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Living Simply | Mindfulness

We Slow Down When We Are on Vacation

Why do we only slow down when we are on vacation?

There are three things we get right when we go on vacation. First, we live lighter and more simply by packing only the necessities that we plan to use on our trip. The second thing we do is a better job of living more in the moment. Finally, when we are on vacation, we slow down and stop hurrying.  

We slow down and live in vacation mode.

Have you ever noticed that we move at a different pace when we are on vacation? We stop watching the clock and most importantly, we do it guilt-free. When we are not on vacation, many of us are so used to hurrying all of the time that we aren’t even aware that we are doing it.

Italians are known for living life at as slower pace, savoring each day. But most Americans today are so over-committed that at the end of each busy day, we are not even sure what we did all day. We are stressed out and exhausted on a regular basis and we have been moving at this pace for so long, that it has become the new normal.

Do you want your life to be simpler?

Most of us would agree that our vacations come to an end all too soon, and we dread going back to our normal schedules. I believe that part of the reason we all yearn for more vacation time is that we spend the rest of our busy lives trying to do too much. One week a year of not hurrying just isn’t enough to rejuvenate us when the rest of our lives are so hectic.

Practice slowing down even when you are not on vacation. 

What if we could hold onto a fraction of this “vacation mode” when we are not on vacation? What if we could at least change our focus from, “How much can I possibly get done today?” to “What can I get done at a comfortable pace today?” and “What can I leave for tomorrow?” What if we could let go of that incessant need to try and squeeze one more thing into each day?

Imagine how different things would be if we all functioned somewhere between our normal crazy lives and vacation mode. Still getting things done, but working at a reasonable pace. When we are on vacation, we purposely don’t over-schedule our days, because we want to avoid the rigid schedule we have when we are at home.

We intentionally schedule downtime, because, on vacation, rest and reconnecting with our families is a priority for us. We may even do nothing other than read a book or take a nap for an afternoon. But our bodies also need rest when we are not on vacation and we should not feel guilty about taking time for ourselves to refuel on a regular basis.

Schedule downtime when you are not on vacation.

Americans have become so progress-oriented, that our society as a whole is over-stressed and sleep deprived.  I know there are many justifications for why we overextend ourselves; working those extra hours pays for the new car, and our kids are eager to participate in a new activity, even though they are already too busy, but that’s where we get snagged.

Practicing moderation in what we purchase and in what we commit ourselves to is key. But saying no to more of something is challenging when everyone around us is spinning out of control. Scaling back has to be a conscious endeavor, because very likely, if you are living in a world like mine, everyone around you has their minds set on having and doing it all.

There is a comfortable place somewhere between our pace while on vacation and our regular life, that offers peace and contentment.

Figuring out where that place is, and fighting to stay there is well worth the effort. For starters, just making sure that we have some unscheduled personal and family time each day, will move us closer to this goal.

Regular life is so much more enjoyable and less exhausting when we mindfully slow down the pace that we are living our lives. Stopping to smell the roses should not be restricted solely to those who are on vacation.


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