Holiday time is upon us – my children have just over a week left at school, the sun has been shining non-stop, we’ve had no rain in goodness knows how long and it is the time of year that people all over the world start thinking about taking a holiday. There are many seemingly obvious reasons that so many of us take a holiday each year…
“The breaks you take from work pay you back manifold when you return because you come back with a fresher mind and newer thinking. Some of your best ideas come when you’re on vacation.” – Gautam Singhania.
Whilst many of us recognise the need and the reasons for taking a holiday, today I wanted to write about something I think we recognise less; how to really make sure that you derive the most amount of benefit from your holiday. In today’s connected world where we are constantly being overloaded with information and stimulus from so many differing sources, it’s easy to forget about the most fundamental means of improving your holiday experience. You don’t necessarily need a smartphone or a computer to positively change the way you experience a holiday. Here are some tips and ideas for slowing down, savouring and making the most of a holiday.
1. Define What a Holiday Means to You:
Our minds dictate so much of our experience. So much of our anxiety or fulfilment comes from where we place our attention. When you stop the wheels from turning over all the things you’re worried about or don’t like and find something special and meaningful to focus on, everything changes.
What’s important, what do you value about the holidays? Is it sharing love with family and friends, giving to others, seeing others joy and excitement, is it creating beauty? Find that perspective and notice how everything you are doing is in service to what you value.
You can frame your holiday in such a way that your mind can help lead it in a progressive direction, and you’ll filter your experience in a more progressive way too – which will lead to a more enjoyable holiday experience right from the start.
Pick your top three things you want to do during the holiday. Let others who will be with you do the same. Savour and enjoy these moments. Organise between you how you will make these things happen in the most harmonious and enjoyable way. Anything look like it is going to drain you negatively in one way or another? Gratefully and kindly decline or plan it in alternative ways.
“This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!” – D.M. Dellinger.
Additionally, a regular intervals, turn off your mobile phone and give your undivided attention for a designated period of time while you share a book, a film or an event. Have a real conversation before and after. Consider having a discussion of what is meaningful to you or what it was that made it enjoyable for you.
3. Have Daily Quiet Time or Meditate:
Holidays can be manic for some – especially if you have young children. Start your day with 10 minutes of quiet time to walk, breathe, do self-hypnosis or sit quietly. If you think you don’t have the time to sit for 10 minutes, this practice will help you the most. Remind yourself of the love, joy, and ways to celebrate. Reflect on what you have enjoyed about your holiday so far and look forward to what you have planned. Give thanks and express gratitude. You can now start your day in a more peaceful way.
4. Schedule Active Time Everyday:
Get your endorphin rush in for the day. Even if it’s a 10-minute walk outside. Run. Ski. Go to the gym. Do some yoga. Or it can include the entire crew. In my family, we love some active relaxation time swimming, surfing, playing ball games and so on. It gets you focused, distracted from anything else and has all the benefits that physical exercise gives you, which you can read about here:
Ways Physical Exercise Boosts Mental Health.
5. Revive or Create a Holiday Tradition:
We like to do certain things on the boat when we travel – such as letting our children have chips (we officially call them frites when travelling to France) for breakfast! It is something they get excited about, it breaks the usual rules and conventions, and is a tradition that we have done for a few holidays now. Maybe there is a family tradition you used to do each holiday when you were young that you could revive with your own family? Reviving traditions from a member of the family that has passed is a great way to honour their presence in your life.
6. Make time to Bond. Laugh. Have Fun:
Teach your niece a new card game. Have a game night. Watch a funny holiday film with your grumpy uncle, maybe he’ll warm up. Laugh. Breathe Deep. Find joy in the little moments. Recognise all that is fun and what makes you laugh. You’ll look back on these times with great fondness if they are punctuated with laughter. Read more on this here: The Science of Laughter: Why Laughing is Really Good for Your Health.
7. Reframe the Gift Giving Process:
During the holiday, you can give. Giving to others brings us happiness in observing, or imagining their reactions.
“The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each other’s burdens, easing others’ loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of the holidays.” – W. C. Jones.
Recent studies suggest that giving to others makes us happy, even happier than spending on ourselves. What’s more, our kindness might create a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism. “Altruistic gift giving without any hope of reciprocity has been shown to make people happy,” says Wharton professor Katherine Milkman. That does not mean you have to spend money necessarily – give people assistance, help, or share with others some of that which you have. Let people borrow or use something of yours, give them some of your time, help them out, maybe give them the benefit of your experience and hindsight of how to make the most of the facilities, great places to visit or activities to take part in. Smile, engage, and contribute and you’ll feel really good about doing so. This leads me onto the next one really…
8. Have a Positive Outlook:
Our words are powerful and can create or destroy the mood of a situation. When we give voice to our worries, dislikes and negativity we are literally enhancing that feeling for ourselves and everyone around us. Is that what you really want?
Try keeping your words and commentary on what you love, appreciate or enjoy in your present moment. A steady stream of positive comments lifts you up and everyone else. You will be creating the joy and peace that you hope for in the holidays. Do your best not to whine and seek to lift those around you up. It’ll make your holiday experience so much better and enjoyable.
9. Reflect & Give Thanks:
Appreciate your holidays. Reflect upon the time you have spent and “pan for gold” to highlight all that you have enjoyed the most.
Here is more on how to do that: Being Positive: Creating A Happiness Filter Using Self-Hypnosis.
Give thanks for all the joys, successes, and accomplishments in particular. Being appreciative of the holiday will contribute to more joy in future. If you have older family members, have them share memories from their favourite holidays as children. As a family or with friends, reminisce about the things you loved from previous holidays together. We do this in our family and we always laugh and bond over the funny and sweet memories. We then carry lots of things over into future holidays and seek out opportunities to laugh and enjoy moments that we know will be a future talking point.
It’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters during a holiday. Sometimes, there is stress and anxiety with travelling or going away, but your presence, both physical and emotional, will be what people remember when they look back. Be present, engage in the moments where possible and these initial steps will help you gain more enjoyment and satisfaction from your holiday. Enjoy!
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