As the summer holiday season approaches, our thoughts may inevitably turn to sun-kissed beaches and leisurely days by the pool. Some of us might do something more strenuous - maybe an activity holiday or sailing; or perhaps a return visit to Florida or Vegas…but is that the best type of holiday for us, or just what habit has taught us?
It may have been the Victorians who came up with the concept of a beach holiday, but in those days it truly meant a break from the daily routine. Everyday life stopped and the lucky few could enjoy some well-deserved rest and recuperation.
These days, many of us our lucky enough take our annual holidays for granted as part of our lives, but how much of a break are we really gifting ourselves if we do the same old things over and over again? If we are not giving our brains new experiences to occupy them, aren’t we risking those precious moments of a change of scenery or true rest and relaxation?
Somehow, I think that novelty is important for mental recuperation. With this in mind, my recent holiday was something entirely different to the norm and I’d encourage everyone who has the opportunity to put this on their bucket list.
We decided to take a cruise to Alaska, and it prompted me to revaluate what I am looking for in a holiday. After a city break in San Francisco, we spent ten days on a cruise ship (Princess actually – if it’s good enough for Jane McDonald….!) immersed in the absolute majesty of the nature that surrounded us. The sheer size and scale of the mountains and national rainforest (17.2 million acres of it!), the sadly shrinking glaciers reminded us of the fragility of our daily lives in a constantly changing world. The abundant wildlife proved that resilience in the face of the harshest of conditions is part of our make up. The change in weather meant the White Pass railway was shut – there had been an avalanche – it was very humbling and I remembered how I can be disappointed with a bit of unexpected rain at home… The lack of internet made me realise just how much we take technology for granted in the west. I know what the libraries (free wi-fi!) look like in all the ports we stopped at!
I had peace, I had stillness, I had a totally different type of break - in a way that wouldn’t have happened on a beach in the Med.
When you are doing something new, you don’t have a mental groove to fall back on, and you are almost certainly “present” with whatever you are doing. I am not suggesting that everyone travels to Alaska or goes trekking in Nepal, but even the smallest breaks for the norm on holiday might well bring refreshing benefits? We might have booked that beach holiday - but there are probably still many options around how we spend our time.
When we are stimulated by a new experience, all sorts of fascinating thoughts can germinate. I have certainly come back from my trip with a renewed focus and sense of purpose.
I have a suspicion that even thinking about doing something different might make a difference to mental wellbeing – it’s exciting, adrenalin-fuelled...Conversely, of course there are times when we are shattered and just want to return to someone we’ve been before –as we know we like it…maybe there’s a new baby and it’s a first family holiday (that’s a bit change!) and other times we may volunteer and find that hugely rewarding on both sides…I’m suggesting that there are other times when perhaps we should be bold and appreciate wider horizons for annual break other than the norm, if and when we can.
It is a real treat when you give your brain permission to think these thoughts. How do you inject that sense of the unknown into your holidays?
Written by Julie O'Neill
I never know whether to consider myself the worlds luckiest person - or indeed the most unluckiest person … Things can either go VERY well or VERY badly! When the going is good it’s great…. But doesn’t it feel like sometimes EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that can go wrong does, without fail. So then whatever I touch needs to be done twice; once to phone the plumber and then again to chase the appointment because he didn’t show up! Recruiters absolutely know that although it maybe sunny when you read this, but generally it never rains - it just pours! However I actually explored this further. I wanted to see if there is any science to ‘luck’ so recently I willingly participated in an official 3 year study conducted by the University of Hertfordshire to see if luck really existed – and more importantly, if so, was it tangible. Well that I couldn’t resist… indeed I thought I might just be able to grab a bit of this luck - perhaps bottle it for future use! That would be worthwhile.
However three years later, after countless forms to fill out and eventually electrodes on my head, they came to the conclusion that ‘ you couldn’t pin luck down.’ In addition, I was very ‘subliminally receptive’. Meaning that not only am I unlucky, but if for example you quickly flash a sign at me, I will see what’s written on it and am highly likely to buy the product….gullible as well as unlucky?! With these results from the study, I thought at times perhaps it’s my timing that’s off kilter and not my luck, is it really just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Throughout my lengthy recruitment career I have been very creative and came up with some fantastic ideas – but often they were before there time i.e. they were too new and innovative to catch on, yet now they are industry standards, with someone else having made the millions out of the idea a little later down the line! Today is a very good day; I just had a candidate accept a new role and is starting next week – and that’s illustrative of that fact that it’s actually true to say that I’m pleased to say things typically work out in my favour in the end! Plus positivity is key – I really believe that. In fact I might write a blog about that next time! I do really well out of a bad situation, with people around me saying “You’re so lucky”……so maybe the old methods can still work - in future I’m just going to flip a coin…..