Ever notice that the relaxation you experience on vacation is quickly replaced by stress once you get home? It doesn’t have to be that way. Want to know the secret to staying in that blissfully calm ‘vacation’ state? Read on…
Last week was my first week back from vacation. We flew to Venice and then cruised to several Greek islands. It was a vacation of a lifetime. Aside from the stunning scenery and the fabulous food, what struck me most was the change of pace.
It’s not until we slow down that we realize how fast we were running.
The Europeans have it all figured out. There’s no rush. Here in North America, we’re fooled into thinking that our lives are just one big race to the finish line and that the fastest person wins. But we don’t get a medal for cramming as much as possible in a day. And there’s no joy in getting up and doing it all over again tomorrow.
From the moment we stepped off the plane in Venice, it felt like we stepped into another world. At the end of our meals, there was no rush to bring us the bill. We were encouraged to linger at the table and continue talking and laughing, long after savouring the last morsel of dessert. Tourists and locals alike meandered down the narrow streets, like they had no place to be anytime soon. People stopped and conversed with one another as if they had all the time in the world – you could feel the strong sense of community.
I decided that this is what I wanted to bring home with me. The sense that I have all the time I need to do what’s important to me. Living fast is not the path to joy and fulfillment. Rushing is merely a habit – one that I am happy to begin changing.
So during my first week back, I resisted trying to catch up on everything in one day. I let some things go. I just did what I absolutely had to do and took my time. I felt calm, relaxed and at peace. And the funny thing is that nothing catastrophic occurred! In fact, I was able to focus and get quite a few things accomplished. I eliminated the words ‘hurry up’ from my vocabulary, whether I was saying them to my family or to myself. I ate slower (food tasted better and I got full faster). I sipped my tea instead of guzzling it. I connected with people while walking in my neighbourhood. I stopped and gazed at the lake rather than just walking past it.
I did some research and discovered that the fast life and the stress it causes can lead to cardiovascular disease and accelerate aging. On the other hand, slowing down can lead to greater satisfaction in our job, in our family and in our life in general.
When we rush, mistakes are made, things are misplaced or forgotten, accidents happen, and this sets us back even further than if we just took our time in the first place. (Driving is a perfect example).
Do you find that your days feel like you are just running on a treadmill – and that life is passing you by too fast to enjoy it? Is there an area in your life that you could slow down a little? Please share in the comments below. I welcome your feedback.