Though they should be a break from everyday stress, many vacations can feel like a job of their own. You might feel like you have to create an itinerary — go to this landmark at this time, visit this restaurant for lunch, catch a ride here and go on a tour after your meal. Also, take photos of everything so you can share them.
Planning every single detail of your trip can create more anxiety. Why not try something different? Mindful vacations are on the rise, offering travelers a chance to disconnect from technology, experience nature in its purest form and practice living in the moment. Distancing yourself from everything causing stress might be what you or your family need.
If you’re aching to travel but worry it could be another headache, this kind of trip may be for you. Here are seven signs you should take a mindful vacation.
See: How to turn an ordinary trip into a mindful travel experience
1. Work Is Taking Over Your Life
Are you one of those people who think they can never take a break from their job? For years, employees have worried about taking vacations out of job-security anxiety. Plenty still go into work sick because they’re scared it makes them look unprofessional. However, this is no way to live.
Forcing yourself to bend over backward for your job is unsustainable. Eventually, you are going to burn out. Moreover, no boss should always expect you to be perfect and healthy — humans require breaks. You need the opportunity to declutter your mind and recenter your focus inward.
If your work is causing you this much stress, it’s probably time for a mindful vacation. Leave the job behind and relax in the great outdoors. You and your family could go on a guided retreat and enjoy meditating, outdoor living and activities to bring you closer to nature. Let the plan be in someone else’s hands for a while.
2. A Sense of Community Is Lacking
Many people forget they are also animals and need happiness and not just survival. Humans are very social creatures, requiring a sense of community and social interaction to feel satisfied.
Perhaps this is why social media took off — you can connect with many others, creating a digital community with family and friends at any distance. However, it’s developed into a stress-inducing competition. Who has the nicest house? Who has the best hair? Who has the most perfect-looking life?
Instead, you might need a mindful vacation with a few friends or family. Ask everyone to keep their phones off as much as possible and just experience this new journey with each other. The memories you’ll make will be worth much more than an Instagram post.
See: 10 Destinations in the USA for mindful travel
3. Normal Vacations Trigger Your Unhealthy Habits
A standard vacation can bring on a lot of stress for some people, leading them to relapse into addictive behaviors. You figure, “Hey, it’s vacation. What’s one more drink?” and before you know it, you’ve entered the unhealthy cycle again.
Things like disruptions to your schedule or all-inclusive packages can make it easier to want to seek alcohol or drugs. No matter how long you’ve been sober, hotels and resorts can be distracting sources of temptation. The whole culture of this type of trip can make you feel as though you’re missing out if you’re not using substances.
If this is how you’re feeling, it could be time to try a mindful vacation instead. Taking your time to enjoy nature and perform breathing exercises may give you tools to help manage your emotions and triggers. This getaway could also be a reminder to analyze behaviors that feel good in the moment but end up being destructive.
See: The Ultimate Mindful Summer Bucketlist
4. You Need Independence
Part of the reason you might need to cling to a schedule could be because it makes you feel more secure. If you’re traveling alone to somewhere new, creating a thorough itinerary may be your way of ensuring you’re never alone while you’re away.
However, life doesn’t always go the way you planned. Maybe you’ll miss the bus to a landmark you scheduled for a specific time or it ends up being closed when you get there. Perhaps the airline loses your bags, leaving you needing a few outfits in the meantime. You might end up having to disregard the schedule you’ve created entirely.
Give yourself the gift of independence with a mindful vacation. Remaining in the present without any plans or obligations can help you relax and learn how to handle things on your own. Try this kind of trip if you feel like you’re too dependent on others or need to break free.
5. You’re Feeling Lost
You might have played outside a lot as a kid. Feeling free to run about as you please, dig in the dirt and explore to your heart’s content could have kept you outside for hours. However, you probably don’t get to do that without some odd looks as an adult.
Humans are meant to be in nature. Technology, money, vehicles — they’re all unnatural parts of society. People must now work 40 hours a week just to survive. Some have to do even more because their current position doesn’t pay enough to be liveable. All this can cause you to feel like something is missing.
Taking a mindful vacation could be highly beneficial if you feel your life has lost its direction or goal. Use this opportunity to reconnect with your original habitat and leave any inhibitions behind. You might discover a new purpose or find comfort in not having one.
6. You Want to Take Back More Than a Souvenir
Standard vacations are a great way to relax. You can go swimming, walking or exploring as much as you want for as long as you’re there. However, you might feel pretty bummed out once you get home.
Naturally, you want to stay on your trip forever. This feeling is why it can be so upsetting to return to daily life after such a fun break. Souvenirs and photos help remind you of your time abroad, but all you’ve learned while traveling is you want to stay there and never go back. What would happen when you tire of that as well?
Mindful vacations teach you skills you can use for a lifetime. Try recording your experiences and reflections in a travel journal that you can reread later. Or take a class while you’re there to learn a skill you can practice for years to come. You’ll take back much more than a T-shirt or a keychain — you might learn a few techniques to use every day. Family and friends might appreciate this unique experience as well.
See: Look beyond magnets and trinkets: Souvenir Shopping Tips
7. Change Scares You a Lot
Being afraid of something you’ve never done before is common for many people. You want to feel like you always have a handle on things and have a plan for every situation. Who doesn’t like being in control of their surroundings?
It can be a nice feeling, but this need for organization could become a problem once it starts to cause you anxiety. The brain actually adapted to favor predictability, creating pathways to influence future decisions. It goes into protective mode once you introduce a change in behavior, situation or plan. This is a biological feeling, but it doesn’t have to control your life.
A mindful vacation teaches you to live in the present moment. If schedules shift and things seem unpredictable, you can learn to see this as a natural part of life. Teach your brain that most changes won’t cause you harm — all you have to do is adjust and continue.
Mindful Vacations Are a Gift to Everyone
The chances you get to reconnect with your surroundings and live in the moment on this kind of trip are priceless. Consider taking a mindful vacation when life is causing you too much stress. The people who join you — or just your brain — will thank you for it.
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Author Bio: Cora Gold has a passion for living life to the fullest and pursuing happiness in all she does. As Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine Revivalist, she loves sharing her inspiration with others.
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