I find holidays hard. I love thinking about going on holiday, I love planning a holiday, I even enjoy packing for a holiday. But the actual holiday itself? That’s another matter. Sure, I have had some truly amazing holidays and I don’t think I’ve ever come home from one thinking that I’ve had a bad time. They’re just hard, especially beach holidays, because they lack structure, routine, busyness and to-do lists, all of the things that I use in my everyday life to stay afloat and feel as though I am in control. Seeing as I’m heading off on holiday this afternoon, I thought I’d write a quick list of things for myself (and others) to remember:
- I am allowed to relax. Despite my many a Friday night G&T and evenings in with Millie portrayed on my social media or on here, I struggle to relax. I can’t just sit still. And if I am sitting still, I need to be reading, writing, or doing something ‘productive’. At the end of a meal I like to rush off and get on with my next task. It drives my family insane. But on a beach holiday, the whole point is to relax and recharge. And I do know this. In my head I’m like, ‘I can’t wait to be lying on a beach doing nothing’. Maybe I think that because the location has changed, my whole personality will have changed too. No such luck. But, making a point of remembering that it is actually okay to chill out on holiday will hopefully reduce some of the anxiety.
- I don’t always have to be ‘doing’ or achieving. I’m a sucker for a to-do list. If I have a free evening during the week, I’m always coming up with some project/blog post/article/task that ‘needs’ to be done. Sure, I’ll sometimes allow myself to watch a TV programme, but as long as it’s my list of ‘Things to watch’, because then at least I’m still ticking something off. This is a tiresome way to live and it would be nice to switch this part of my brain off whilst on holiday. Obviously I’m still going to do things, like read books, listen to podcasts, cycle into a nearby town and get coffee, but I’m not going to be seeing any of these activities as things that have to be done. I’m just going to do them because I want to and because there’s nothing else in the world that I need to be doing.
- I am not defined by my body. Wearing a bikini is not something I find fun. In fact, I find it the opposite of fun. Hence why I have invested in a large, white shirt to wear over it at all times, other than when I am actually in the water. Feeling uncomfortable in your own body is a strange feeling, but it’s something that many women (and men) just get used to. I would say I’m probably used to it, but then when I go on holiday and it suddenly becomes to norm to prance around in very little clothing, I get reminded of the feeling in a slap-in-the-face kinda way. So this time I go away, I’m going to try and remember that the shape of my body has absolutely no bearing on my identity. Easier said than done.
- I don’t have to be happy 100% of the time. Just because I’m on holiday, it doesn’t mean that I’m going to suddenly feel permanently amazing. Like in normal life, there will be moments of feeling good and moments of feeling bad. Yes, there are probably more things to feel happy about on holiday, but sometimes my mood isn’t actually related to anything external. It’s easy to fall into a vicious cycle of feeling stressed about feeling a bit rubbish, which then leads to me to feel even worse. I just have to chill out (ha!) and accept that things will probably be a bit up and down.
- Holidays are for me, not Instagram. I feel so much pressure to have an Insta-worthy holiday that often I forget to enjoy it in the moment. I’m so fixated on getting the perfect overhead shot of my breakfast that I don’t just sit back and enjoy the view. I don’t want to be one of those people who does everything ‘for the gram’. I want to do things simply for the pleasure of doing them and not mind if I don’t get a photo of my cocktail with a sunset for a backdrop. It’s not even as though I have many followers, so I have no idea where this pressure to impress other people comes from. I’ll probably still end up posting some snaps, but I want to make a concerted effort not to take any photos for the sole purpose of maintaining the aesthetics of my feed.
- Holidays don’t have to be perfect. On holiday, if something doesn’t go completely to plan, I start stressing out and catastrophising that the whole holiday is ruined because the waiter at the restaurant was a bit rude or we missed the train we were meant to get. I have to accept that some things will go wrong, because a holiday is still real life, it’s just in a different place. You’d have thought that in my twenty-four years of going on holiday, I’d have learnt to just laugh these things off. I guess I have when I look back on them, but in the moment I start spiralling. The only thing that is actually deserving of panic is if the hotel has given my Dad and I a double bed, rather than two singles…