July and August are very popular months for summer holidays on the north hemisphere of the blue planet. Many people painstakingly organise their get-away and urge themselves to provide answers to the logistics of these ventures, such as where to go, for how long, where to stay, what to visit, what to eat, what to do, who to go with, what to wear, what gear to buy, etc.
Despite all of these questions, there is one fundamental issue which is disregarded by many – holidays are a great opportunity to exercise your mindful attitude and provide a significant advantage to your quality of life once your holidays are over.
Actually, this is the whole point of holidays and why we look forward to them; being able to stop our usual daily habits, and distance ourselves from them physically, psychologically and mentally to rest, and once rested, get back to our activities refreshed, with new perspectives, new energy, and hopefully new ideas and resolutions.
When considering all the logistics of a holiday, keep mindfulness at the core of your plans to optimize the aforementioned benefits. Mindfulness makes us get the best out of the present moment. It allows us to be in the now and observe and enjoy the environment that surrounds us during our holidays, which usually is a very agreeable one! By being mindful, we enhance the positive outcome of our experience and reap the maximum benefits.
So let’s go over some ways we can use mindful techniques in order to get the best possible results from the holiday season:
#1. Mindful travelling: Travelling is the first and major physical activity of your holidays. Be present during the entire process; from the moment you leave your home behind till the moment you unlock the door to your temporary home. Be aware of every moment you have during your holidays. Avoid excessive use of smart phones or tablets while travelling. Observe your surroundings as you move from one location to the next. Be totally mindful of your environment. This will allow you to truly feel separated from your daily routine and can help change your mindset, giving you fresh perspective and energy.
#2. Mindful eating: During your regular working day you may have the “excuse” to have fast and sloppy eating habits. But during your holidays, there are no excuses for this behavior. The holidays are a great opportunity to practice mindful eating. Choose a quiet and calm place to eat, preferably with a beautiful view of nature. It may be a nice restaurant with a view over a forest or a lake, or a picnic on a wonderful beach. As you start your meal, become aware of the quality of the food you are eating, notice the look of your dish, concentrate and become mindful of each bite, and taste each bite consciously, one after the other. Take sufficient time – more than half an hour – to enjoy a meal. This will work to enhance your feeling of satiation and having enjoyed a nice meal.
#3. Mindful walking and swimming: During holidays it is almost magical to undertake mild physical activities in nature such as walking, trekking or swimming. While doing any physical activity, you can put a zest of mindfulness into the whole procedure; walk mindfully and feel present in every single moment of the trek. Watch the beauty of nature while feeling present in every moment of the procedure. Do the same thing while swimming; feel the water covering your body, feel the rhythm of your breathing in and out during this entire experience and be mindful of every single moment. If you maintain mindfulness during physical activity, the effect of the physical activity will be deeper, providing a strong euphoric and serene sensation.
#4. Mindful laziness: This is my favourite, but also the most challenging of the “mindful” activities a modern busy individual is called to undertake. The art of not doing anything is being misused more and more and sometimes ignored all together. It is vital for a person on holiday to start enjoying the restful moments right away without thinking or doing anything. Though she can be mindful of the moment, she doesn’t act on that mindfulness! Be in the present moment, your posture, your emotions, the environment surrounding you, without any other thoughts or worries about your post-holiday activities. Not even any thoughts for the menu of your next meal! Mindful laziness may seem nonsensical, but once you apply it, after a few days you will be able to attest to its benefits: deeper sleep, normal blood pressure, new creative ideas, fresh energy for your future projects and plans, and an exceptionally good mood.
#5. Mindful conversations with others: Observe other tourists, passengers, and/or visitors you meet during your journey. This will give you the opportunity to socialise with some of them and exchange pleasant discussions and moments together. Be mindful of what your discussions are about. Choose pleasant conversations, with subjects enhancing joy, gratitude, kindness and gentle humour. Be conscious of what you say and make sure you are a mindful listener. Be conscious of how your determination for positive discussions can influence your interlocutors and inspire them to continue on the same track. If by any chance they insist on choosing negative discussions, with pessimistic, ironic or sarcastic comments, keep your awareness on, and gently quit the discussion and retire yourself from their company. Holidays should be about opportunities for positive experiences, for relaxation and a best possible energy recharge. Mindfulness helps you socialise with those who have a positive attitude and opens the opportunity to maintain a sincere and whole-hearted communication even after your holidays are over.
#6. Mindful sleeping: many people complain that during their holidays they find it difficult to sleep because of the lack of noise! Nature is calm, with often the only sounds coming from the trees, the sea, the animals and the insects. A mindful sleep in this environment means you lie down in a supine position and concentrate your attention on your breathing with your eyes closed. Make sure you have no sensory distractions, such as light, music or TV, disturbing you. Also be sure that your bedroom is the correct temperature for you to have an agreeable sleep. Simply focus on your breathing and be aware of your body gradually relaxing. You can use a body scan or cognitive relaxation technique in order to help you relax and easily sleep. When you sleep using these techniques, your sleep becomes deeper, longer and of better quality. The moment you wake up, take five minutes to become again aware of your posture and your breathing before getting up from your bed. This mindful behaviour will give you a boost of energy and clear mind to happily start your day.
#7. Mindful gratitude for the holiday experience: A majority of people believe that during the holidays they can allow themselves to be mind-less or absent-minded in order to free themselves from the tension and burden of work fatigue. Actually, this is the best way to let our holidays slip out of our hands until we suddenly realise they are over. The best way to enjoy your holidays to the fullest is to be present in every moment. And the most successful way to do this is to be mindfully grateful for as many moments as you can during the duration of your time away. Feel gratitude for the restful moments you enjoy, for nature and the wonderful view, for the food that someone else prepares for you, for all the services provided to you, for the nice weather, or even for the rainy weather that dissipates beautiful perfumes in nature. Be grateful for the company you have and for the people with whom you meet and have pleasant discussions with. Be grateful for the sports’ activities you undertake and the moments you can rest and relax or read your favourite book. Mindful gratitude helps you stay tuned with the present moment. This allows you to fully realise, enjoy and experience each single moment of your holiday. Thus, by the time it is over, you have a sense that the period was spent in the best possible way. You will also feel totally rejuvenated and refreshed.
The advantage to practicing mindfulness during your holidays is that it enhances the feeling (the “vécu” as the French say) of the holiday experience and gives you much more pleasure and joy to keep you in form until your next holiday. This stronger and prolonged sensation ensures an overall higher quality of life for the long term.
I really hope you will apply these simple tools to enjoy your holiday to the fullest this year! Happy travels!
Last modified: August 16, 2017