Guilt-Free holidays - How to Switch off Without the Stress  | Escape Haven

Guilt-Free holidays – How to Switch off Without the Stress 

stress free holidays

On retreat, we notice two things that happen every single week. Firstly, it takes a few days for guests to really accept the fact that they are on holiday and are allowed to relax and not have to follow a to-do list! Secondly, it also takes time for guests to let go of the feelings of guilt that arise from switching off, relaxing, and simply allowing yourself time to rejuvenate. 

A real theme in the wellness world in 2019 has evolved around burnout. Up to 70 percent of adults in the US claim to show physical signs of stress in daily life. As we know, the idea of being busy and having a jam-packed schedule has come to be seen as a sign of success. Without our hectic schedules, beeping devices and overflowing inbox, many of us feel a little lost. This sense of always being busy and having purpose has come to define who we are, and when we take that away, it can often feel a little scary.

While stress and burnout have been huge topics this year, on the flip side, another hot topic has also been slowing down. Downsizing, tiny homes, weekend escapes, getting back to nature, digital detox, meditation, simplifying life – all of these trends have equally gained momentum as we come to understand and internalise the benefits that come with stepping into the slow lane.

Letting go of the need to be busy and switched on 24/7 isn’t easy. Before you discover the blissful, often intangible concept of relaxation, another emotion comes to greet us: guilt. We feel guilty when we close our computer when there are still tasks to be done. We feel guilty if we surrender to a hot bath when there is laundry mounting up. We feel guilty when we head out to a yoga class even though it may be the only 60 minutes we take for ourselves each week. 

If we cannot title an activity as ‘productive’ in some way, it tends to be regarded as an indulgence or an extravagance. When really, these moments – in the bath, in a yoga class, in nature, with your family or friends – are the things that refuel and revive us. These are the things that truly matter. So why do we feel so guilty for them?

When the holidays roll around, a new myriad of emotions come into play. Not all that long ago, the stress we felt around this time of the year was generally about getting Christmas lunch ready on time or having relatives that don’t always get along in the same room. These days, on top of this general holiday stress and the financial stress that comes along with this time of the year, we also feel stress and guilt about taking time off and simply allowing ourselves to be. “I should be doing this, I should be doing that,” is a constant soundtrack in many of our minds, even on the holidays.

So, how do we switch off without the guilt? How do we remain present at this time of the year and enjoy the simplicity of being and not doing? Here are our top tips:

Set Boundaries

The line between work and home life has certainly blurred over the last few years more than ever before. Being able to work from home, having flexible hours, being contactable 24/7 – these things all make it challenging to distinguish when your work life ends and your personal life begins. Whether you work for yourself or you are an employee, set clear boundaries so that your colleagues and clients know when you will be available and unavailable over the festive season. Once your time off is clear, set boundaries around this. Switch off your devices, resist the urge to check your emails, and trust that your working world will cope without you for a few days! Place an autoresponder on your emails and change your voice message to let people know when they can reach you. Creating this clarity and these boundaries will help you to ease into holiday mode without the guilt of needing to be contactable or switched on. 

Find Your No-Stress Zone

As mentioned above, the holiday period is always a busy time. Find one thing that helps you to manage stress and come back to a place of calm and clarity. Maybe this is meditation, perhaps it is a morning walk in nature or a yoga class. Perhaps it means taking yourself to a café for a quiet coffee, or sweating it out in a CrossFit class! Maybe writing in a journal or calling a friend to chat. Have one thing that you know you can turn too when you feel things getting on top of you and prioritise this. Make it non-negotiable. Remember that taking this time out to fill up your own cup will help you be more present, patient, loving and compassionate with those around you. 

Learn to Let Go

Burnt the turkey? Spilled red wine down your new dress? Forgot to pick up the Christmas pudding? Missed a present for a long-lost Aunt? Didn’t quite finish the work goals you had before your holiday time arrived? Missed the cut off time at the post office? Didn’t make it to the street Christmas party? There are lots of added obligations and things to remember at this time of the year. Guess what though? You don’t have to do it all. Let’s repeat that: You Don’t Have to Do It All! It’s okay to forget something, miss something or make a mistake. Let go of the need for everything to be perfect and quit placing yourself under unnecessary pressure. Try not to dwell on things that haven’t gone according to plan and allow yourself to be flexible and adaptable. Learn to laugh at yourself or at situations out of your control. Ask yourself, ‘will this matter in a weeks time?’ Most likely it won’t. So just let go and enjoy yourself.

Allow Yourself Joy

Somewhere along the way, we let go of making joy a priority in our lives. You are always worthy and deserving of feeling joy. Allow yourself to bask in the simple pleasures that come with the festive season- the smile on a child’s face when they open a gift. A meal shared with people you love. The sound of Christmas carols in stores. When we allow ourselves to be present and in the moment, it is easy to feel grateful for the little things. Have fun, be silly, let your hair down. Play, laugh, celebrate. Many cultures make play an active part of daily life, yet in the west, we tend to have lost the ability to have fun for the sake of fun. Utilise this special time to make the most of every moment and reconnect with the things that bring you joy. 

While these tips are especially useful around the holiday season, they are also very relevant for daily life in general. Setting boundaries, finding ways to de-stress, letting things go and prioritising joy – these are all wonderful goals to carry with you into the new year also! If you’re looking to take some time out, reconnect to yourself and set new healthy habits, pop a luxury Bali retreat on your 2020 calendar. For more information, send us a message

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