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  • Writer's pictureGeorgina Sturmer

Taking time to switch off and disconnect. Are you dreaming about your next holiday?

It's nearly the end of September, and the summer holidays already feel as if they were a long time ago. So when I was asked to have a chat with a holiday company, I was more than happy to do so! We talked about the importance of switching off on holiday, and the psychological benefits of having a holiday booked. Click here for the full article on the Sunsail website - you'll need to scroll to the bottom of the page, past some very appealing pictures of secluded beaches.

Why is it so important for us to switch off and disconnect on holiday?

Technology has brought us so many benefits. But it has made it harder for us to truly switch off from our frenetic everyday lives. It’s hard to imagine the holidays of yesteryear, when we were truly disconnected from our life at home.

  • When we take a break from work, we actually become more productive on our return. This is particularly relevant if you have a stressful work life or if you’re feeling burnt out.

  • Being present on holiday helps us to fully embrace new experience and sensations. We talk a lot about ‘being mindful’ and ‘doing mindfulness’. When we really switch off and connect with ourselves, then this is mindful time spent with ourselves.

  • Building stronger connections with our friends and family when we spend quality time with them. Making memories.

  • Remembering who we are. This sounds corny, but it’s easy to forget who we really are when we are bogged down by life’s stresses and distractions. When we take a break, we can regain perspective on what is important to us, remind ourselves what we enjoy, what makes us laugh, what makes us happy.

If it's so important to switch off, why is it so difficult to disconnect?

  • People pleasing. If you’re a ‘people pleaser’ who struggles to say no, then it might be difficult for you to leave work behind, as you might worry about letting other people down. If this is the case, then it might be that your sense of self-worth is determined by how you think that other people view you.

  • Control. If you find it important to be in control. Maybe you experience FOMO or you always want to know every detail of what’s going on for everyone. Or maybe you don’t trust that friends, family or colleagues will be able to cope while you’re away.

  • Habit. There’s an addictive quality to our busy lives. You might even feel as if you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

  • ‘Being busy’. For some people, being ‘busy’ is part of their identity. So they might feel lost or uncomfortable when they try to switch off.

Some top tips to help you to take time to switch off and disconnect while on holiday

  • Decide your boundaries and stick to them. You might need to use extra software, like ‘downtime apps’ to force yourself to break your habits.

  • Have an accountability partner. Tell someone your plan, and make sure that they hold you accountable.

  • Manage expectations at home. Make sure that your commitments are covered by someone else. Remind yourself that perhaps it’s ok if something doesn’t happen exactly as you might have liked it. Think about how often you’re planning to call/email/message your loved ones. If you’d like to take a break from being in touch, then warn them in advance so that you know that they won’t be worried about you.

  • Be open to spontaneity. When we go on holiday, it’s tempting to settle into a routine. Spontaneity helps us to be present and mindful and really take in our surroundings.

What are the psychological benefits of having a holiday in the diary?

  • Something to look forward to. Planning a trip gives us a sense of excitement and optimism. Having an adventure to look forward to can make it easier for us to cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life. It gives us something to imagine when life gets tough.

  • Reminder of what we enjoy. Planning a holiday gives us a chance to reconnect with ourselves. To ask ourselves questions about what we really enjoy. Looking at destinations in different countries, cultures and landscapes offers us a sense of perspective.

  • Escaping the legacy of the pandemic. Remember when it felt like we might never travel again? When we plan a trip, it’s as if we are allowing ourselves to finally acknowledge that the pandemic, and all its accompanying fears and restrictions, is finally over.

What about going 'off the grid', what is so appealing about this type of adventure? Remote working is a double-edge sword for travel. On one hand, it permits us to take on a digital nomad lifestyle, and travel around places we might never have gone to. On the other hand, it means that we are never truly disconnected from life back home. Perhaps we will see a groundswell against constant connection, and a move towards more ‘off the grid’ holidays. Figure out what you need from your adventure. How can you give yourself the right balance of rejuvenation and adventure? If you’ve become reliant on devices and tech, then what else might you need to embrace? Maybe it’s a return to map-reading skills, paperback books, portable CD players, postcard writing, or even travellers cheques. Don’t be put off by the complications of travelling without technology. Embrace it, and enjoy what it might add to your adventure.

Keen to explore more?

I love working with people to help them to understand themselves. In counselling we build a relationship where we can look at what might be causing your stress and how you can work to overcome it, so that you can feel more comfortable and confident in everyday life. If you’d like to learn more, click here to contact me, or click here to book a free 30-minute introductory chat.

Taking time to switch off and disconnect on holiday

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