The reasons why people travel for vacation are manifold. Some enjoy exploring new places and love trying new and exotic foods. Others simply like the break of routine that travel affords.
But vacation travel also has its downsides. Just think of the time you spend researching, planning and getting ready for your vacation. Or the hassles you endure getting to your destination – from long car rides to packed airports. Also, think of all the money you will spend on hotels, restaurant meals and entertainment. And often, upon your return, you will find that with all the unpacking and jet lag, your vacation has not had the relaxation effect you had hoped for.
A reduced household income and COVID-19-related safety concerns will prompt many to vacation at home this year. But a staycation is not a sacrifice – if you approach it the right way:
#1 Turn Off Work Thoughts
The world’s nicest beaches and most exotic spas won’t make you feel relaxed if all you can think of are your challenges at work. Learning how to switch off unproductive ruminative thoughts is the first crucial step for truly being able to rejuvenate during your downtime – wherever you are.
Most stress comes from within, authors Dr. Michael Olpin and Sam Bracken explain in their book, Unwind. They offer a series of strategies on how to shift your mind-set from stress to tranquility:
Unwind!Grand Harbor Press
Similarly, in their user-friendly workbook, Coping with Anxiety, Edmund Bourne and Lorna Garano teach how to turn off excessive worrying and redirect your attention to a project or activity that nourishes you:
Coping with AnxietyNew Harbinger Publications
In Freedom from Anxious Thoughts and Feelings, clinical psychologist Scott Symington introduces his emotional management system: The “Two-Screen Method” (“TSM”) proposes visualizing a “front screen” in your mind for positivity and a “side screen” in your mind for negativity. The idea behind the TSM is that you can learn, with the help of “mental anchors,” to place your focus on the positive content that plays on the front screen instead of obsessing about the negative stuff on the side screen:
Freedom from Anxious Thoughts & FeelingsNew Harbinger Publications
#2 Declutter Your Time As Well As Your Space
If you are going to spend some precious vacation time at home, make sure you spend it the way you want to. Don’t get sidetracked and distracted by technology and physical objects lying around your home.
One advantage of staying at a hotel or holiday rental is the fact you are physically removed from your own four walls. Hence, you won’t be reminded of the clothes that need to be washed, the cupboard that needs to be fixed or the mail that needs to be opened. So how about “prepping” your home so it won’t distract you from indulging in your chosen staycation activities?
Marie Kondo’s classic, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, will help you do just that. Kondo stresses that decluttering is not an end in itself. It is about getting rid of physical distractions that prevent you from pursuing your true sources of joy. When you start your staycation, for example, having more space in your home makes it more inviting for you to roll out that exercise mat and start your day practicing yoga, or to complete a 1,000-piece floor puzzle with your kids:
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpTen Speed Press
It’s not just physical distractions, however, that can derail your well-deserved leisure time. Consider turning off your phone notifications, unplugging your television and taking a break from social media. In Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport offers guidance on how to start a “digital declutter” so you can take back ownership of your time. The book also recommends a series of time-tested practices for cultivating meaning, personal satisfaction and a sense of delight outside of digital captivation:
Now that you have toned down stressful thoughts and minimized unhelpful distractions, it’s time to recharge. There are different ways to rejuvenate your spirit. The most important thing is that you do something you enjoy.
For example, take advantage of your staycation to get into nature! Explore local hiking trails, head to a nearby beach or spend time in a forest. You can reap the benefits of time spent in nature – which Florence Williams details in The Nature Fix – without traveling to exotic places: Lowered stress levels and a boost in creativity, anyone?
The Nature FixW.W. Norton
Also, make sure you spend quality time with other people. Reconnect with friends you care about but don’t get to see as often as you’d like. Humans have an inborn need for social connection, and socializing has been shown to reduce stress levels. In fact, the happiest people on earth spend six hours daily in face-to-face interactions, explains Dan Buettner in his talk, “The Blue Zones of Happiness”:
The Blue Zones of HappinessWorld Economic Forum
While staying put, you may also want to pick up a book and travel with your mind. How about a run-in with the giants of Brobdingnag in a foreign land? Or an adventurous journey down the Mississippi River with Huckleberry Finn? Or would you rather care for a visit to 19th-century rural England and meet the fabulously wealthy Mr. Darcy? You can do all of this, and more. Here our selection of five Literary Classics that are sure to keep you entertained:
But what if you’re entertained at home but your kids aren’t? During the lockdown, we have compiled resources that can keep your kids busy in an engaging and exploratory way. Check out our curated links for creative things to do at home:
A staycation well spent may give rise to new habits. It may prompt new ideas for mini-breaks and favorite activities that you can integrate into your daily life. All in all, that’s not a bad alternative to a glossy vacation photo album, isn’t it?