After a two week holiday interstate I was surprised to discover that Google+ had put together a ‘story’ for me from a selection of my holiday snaps. ‘Trip to Queensland’ they called it. (How do they know where I went? There was even a dotted line across Australia showing the plane route. Spooky!) But I digress. It was startling to see how much vibrant colour I had captured in my snaps. It feels as though this is one of the huge benefits of taking holidays - they literally colour our lives.
I’m so relaxed now, I hardly recognise myself. Being looked after by generous friends and simply having some space from my usually busy life has completely rejuvenated me. I’ve come home revitalised, energised, inspired by new conversations and ideas and with a new clarity and perspective on everything. Who’d have thought a simple holiday could be so beneficial?
It’s also renewed my appreciation of things I often take for granted.
Take, for example, neighbours. In the busy bustle of everyday life, its easy to forget the importance of nurturing relationships with local friends. Waving from the car window is not the same as taking the time to drop in or invite them over for a cup of tea. So, fresh from our holiday, we paid an impromptu visit to the young family across the road. As a result, their kids popped over that afternoon with the DVD of ‘Frozen’ (our background research for a pending four-year old’s Frozen birthday party). As we snuggled up to watch it together, (they are five and three years old) we were back in holiday mode. We laughed and sang, drank cups of milky tea with honey, dropped biscuit crumbs all over the couch and painted our nails purple.
I've noticed it really takes something to give oneself permission to take time out like this. Our days are normally so filled with commitments and ‘must do' lists, that we lose touch with the pure joy of giving ourselves over to freedom and fun.
Holidays are vital. It's often the only time we really allow ourselves to stop and take a break from the treadmill of everyday life to enjoy the new, the different, the companionship of special friends and space and time for things we rarely do - reading for pleasure, long leisurely walks, exploring beautiful places and works of art, window-shopping and buying things we don't need.
I find that I have neither admiration nor sympathy for people who don't take holidays. You don't even have to travel to gain the benefits of time off. In fact, holidaying at home can be just as much fun as a five star resort, if you put your mind to it.
Last year when our planned overseas holiday was highjacked at the last minute by illness, we holidayed at home instead. We considered all the things we were looking forward to about our trip, and realised we could enjoy all these things close to home. So we planned trips to nearby places we’d never visited, weekends away with family and friends and dined out at cafes and restaurants we hadn’t tried. We shopped in different places, experimented with new recipes, browsed around galleries and just sat and read. By simply replacing our usual routines with completely different ones, we experienced all the benefits of travel, without the stress and expense!
In his highly recommended book, The One Thing, Gary Keller advocates planning holidays before anything else in our annual diaries, even before the time we block out for our One Thing.
“Extraordinarily successful people launch their year by taking time out to plan their time off’.
He goes on to explain “When you intend to be successful, you start by protecting time to recharge and reward yourself. Take time off. Block out long weekends and long vacations, then take them. You’ll be more rested, more relaxed and more productive afterward. Everything needs rest to function better and you’re no different.”