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How can we use the experiences and lessons learned while traveling to our advantage once we return and start to recreate our customary routine? Maybe more importantly, how can we set a realistic expectation for our post vacation routine that isn't romanticized and embellished, so we can integrate back into daily life?
I recently traveled to Spain for my longest vacation ever. It was spectacular and everything you'd imagine 17 days in Spain would be. Although we all wish vacation would never end, I’m someone who loves coming home. It’s a mix of loving San Francisco, loving what I do, and missing my dog that makes coming home so painless.
I realized the day we got back that I had learned so many valuable lessons while away. Now that I'm home, I am feeling grounded and ready to push forward because of these realizations.
More than feeling refreshed or rejuvenated post vacation, I simply feel more ready. Ready to take on the daily struggles of life that may come my way. I think many times we romanticize the post vacation bliss. We create this unrealistic expectation that being away will change us and forever impact our lives at home. And while traveling definitely changes us for the better, the impact of a beautiful vacation at some point ends.
We get comfortable in old routines, we get busy, and we move on. Personally, I wouldn't say I return completely rejuvenated. I return ready and willing to move forward with new lessons I picked up along the way. I return feeling ready to serve my purpose, a purpose that may sometimes get lost (which is good!) while away.
Below are five realizations and practices that have helped me feel grounded upon reentering the real world post vacation:
1. Meditation: Meditation is not just for stress relief. While in Spain I had all the best intentions in the world to meditate twice a day for 20 minutes like I do at home. I thought it would be easy and effortless, but I was wrong. It was so hard to get myself to sit down and meditate! In this struggle, I realized that at home I started to associate my meditations with strictly stress relief. While away, this stress was non-existent…and so were my meditations! Silly me, meditations aren't just for stress! They are for my health, for my connection to all livings things, and so much more. So now that I’m home, I have taken the burden of “stress relief” off of my meditation practice and continue to remind myself its role in my day is for so much more.
2. Less is more: You don't need that many things. When you're on vacation, you often live for a week or more with just a carry on suitcase. Like so many of us, I have been playing with the thought of minimalism in my head, but have been too scared and lazy to make the actual effort. This was such a strong reminder that I truly don’t need all that much stuff.
3. Use the time warp (jet lag) to your advantage: Once I got past the being wide awake at 3 am the first few days back, I started to feel a huge shift in my sleeping schedule. Work requires me to rise early, and I used to loathe it. Since being back, my body is tired earlier and I'm listening to it by getting to bed earlier. Rising has been so much easier because of the combination of jet lag and my new earlier bedtime. Now I'm working to continue this new sleep pattern to create a new routine for my body.
4. Integrate one or two habits you enjoyed while away: Think about things you did that you enjoyed while away. Integrate one or two of those things into your life at home. This can create joy around typically normal or mundane tasks. It can serve as a reminder of a happy and joyful time, or create a positive environment in your daily life. For example, I loved the bread with oil and vinegar appetizer we had all over Spain. While relaxing on the roof of our Airbnb, we would enjoy fresh bread, wine, and a beautiful sunset. This was something I yearned for when we got home, so I have integrated it into my life at home. It's all about balance. Do I have bread and wine every day? Nope. Maybe once a week or maybe once a month, but it is a habit I enjoyed in Spain and doing it at home reminds me of our beautiful trip and helps me to slow down and relax.
5. Don’t create a busy routine just because there is an end in sight: This was the biggest lesson I learned. Prior to my vacation, I overbooked my life, planning multiple events, hiring employees, running my life coaching business, nurturing my relationship and so on. I realized when I got back from vacation that I did this in anticipation of my upcoming break. I have made it a priority since I got home to create a routine that is manageable and sustainable for my well being--not a routine that is based solely on an end in sight. I cannot base my work load on what is to come, I need to base my work load on the current moment, continuously working at a rate that is sustainable.
Transitioning from vacation to daily life can be easy and effortless if you take the time to reflect on your trip. Take what you loved and cherished from your time away and bring it home with you to enhance your daily life.