Thursday, July 8, 2010
Vacations Are Not Relaxing
We slave away at our jobs, scrimp and save all year to go on that one or sometimes two week vacation. This is our chance to "get away from it all", to relax, travel, visit relatives, or just sit on the beach.
A lot of the time, we return more tired than when we left. Many times I've heard people say they need a vacation to recover from their vacation, or how glad they were to be back at work so they could get some rest. What happened to our relaxing vacation?
Travel. Travel is by far the biggest fatigue inducer. Whether you go by plane, train, or automobile, it generally involves sitting in a cramped position for a number of hours. Anyone who has ever thrown out his back will tell you that sitting is far more difficult than standing or lying down, since it puts all the weight on your tailbone. To combat this, break up your trip into manageable pieces that allow you to walk, stretch, or take a break from concentrating. Add a day on the end of your trip to rest at home and get back into your normal routine.
Sleep. Generally, on vacation you don't sleep well. Whether it is due to being in a strange bed that is harder or softer than your own, staying up later to visit with friends or relatives, or dealing with a new environment, sleep is one of the main casualties on vacation. Bringing your own pillows on vacation can help, as can that extra day at home on the end to sleep in your own bed.
Fun. Let's face it, we go on vacation to have fun. But fun has its price, and many of us overdo it in order to maximize our time away from home and work. Children are especially prone to overdosing on fun and excitement, because they don't know when to stop. They go full tilt until they drop from exhaustion. It's a good idea to schedule in some quiet or unstructured time during your vacation to spread out the fun. Having activity after activity is fun, but also taxing on mind and body.
Prayer. Did you take a vacation from God? Strangely, many of us forget to pray when we go away. The change in schedule has a lot to do with it, since we are taken out of our normal daily patterns. It takes a bit more effort to ensure God is included in our fun and vacations, but it should be normal and natural - and refreshing. We always pray for a safe journey before we leave the house, make sure there is a Church with Mass times where we are going, pray at all meals, and attempt morning and evening prayer from the Divine Office. The Nodlings like to take turns reading paragraphs from the Psalms when I can get them to sit still long enough.
Children. Kids are full tilt on vacation, which means that you as a parent on still "on". There is no vacation from kids, just parenting in a different location. If you have small children this can be a little stressful as you figure out how to keep them safe from hazards in this new location. I am forever counting heads as we go from place to place to make sure no one got accidentally left behind. Roping in aunts, uncles, and grandparents helps out here since they can "spell" you or at least help even out the adult/child ratio around things like boats, parking lots, cliffs, and Aunt Mabel's china dishes.
Don't get me wrong, I think vacations are wonderful. They provide a needed break from our work-a-day lives. They are opportunities for new and great experiences, time with our relatives, and a host of other things. But they are also there for contrast: after an exciting week of food, fun, and travel, it is a physical and psychological relief to come back to the familiar Home Sweet Home.