Is it possible to take that laid-back feeling of relaxation one has after an incredibly chill vacation and preserve it as a daily analgesic for the fast-paced life we lead when not on holiday? I think applying vacation mode to our day-to-day approach towards tasks, requirements and expectations without urgency or expediency, will reduce stress and improve overall mental and physical health.
I'm currently testing out the theory.
Forty-eight hours after the wheels touched down in Chicago from our Grecian honeymoon (albeit 2 years after the wedding) I still felt the tranquility of vacation, even though school had started for the kids and the idyllic days of summer had been spent. Days went on and I continued to enjoy newfound quality time with my wife and kids no matter how many dishes needed cleaned, birthday gifts awaited purchase, or trees begged for trimming.
Two weeks into it, I set aside work and household-related minutia in order to ride to the lakefront with my friend in hopes of interviewing some old diver guys for a talk-show idea that’s been churning in my head for years. Twenty-four days post-Greece finds me luxuriating in the sunshine while sprawled out on the turf surrounding the playground at my daughter's school while she plays with any kid that is also interested in the monkey bars, instead of scheduling a play date or organizing an after-school activity. A month after returning from our honeymoon, I’m taking the time to chop up fresh vegetables each day and marinating them in an oregano-olive oil vinaigrette in order to satisfy my eternal craving for Santorini Greek Salad; not only that, but I’ve established a habit of sitting down at the table, even if by myself (sometimes with a glass of cheap Greek White Table Wine) to enjoy and savor my feast.
Five weeks have passed since the most alarmingly beautiful and tranquil vacation of my life, and I still haven't been tempted to get fired-up about another parent's action, a teenage meltdown, or a sock-stealing dog's monthly bout of diarrhea sprinkled with loss of bowel control.
"Mom, why are you so tired all the time now?" My 7-year-old asked while cuddled up on my lap after waking me up from an early-afternoon siesta on the sofa.
I've wondered the same thing over the last month.
"I think my body is just catching up on having not rested in the last ten years," I calmly explained.
It's called hitting the reset button.
Spending 10 days away from schedules and deadlines and carpools and bank balances alone allowed my mind and body to slow down to a snail’s pace. Without external outcomes hinged on my performance, actions or even existence, I was transported to an euphoria where decisions need not be made, time was of no importance, and my next move or lack thereof had zero impact on anyone or anything. Additionally, our vacation destination of Europe, specifically the Greek Islands, where the pace is so drastically unhurried in contrast to ours here in the states, afforded me a front-row view of perspective.
With one lane roads where unprotected cliffs drop down to the ocean far, far below, drivers have no option but patience while waiting for cars, bikers, and busses to pass. In a place where dining is regarded as an important social activity where good food and drink is leisurely consumed and appreciated, reveling in a two-hour meal is the norm, without rush to get the check. The gorgeous scenery of brilliant blue sea and sky, weathered cliffs, and narrow dirt roads frosted the cake of serenity for me as I took the time to absorb my surroundings.
I thrive in this environment.…even outside of Greece. It turns out that a slower pace better allows me to acknowledge and honor the needs of myself in congruence with the needs of others. Clearing my plate of non-essential motion instead of rushing from one activity or task to the next to no end, allows me to notice the signals my body sends me when it’s time to rest, eat and be active; along the same lines, my brain warns me of potential trouble, pleasure, and even over-doing it, promoting common sense actions. Taking time to really listen to those around me, without rushing to complete the task or problem before finding out if I’m even part of the equation, is necessary for healthy relationship maintenance and growth, but is only possible for me by freeing up brain space for silence. Overall, without a steadiness of pace, I’ll never catch the cues.
I feel transformed after Greece. Acknowledging its beauty and peace allowed me to find the same in myself. If I fall prey to, or more likely, spearhead, the fast and furious life again in the future, I am armed with my newfound knowledge of where the dial on my own barometer should always read to function optimally: in vacation mode.
Check out our Greece vacation pictures.