Every February, my hubby and I get tired of winter and just want to go somewhere and sit in the sun. And almost every year, we fail to plan for that vacation and end up miserable in February while everyone else flies south to tropical paradise. Well, not this year! Next week, we’ll have been together for 10 years (whatttt!?!) so we obviously had to plan a trip to celebrate.
St. Lucia had everything the hubby and I needed – the beach, mountains (or pitons), delicious food (and chocolate!), nature, sunshine, and a totally chill vibe. We relaxed by the infinity pool overlooking petit piton, read plenty of books, chatted about life, sipped on tasty adult bevys, made our own chocolate (it was tough work but someone had to do it!), and even did the limbo with fire-eaters. Every day had lows in the low 70s and highs in the mid 80s…and there was always a nice breeze. In a word, it was perfect. Then, like all vacations, it had to come to an end.
As I write this on the plane back to freezing NYC, simply looking at e-mails brought the next week’s responsibilities back to the forefront of my mind and I can already feel relaxed Tina slipping away. Transitioning back to real life is going to be a little bit of a struggle. But, nuts to that! I like relaxed Tina. I want more of her! (And I’m sure my hubby does too). Instead of dwelling in the winter blues, I’ve decided to bring pieces of our vacation home so we can relax a bit more on a daily basis (even if it’s not on a gorgeous island). Here’s the plan:
1. Make sippin’ special. Every day, we enjoyed freshly squeezed juices, tropical smoothie shots, cacao tea, and our fair share of cocktails. Obviously, doing this day in and day out is a recipe for disaster (oh, hi love handles), but elevating the typical glass of water with fruit slices, herbs, and/or spices can make you feel a little more like being in a spa and relaxing with a fun flavored tea in the evening…that’s doable and adds a little bit of flare to daily hydration.
2. Read for fun! It’s good to know that you don’t need to be pool-side to enjoy a good novel. Being curled up on the couch or tucked into bed works too. Typically, I have a bad habit of picking up food and nutrition related magazines before bedtime – instead of gearing me up for sleep, it gets the wheels turning and then I can’t get the shuteye I thrive on. So, instead of watching a second episode of our latest Netflix addiction (currently House of Cards), I think reading a novel before bed will make a better addition to our “wind down” routine. I may not get through a thick murder mystery in 3 days like I did on vacation, but I can certainly start crossing books off my “must-read” list.
3. Institute game night. Our hotel had a chest of games by the pool, so the hubby and I dug out our 12-year-old selves and played Connect Four, Battleship, and Dominos (ok…we didn’t really know how to play dominos but we made up a game and decided we both won). It seems totally old school to play games that aren’t on your phone or computer, but it is so much more fun and really nice to get away from the screens that inundate us every other moment of our lives. We’re pulling out the board games at least once a week at home.
4. Eat al fresco. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in St. Lucia was eaten outside. It’s amazing how changing where you eat can seemingly slow down time. We were more relaxed, ate slower, and actually enjoyed each bite. Plus, we were much more likely to stop eating when we were satisfied instead of chowing down until we were stuffed and uncomfortable. Eating out on our balcony in the middle of winter is probably not the best idea (we’ll save that for warmer weather), but maybe just keeping the clutter off the dining table, turning off the TV, and lighting a candle from time to time will make dinner a little more relaxing.
5. Find nature. Living in a big city surrounded by concrete and honking vehicles just means you have to look a little harder for pieces of the natural world. That means taking a moment to enjoy the sunset (not just when we’re on a boat in the Caribbean), marveling at the moon and the stars (when city lights allow), noticing the fun shapes clouds make, and getting out to local parks and gardens whenever possible.
6. Treat yo self. No, I don’t mean indulge in dessert every night (though…we kinda did in St. Lucia). But…having a sweet treat a few nights a week, getting a pedicure, visiting a museum you’ve been meaning to check out, using one of those “sample” face creams you’ve been storing away for a special occasion (I can’t be the only one that does this…right? Anyone?)…injecting a little bit of vacation-like joy in your life can relax, inspire, and rejuvenate.
7. And finally…create no phone zones. There’s nothing like spotty wi-fi to make you realize the power of totally checking out – not paying attention to emails after a certain time, not absentmindedly scrolling through Instagram, not going into FOMO mode after checking Facebook, and not reading article after article that makes you feel inadequate or lazy (I’m pretty sure I’ve read every article on the “habits of successful people”). There’s a time and a place for technology, but there’s also plenty of time and plenty of places where it’s better to just hit the OFF button.
How about you? What do you do to get into vacation mode – even when you’re at home?