Finding Escape from Post-Vacation

For months, July 31 – August 7 was marked on my calendar. I even counted up from that final Friday beforehand, all to indicate how far away it was. 43, 42, 41, 40, 39… I rejoiced every time we would move out of one bracket of numbers and into another, I’d rejoice again when we finally were in the teens, once more with feeling for single digits, and before I knew it we were in those days of “next week” and “by this time we will be there.”

Since May 2015 I have worked every work week or, if I was not working and I had time off, I was still attending class for school. Waiting over a year to both take off from school and work is not for the faint of heart nor something I would suggest to anyone. The utter exhaustion I felt was overwhelming and I wanted so badly to just sleep.

Then the day came. The day vacation began. I flew, literally, from the area and escaped to the muggy humidity of Louisiana and embraced every element of vacation with greedy hands. But our short days there ended and suddenly I was back home with a house to clean and groceries to purchase. But I still had it, didn’t I? Those vacation days. I was home but I didn’t have any work or school to do. I was still free.

But there I was again at the start of a work week, blinking and bewildered and questioning, “how is vacation already done with?”

The first week back after a vacation is surely the worst. Not only do you need to refocus but you also have to adjust your sleeping and meal patterns. You have to shift back into that overwhelmed work world that isn’t necessarily fun and all the relaxation you felt on your time off is wiped away.

Going back to work after a vacation sucks.

Add to that first week the start of class, a car breaking down, a person in the hospital, and odds and ends falling apart at home, as well as an impressive meltdown and fight, and every ounce of recovery vacation provided has diminished.

By Sunday I was bleary eyed and desperate – I wanted to return to the carefree happiness of vacation, I wanted that joy, I wanted that carefree attitude. But how? It’s hard to consider when you’re knee-deep in the distress of a work week.

With small, cautious steps, I began to retreat into my mind and search for those moments that I could recreate from vacation.

  1. Lazy soaks in the tub with the scent of vanilla lavender
  2. Lazy mornings in bed with the low light of dawn and only the sound of birds singing their glorious songs
  3. Limiting my coffee intake to one cup a day–it’s caused me to not be quite as dependent on it but also to linger over that single cup. I realize it’s the only one I’ll be able to have that day so I am sure to cherish it
  4. Planning my meals a week ahead of time (on a Friday or Saturday) then cooking them all at once (Sunday) so that by the time the work week begins, the meals are made and I’ve saved time in my evenings
  5. Making a to do list that isn’t so restricted to one specific day or time. Instead, it’s a month-long to do list. There can be no additives to it and I have the full month to complete it. If it’s done early, excellent, that gives me more time to relax
  6. Setting up an earlier bedtime. I do not necessarily go to bed at that time, but I may sure to have all my busy work done by then and to retreat to bed. Then I allow myself an hour to do quiet, peaceful activities. Whether it’s stretch, meditate, or read. By the time the hour is up and I’m ready to fall asleep, I’m usually relaxed as well
  7. Setting up my breakfast supplies the night before. I sleep in until the very last moment. My alarm goes off and I bounce out of bed–whether it’s to log onto my work computer or throw on clothing to drive to the office. To have my breakfast items laid out means it’s all easy access and so much quicker than before. I grab and go, one less thing to stress over.
  8. Candles. I love scents and have a number of cherished ones. But to light one in the evening and see that soft flickering light is so splendid.
  9. Making sure to appreciate the outdoors. Despite the triple digit heat and high humidity, I’ve wished for summer all winter and now that it’s fully here, I’m already preparing for fall. And autumn is coming! You can see it in the most subtle ways. But I should appreciate it more. I should take note of the subtle changes and embrace it all, heat included, before it’s gone and I can’t go outdoors without shivering.
  10. Time with the pets. Petting our cats Joe and Lily is always comforting but they seem to appreciate when I give my full attention to them and I also get benefits from it. Being able to focus on their little faces as they drift off to dreamland gives me inner peace and I escape from the hustle and bustle of life, if only for a little bit.

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