You open your eyes and your body jolts with excitement. You throw your toothbrush in your kit and you kiss your puppies, hairless puppies (kids) or lizards or whatever creatures you may have and you’re off. Maybe you’re in the back of the plane, maybe you sprung for first class, it doesn’t matter: it’s vacation baby. That time when you get to do all the things you want to do when you want to do them. Maybe you’re a planner, maybe every moment is accounted for. Maybe you are a “themer”, you have a plan-lite with ideas of how you want the trip to go. Maybe you just straight up wing it, knowing you will have a good time no matter what happens. Perhaps you are a combo of all three. It doesn’t matter how you do vacation, whatever floats your time off boat, hell yeah, get it!
We went to Kitchener, Ontario this summer, a town near Toronto, Ontario in maple-y delicious Canada! It was magical. We had a theme, “water features”, and boy did we water feature. I like to move and do activities on vacation but also rest and recover. My good friend and colleague, Rachel Graham, hosted us and took us on a magical adventure of her province, it was simply providential. We kayak/floated the Grand River nearby to Kitchener, got soaked on the “maid of the mist” at Niagara Falls (the Canadian side is indeed prettier), visited Lake Ontario, Huron and Erie, and even drank water everyday. In addition to the glorious water features and a completely new experience of being kissed by the sun instead of horse whipped, we lifted weights every morning at her gym, hiked in the forest, played pickleball, did a mobility class in a gorgeous park, experienced a food tour in Toronto, met some of her family and friends and ate some delicious foods. It was a perfectly balanced vacation for me. I got to do all the things that I love while also trying new things and having ample time for recovery. I never felt rushed and had such a wonderful time with Chris, Rachel and all the Canadians we came across.
In addition, during a traffic-filled moment that could’ve had us annoyed and stressed, we enjoyed some fun Canadian wildlife and also birthed our recent social media project - “Reconsider this Corner”. We took a challenge and made it an opportunity to discuss concepts that matter to us and why they should matter to you. What a gift! Needless to say, it was hard to say goodbye and come home, even though I love my life and work and activities in Texas.
Since I was a child I have had what I call the “post vacation bluesies”. I can vividly remember crying at the pool when I was 8 years old after coming home from a fun visit with a friend one summer. Some folks get these, some do not. Some people come back from vacation ready to hit it and get back into their routines. For me, returning has always had a tinge of sadness and even a touch of depression. However, over time, I have learned what can help me personally when I come back home. My vacation/post vacation strategies are fairly simple, but I’ve discovered they really help me not to derail. Rachel and I talked about “attuning to yourself” in one of our recent - reconsider this corner - posts on Instagram. What we mean by that is learning about yourself, knowing what you need and when. It’s a lifelong journey and ever changing, just like we are. It can be rewarding and even fun to do this. Instead of feeling like a victim to your circumstances you can learn how to help yourself by knowing what you’ll need, sometimes in advance!
So, what do I do? I model my vacations similarly to my home life in some way and entirely differently in others. I don’t schedule anything. My life is very structured, planned and scheduled at home, and I love the break from that. I wake up every morning, spend 10 or so minutes seeing how I feel and then start making decisions with myself, partner and whoever I’m traveling with on what the day could hold. I’m flexible if things need to shift and stay open for fun that can spontaneously happen. You may like to lay about on vacation, that is totally up to each individual, and laying is nice! For my mental health, I love doing something hard, especially in the morning, to get my day started off. Travel days are my body rest days and the rest, I like to move and groove. Sometimes in similar ways that I move at home, but I like to change it up in some kind of way. Try a new gym, try a new class, challenge myself or take it easy depending on the day. Secondly, I limit my drinking to a day or two and I don’t overdo it. I’ve found that alcohol can really derail my mood if I overdo it, and I want to be able to enjoy my vacation. By limiting my alcohol intake to the middle days of a vacation, I give my body a chance to recover from the travel before increasing the load of toxins it has to process. The same goes for the back end. I don’t drink in the few days leading up to my return so my body can again reset before travel and be ready to return to my at home routine. I choose mostly similar foods to my normal diet and have a few things out of the normal so as not to shock my system too intensely. I discovered that feasting also has a big impact on my mental health and makes me feel sluggish and sad. I limit the fun choices so I can feel good and do all the things I want to do.
These are my strategies that help me keep my balance on vacay and also ensure a smoother, less blues-y return to home. I also pre-plan self care for my return. The day after I get back I get a massage and adjustment to help workout the travel kinks and whatever new patterns emerge from different styles of activity. This also helps prepare me for my return to work by enhancing my sleep, my bodies ability to recover and grounding me. I ease back into my life by reducing my workout schedule a bit that first week back, maybe I lift slightly less weight, or spend 1 day less at the gym. Whatever feels right. By planning for it, I mentally don’t view the lessened schedule as a failure, but as a planned easing back in. How you view things makes a huge difference in how your body responds to them. You can feel peaceful and at ease knowing it was part of your plan.
Now, all of these things said, some of this might work for you or none of this might work for you. I am simply sharing my experience as a potential format for how you can think about what does/doesn’t work for you when it comes to vacation and returning to your life. Please enjoy the Canadian photo dump! Happy end of Summering friends (or if you live in Texas like me, happy next 3 extra months of Summering).