Making the Most of Your Staycation: Practice Self-Care

Most New Yorkers I know are so caught up in their hectic Big Apple lives that they don’t have time to enjoy all the city has to offer. The solution? A “staycation.” It sounds great, but for some, staying at home with no structure can be confusing…even anxiety provoking!

There’s the paralysis that can come from having too many options, the concern that you’ll waste your time off by not doing anything out of the box, and the ungrounded feeling of not knowing what to do with yourself when you wake up to an empty schedule. How can you minimize these difficulties and maximize the chances of spending an amazing time on vacation at home? Practice Self-care.

Keep some routines but be flexible – Routines can be grounding and reassuring or they can feel like a prison. Why not hold onto the helpful ones and tweak them to be even more nourishing and to help you feel like it’s a real vacation? 

For example: set your alarm so you feel you have a full day ahead of you, but set it for an hour later than usual. Have your morning coffee and peruse the paper, but instead of gulping it down and skimming the paper, take time to savor your coffee and enjoy a couple of articles in entirety. If you have a morning spiritual ritual, keep it up…but take your time with it so you can feel even more centered and ready to live your day fully.   

Easy does it -- Sure, you’d like to catch up with every friend, see every exhibit you’ve missed, try every new restaurant. But sometimes the pressure to do everything you don’t ordinarily get to do can feel overwhelming, even paralyzing. Let yourself off the hook! Accept that you can’t do everything and reassure yourself that whatever you choose will be just what you were supposed to be doing. Then try to stay really present for what you choose. If your thoughts start to wander to all the other alternatives you are missing, gently guide yourself back to the present and focus on what is before you.

Know your limits – While we’re talking about “easy does it”, in your desire not to waste a second of your time off, you may end up packing your time so tightly you have no room to breathe. Try adjusting your attitude from quantity to quality. We can all benefit from a little quiet time in our day/week, so give yourself that gift. Chances are you will savor the next event even more.

Breathe  – Does the prospect of an empty calendar make you feel a little racy or anxious? Taking five really deep belly breaths can make a huge difference. Try to inhale by filling your belly with air, not by moving your ribcage and shoulders up and down. Focus on the breath coming in and going out – count slowly to five when you inhale and fill your belly with air, and slowly to five when you exhale and push the air out of your belly.

Slow down – If you do end up with a packed day, try to find five minutes to meditate in a quiet place…or even a noisy one! Do it in the morning to set yourself up for the day – or at between events to refresh and reset yourself for the next plan.  Just sit or stand, close your eyes, breath slowly, and empty your mind of the “to dos” and the “what’s nexts”. Focus on one thing (e.g. your breath, a peaceful image…) so you can begin your next adventure from a calmer place. 

Exercise – Physical activity is a great stress reducer. If you’re not a gym rat, take a brisk walk, climb some stairs, put on fun music and dance around the house. It doesn’t have to be “the usual” (boring?) exercise regime, but staying physically active is a great way to help you stay grounded in your body, and in your mind.

“Nourish” yourself – It’s very common to let go of healthy eating habits when you’re on vacation. Here’s a great place to maintain some healthy routines, but to tweak them so you don’t feel constrained. Maybe it’s simply sticking to three meals a day – whatever those may be -- so you don’t feel overly full or out of control from noshing all day. Maybe you’ll keep your breakfast and lunch simple and routine, and splurge on dinners. Or maybe you’ll try to basically eat healthfully so you feel alive and alert, but you’ll jazz up your meals with some “sexy foods” to make them more special.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can make the most of your staycation. My guess is that’ll you enjoy it even more by staying balanced and grounded, present for all that you do.

Author: Kayla Schwartz, LMSW, Clinical Associate