Happy September! This month I want to emphasize the importance of taking time off and creating your own special holiday routine. September is the time that summer holiday season comes to an end. Most Greeks go on vacation in August because it is the hottest month of the year and almost all companies are shutting down and give their employees time off. Most Germans are fortunate enough to go on vacations throughout the work year. However September is one of the popular months to go on vacation because it is not so hot in the south of Europe that is one of the chosen destinations. Being a Greek living in Berlin I am writing this text from warm but not too hot Andalusia where I am enjoying my holiday.
One of the advantages of living in multinational Berlin is that I get to interact with people from around the globe and one of the favourite topics in summer is of course vacation. What I realized from these talks is that people around the world have different culture concerning holidays. It seems that for some it is a necessity and for some a luxury.
Holidays need money and time and sometimes although we have both of them, we do not make the decision to plan them. The reasons are many and various. The non-stop demands of modern life, the mentality of being “always on” and making our work our top priority among other things keep us from enjoying a couple of weeks away.
Apparently the economic challenges that many face are reason enough not to plan time away, but also in this case there are ways to take some time out of work mode and enjoy ourselves.
Taking planned, and uninterrupted time off can make a great difference in the quality of our lives. The list of benefits for our health, happiness and productivity is big. Studies have shown that taking a break and coming back refreshed and full with energy affects our psychology, our relationships and the quality of our work.
So, great, you managed to take some time off. But what should you do? How should one spend their free time? I believe there are infinite answers for this question. It depends on your needs and desires. Self-reflecting and observing your thoughts can help you figure out what works for you when you decide to go on vacation.
If you asked me a couple of years ago I would say that the perfect vacation spot for me is one of the small islands in Cyclades, Greece where I can enjoy the sea, the food, the beauty of the minimalistic architecture, the nature and the quiet. Greece’s shades of blue, the white small houses and the violet Bougainvillea make my soul happy.
These are still my top priorities but recently I discovered what contributes to my relaxation and makes a huge impact to my serenity. The lack of decision making. A couple of years ago I visited a magical place in south Peloponnese where I camped with some friends in the nature. It was the first time in my life that I experienced the total lack of the need to decide anything. Everyone would wake up in their own tent, in their own tempo. We could jump in the sea for a refreshing wake up swim, go to the tavern for breakfast or to the small beach bar for coffee. With my friends we didn‘t have any plans, we didn’t have any process. I would go to the beach and meet someone that was already there, or stay alone until someone comes. This was the same pattern for lunch, beers, cocktails, walks etc Every single thing I did these four days wasn’t the result of thinking or planning. It was only the answer to the question “What do I want to do right now?”. It was a quick excursion, but it felt like I was away for a long time. I felt like I pulled myself out of a messy reality and gave myself the time to heal and process. I came back home feeling fully relaxed, somehow more conscious and centered.
Though the circumstances of my life make it hard to recreate this experience I always try to minimize decision fatigue in my vacation. I try to slow down, be mindful of my thoughts and desires, keep my mind in the present moment, and express my natural flow of energy.
I also try to bring this mindset in my daily life and enjoy small, mindful breaks!
Remember to create a self care process where you can:
- give yourself permission to take time off and relax,
- recharge your batteries following what works for you,
- practise mindfulness,
- get a good night’s sleep and
- enjoy meaningful time with those you love.
I’d love to know what is your holiday mentality? Is is a necessity, a luxury, or just part of your life?
Also what is your number one tip for a relaxing vacation?
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