In August, my husband and I took a cruise for our anniversary. Normally on vacations, I take work with me. I spend time reading and responding to emails and I have even set up conference calls to coincide with road trips (when I wasn’t the one, driving, of course).
For college and graduate school vacations, I would take home one suitcase full of books and one suitcase for my clothes and other personal items. This is no exaggeration. No matter where I was, and regardless of the occasion, I would work. Sadly, this does include my honeymoon. The horror, right?! But going on my first cruise forced me to leave work behind for the first time in my adult life.
I nervously left my laptop at home, which is epic for me. I made this decision primarily because paying $60 for about 30 minutes of internet access didn’t appeal to me. But in reality, after a fulfilling yet busy summer, I needed the downtime before plunging back into work. So, for the first time in my adult life, I took a real vacation. We visited friends on our drive to and from our port of departure. And the cruise was fantastic. I reveled in waking up each day, not to immediately get to work or respond to emails, but to enjoy the lively activities on the ship, to do yoga on the beach, to tour islands, to swim, dance, and eat to my heart’s content.
Emails were suddenly less important and work held less of a priority. I finally learned what it means to take a real vacation, and this means no work, all play and relaxation! After the cruise, I returned to my highly scheduled and intense work weeks with a refreshed feeling that I have never experienced. This inspired me to bring this level of “vacationing” to my life on a daily and weekly basis. Here are some changes that I have implemented ensure that I take mini-vacations to refresh myself:
1) Technology-Free Time: I, like many of you, spend way too much time behind a computer. I have decided to take several hours away from technology (computer and cell phone) each weekend. And it has made a huge difference in feeling rejuvenated every Monday.
2) Naps: I still despise naps, almost as much as I did when I was a kid, but I find that they are very helpful on long days that never seem to end. After napping, I get a second wind and finish the day much more productively than I would otherwise.
3) Nature Walks: When naps aren’t feasible, I take a short nature walk. A 5- or 10-minute walk outside does wonders to refresh the soul and outlook.
4) Relaxing Baths: Nothing says you are vacating the premises like a long, relaxing bath. I aim to take a bath instead of a shower at least once a week, using sea or Epsom salts, herbs, flowers, and oils. Even when I end up bathing every other week, during my bath time I meditate, relax, let go of concerns. I visualize tensions and worries melting away in the warm water surrounding me.
Mini-vacationing has been working out well for me. I continue to be very productive as I bring moments of relaxation and restoration to my life on a regular basis. I encourage you to do the same!