This last weekend, the hubby and I went to Hawaii for our friend’s beautiful wedding. After the last 3 months of what felt like (organized) chaos – events, celebrations, the holidays, website launch, deadlines, husband traveling for work, birthdays, etc. this felt like a much needed break.
As soon as the wheels of the plane touched down it was as if a weight fell off my shoulders. I was on VACATION! I felt lighter, happier, filled with joy and a renewed sense of adventure. I think these are some of the big reasons why many of us enjoy traveling so much!
We did a lot in the short amount of time we were there including hiking through the jungle chasing waterfalls, renting a jeep and beach hopping across the SE side of the island, snorkeling the most beautiful reefs, walking the beach at sunset, gobbling down fresh sushi + sake, laughing until our abs hurt with friends, and dancing the night away every night.
The surprising thing was… I realized that the peace that was coming over me, was not the absence of routine, or the presence of the jungle forest surrounding me or even the ocean waves rushing against my feet (although those things helped)…
It was the fact that I was so present in every moment, fully in “the now” and experiencing where I was.
What all of these magical moments have in common is slowing down, emptying my mind, being present, using my senses and being active. It wasn’t necessarily where I was that gave me peace; it was the chance to just BE for a moment without any pressure to DO.
Vacations remind us and give us the sense of permission to s l o w d o w n… but what if you realize you don’t need permission?! You can enjoy this feeling in moments of every day if you choose to. No sandy beach required. Let me show you how.
#1 SLOWING DOWN
Busyiness has become normal. Our stress (fight or flight) responses are on red alert all day long because of the pressure we put on ourselves to go go go all the time.
How to do it: Take some stuff off your plate, girl! Say “no” a little more to unnecessary obligations. Pencil in downtime for yourself, even if it’s just to sit and breathe for 10 minutes. When you have idle time like waiting in line, at a red light or that moment right after the kids go down for the night… don’t reach for your email or entertainment, just take a second to breathe. And maybe enjoy some tea or a cocktail with your loved one on the patio as if it were your hotel balcony overlooking a beautiful view. Enjoy a deep, connecting conversation.
#2 EMPTYING THE MIND
This is in essence meditation. No, meditation doesn’t have to mean candles + incents, weird chanting or even sitting cross-legged on a pillow (although all those things are okay too). Meditation can be done anywhere and is simply calming the mind, allowing the release of stress and increasing inner peace. It’s like a mini mental vacation!
How to do it: Sit comfortably in a quiet place and close your eyes. Take a few deep “cleansing breaths” through your nose and out your mouth and then continue to focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale through your nose. Continue to follow your breath with your mind. Your thoughts may begin to wander, just acknowledge it and bring your awareness back to your breath. Do this for 10-20 minutes and the euphoria you feel afterwards will surprise you!
#3 BEING PRESENT
I’ve heard it said that we only spend 15% of our day in the now! I’m not sure how true that is, or how it’s measured, but I don’t really doubt it. So where are we in the other 85% of the time? In Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda-ville or Gotta-Needta-town haha! Are you familiar with those destinations? We need to constantly remind ourselves we can’t change the past and we aren’t guaranteed the future, all we have is now. A study was done on happiness with people all over the world and their findings showed that people are happiest when they are living in the moment, not wandering elsewhere in their mind. So let’s start getting back to NOW.
How to do it: When you find your mind wandering back to the past or projecting out to the future, reel yourself back in. If you’re in conversation with someone, hang on their every word and really try to feel what they’re feeling and understand what they’re communicating to you instead of thinking about how it relates to your past experiences, how you’re going to respond and what you’re going to say. If you’re with your kids, put down the phone for photos or stories, and just live the moment with them, looking at them in their eyes and smiling at them and not the screen. Take a few deep breaths and ground yourself in your surroundings, even if it’s a stressful environment. It’s better to be living in a stressful moment than to be absent minded in a joyful moment.
#4 USING YOUR SENSES
This one might feel a little funny at first, but it’s a powerful exercise. Stop yourself at different moments throughout the day and think about all 5 of your senses and what you’re experiencing in that moment.
How to do it:
Touch: What does the ground beneath your feet feel like, the clothing resting on your skin, the itch on your neck, the wind through your hair, your tongue resting in your mouth or pressed against your teeth. Can you relax your body more, release tension in your shoulders, loosen up your neck?
Sight: What do you see around you? Is it light, dark, colorful, inspiring, dull? Can you pick something up and see it as if it’s for the first time? The grooves, the marks of use, how the sight of it makes you feel, the colors, the shadows of the texture.
Sound: Do you hear typing of keyboards, the coffee house bustle, cars zooming down the road, the humming of air conditioning, the sweet sound of your child’s voice, birds chirping in a tree? Bathe in the sounds around you.
Taste: What tastes are you experiencing, what does it remind you of or make you feel? Are you eating something? Chewing gum? Realizing that you maybe need to chew some gum?
Smell: What aromas are you experiencing? Your food? Are you out in nature? Is it pleasant or not? Is it calming or energizing? Does the scent have a connection to a fond memory? Breathe in deep and experience the smells you haven’t noticed until now.
#5 BEING ACTIVE
You need to actively create the mindset you desire. “Vacation mind” doesn’t just happen upon us. It has to be a choice and action towards making it happen. Just like we actively book a flight/hotel, drive to the beach, layout our beach towel and then enjoy the moment. We are co-creators of our life and have the control to create the life we desire, so if you desire a more vacation-like mindset, make it happen.
How to do it: Try some simple ways to shake things up and make your life feel a little more like a vacation. Eat breakfast in bed, light a tropical candle on your desk, put a picture from a past vacation on your lock screen, take the scenic route home from work, use an ocean sound app to fall asleep at night, and go hula dancing in the snow (you’ll understand that joke if you get the McBride Tribe Newsletter). Take a sunset walk around the block with your family (if it’s not too cold). Get together with friends and play a board game that makes you laugh until it hurts. Dance ridiculously in your kitchen just because it feels good.
Don’t wait until your next vacation to start living! You’re in more control of your environment and how you feel than you may think.
I hope this has given you some inspiration and tools to use to experience a little mental vacation no matter where you are.
And when you can, book yourself a real vacation – because you deserve it!
*Photos by: Steve McBride
In Health, Happiness + Living in the Moment,