Closed for Mental Vacation

October 9, 2016

Many of us want a few days free from worries and schedules so that we can relax and let go of that built up stress. We leave things hanging for those vacation days with the aim to do them “in total peace.” We put off decisions about our future for those magical days.

But we should realize that real vacations are not about having days without anything to do. Those are just days without work, but with another kind of “stress.” True vacations are mental. Furthermore, some people can’t even plan a break. For them there’s only a “more calm form of stress.”

The true way to rest does not only exist on vacation days. We should incorporate rest into our daily lives. We can avoid built up fatigue if we are aware of how our mind works. Stress often comes from worrying too much about small things, or ruminating incessantly.

Motivated by this, we are going to give you some guidelines to achieve those desired mental vacations so that they do not turn into vacations filled with anxiety. In the same way, we are going to try to integrate this way of relaxing into our daily routine.

For the mind, any matter is like a bone for a dog. It likes to take it, smell it, and gnaw on it until it is exhausted, and when it is gone, it wants another.

Mental vacations: what are they and how do we achieve them

You do not have to ask your boss for days off, nor your parents for permission, nor your friends or partners for their opinion. Mental vacations happen if you want them at any moment or location. The most important thing is to establish mental and behavioral habits. These help regulate the frequency and discomfort with which we experience some thoughts.

Therefore, we are going to name many strategies to be sure that you have better control of your thoughts.

Meditate at some point each day

Meditation is not just a technique for achieving calm. Different studies have shown its effectiveness as a valuable tool in the face of anxiety. Therefore, its effect goes far beyond mere placebo effect and in fact, meditating creates a mental release.

Woman Meditating by Mountains

The goal of meditating is not to keep your mind blank, but to become observant of your breathing, thoughts, and emotions, fully aware of them. Training in this practice and doing it at least once a day will reduce your discomfort significantly.

Note which thoughts have no solution

They say that in order to be happy, we have to make decisions. They direct our present and discreetly guide our future. On the other hand, escaping from them or letting time or other people make them for us is generally not the best option. However, as with everything, decisions have a time and a place.

Clearly we cannot change our mind each time we get to work, home, or take our daily walk. Our whole marvelous processor comes with us wherever we go. However, we can train our mind so that it knows how to put off decisions until the appropriate time.

Just as we have attention to focus on objects, sounds, or flavors, we also have mental attention that can be directed in one direction or another. Taking control of this attention is not easy. Nobody has shown us it and generally we are so clumsy doing it that we were not able to experience the benefits of this practice.

We are also not used to classifying decisions. There are some that we have already made but that we keep thinking about, as if they were gum that we keep chewing on. Others about which there was never such a dilemma (they’re based on a mere hypothesis). Some that require help from an expert. And finally, others that we have to make, whether they are easy or difficult. Due to one or the other of these things, our mental way of acting has to be distinct.

If you do not have the money to move to a new place, for example, do not waste your time thinking about that option. Cut down the time you spend thinking. Do it when it may be a truly viable decision. Note these aspects to perceive your control over them before they take control of your mind through the uncertainty that they imply.

Clock Dissolving in Hand

On the other hand, if you are dedicated to doing something, do not analyze everything from a thousand different angles. Everything has its pros and cons. Make a list of them and if you find more positive things, decide as quickly as you can. We do not have to be impulsive, but we do have to prolong a decision longer and longer.

Start walking

Walking is an energetic activity. Your thoughts flow and it seems like they do this at the same rate as your mind. It is as if you were giving them a compass, a rhythm through your movements, which they find very pleasing. Movement can also come along with a nice conversation with a good friend, painting, or creating a form of expression in itself, like handicrafts.

Remember the relationship that exists between the body and mind. Use it. Do not only remember your body when it protests. Do not forget that it is a great tool that has direct communication with the mind.

Woman's Bare Feet Walking on Dirt Path

Establish control of stimuli

It is as if you spend all day walking through streets filled with people. Like the day before Christmas on the shopping streets, just the same. You do not like walking, you are looking all over and yet nowhere, and there are a lot of messages that are saturating your mind. It is very likely that your mind is going through this street for days. Furthermore, it is also likely that when it tries to escape, you catch it because you have the sensation that away from there, you would be wasting time.

Whether it is an obligation or because it is the socially right thing to do, your mind is going from one place to another, followed by that noise that cannot be turned off. Stop and jump, lie down and close your eyes. Get used to escaping from time to time, choose the moments, and do not let the need take over you and drag you where it wants. Do not let it do what it usually does, with a loss, because it seems that we only give ourselves an idea of what this is doing when it is, unfortunately, time for us to face a problem.