How You Spent Your Summer Vacation

(Preview the results before you leave!)

I know, gas prices and airplane tickets are a drag these days.  Still, I hope that some of you are able to get away this summer.  And when you do, I hope you’re really checking out in whatever way is restorative to you.

There are lots of different kinds of vacations, of course, and matching the right one to what you need is tricky, especially when family and friends are involved.  So whether you’re headed off with a big group or just taking it easy at home, here are some ways to make vacation restorative psychologically:

Try imagining yourself at the end of your next trip or time off.  (Don’t worry; you’re not there yet!):

  • How do you want to feel in the car on the way home?
  • What do you want to be able to say about your trip?
  • What kind of pictures do you think you’ll be taking that will remind you of your vacation?

I introduced you to a little cognitive therapy two issues ago.  Think about how it’s possible for ten people to go on the exact same vacation and have very different things to say about it.  It’s not the lake, or the cruise, or New York City that is relaxing, fun, or thrilling; it’s how you perceive the time that you spend there and the story you craft from it.

Take a little time to consider your vacation story.  These personal narratives go deep into our emotions and how we “decide” if we had a great vacation or not.

Staying at home to take time off can be a great exercise in the magic of cognitive therapy.  Imagine that you are doing a “home swap”: you get to live someplace else for a week and a family takes up residence in your home and enjoys your area.

  • What would you advise them to go see in your area?
  • How do you think they would spend the time around your home in the morning?  Would they make coffee and read the paper on the deck?  Head out to a museum or a bookstore?
  • What would YOU do if you were enjoying your home and not tackling chores and to-do lists?

It almost seems contrary to the spirit of vacation to think in advance this way, but it sets the tone for a great vacation.  Now you can kick back and relax!