Body, mind and spirit all need a reboot. Here's why vacation matters for health and healing.
Why is it that so many of us don't take vacations? After returning from
a glorious five nights and six days in Barbados, I realized that I
didn't really "miss" that much going on in my regular life. You know,
the things that seem so important and all-consuming that we don't take
vacations because we are afraid of missing them? Turns out that exactly
three things happened while I was away, most of them minor, none of them
that couldn't be addressed via a decent WiFi signal.
That's not the only thing I realized while "away from it all" at a
small guesthouse in the Scotland District (picture rugged mountains,
jungley forests and crashing waves) on the non-touristy side of
Barbados. Here is my "stop making excuses and get out of town" list —
and if it only serves as a reminder to myself and does nobody else any
good at all, then so be it. But hopefully this will inspire you to book a
ticket, ponder some maps, pull up the Amtrak site and peruse, or hit
the trail you've been meaning to.
Deep rest is incredibly clarifying: A few nights of
sleep in a place where all you can hear is the waves pounding, the frogs
peeping, or the leaves brushing against each other in the wind,
combined with resting for as long as you like is calming and resets the
mind and body. By the fourth and fifth nights of my stay, I was sleeping
earlier and rising earlier, feeling fully rested and feeling like I
wasn't fighting perpetual daytime sleepiness. I felt I could definitely
think more clearly.
Not thinking about my problems helped me solve them: I
am, like many modern Americans, pretty absorbed with what I see as the
problems and issues in my life, many of them (pretty much all of them!)
related to how I feel about my career and work circumstances. Being away
from the stresses inherent in my life — I would say here I have a
moderately, but not crazy-stressful life — made me see what was really
important, and what wasn't. Writing my next book is important; worrying
over covering every single topic on my "to do" list is not.
My creativity was boosted: New faces, places, smells
and tastes — not to mention rest and staring at the ocean for a few
minutes every hour — got me to a place where I could open up and allow
the flow of creative ideas that every writer needs but can't always
access. Even if you are not working in a "creative" field like the arts
or entertainment, tapping into your creativity releases a sense of
playfulness, fun and can help with sorting through challenges.
Time away from being online is more valuable than I realized: I
love being online more than the average person — and I have been
blogging for more than a decade. I think social media is genuinely fun
(and I have family scattered all over the globe, so I look forward to
catching up with them that way). But my photography projects, eating
delicious food and having great conversations with my boyfriend are just
plain more enriching than the equivalent amount of time spent online.
I'm not going to go offline, but I think evenings after 10 p.m. are
going to be "me time" from now on.