The following is a guest post from Jane Matthews.
Let’s face it, holidays are self-help in practice: a chance to refresh, review and renew, without the distractions of daily life. Rather than wait another 11 months to feel as good again, it’s worth borrowing a few techniques to keep the glow going long after the photos have dropped off the bottom of your Facebook home page.
Time is on your side: unless you’d sooner leave behind your toothbrush than travel without your laptop then the annual two weeks may be the only time you truly snatch some time to yourself all year. Even if the tribe went with you, the chances are your holiday featured some time stretched out in silence or gazing quietly at a view. For many of us, peace and time to ourselves is in shorter supply than a free parking spot. And yet it’s only when we’re still that we can hear and respond to our inner thoughts, and notice and appreciate what we do have in our lives and the beauty and richness around.
Try building ‘sunbathing’ time into every day, whether you choose 10 minutes meditation, taking a long bath in silence, or sitting on the park bench closest to your office. Where you are is not important. Doing absolutely nothing is.
Five alive: another wonderful thing about holidays is the way we feel more alive because all five senses suddenly awaken; tuned into the unfamiliar smells, sights, sounds of a new location and the feel of fresh air on our skin.
Make a point of using your senses more, even if it’s only to enjoy the cocktail of smells coming from a coffee shop, or the sight of the trees beginning to turn crimson and gold. At least once every day stop and really absorb your surroundings using all your senses.
An appetite for life: meals on holiday are usually an occasion: slow, relaxing, sociable affairs, which actually give you a chance to enjoy the food along with the company. Yet at home we slip easily back into TV dinners and the sandwich-in-front-of-the-computer-screen routine.
Make mealtimes one of your life’s pleasures rather than necessities by focusing on the food, surroundings and, if you can sit down with friends or family a few times a week, the company.
Welcome stranger: even if the summer’s been a soggy squib, there’s no need to hibernate. Most of us love exploring a new place when we’re on holiday – but we forget there are plenty of hidden corners and fascinating surprises in our own back yard.
Award yourself a mini-break by becoming a tourist in your own home town. Have you ever been to the tourist office, followed a local guided walk, studied the architecture in your own town centre?
A fine romance: if you’re young, free and single, then your holiday’s unlikely to feel complete without at least a whiff of romance. Yet we all feel more alive, more capable of reaching our potential, and more loving, when we feel cared for and appreciated. It’s a mistake to believe we have to wait for love to arrive like a beautiful shell washed up on the beach. As the song says, the greatest love of all is learning to love ourselves.
Romance yourself as you do on holiday by making time to do the things you love, treating yourself as you would any loved one and paying attention to what you need.
New horizons: it isn’t only new sights that are an important part of the holiday experience. Sometimes distance also brings insights – into the things we want or need to change in our lives. If you really can’t seem to drag yourself out of that post-holiday slump then it may be time to look hard at any areas of your life that need attention, be that work, your health, home situation, relationship, or even your feelings about yourself.
If these feelings persist don’t try and shut the lid on them the way you did your suitcase. Resolve to start taking steps towards making change, and, if necessary, seek professional help.
By helping yourself to some of the things that make summer special you can turn your autumn around and be glad to be here rather than wishing you were there.
Jane Matthews is a writer, whose next book, The Best Year of Your Life, on how small changes can make a big difference is published in 2010. She also runs personal development workshops in self esteem and Heal Your Life, Achieve Your Dreams. For details of these, and her other books, see www.smallbooks.co.uk. Check out her blog at http://someonenicer.wordpress.com. Or follow her on twitter @janematthews