Updated: May 3
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our world. For many of us, this is a time like no other in our lifetime. In Spring 2020, we witnessed stillness. We believed it would only be only a matter of months before we resumed our “normal” lives. We worried, we watched, we wondered. We’ve counted our blessings.
Some people will start reading this blog and think there are more things to worry about than vacation. I could write on mental health, economics, or any number of social topics. However… 1 year into the pandemic, vacation is on my mind.
No one can argue people haven’t been affected mentally or socially when it comes to vacation time. Time away for our normal routines has long been associated with stress relief, laughter, relaxation and building new friendships and memories. Trips. School summer vacation. Seeing family. Simply being able to do what we want that makes our vacation time special, has been radically affected. It’s a known phenomenon to suffer from “post vacation blues”, and now we are experiencing a new phenomenon called lamenting vacation.
“I had to cancel my trip”
The onset of the pandemic turned travel or vacation plans into dust. People lost deposits on destination weddings and trips to Disney Land. Others simply expected time off for a long-awaited local wedding, reunion, or road trip to a concert. Maybe you simply threw a dart at a map and had planned an adventure that left everyone questioning your sanity.
Cost aside, despite the number of travel miles, the loss of these anticipated special events has impacted us all.
The promise of a vacation away from the everyday grind gives us the pep to plug through each day as the clock ticks down. Soon…I’ll get together with my friends. Soon…I’ll be rising above the clouds destined for sun and sand. Soon…my feet will face the crackling fire of a lodge. Soon…I’ll sit with my dad, brother, cousins, and all of the family members who drive me crazy…in a place other than the four walls within which I live.
How long ago was this the definition of vacation?
“When can I play with my friends again?”
Even looking at how our children spent summer and winter vacation this year causes concern for their well-being. They were not free to spend hours, indoors or outdoors, playing with their friends. This summer, I walked through the neighbourhood looking for children playing, and it was strikingly quiet.
In our beautiful Canada, summer often means staycation, and we plan trips to sunny beaches, cottages, water parks, and amusement parks. This year, we lost our freedom to do so in the same way.
Please don’t misunderstand. I support our country’s efforts to fight this pandemic. My family is on board with social distancing measures since March 2020. We do our part to support the world, in reaching a place of safety and normalcy in 2021. But I think I speak for many when I say this pandemic has us feeling trapped, helpless, and struggling to hold onto the vacation freedoms we have known and enjoyed. We miss each other, we miss winter sports or sitting in the sun beside water, we miss our escapes.
“Should I take vacation time?”
Only one question remains, how do we salvage our notion of vacation and all it does for our mental health? Is it possible to enjoy today’s version of vacation? Should be taking time off from work at all?
Yes! If you are willing to believe vacation is a matter of perspective. Yes, if you are willing to accept this pandemic situation as is and adapt your thoughts to vacation being less cost, less travel, and more personal self care.
1. Soak in the sun. Often. At every opportunity, plant yourself in a comfortable chair in the sunniest place in the house. Take the time to read, rest, and let your body soak in the Vitamin D the sun has to offer. This can work wonders for your biology and your mental health.
2. The idea of a staycation isn’t so bad in terms of spring, summer, and fall cleaning. Some people have found opportunities to renovate or modify a neglected yard. The money saved from vacation has been invested in small luxuries that support us through a stay-at-home order.
3. Spend time with those in your “bubble.” Minimize the number of television hours, especially the news. Talk, dance, and challenge each other to a new game.
4. Walk outside. Either willingly or by forcing yourself off the couch, take a long walk everyday. Bundle up if it’s cold. The distractions of the outside or seeing some neighbours, can alter your mood and leave you feeling happy you’ve just had some healthy exercise. Walking is an easy pursuit which can give you that boost you need.
5. Exercise. Either challenge yourself alone, or join a group online.
6. Celebrate special events in new and creative ways. Use your imagination to bring a smile to another person’s face.
7. Work on a culinary creation. Visit the grocery store and pick up items for a new meal idea. A good meal, made by you, can boost your mood.
8. Is there a hobby you’d like to pursue? Immerse yourself in an art project or play an instrument. Now is the time to do it!
9. Most importantly, help your children and teenagers understand this lockdown. Ask them how they feel about the pandemic. A few months can feel like a lifetime to their developing brains. Discuss how the lockdown is considered necessary and temporary to help us create a state of normalcy in the future. A future when we will start to venture out more and reconnect socially. Help them stay connected with their friends and family through phone calls and technology. Encourage them to journal, talk, and support them if they feel a counsellor may help.
10. Take care of YOU. Rest, relax, and smile so much it makes other people want to smile too. Instead of staying focused on what is missing, turn your attention to what is not.
Finally, believe in tomorrow. Plan and look forward to your dream vacation in the future, because there will be a future.
Again, its not about miles or cost, vacation is about taking a break from the ordinary and enjoying each other’s company or your own solitude. Your choice.