Last week I shared some Thoughts About Balance, which I wrote prior to leaving for a cruise vacation. As I write this post three days after returning from vacation, the topic of balance still draws my thoughts but in a slightly different way.
Literally, I still feel like I am on the cruise ship at times with its constant swaying. I even wake up in the middle of the night from what I can only describe as my brain trying to connect with my now shipless reality.
Having this swaying sensation in the absence of being on a boat led me to realize that sometimes our minds can get stuck cruising while the rest of our bodies struggle to go through the motions of life. This creates and out-of-balance state that I call “vacation brain.”
Defining Vacation Brain
The Urban Dictionary offers two definitions for “vacation brain.” First, “vacation brain” is “the 1-2 days before vacation when you can’t get much work done because your brain is already on vacation.” Second, “when you feel like you’re on vacation but you actually aren’t.”
Those definitions make sense, and I’ve experienced both, but allow me to offer a third definition. “Vacation brain” is “failure to live your life in a deliberate way that leads toward balance physically, mentally and spiritually.”
Let’s face it, if we live our daily lives the same way we live when we are on vacation, we’d all be in serious trouble. Oh wait… that’s how many people ARE living their lives. I wish I could say I have never lived that way but am happy to say that is not my current reality.
The Symptoms of Vacation Brain
The symptoms of “vacation brain” exist within what I call a “cruise ship lifestyle.” Here are the ones that stand out most to me.
- Increased comparisons
- God neglect
- Flesh focus
The posts, Understanding the Symptoms of Vacation Brain and “Are You Living a Cruise Ship Lifestyle?” will delve deeper into how this topic relates to the influence of culture and will also discuss the application to our everyday lives. For this post, let’s discuss some ideas to remedy this unhealthy state of existence.
The Remedy for Vacation Brain
The best remedy that I know of for “vacation brain” comes from Romans 12:2.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
When I came home from my cruise vacation and started feeling the shipless swaying sensations (they lasted a week after my last cruise), I knew that concentration and focus would be a struggle for me until the sensations went away. (On a side note, Mal de Debarquement Syndrome does not go away for some people.) Even when they do go away, I am keenly aware that “vacation brain” can easily become a part of my everyday lifestyle if I don’t deliberately choose to not let that happen.
To help keep “vacation brain” from becoming a permanent lifestyle, I focused in on the following:
- Renewing my routine. Vacations break routines, and returning to them quickly can help get thinking back on track.
- Reading a lot. I needed to get as much positive input as possible, so I read God-focused blogs in addition to my Bible. Reading is one of the best ways to reprogram your thinking.
- Reconnecting. While my husband and I connected a great deal on our cruise, I missed my friends and the rest of my family. Reconnecting can help refocus.
- Reviewing my pre-vacation status. I took a look at my writing notes prior to vacation remind myself of my various projects. I also reviewed my calendar a couple of months out as a reminder of what’s coming. Doing an inventory like helps direct focus and concentration.
- Refusing to be the same. Vacation was tremendously relaxing. I also came back with new perspectives and refuse to let the benefits of vacation be erased.
Almost immediately upon our return from vacation, we had to deal with some significant life issues that today remain unsolved. As I write this, I find myself wondering if the relaxation of vacation will quickly dissipate as a result. Then I realized that vacations don’t necessarily create a state of peace that will live on indefinitely; instead, they hit a reset button that helps us better deal with life’s coming challenges.
Over the life of this blog, the topic of vacations has come up several times, and I think that’s because they hold tremendous value for helping us to hit the reset button in our lives in so many ways. At least, that’s why I value them so much.
DISCUSSION: What other suggestions do you have for remedying vacation brain? Why do you think vacations are so important, maybe even crucially essential, for our lives?
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