Tuesday 19 March 2019

Holiday mindset

You don't need to board a flight to feel like you're on a break

Holiday time
Holiday time
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

I'm not looking forward to the day that in-flight WiFi becomes readily, and cheaply, available on airplanes.

Granted, there is a certain novelty to sending a WhatsApp message from 36,000 feet. It's just I don't think it will ever top the peace of mind that comes from turning on Airplane Mode and putting my phone away for the duration of a flight.

The airplane, for now at least, is the last refuge from the daily email deluge. It's one of the few places where we don't feel the pressure to respond to messages and one of the few times when we are truly out of office.

This struck me during a recent flight. A work deadline was looming but with no Wifi, and a dwindling battery, there was no other option but to relax and stare out the window.

Having no device to hand is anathema to those who are always-on but, for others, it's a welcome break from technology.

This reminds me of an out-of-office response I received from a free-spirited type a few years ago. "I return to my desk next week," it read. "If it's an emergency, hold your breath or drink a glass of water upside down."

It was a tongue-in-cheek reminder that the workplace doesn't implode in our absence, and her level-headed approach to the work-life balance often comes to mind when I find myself panicking in the minutes before take-off.

These types have a lot to teach the rest of us. They value their down time just as much as their work time but, more than that, they know how to bring a holiday mindset to their everyday routine.

The people who can switch from work mindset to holiday mindset with ease are of course those who have the healthiest work-life balance.

They treat their downtime as sacrosanct. They regularly leave their comfort zone by going off the beaten track. And they tend to eat al fresco at the first sign of summer...

Here's how they cultivate a holiday state of mind, all year round.

* Smell the roses - Our senses are heightened when we're on holiday. We appreciate the colours of the flowers and the sounds of the birds. We take the time to notice the different scents and flavours. It's mindfulness in action - and there is no reason why we can't bring this state of being into our daily routines.

* Slow down and look up - We're never in a rush when we're abroad. We slow down our step and we expand our perspective so that we can take in all the little details.

Walk along a city street and you'll notice that tourists look up and around themselves while natives stare straight ahead. You might have walked the same route to work for the last 10 years and never looked up to see the roofs of the buildings you walk by.

Explore your neighbourhood from the perspective of a tourist some time. You might be surprised by what you discover.

* Smile at strangers - We make friends easily when we're abroad because we're more inclined to say hello, bonjour or hola to the fellow tourists sitting at the next table. We aren't so cordial in our natural habitat, but what would happen if we were? A smile and a nod can go a long way, both at home and on holiday.

* Push the boat out - People who are always in a holiday state of mind don't hold back their little luxuries for a special occasion. They use the "good china" on a weeknight just as they wear their Sunday best on a Monday morning. We break the monotony when we bring a sense of occasion to the everyday. After all, isn't that what holidays are all about?

* Let it go - Serial complainers aside, most of us are willing to let the little things go when we're on holiday. Grumpy partner, missed train, sub-par meal - it doesn't really matter. We're just glad to get some sunshine on our backs and some sand between our toes.

We've all uttered the words 'I'm not going to let it ruin my holiday' when things don't go to plan while abroad. But what would happen if we put as high a value on our everyday pleasure, and decided that we weren't going to allow anything - or anyone - to ruin our day?

* Go with the flow - Sure, there are some people who can't enjoy a holiday without a detailed itinerary. The rest of us are happy to go with the flow by chatting to locals and wandering down side streets.

We can lose our sense of spontaneity as we get older so it's worth bringing some of that holiday caprice back home with us. It's fun to go out with only a loose plan and a spirit of adventure. As the saying goes: you never know where you might end up.

* Switch off - We become remarkably productive in the days just before a holiday. Extensive handover documents are drawn up and niggling items on the to-do list are ticked off. We want to get everything done and dusted before we board that flight.

People with a holiday mindset approach the end of the average work-day in the very same way. Come 5pm, they are officially out-of-office, and they don't let anything get in their way.

* Pack lightly - I always think of the Erykah Badu song Bag Lady when, once again, I'm standing at a Ryanair counter transferring clothes, shoes and books from one bag to another. As the lyrics go: "One day all them bags gone get in your way..."

Those with a holiday mindset know that we have a greater range of movement when we live lightly. They carry less baggage - both literally and figuratively - and they never have to pay the excess-baggage fee.

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