After a recent girlfriend trip to Mexico, I found myself feeling glum about returning to the day to day humdrum of stress and responsibility. You know that feeling – leaving behind the sun-drenched beach, snorkeling and kayaking in the turquoise water, and feeling free and easy. Vacation. Then the flights and the jetlag, the return to the winter cold weather, the emails, the bills….This reentry point from a vacation can be difficult, where the everyday schedule and tasks feel ordinary and overwhelming. Where discontent creeps in and dissatisfaction can take over. Because the very nature of a vacation is that it’s a break from the routine, it’s no surprise we can dread coming home. But no one should dread their ordinary life.
Although I have been intentionally working on contentment for the past few years, I still must remind myself that happiness is a choice. Everything (including the suckiness of vacations ending) becomes an opportunity to wipe away the negative thinking and find the blessings. I want to live in appreciation for what’s right in front of me. This was an opportunity to love the life I was returning to.
I’m not saying that beating the post-vacation blues is a walk in the park. But I do believe it can be. As I navigate this shift, these are some tricks and self-reminders that have helped.
First and foremost. Feeling glum, discombobulated and exhausted post-vacation is normal. Don’t be hard on yourself that you aren’t snapping back with the feeling of renewal and rejuvenation that you were expecting. Cracking the whip on yourself is never the answer. Giving yourself compassion and tenderness is.
Rest, rest, rest. If jetlag is involved, allow yourself time to rest to acclimate time zones. Give yourself permission to grieve if you feel like grieving. Any transition is letting go of something and grief is commonly involved. Let yourself feel sad for a bit and then decide to feel better.
Give yourself permission to leave the suitcase and laundry for the following weekend. Remember the whip-cracking and how that’s not the answer?
Allow for time during the first couple of days to go through emails, snail mail, paying bills, and grocery shopping. This means that you may need to say “no” to other requests and obligations.
Choose little ways to find joy and comfort. I’ve been making comfort foods, like soup and pudding and watching uplifting movies (“The Hundred Step Journey” was wonderful!)
Remember your favorite moments from the vacation and feel gratitude for the experiences. Looking back over the pictures, writing about the experiences and telling friends about your adventures is a way to hold on to the feelings.
Integrate your trip into your regular life. This was the brightest lightbulb moment for me. When I thought about all the ways that my vacation was different, from spontaneous adventures, delicious meals out, impromptu margaritas, chatting with strangers, and enjoying nature, I realized that I can make these same choices at home. My home life doesn’t have to be the inevitable daily grind. I can choose to live the vacation mentality at home. This was the truest gift – changing my perspective about how I choose or don’t choose happiness.
Returning to the routines of your life can be difficult, but it can be made easier by incorporating some elements of the vacation into your daily routines, like learning to make the pasta you enjoyed so much in Italy or listening to a soundtrack that reminds you of your trip while you are paying those bills. To maintain that free and easy vacation perspective, try on a whimsical lens through which you view life – giggle at your foibles, turn tasks into play, look for the good in people and situations, bring joy to the people around you, be curious. Embracing the ordinary and making small changes will allow you to recognize and appreciate each day, each moment, for the gift it is. Small things can be quite magical.
As a reminder, my screensaver is now a picture of my favorite spot on the beach. I’m determined to make this my state of mind no matter what stressor is presenting itself. I’m committed to finding play and fun in my daily routine. Regardless of whether I’m away on vacation or at home in my life, every moment can be more wonderful than the moment before.
I’m choosing to savor that morning cup of extra-special coffee. Feeling the brisk winter air on my skin and revel at the birds on the snow-covered branches. Filling up the seed in my birdfeeder and the sugar water in my hummingbird feeders became my top priority. Each moment is just as beautiful as I choose to make it and watching the birds flit about is pure joy.
Plan some fun for the weekend after you get back. Schedule a hair appointment. Maybe there’s a pretty hike people have recommended that you haven’t explored, or a restaurant you haven’t tried, or a part of town you’ve never walked through. Invite a friend to go with you. Discover whole new worlds in your own backyard.
Because a change of scenery has been so helpful to changing my perspective, I am planning my next vacation. Having something to look forward to can add an extra dose of delight to where you are in the time being. Whether you start looking at flights or just do some image searches of potential spots, the daydream factor can give you a boost.
Going on vacation affords us a new perspective from which to view life and find joy in the mundane of the ordinary. The trick is to experience them in new ways; to find fun in the daily rhythms. It is possible to take our repetitive, everyday tasks and make them enjoyable! Our attitude and approach is what can make all the difference. Whimsy is defined as, “playfully quaint or fanciful behavior or humor.”
Living a life, even an ordinary one, fully engaged and full of playful whimsy is something most people want to do but along the way they just kind of forget. Their dreams become one of those “one day it will happen” deferrals. The sad thing is, for many that one day doesn’t come because it requires an overall attitude shift about life. Life can be whatever you want it to be. Life has all the potential you bring to it–nothing more, nothing less. To find out how much that is, all you need do is show up. You just need to be present.
I feel grateful indeed for how vacations inspire my imagination. As I hauled my suitcase across the threshold of my front door, I decided to fully embrace the life I was walking back into and feel grateful for all that it holds. I want to show up for all the wonders and whimsy in each moment.
Today I plan to commit a random act of kindness.I feel downright giddy secretly doing something for someone else, knowing how much a simple act can brighten their day.
May you find the blessings in every day, however mundane they may seem. May you discover a secretly incredible and whimsical life in your ordinary world.
I believe in you.
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Tricia Acheatel has been supporting women in their personal, professional, and entrepreneurial growth for over 30 years. She teaches women how to access their inner wisdom, develop self-confidence, and create with conviction – to shape a life of meaning. Her unique approach blends inner work with practical mindset and business development tools that teach women how to find the courage to live their authentic and brilliant lives.
From her combined experience – as a corporate executive, business owner and coach, herbalist/healer, life coach, author, life designer, success team leader, and teacher – Tricia brings wisdom, intuition, compassion, and clarity to her work. Her clients and students access newfound clarity, resilience, freedom, inspiration, and the knowledge necessary to launch their dreams.