constantly occupied in fact, so it’s little wonder that when we take a holiday our minds may not be prepared to change gear straightaway. It might even be that taking a break, being faced with a week or two of inactivity, could be kind of a stressful idea.
Of course, the habits that we’ve developed during the rest of the year can be hard to put down immediately. We might find ourselves worrying about work, or even checking work emails. That relaxation that we craved turns out not to arrive as punctually as we’d expected. And then before we know it we’re packing our bags and heading home again. The thing that we’ve waited for for so long has gone by in a flash, it’s almost as though we haven’t been present at all.
It’s times like this that mindfulness, the simple act of coming into the moment, can really help us get the most from the situation.
Mindful travel tips:
1. Try to focus on your five senses. If you’re in a taxi from the airport maybe wind down the window and focus on the colours, shapes and sizes of the things passing by. Notice the sounds, whether it’s the traffic or people talking. The smells, whether they’re of cooking or anything else, nice or not so nice. And think about the sense of touch, it could be that your journey is very comfortable, or very uncomfortable. The point is to try to use your senses to bring you back in to the moment. This is a great way to come out of the busy-ness of your mind.
2. Just as in meditation we try to remember the benefit of our practice for those around us, remember that it’s important to take time out from work for the benefit of others. If you go back into work more stressed and ragged than you left then it won’t just be you, but your friends and colleagues in the workplace who will suffer. So try to allow yourself to step away from your work, as much as is possible, for the length of your holiday, and enjoy some not-doing. Even if you’re holiday is all about you, it’s not all about you.
3. Again, meditation teaches us to try to put aside our expectations about what our practice should deliver. In the same way if we’re impatient for a particular frame of mind or feeling to arise while we’re on holiday that expectation might well impede our actual enjoyment of where we’re at (this problem can be especially hard to deal with if we’ve been anticipating the trip for some time - if our ideas have become very fixed). But in order that this feeling doesn’t become stifling it’s important to acknowledge that it’s completely natural to want things to be just as we’d you’d like them. And once we’ve acknowledged that perhaps the expectation becomes a bit looser. And if that feeling of complete relaxation doesn’t arrive, it’s worth remembering that our moods are rarely black and white. There may have been days when you’ve been busy but felt happy and energised, so equally there may days where without much to do you might feel a bit depressed and unproductive. We might mistakenly believe this to be who we are or the sum total of the mind, but when we do that we’re forgetting that thoughts and feelings are simply on the surface.
4. Renew or restart your meditation practice. Ok, you knew I’d say this, but if you’ve allowed your practice to slip a holiday can be a great time to restart. There’s less time pressure and the idea of taking time out for yourself is what you’re there for after all. Maybe you’ll even bring the habit of daily meditation home with you.
Do you know someone who could do with taking Headspace away with them? Share this post with them and encourage them to try out Take10 for free here.
If you're planning a trip away, make sure you are following the #MindfulTraveller. All summer long he’ll be undergoing the trials and tribulations of travel, while doing his very best to stay mindful. Catch him over on our Facebook and Twitter pages, along with recommendations from Andy. You can also listen to Andy's holiday podcast for free below.