As the wheels went up on the plane, leaving Belize behind, I settled into my seat and thought to myself, “have I ever been this relaxed?”
I didn’t think my life was that stressful. I usually don’t come home from work stressed. I don’t have kids. Heck, I don’t even need to walk a dog. I mostly stick to a routine, which makes life less stressful. But I create plenty of stress for myself by overscheduling, thinking too much about the future, and planning very active vacations.
Thinking back on my vacations for the last four years, they all involved jumping from one city to the next in a short period of time (four days to two weeks), diving four times a day, or lots of scheduled activities. Don’t get me wrong, they were all very fun and adventurous trips that I would do again, but I came back needing a vacation from my vacation.
Belize was the vacation I didn’t know I needed. We stayed at the same resort and in the same room all week, so there was no re-packing or moving our stuff from place to place. We had daily adventures and dives, but we returned in the afternoon to a carefree routine: take a leisurely shower, get ready to look somewhat presentable (flip-flops ok!) for dinner, enjoy happy hour, eat dinner, and be in bed by 9:30 p.m. at the latest. We laid in hammocks with nowhere to be. We ate our meals leisurely. We got plenty of sleep. We took our time.
Our guides even reminded us to take our time during our daily adventures. Granted, a lot of times they said that because we were doing an intense physical activity and they didn’t want us to get hurt, but it still echoed the thought of slowing down and enjoying everything happening in the moment. We stopped to admire the landscape. We stopped to catch our breath. We were present, experiencing all the beauty and adventure Belize was offering us.
I’ll admit, all this extra leisure time during our vacation made me a little uneasy. I felt like I should be doing something, maybe out discovering something at the resort I hadn’t seen before. But settling into a leisurely routine and not having the usual distractions of internet and TV helped me slow down and enjoy the present to simply be and reflect.
I experience an abbreviated version of complete relaxation on the weekends sometimes, like a quiet morning at home, but in reality, I’m always planning something and on the move. The next week of work, activities with friends, the next blog posts. My brain is constantly thinking about schedules, deadlines, and to-dos. (I hope this isn’t only me!) More than two days of absolute relaxing is unfathomable.
And it wasn’t until leaving beautiful Belize and returning to the hustle that I realized having that many days in a row to truly relax and unplug was an essential luxury. This is what it really means to re-charge! I may not be able to take vacations like this as often as I’d like, but now I remember what slowing down is like, and I can make it a goal for my days and my life, at least sometimes.
I’ve always been the one who would rather be exploring and moving instead of sitting on the beach all week. It looks like my future vacations need a little more time to go slowly.
When was the last time you truly relaxed? Do you plan relaxing vacations or adventurous vacations?