Does anyone else feel guilty about doing absolutely nothing, even when they’re on vacation? We sure do. Unplugging and not being “productive” is a challenge for us. And though we travel professionally, fully immersing ourselves in our new surroundings — rather than worrying about the emails that we received while we were in transit, or sharing everything on social media — can be a gradual process.
We know we’re not the only ones who struggle with plunging right into a trip, so we sat down with sociologist Christine Carter for some tips. She specializes in well-being and was recently featured in JetBlue’s first-ever short film, HumanKinda — a humorous but very relevant project that seeks to answer just how we got to be so busy in the first place. In the 16-minute short, Carter points out how all the noise from email, social media, and numerous devices run us down, as comedian Sam Richardson works to help single mom Jennifer (who has a “never-ending to-do list”) and young professional Ryan (who holds not one or two but eight jobs) find some peace. Here, some of Carter’s best pearls of wisdom:
1. Remove stress-inducing triggers.
If you’re getting out of town, you’ll already have a good start with leaving your day-to-day environment and all of the stress triggers in it. But think about what usually makes you worry, says Carter, and tuck them away. Does seeing your laptop remind you of things you need to take care of or people back home you need to speak with? If that’s true, leave the computer in your suitcase until you actually need it, rather than unpacking it and setting it out in plain sight.
2. Make it a group effort.
As the saying goes, there’s strength in numbers — and nothing will ruin your zen like other people’s fretting. Surround yourself with other people who have the same goals of trying to relax and make creating a stress-free vibe a group effort.
3. Say it out loud.
Don’t ignore your anxiety, which will only make it come back bigger. Carter compares pushing away negative feelings to pushing a beach ball under water — it’ll shoot back up with much more force. Instead, voice your emotions. By saying “I feel anxious” out loud, you establish that you’re not wholly defined by the bad emotions and start distancing yourself from them, making it easier to acknowledge them — and then let them pass.
4. Replace your anxiety with something opposite and positive.
“A shot of awe,” as Carter is fond of saying, is one of the best antidotes to stress. Luckily for travelers, that’s not so difficult when you’re going some place new, with lots of positive distractions that prevent you from dwelling on stress. Climb a mountain, go snorkeling — just make sure to get that dopamine going!
Want more stress-less tips? Watch HumanKinda for gems like breathing techniques and the importance of learning to be “bored,” and check out additional tips and resources on Carter’s blog.