by Jennifer Wright, Editor/Writer
It’s been a rough year so far, and this summer hasn’t really been one for traveling. Together, these make for a challenging time with those vacation days. What do you do when you can’t tell if Disney will be open or not?
For a lot of us, vacation might end up being at home this time. Fortunately, I’ve had a little bit of experience with staying home vacations and retreats. Here are a few things I’ve learned that I can share with you.
1) Take the time off.
It’s really easy if you are (or have been) working from home to never stop working. The first thing to make a vacation work, especially if it has to be a home, is to keep it from feeling like work.
Set aside a long weekend, a day, or even just a few hours to be completely off work. Don’t check emails, don’t answer office phone calls, don’t even text a coworker to check in. Use that vacation time!
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re going to be away for a while, you don’t need to make it impossible to reach you. If you are in a position where you might need to be aware of something right away, it’s reasonable to make yourself available, but do it in a specific way that doesn’t force you into a rabbit-hole of work emails and follow-ups. Give your coworkers a single way to contact you that you will be responding to, and stick to it.
2) Do something you never have time to do.
Once you’re out of a work mindset, it can be hard to find something to do. The temptation is to do something you already do in your off time. (For me, that means zoning out to Star Trek reruns.) But if all you do in your time off is something routine, there’s no vacation.
That park around the corner with all the hiking trails you never have time to explore? Take a day to explore the trails. The recipe you’ve always wanted to try, but it could take you 4 hours to make? Break it out. Those paints on the top shelf of the closet that you don’t get out because it makes a mess? Paint a picture. That book you haven’t picked up off the nightstand in months? Crack it open and read.
Do something that makes you feel creative, engaged, and alive.
3) Step away from the screens.
There are healthy ways to engage with the screens in our lives. We can connect with loved ones far away, watch tutorials on things we want to learn to do, communicate quickly and effectively, and more, but sometimes, we need to close them all down for a while and spend time elsewhere.
If your mini-vacation is a day, take 4 hours to be completely unplugged. If it’s a few days, see if you can take a full 12 hours. A week? Try just a few waking hours each day.
It doesn’t always have to happen all at once, but taking time out to be completely without the internet, the computer, the television, the smart phone, and the world of digital media, is more relaxing than you might imagine.
The impact of something as pervasive in our lives as screens is difficult to gage because we never get away from them. Spend a little time without screens, if for no other reason, to see how it makes you feel. I have found it to be incredibly refreshing.
4) Pray in a new way.
I don’t know what your daily prayer routine looks like, but I do know mine gets stale from time to time. That’s when I know I need to try something new. That’s when I’ll pray in a different space, with a new devotional book, or with a different approach.
Consider taking an hour for imaginative prayer. Read a passage from the Bible that you know well, but instead of reading it from afar, put yourself in the passage. Read Psalm 23 and imagine the table prepared before you by the Lord. Read the story of Christ’s death and imagine yourself at the foot of the cross. Read Acts of the Apostles and imagine yourself helping to build the early Church from scratch.
Or go somewhere new to pray. Take a walk to talk with God about creation. Make a new space in your home to sit, kneel, or stand in to pray. Light a candle. Add a piece of religious art (maybe even something you created yourself).
A new approach to prayer can send you back into the fray refreshed and reconnected with the things that really matter. And for me, that’s what I really want from a vacation – to feel ready to come back to where I was.
So that’s my plan for my summer vacation this year: take time off, do something out of the ordinary, unplug for a while, and pray in a new way. What will your vacation look like?