As many of you know, I went on holiday in August, for three weeks. I take a summer vacation every year and I always really look forward to it. But going on vacation is actually a really strange concept (goodbye comfort zone) and that’s what this post is all about.
My summer vacation is really important to me; I look forward to it for a long time and it helps me relax and recharge. But this past vacation I started realizing how strange of a concept it actually is. Think about it. When you’re at home you have a routine, you work, work out, cook for yourself and have some sort of schedule for how you spend your days. On vacation (my vacations anyways) that all goes out the window. No more routine, little sleep, no more working out and the days can seem endless (which should be a good thing).
“A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in” – Robert Orben
So why am I writing this post? Because this is the first time in my life I’ve realized and admitted to myself that taking a vacation is hard. There, I said it (or, I typed it). Not only do I get anxious before I leave (you won’t believe the stuff I get done the day before departure) but when the day actually comes I get even more anxious. This is it. This is what I’ve been looking forward to for weeks and weeks. Sunshine, relaxation, swimming, cocktails, good food… IT HAS TO BE GREAT. FANTASTIC. NOTHING LESS.
So what if it isn’t? What if she sun doesn’t shine, or the water is too cold, or the cocktails are too warm and the food makes you sick. And what about all those ‘relaxing’ hours you suddenly have to spend doing nothing. Perhaps those hours suddenly seem a bit daunting. What am I going to do with all that time? Feeling anxious yet? Feeling guilty about it? Well, don’t!
Here’s the thing: going on vacation is a major step outside of your comfort zone (there it is again…). No matter how beautiful the hotel, how sunny the weather and how delicious the food, taking a vacation can be stressful. You leave everything behind to force yourself to ‘relax’ in a foreign country. It is fine to feel restless and to wonder what in God’s name you’re going to do with all that free time. I noticed this past vacation that it took me about a week to let ‘home’ go and a week and a half to fully relax and be able to spend my days reading and not knowing what time it was. I know not everyone has the luxury of taking three weeks off, but I think 2 weeks is the minimum requirement for relaxation. One week just isn’t enough!
“In matters of healing the body or the mind, vacation is a true genius”― Mehmet Murat ildan
Of course, we’re all different and this is all my perspective, but I felt really relieved after admitting to myself that going on vacation isn’t all fun and that there is a transition period for me before I start enjoying myself. Some days I wake up and think: Oh my God, SO MANY HOURS before dinner, WHAT am I going to do ALL DAY? But no worries: this is temporary. Once I start to relax I realize that I am okay with all those free hours, in fact: I love them. I love to read (I finished 5 books this vacation!) and taking the time to just think. Whatever it is you love to do, but never really have the time for, vacation is the perfect time to do it.
“A vacation is like love – anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort, and remembered with nostalgia” ― Unknown
On a final note: no matter how stressed, anxious or nervous I get on those first days away from home, I still LOVE going on vacation. In fact, this summer was the first time I literally didn’t want to leave (I LOVE YOU BARCELONA!!). It’s so important to get out of your comfort zone, routine, whatever you call it and allow yourself to just be. You need the time to recharge, listen to yourself, feel, laugh, have fun and not worry about work or anything else. But it’s also fine to admit that it’s not an easy process. And yet, every year I forget how hard it actually is and jump in with the same enthusiasm. That’s how humans are – we often only remember the good stuff (and that’s pretty cool).