I was having a difficult time deciding what I should post following my summer vacation. I contemplated writing about the challenges faced while moving beyond my comfort zone to talk to strangers on the beach. I also considered writing about how to let go of life’s daily worries while you’re hundreds of miles away from home.
Several concerns were brought to my attention as I tried to sum up the experience.
We were in Negril, Jamaica and it was wonderful. I was struck by the quiet and calm beauty of the island of Jamaica, but at the same time, I couldn’t help but notice the heartbreaking poverty of its people vs. the abundance at the resorts. Unable to pick a topic, I decided to hold onto my vacation memories until I was ready to share them.
What I am struggling with now, is how to return to reality.
I guess we all have difficulty with this, we joke that we need a vacation after our vacation!My problem is that I don’t feel as though I have reengaged with my surroundings. I haven’t felt fully present since our return, and it’s been over 2 weeks now! The crushing weight of all I have to do is overwhelming. Rewriting my syllabus for the college, introducing and writing curriculum for a brand new course, preparing to expand my art therapy practice, my daughter moving to NYC to begin graduate school, and the list goes on and on. So how do we re-engage after a break? I’m not just referring to vacations, because many people struggle with re-entry into the real world following maternity leave or following a medical leave. How can we re-enter following a layoff, or even a long weekend? I don’t have all the answers, but I can share some of the things that have helped me get back into the swing of things.
- Lists! I love making lists and I have notebooks full of them. I carry around a thin notebook and write notes and lists daily. I keep a list in my car as well.
- Set Small Attainable Goals. I wrote a list a few years ago and on it I had written “Write a Book!” That’s a great idea and something I hope to accomplish one day, but I realized that it was an unrealistic goal for my life right now? Put your ideas in order of importance/priority. It may seem silly, but it really helps. Scratch out any lofty goals if you know you don’t have time for them right now.
- Unpack Bags. Clutter can be exhausting, even if you’re just looking at it! Don’t leave a suitcase full of dirty clothes laying around. I know it sounds daunting, but take care of it now, or you’ll wake up and discover you’re out of clean underwear!
- Sleep Well. I know, it’s easier said than done! But this is HUGE and we forget how important it is for the body and mind to POWER DOWN. More on the importance of sleep in a later blog post.
- Be Aware Of What’s Depleting Your Energy. Re-entry can be an extremely anxiety-prone time. Worrying depletes energy and you need all the energy you can muster to get back to work and life. If you loaded up on carbs and unhealthy foods during your time away, stock your fridge with fruits and veggies. Throw some fruit and yogurt in a blender and make yourself a calcium rich fruit smoothie!
- Gratitude! Give thanks for all that you have in your life. Realize what a gift it was to have the opportunity to take a vacation!
- Talk To A Friend Or Therapist. Therapy isn’t just for serious problems. Sometimes a few sessions can help to reorganize and reenergize your thoughts, and bring clarity when needed.
It is often the little things that help us the most. I think I am finally close to achieving re-entry following my vacation. It is a difficult process, but to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed, start small and simple. Unpack, throw a couple of loads in the washer, make a list of small attainable chores – even something as small as returning a phone call – these small steps have made a big difference for me and I hope they do for you, too.
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