Travel broadens the mind, there’s no doubt about that. Yet, what if, for one reason or another, we are unable to simply pack our bags and call out au revoir? Should we postpone our leisure time until further notice? Absolutely not. There is wonder all around us if we’re willing to see it, and the less-is-more approach to vacation can bring us as much joy and satisfaction as remote resorts with paradise beaches. Yet, since recharging our batteries is not a matter of plugging our cables into power outlets, shaking up the monotony of our routines might become somewhat of a creative challenge. And we are up for it.
Take Your Time
The best way to live life to the fullest is to take care of your mental health first. That might mean something different to everyone, yet, ultimately, it boils down to prioritizing self-care. Wiping off the sweat of the daily grind from our forehead and disconnecting from work once in a while could not be more essential to boosting our productivity, creativity, and motivation, but also to raising our levels of joy and satisfaction.
Not to mention, time off can save your life. According to the estimates of the World Health Organization, in 2016, long working hours caused 745 000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease. Research shows that devoting over 55 hours per week to our jobs gives us a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% increased risk of dying from heart disease. Please read this twice: working your fingers to the bone is life-threatening.
What becomes of life if all we see in front of us are metrics, tools, notifications, and reminders? When you’re stretched too thin and running on fumes, instead of another target or deadline, you will only hit a cul-de-sac. Stop the train, breathe, and enjoy the view for a while. You will run further if you take breaks. It’s a life-long marathon, not a sprint.
The Art of Essentialism
When we finally press pause to rest, we might find ourselves still in our efficiency mode. Meaning, we want to do as much resting as possible, fit as many trips into a single day, or drive as many miles away from where we are as possible. We can overdo anything, even relaxation.
In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown, author and business strategist, underlines the importance of uncommitting and its role in helping us pay quality attention to the present moment. He encourages us to be highly selective about everything we do in order to create as much room as possible for what truly matters in our lives. Trade more (but mediocre) for less (but better).
There are 24 precious hours in a day and we’ll never be able to stretch this time. While we need to learn how to say no to some of our work obligations to still be able to eat and sleep, we rarely talk about applying the same principles to our time off. In order to properly de-stress, unwind, and breathe, we need to be truly unavailable to the world, living the quality-over-quantity dream.
Take a moment to ponder what your essentials are. Stop following trends, forget about taking perfect pictures for social media, let go of expectations. Choose your activities mindfully, pick your favorite people for company, or opt for alone time. Whatever floats your boat, just make sure you value your time enough to spend it on pure joy and deep satisfaction.
Staycation Is the New Paradise
When we think of leisure time, what immediately comes to mind is vacation, which we typically associate with traveling, usually abroad. Yet, in order to recharge our batteries, what we need is the simplest change of scenery. Sometimes it’s a matter of ungluing yourself from your desk and getting some fresh air (with equally fresh perspective as a bonus).
Speaking of nature, it is the perfect setting and the most loyal companion for a holiday. Taking a walk, exercising, meditating, or camping in nature can be highly beneficial to our health. Let the greenery of a park or a forest enchant you. Hug a tree. Tell stories and laugh with friends around a campfire. Follow your curiosity down an unbeaten path. You never know what animals may come out to greet you and open a spiritual dimension in your soul. Wildlife can be transcendental. If you give it a try, staycation may be the perfect opportunity to actively appreciate your local gifts of nature that are free and available 24/7.
Wherever you are right now, there are wonders around you waiting to be discovered. Let your feet lead the way, let your eyes peek around the corner. Open your heart to possibilities. You’ll be amazed what miracles you might have missed in the rush of your daily life.
There’s a First Time for Everything
Have you always dreamt of visiting Paris? What about a themed night in? French music, French movies, French cuisine, you may even want to dress in chic Parisian style and take a virtual tour around the Louvre. Trust your imagination, it can take you wherever you want to go and turn ordinary moments into adventures.
Also, think back to your childhood passions. Did you dream of becoming a rockstar? Invite your friends over for a karaoke night. Warm up your rusty vocal cords, let go of control, and sing your heart out. You might feel a rush of endorphins like you never knew before. Let them take over you and fill you with childish happiness.
Then, try something new. What better way to snap out of your business mindset than by doing something you’ve never done before? Bungee jumping, knitting, painting, striking up a conversation with a stranger, skateboarding, journaling, inviting yourself out on a date to your favorite restaurant or museum, starting a blog, joining a bookclub, learning a new language – you will never run out of options for first-time experiences.
Alternatively... do nothing. Your self-care should be tailored specifically to you. If you feel like lying on the floor and switching your brain off while staring at the ceiling, so be it. Always trust your gut.
Leave It For The Bucket List
By all means, dream about faraway places, sky-touching cities, festivals in an open field, climbing Mount Everest, or dancing on Broadway. Have ambitions, goals, a list of people you’d like to meet or destinations you’d like to reach. Dreaming is a wonderful way of recharging your batteries. It allows you to define what you really want, have something to look forward to, and work with an end goal in mind.
Yet, what contributes to the state of flourishing in your life is also gratitude for what you already have. Squeezing the juice out of your current reality can generate the kind of fulfillment that can elevate your mood and fortify your mental wellbeing against the monotony of the daily grind. Take a break, focus on what’s essential to you, and believe in the magic of the here and now.
“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl