Each year around this time we’re reminded by the media that taking a vacation is good for us (as if we don’t already know that). Travel and tourism companies, such as Expedia in this article, release statistics and other advertising-like information to convince us that booking a vacation is essential to our our emotional well-being.
Who can blame them? With the economic outlook appearing to be bleaker than any time since the Great Depression (according to many experts), travel and tourism may not be at the top of every person’s “to do” list. Somehow, coping with the staggering rise in groceries, the devaluation of the dollar, and every thing in between, taking a vacation, while seeming like a good idea, is simply not in everyone’s budget.
This is hitting airlines, travel agencies, hotels and the whole rest of the tourism industry hard.
At the beginning of summer the HuffPo reported that AAA’s prediction that travel would definitely go down this summer—and it has. The weakening dollar has made world travel simply too expensive for most Americans, and gas prices, food prices, rising utility bills and the massive increase in healthcare costs this past year means that many Americans are staying home.
As someone who hasn’t had a vacation in more years than I care to remember (though I have taken time off to observe religious holy days), I’m definitely feeling the crunch. But because I observe the Jewish Sabbath, I have one day off a week where I am totally unplugged and able to tap into healing calmness—a mini-vacation of sorts.
Aside from the spiritual practices of the day, we’ve begun to notice that the actual physical practice of unplugging is really benefiting us.
Shabbat starts at sundown Friday evening and goes until a bit after sundown Saturday night. We’re finding that come Saturday night, we have absolutely no desire to “plug” back in to our phones, computer, etc. Many times, unless there is some urgent situation that requires immediate attention (yes, I do quickly check my cell phone in case there are emergencies), we remain in the “cone of silence” until Sunday morning, when we both return to work.
Over the years, I’ve recommended to those suffering from anxiety disorders that they take a mini-vacation. It is beneficial to unplug. If a day seems overwhelming, pick a “chunk” of the day that suits you. You can try an evening or a morning or an afternoon.
For some people with anxiety, unplugging itself can be a source of anxiety. If that’s the case, then try it for an hour or so, and build up slowly until you are able to unplug for a day or more.
Here’s how to do it:
Make sure your kitchen is stocked. If you live alone, have a favorite book, a creative activity, or a good friend around. If you like to cook, have the ingredients handy. If cooking is stressful, have ready-made food available.
If you live with family and they agree to unplug with you, choose some terrific board games (I like the old-school ones like Scrabble and Monopoly), pop some popcorn (try using the stove instead of the microwave) and have a book of jokes or captivating stories to read aloud. Go ahead and wince—it sounds corny, but these simple activities really bring people together.
Turn off your portable devices, your computer, your cell phone. Unplug your home phone or mute the ringer and any answering device. T.V. and radio are also not on the menu. (Though I think that you can make a good case for playing recorded music). The main thing is: Set your own terms. What does really being unplugged mean to you?
If you live within walking distance of a park, garden, backyard, or other beautiful outdoor space, you can incorporate that into your plan. If you are in the middle of a city without a nearby outdoor space, stay home. If the only way you can find a relaxing space is to drive to it, then go ahead and do it!
If you are so inspired, prayer or meditation can be an exceptional way to unwind, uplift, and connect to the self you’ve forgotten about.
Except for the cost of food, which you’d have to pay for anyway, this vacation is free. In fact, it might even lower your electric bill!
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Last reviewed: 14 Aug 2011