Don’t have time for a holiday? There is never a perfect time to take a break when life is super busy. Maybe your work colleagues booked their holidays in advance and you are the one that has to wait until they all come back, or maybe you have too many deadlines to meet and you feel you can’t drop the ball at any time. As a Sophrology practitioner I can vouch for the fact that being on holiday feels amazing! We should all try and make the time to have a break and we should simply be grateful for it when we finally go on holiday as not everybody can afford the time off and that feeling of freedom that holidays bring. Someone asked me the other day why I was going on holiday. Maybe they thought I live a charmed life, but for me a change of scenery allows me to connect with myself in a new way and strike the balance between all aspects of my life experience.
Your to-do list will not tell you to stop (unless you write it down) and it will still be there when you come back. Just take the plunge, pack up and go. You will soon be back and full of energy to carry on more efficiently.
When planning is already beneficial
Did you know that planning a holiday gives you a similar boost of happiness to an actual holiday? According to a study, planning a holiday in itself can improve your happiness score. With this in mind, plan the holiday that you would like to have, forget about work and what other people do. It all starts in your mind: holidays are about enjoying your time off!
What do you like to do on holiday? Are you full of energy and ready to backpack around India or do you want to stay at home, do some gardening and cook new recipes? Do you need to lie on the beach for 3 weeks and party with your friends?
The last thing you want is to find yourself in the holiday you didn’t want! So, before booking your next break, just close your eyes and ask yourself what you need. While others may want to show off their newly slimmed figure or flash their cash, focus on what you would like to get out of your holiday, from new experiences to new friends. Don’t judge yourself or others but simply decide on what your mind and your body need right now.
Some people say you don’t need to take up meditation or exercise to be happier, but it helps, especially if you have a long countdown to your holiday. If you learn some form of meditation, you will find that even small annoyances don’t trouble you as much anymore. Looking after yourself from today will prevent you having a break down at the beginning of your holiday and make the most of it.
Unplugging on Holiday
It might be a good idea to decide what you will do with your phone, tablet and computer during your time away, even more so if you have kids. Finding a good strategy together with your family and informing everyone about it will save you tensions and frustration along the way. A holiday is the perfect opportunity to escape your email inbox without guilt, so enjoy it. If you really can’t bear the thought of not checking your emails for the entire duration of your holiday because otherwise you feel anxious, you need to be very strict and only allocate a very limited and short amount of time to your inbox a day or once a week, then switch off completely. In an ideal world, doing a digital detox during a holiday can give your brain some much needed rest.
New Habits: Eating, Moving, Breathing
Some people succeed in breaking their routines on holiday, while others use their holiday to create new, healthier ones. Please don’t feel that if you miss a week’s training at the gym or even a week of Sophrology classes (yes, you read that right!) your life will turn completely upside down. Allow yourself to go with the flow, as long as it feels right for you. Swimming in the sea or lying on the beach noticing your breath and enjoying the beautiful surroundings may be just as effective in bringing back positive energy at home as doing a full meditation session or going to the gym. If you do remember to practise mindfulness, make the most of it to stay in the present moment and not think about work.
It’s also important to stay hydrated and protect your skin: it is obvious but in a heatwave don’t forget to offer liquids to small children and stay hydrated yourself, remembering that alcohol doesn’t count. Your skin is a vital organ of your body and is often taken for granted so make sure you pack your favourite sunscreen to protect from sun damage.
Embrace the experience: once everything is organised, it is about embracing your time off as much as possible. Life happens even on holiday but if you stay open or flexible you will have the best chance to make it a success!
The way you spend your time when you are on holiday can play an important role for your health and your mood: for example, you can learn something new or make a point of meeting new people. This helps to build new brain cells connections, keeping your brain young.
My Holiday Sophrology Practice
I needed some recuperation after a busy book launch earlier in the year. As I have a small child, I decided to set aside 10-20 minutes a day during his nap time to do my practice. I wanted my practice to be restorative, grounding and relaxing. To be totally with myself and embracing the moment through my sensations, perceptions and through a complete letting go. Let me share with you the sequence I did.
My Sophrology Sequence
Seated on the balcony sofa facing a beautiful garden, I used the TRATAC (focusing on a specific point in space, more specifically my thumb with my arm outstretched) to close my eyes. I then did an in-depth body scan, inviting each of my systems to fully relax and noticing sensations. In Sophrology, we structure the body scan into sections or systems from the head down to the toes. I used one tension-relax exercise for each system and the out-breath to let go of the tensions I felt in my systems. I then paused for a long time, simply observing my breath and letting my systems be, with the intention of letting my body’s wisdom and my consciousness do the work to integrate all my experiences together in a positive way. I had lived through an intense time before my holiday and, once I reached a state of stillness, I asked to be connected to what I needed that day. Each time I did this exercise a different word, inspiration or realisation came to mind. Then I took a few minutes to simply come back to my usual state of awareness.
This is a very simple practice but it allows recuperation, integration and connection. It brought joy and energy to the next part of my day and helped me make the most of this special time with my family.
You, too, can learn the TRATAC and other sequences to practise on your next holiday, or while you wait to go on a break. Everything is explained in my new book which includes audio downloads.