Connecting to Travel
By Amy L. Jarchow, PhD
Spending time traveling or taking time off from the typical routine of work and/or school is beneficial and valuable for our overall well-being. Time off/away can give us perspective, time to reflect on what we are truly passionate about, and a much-needed break from the busyness of the day-to-day routine. After taking some time off, the readjustment back to the typical week can be difficult for many. Nonetheless, it is possible to extend the benefits of time off beyond the timeframe of the vacation itself. Keep reading to learn some strategies to help keep a thread of connection extending from vacation bliss into the weekly routine.
Time off/away can give us perspective, time to reflect on what we are truly passionate about, and a much-needed break from the busyness of the day-to-day routine.
Tips to create a thread of connection to the restorative feelings during time off/away:
- Reflect on the moments during your time off that were meaningful, when you felt present (a sense of "just being"), or felt a sense of ease. Try to be as descriptive as possible (bonus points for taking the time and effort to write things down, as they will more likely stick and serve as a reminder in the future). Reflect on the details of that time and your surroundings: What did you see? Hear? Feel/touch? Smell? Taste? What emotions did you experience? Create a detailed narrative with the descriptions of a particular experience that brought you joy or comfort and you can use it as your own "Personal Relaxation Scene" to reflect on and use as a tool to stay grounded and promote relaxation.
- Think about how you can incorporate some of the experiences you had during your time off/away into your daily life! For example, I love the outdoors; especially the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Although I haven't been there for nearly a year and don't have plans to visit again anytime soon, I can still try to keep connected to the feelings of contentment I have in the mountains. For example, I can carve out time to be outdoors and take in the beauty that surrounds me here in Michigan. I may not have the time to hike or camp each week, but I can put some dates on the calendar for future local hikes/camping, and in the meantime even just stepping outside to take a few deep breaths and tune into nature can keep that thread of connection at the forefront. If nothing else, I can also revisit the photos from my time in the Rockies to feel a sense of connection with the grounded feelings I have when I am there.
- Notice the choices that you made during your time away and see if you can incorporate them more regularly into your daily life. For example, I find that I have more time/flexibility to be active while on vacation and that always helps me feel stronger both physically and emotionally. Even if I can't spend the same amount of time or have the same frequency of activity upon return to the day-to-day routine, I can still prioritize maintaining physical activity (even 5 minutes is better than zero! It all adds up!). A brief walk, some yoga poses in the morning or before bed, anything that helps maintain that thread of connection to being more active - no matter how small - can be beneficial. So, if you enjoyed being more active or found yourself spending more time reading, playing games, doing puzzles, etc. (whatever was most enjoyable for you), figure out a way to sprinkle it into your routine on a more frequent basis so it becomes a habit, not just a luxury during your time off/away.
I hope these tips are a helpful start in cultivating healthy habits day-to-day while also revisiting some pleasant emotions that you've experienced in the past. No matter how long it's been since you've been able to take a break, you can still benefit by taking the time to reflect on the experiences you've had in the past and get creative so that you can weave those experiences into your life moving forward. Now, I'm off to envision a peaceful alpine lake for a moment before I get back to work.
About the Author
Amy L. Jarchow, PhD
Amy Jarchow, PhD is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice at HRA Psychological Services. She enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults in learning strategies to better manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. Dr. Jarchow uses a collaborative approach with her clients, establishing goals to lead towards a healthier quality of life. She predominantly works from a cognitive-behavioral model and incorporates mindfulness-based strategies in sessions as well.
Dr. Jarchow attained her MS and PhD in Clinical Psychology through Idaho State University in 2004. She has been in private practice since then, providing individual therapy and evaluation services to individuals of a broad age range.