Travelling can be lovely. And with the summer ahead of us I already find a lot of my clients and friends on the move. But behind the alluring blue skies in holiday pictures lies a few hours or even days of preparation and stress, and a multitude of opportunities for things to go wrong.
I am just back from a short break that involved a little work and a lot of leisure, and I just remember remarking a week ago that “the holiday is not worth the stress!”
In the workplace, we often refer to “holiday-tax” in the amount of preparation to have your work covered beforehand, and then the Herculean effort afterwards to catch up on a few days’ worth of emails and missed calls.
Is running for planes or trains or doing map reading after pushing everything you own into the car worth the effort for a few days in a different environment?
I am advocating a conditional yes, and that condition is that your mind should also be on holiday!
Mind on holiday? What do you mean? Well, it is so easy to keep your phone on roaming and sneakily check email every so often. To keep talking about a current work problem or colleague, or even to maul it over in your mind. If you spend most of your time at work, it is only natural that your thoughts might drift there.
Making a conscious effort to notice your thoughts and conversation and steer clear of work and work related issues might allow you to truly enjoy your holiday.
I would suggest using a mindfulness technique focusing on your presence – almost as if you are trying to write a postcard. Try and describe only what you can sense in the moment. What do I see? What do I smell? What do I hear, touch or taste? Now that I am involved in the moment my thoughts don’t drift to work. And even if it does, bringing your thoughts back gently isn’t difficult at all. Simply try and “write a postcard” and describe where you are, what you do.
For example: I caught myself thinking of work whilst having ice cream at the beach. I thought of how cold the ice cream was, how creamy it felt on my tongue, how chilly the wind was blowing and I could smell salt in the air. I saw the yellow sand, the sparkling water, and heard seagulls above the waves. My mind was full of the moment – and far away from work. My mind was with me on holiday!