Is vacation brain a good thing?

by - 1:01 PM

Happy 2014! I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the last few days of December on a much needed vacation in the West Indies. (I promise this post will not be all beach pictures. It's 15 below zero fahrenheit where I am right now, I'm not that mean.)

What surprised me most about this trip was the overwhelming peace it brought my mind, and the surprising clarity I had when setting intentions and goals for this year. The backdrop of beach and sun helped, for sure, but the DISCONNECT I was forced to have was what really let me return  revived and refreshed.

Nothing phased me. Connection through Newark cancelled? Oh well. Let's get brunch and a massage and figure it out after. No flights going to Chicago at all? No problem, we'll stay at a nice hotel near the airport (for the record, Newark Marriott is very nice as far as airport hotels go). Yes I'll wear my maxi dress and sandals to dinner because I have no other clothes and couldn't care less, thankyouverymuch.

And the people on my flight - don't get me started. "I knew this would happen. Circling for 30 minutes." Ma'am our flight actually GOT OUT unlike the 400 other ones. Have another cocktail! Not to be compared with the people in the Trader Joe's parking lot that night- two honks and a bird flip. What was WRONG with everyone? These people needed Vitamin D STAT.

This was my car when we got home. See? No beach.
It really hit me when I told my travel story to one of my friends who said "Wow! That's exactly like what happened to you last year in New York." Except last year I was a glass case of emotion on a 5am flight home and I think I actually cried and held her hand when we took off. And we weren't friends yet. #hotmess

I was totally zenned OUT. And I loved it.

How had I gotten here? How could I be more like girl who enjoys wine in airport hotels and less like girl who cries and grabs strangers hands on airplanes? (We luckily discovered we have several mutual friends and she now lives 3 blocks away. Serendipity.)

I had to keep this zen thing going - without a beach backdrop.

I decided to map out what had gone on in this vacation to get me here mentally, and what I could continue at home to share with you.

The Secret of Change quote FGK

1. Put your phone on Airplane Mode

Step 1 to disconnecting - turn off your phone. We had very little service on the island (something I really struggled with for the first 24 hours. OK maybe 48...) My goodness, I am addicted to the information coming from my phone. When did I let THAT happen?

I've noticed lately that especially when I'm with my friends, even ones I haven't seen in a long time, we are all constantly on our phones. Missing the conversations going on right in front of us. (read about this addiction in Psychology Today)

We've all made it socially acceptable to have a phone out at all times and the way to really connect with someone is to be without distraction. I encourage you to try it - on a day this weekend or during the week. If you are with all of the people you need to immediately be with - put your phone on airplane mode. Better than silent - there will be nothing to check. It will be hard, but get easier as it becomes habit. Just like you formed the habit of constantly checking it.

2. Be polite to absolutely everyone. And smile.

Another thing I noticed is that I was constantly nice and smiling to everyone, especially at our resort. It was a small boutique place where the staff learned our names (and room numbers - "Thirtee Tree!") and so I was always polite to them and all of the other vacationers. And we in turn all got a nice "island vibe" out of it. Studies show that performing an act of kindness releases serotonin in your brain. You know, the happy drug. No wonder I was so zenned out when I got home - I had 6 days of serotonin coursing through my brain.

So, pretend everyone you meet, even the person who flicks you off in the parking lot for driving too slow, is someone you have to be super nice to. Nothing bad can come of it.

3. Live in the Moment.

This is the hardest. We as humans are wired to not be able to live in the moment, constantly living in the past or looking toward the future. I had to work HARD at this one, and I will fully admit to you that I only achieved it a handful of times during my trip. But the times that I did were my favorite moments and constituted the most enlightening experiences of my trip.

The easiest way to fake this one at home is with mediation. Which is another series of posts altogether so if meditation is not something you are comfortable with, try this: The next time you want to snap a picture of something, instead take 3 deep breaths and enjoy the moment for what it is. 

And if nothing else, get yourself some Vitamin D supplements. They look like little capsules of sunshine which let's be serious, we ALL need this time of year.

Thank you all for an amazing first year of FGK! Later this week I'll be posting a quick recap of year one, along with what is in store for FGK in 2014. Dream big!

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