There’s a Billy Crystal film called City Slickers that was a firm favourite of mine back in the 90s. The basic plot was about three friends who take an annual trip together without their wives. Each year the trips get wackier. In City Slickers they travel to the Southwest to drive cattle on a supervised vacation. The legendary Jack Palance plays the tough cowboy, Curly Washburn and Billy Crystal plays Mitch, the man on the edge of a midlife crisis.
It’s a fun film to watch, but it also has a few valuable lessons mixed in amongst the humour. One of my favourite parts is when Curly explains ‘vacation’ to Mitch. ‘Y’all spend fifty weeks a year getting knots in your rope and then expect to come up here and unwind them in two weeks.’ This pretty much sums up the basic work/life balance of the twentieth century. We work long hours sometimes risking our family time and leisure activities and then expect to fully relax when herded onto bus, plane, and coach on an all-inclusive trip to Spain!
After many years working in holistic health, I’m fairly lucky that I’ve learned how to master the work/life balance reasonably well. Although, social media time can become incredibly overwhelming sometimes! My holidays tend to be a time for reconnecting with my three children who have a better social life than me and enjoying relaxing meals with my parents. I also love to visit historical sites, swim in the sea, and shop at quirky markets.
I’m slightly alarmed that this all sounds like a dating profile, so I’ll swiftly move on! Holidays are the ideal time to explore new and exciting places. I try to pick a new destination each year so that over time my children and I travel to as many places in the world as we can. Yes, I have my favourites (Barcelona!) but discovering new locations is half the fun of a holiday.
Being able to relax fully is something we all long to do when we step off a plane in a sunny climate, but quite often we end up doing too much, getting ill, or over indulging so that our well planned and eagerly anticipated holiday ends up as another stressor.
So, how can we embrace the holiday season and totally switch off? I’ve just returned from ten days in America where I was rushing here, there, and everywhere on site seeing tours, however, I was also able to commit fully to my time away and reap the benefits. Here’s what I did:
- Switch off your phone – I used my phone to take photos (hundreds of photos!) and face time my children a few times, but other than that I switched it to silent and kept it in my bag. Due to the time difference I was in bed when the UK was awake, so before I went to bed each night, I would do one Facebook update of the activities we’d done that day and add a few photos. One Facebook post a day to keep my family and friends in the loop. No twitter, no blog posts, no Instagram, no emails – no stress!
- Eat right – It’s tempting to over indulge on holiday, but if you aim to fill up on the incredible fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and lean meats that are readily available then it will help maintain your weight. I thoroughly enjoyed the occasional milk shake and Krispy Kreme (well, I was in America!) but I also filled up on bowls of fruit and yogurt and tasty evening meals that weren’t deep fried.
- Water, water, everywhere – Drinking plenty of fluids when in a hot climate is important, and I don’t mean mojitos! Staying hydrated helps your skin, reduces headaches, and keeps you cool.
- Leave the sunbed behind – For loads of people, lying on a sunbed for a week is their idea of a relaxing holiday. There’s nothing wrong with this at all and I certainly engaged in a few hours of pool time while away, however, getting up and going for a walk, or site seeing can be just as relaxing as well as stimulating for the mind and soul. I visited some incredible museums, galleries, and forests in America and soaked up the magic of the new surroundings.
- Stock up on Vitamin C – It’s happened to us all. We arrive at the beach all excited for a week in the sun and the next day are struck down with a cold. Ensure you have all the necessary lotions and potions with you to help combat any bugs, bites, or indulgences.
- Meditation works – It can be hard to switch off from home life when away and as your holiday draws to a close you might find thoughts of work creeping in. Try a spot of meditation to bring your mind back to the present moment. If you’re in the swimming pool rest against the side, close your eyes and listen to the lap of the water against the pool edge. If there are kids laughing and splashing try tuning into these sounds as this is a typical holiday vibe. At dinner there are often candles on the table, gaze into the flame and concentrate on the shape and colours.
The most important part of a holiday is to enjoy it. Throw yourself into a new culture, exotic places, and meeting lovely people. Sample foods that are unusual, and visit independent shops to help local communities. Do the tourist attractions but also look out for other, less obvious places to visit as there are gems dotted all over.
I’m sharing my American trip highlights over on my author blog, so please feel free to pop over and read about the incredible activities I enjoyed and the places I visited.
Happy summer x
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