GUEST BLOG: It’s Time to Unwind


So here it is at long last, that coveted summer holiday escape you have been counting down the months, weeks and days for.  The week or two weeks off you have waited so long for and meticulously planned. You have worked your last shift, clocked off, out-of-office is on, and your colleagues are now taking a sigh of relief that they don’t have to listen to your count down any more and feel envious of your holiday in the sunshine which they now know about in great detail. 

Your case is packed, plane ticket in hand and your stress levels seem to have hit an ultimate high as you check and check again, that you have got everything? Tickets, passport, keys, phone, currency, transport booked. You need this break so badly. Funny isn’t it, that until you are through the customs gate and your cases checked in and you are waiting for your flight with an airport cheeky wine or gin and tonic, no matter what time of day or night it is, you are a tad snappy to your kids and your other half!

You spend the first few days of your week off desperately trying to unwind, trying to leave the stress of work, home and real life behind and just exist in an all-inclusive bubble. You’re just about there, and then it happens, the midway point, it suddenly dawns on you, you’re going home in a few days the holiday has flown by, and in two or three days you’ll be back to the nine to five grind, with a huge pile of washing to do, no fresh food in the house, a few hundred emails stock piled, and your holiday will be a distant memory in no time. You now spend the last few days of your holiday thinking and stressing about going back home and back to work?  

Wouldn’t it be great if the minute we clocked off we could enjoy every single minute of our time off?  A stress-free holiday, present and completely in the moment.  Enjoying our time with family and friends or our alone time depending on what we have planned. The great news is, it is possible!

Neuroscience studies have shown that stress related behaviour is not so much about the environment we live or work in, but more about how each of us reacts to it. And using techniques such as Mindfulness and Meditation, which is becoming more and more popular can really help us to de-stress and enjoy the moment. 

There is a new trend and refreshed understanding of meditation which is helping people to improve all areas of their day to day life and enjoying your time off to its fullest is no exception.  Making this relaxing art so much more accessible to everyone from all walks of life.  Seriously, mediation isn’t all about the “oooooohhhhmmm”. Try this:

1 Be present!

This one may make you panic, I’m going to suggest you switch off from the world wide web and social media. Give yourself a digital break, a smart phone break, seriously no one will die if you don’t have your phone attached to your palm 24/7. Constantly feeding our minds with social content and news doesn’t allow us headspace to switch off fully and relax. So, when you go on holiday, it’s time to ditch the phone.

Not so many years ago when someone went on holiday we didn’t expect to hear from them until they got home or returned to work.  There was this real respect for a person’s time away and we certainly didn’t expect contact from work colleagues or family whilst on holiday. You looked forward to getting a postcard from them and took bets on whether the postcard would arrive back before they did. We used to look forward to seeing holiday snaps a few weeks after we got back which somehow brought this sense of calm and happiness once the holiday memories were relived with friends and family in person over lunch or an evening meal with a bottle of wine.

2 Switch off the stress and really challenge your thoughts

There are a few ways we can do this. Firstly, stress is caused by anxious thoughts we believe about a potential future state and we usually blow it up out of all proportion and stress at worst case scenario level, e.g when we are preparing for holiday we may be stressed that we are going to miss our flight, or we forget our passport, or we can’t afford to go. So much mind chatter we are creating and listening to.

a) Practise mindfulness and awareness, listen to all the chatter going on in your mind, all the noisy stressful thoughts and write them down, or say them out loud. Don’t try to change your thoughts just simply acknowledge them and write them down.

b) Next, challenge yourself on each and every anxious thought your mind has created. The most enlightening thing for you to understand is, a thought is powerless if you don’t believe it. What are the chances of you actually missing your flight? Come on be serious and honest with yourself here. Work your way through the list of stressful thoughts and challenge every one of them.

c) Remember your thoughts and feelings are about a future state which exists only in your mind, they are not reality. We all have a choice of listening to the chatter and believing it or challenging and ignoring it.

Secondly, we can meditate to help silence the thoughts and stress chatter.

Try this; Focus on your posture, let your hands rest loosely on your legs, thighs or knees, wherever you find is most comfortable and won’t cause you any distraction. Next close your eyes to remove the visual distraction of the environment around you, and then begin to take in some deep breathes through your nostrils and breathing out through your mouth.

Focus on your breathing, and while you do this breathe out all of those stressful, negative thoughts and feelings.  And rather than trying to cling on to them, simply acknowledge them and let them go, watch them disappear. 

You are now breathing in positivity, vitality and happiness and breathing out negativity and stress.  There is no room in your mind or your life for stressful negative thoughts so as you focus on your breathing, remember with every breath you take you are inhaling positivity, vitality and happiness and exhaling stress and negativity. Take as long as you like, some people only need to focus on their breathing for a few minutes others take longer until they feel relaxed and stress free. 

Lastly try using positive affirmations 

“When I breathe, I inhale happiness and exhale stress and negativity.” - You can say this out loud, as part of your meditation, or just simply replace some of your usually stressful thoughts with this positive affirmation instead. Anytime anywhere, you don’t have to say them out loud you can say them in your head anywhere. It’s the perfect way to find instant stress relief, unwind and to enjoy our holidays for all that they can be and for all that we deserve.

Enjoy a stress free holiday, switch off, be present and speak kindly to yourself!

Jo Gilbert is a Business Consultant, Success Coach and Mentor. Jo is also a trained Mindfulness and Meditation Teacher and this year became a best selling Author.

In this blog, Jo looks at the realities our holidays often bring and how we can ensure we enjoy every single minute of our time off from the minute we clocked off! Who likes the sound of a stress-free holiday, present and completely in the moment… sounds good!

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