My husband and I recently returned from a week-long vacation in Southern Colorado with my extended family. As with all vacations, coming home
sucks shit brought on the inevitable wave of vacation hangover. I longed for the huge cabin full of family and day-long hiking trips into the mountains. The thought of returning to “real” life made me ache. I flat-out refused. No, I didn’t quit my job and run away into the mountains, even though I really, really wanted to. I decided to live my “real” life like a vacation.
I contemplated how I lived and thought differently on holiday and how I could bring that into my every day. I now present my 6 ways to stay on vacation in real life.
#1: Stay off social media/internet/TV
I rarely use the internet or social media on vacation. My phone usually displays “no service,” and when I receive a connection, I am too busy to notice or use it. The problem occurs when I return home.
I have a major social media problem. The night we returned from vacation, I scrolled through Instagram and Facebook for five hours.
Obviously I have entirely too much free time. The next morning I woke up feeling crappy, guilty and worthless. Time on social media and surfing the internet often leaves me with these uncomfortable feelings, yet I return to it like a zombie each day. Why? (Side note: TV doesn’t thrill me, but I feel that it falls into the same category.)
I return to social media because of the ease. My brain doesn’t process, think, or assess. I simply stare as images and blurbs pass through me. It is always waiting to distract me, ready for those brief moments of unfilled time (a red light) or uncomfortable thoughts (how I feel about my brother’s death) or tricky decisions (how to articulate myself in this post). An easy go-to for an avoider like me. Scrolling through Facebook requires less work than revising a blog post,
because that post neither informs nor entertains anyway, and, in all honesty, I wasted my time and money on a degree in creative writing, because I only use it to write the occasional boring blog post–oh look, someone else got engaged!
The excessive time I spend on social media distracts from things that would improve my life. Yes, it seems easy in the moment, but it does not create the life I want in the long run.
Unless you count my “dream life” board on Pinterest. That counts, right?
#2: DO things you like
On vacation we experience ALL THE THINGS NOW! Instead of sitting and watching TV we see the sights, walk the area, and experience new things. Why, when we return home, do we live differently?
Yes, we all have to wash dishes and pick up the living room. That sucks and can only be skipped for so long.
Trust me, I’ve tried. Regardless, figure out a way to work in things you actually enjoy too. Don’t spend every night after work washing dishes and scrubbing toilets. Unless you actually like that kind of thing, you sick bastard. Life should consist of more than a series of chores and duties to merely survive.
Some might argue, “but it makes me happy to sit on the couch and stuff Cheetos in my face.” Realize the difference between what makes you happy right now and what makes you happy in the long run. I always think it will make me happy to “relax” in bed and scroll through Instagram for hours, but then I go to sleep feeling like a worthless piece of junk. Alternately, I feel amazing after an evening full of yoga, handstands, writing and my husband. Take the time to think deeply and evaluate if your activities make you happy now or in a lasting way.
#3: Connect with real, 3D people
When you recall the wonderful moments in your life, do you think of a text conversation? The comments from people on Facebook? Or do you remember that time your husband skied you down a giant sand dune, then raced you to the bottom, cutting you off so the two of you fell, rolling and covered in sand, laughing hysterically. Or sitting in the cab of a truck with your dad on one side and brother on the other, talking about what you thought happened after death. Those are my highlight memories. Times surrounded by people I love.
Replace time normally spent with “friends” online with real, live people! Start by building stronger relationships with the people in your house. Spouse, children, parents, roommates,
small, gnawing rodents. I don’t know who inhabits your home!
I also struggle with this step. My husband and I pass too much time beside each other staring at screens instead of spending it together. We sit in the same room for hours at a time, but when we go to bed I feel disconnected and sad. Instead, I will make a conscious effort to converse with him and maybe even get some #2 done.
See what I did there?
#4: Get outside
I spend the majority of my vacation time outside. Hiking, camping, burning things in pits. Sometimes I think the problem with coming home boils down to returning to our little second-floor apartment in the city sans yard or trees or happy little chirping birds.
I know the power of spending even a short time outside. On days when my darling little preschool students
resemble life-force syphoning vampires stress me out, I spend my break at the park. I remove my shoes and socks and sit on a blanket to eat my lunch under a tree. I return to work feeling completely differently than when I eat in the break room or my car.
Spending time outdoors in the evenings could give me the same lift. Lately I have started taking my laptop or book onto the balcony. Even small changes like this make a difference. Something magical happens when you remove the roof from overhead to feel the sun on your face and the breeze across your skin. I can’t be the only person who feels instantly relaxed by the sound of leaves moving in the wind.
#5: Live gratefully in the moment
No one finds difficulty giving thanks on a vacation full of people and activities they enjoy. Bring that sense of gratitude to everyday life. If you are reading this post, you are incredibly lucky.
It’s a wonderfully written post, after all. You possess access to electricity, the ability to read, a connection to the internet, a computer or smartphone and the ability to operate it. You can probably easily obtain clean food and water, a safe place to sleep at night and shelter from the elements. Of course, these assumptions may not apply to you in particular. Regardless of the specifics, give thanks for the hundreds of amazing opportunities in your life. Things that many people around the world strive to attain. Recognize this every day and thank your lucky stars.
#6: Have more sex
How do you cope with returning from vacation? Do you practice these 6 things already in your daily life? Or do you hope to start one or two soon? Do you find some easier to implement than others? Am I completely full of shit, and coming back home from vacation still sucks a big one?