Every once in a while, it happens. I fall for clickbait. It might involve the Red Sox (‘5 reasons why Boston will be sellers at the trade deadline’), parenting (‘how to get your kids to eat vegetables – for real!’) or entertainment news. The time I picked up a copy of US Weekly hoping to obtain Bachelorette spoilers? It wasn’t really ‘for a friend,’ as I told the cashier.
What ends up happening, of course, is that the article – or worse, slideshow – in question fails to deliver on its promise. Even after being forced to read or watch the entire piece, and enduring pop ads or commercials, we’re often still left searching for the truth.
And yet, it doesn’t stop us from trying again, and falling – hook, line and sinker. Each time, we vow to quit.
But when I saw a recent headline that reeked of red flags, I ignored them, because it was just too good: ‘5 ways to learn how to relax on vacation.’
Say what? We need advice on how to relax? I rolled my eyes, ready to launch a tirade on how idiotic this very concept was. “It’s like being told how to breathe!” I silently mused.
And then it hit me — much of the time, we don’t know how to breathe. At least, not the proper way. There are entire practices dedicated to improving breathing, which in turn can help with stress management, lung capacity, and more.
As it turns out, it’s not quite as instinctive as I thought. Neither is relaxing on vacation. The more digging I did on the topic, the more I realized that for many people, vacation is a significant source of stress. According to a recent poll conducted by Britain’s Institute of Leadership and Management, the mere idea of an upcoming vacation made 73 percent of respondents anxious.
Although the reasons vary, the most common culprit, not surprisingly, is financially driven. The time period during which most of us take trips happens to be the most expensive, both in terms of accommodations and transportation (not to mention the fact that Groupon doesn’t tend to list specials during the most popular tourism seasons).
But it’s not just about money. The weeks leading up to vacation can be extremely stressful, as many people end up working longer hours before and after taking time off, a report found. And for those of us who are parents, there’s the time spent making sure you pack the right amount of clothes, toys, books and snacks for your kids, so you can avoid as many trips to the supermarket as possible. (You’ll still go, by the way.)
And if you’re staying with friends or family, there are the countless messages sent back and forth to determine who’s bringing what, who’s going to arrive first, who’s buying dinner on the first night, etc.
It’s enough to make the most well-balanced among us start to question their sanity.
So what’s the answer? Do we stop going on vacation?
Absolutely not. For me, it’s all worth it — even when I end up having to juggle doctors’ appointments, jury duty, and added work during the weeks prior. It’s worth it for many reasons: time with family, the opportunity to enjoy nature, time to recharge, and the new experiences that come with trying local cuisine or going on excursions (for me, it was parasailing with my husband and daughter).
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce some of the stress leading up to a getaway, one of which is to focus more on planning, whether that means creating a vacation fund (to ease financial concerns), delegating work responsibilities when possible, making a packing schedule and sticking to it (which sounds great in theory, but I’ll never do), and booking excursions ahead of time.
Finally, take lots of pictures, and carve out some time after your return home to look at them and reflect on the good times you had and the memories you’ve created. There will be plenty of time to catch up on work and make that grocery store list — but for now, reap the benefits of being away.
And don’t forget to breathe.