A couple of weeks ago, I spent one amazing week in the Caribbean. The trip was exactly what I needed to calm down from the stressful changes that had been going on in my life. But what surprised me most was that the things that de-stressed me, had less to do with the salty ocean air and more to do with the small actions I took. They can be taken anywhere and are guaranteed to have you living life on Island Time. Here are my top four, along with a few Fun in the Sun pictures:
Take a Social Media Hiatus- A recent study conducted by The University of Gothenburg in Sweden discovered that there is an undeniable link between Facebook use and low self-esteem, especially in women. The study found that the primary reason for this link is because Facebook provides unlimited grounds for comparison. It’s so easy to look at everyone else’s wall, see a rose colored view of their lives and jump to the conclusion that they are more beautiful, more successful and all around better at life than we are. Facebook has become another way to look for external validation. In the same way some may look to relationships, jobs or social status to validate them, Facebook has become a vehicle for instant validation… and instant self-loathing. At the pivotal points of self-development, it’s important that we step away from the sources that cause us anxiety and a sense of false validation. Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook and all that social media offers, but it is also important that we step away from comparison land and cyber-connection so we can reconnect to the moment and enjoy life in real time. I said no to Facebook the entire week I was on vacation and it really helped me make so many beautiful memories that 10 million cyber likes could never replace. I’m not suggesting you have to give it up for a whole week, but even an afternoon or day free of social media can reduce stress. If you’re someone who LOVES to post on social media (like yours truly) take pictures, take notes and post them later, they will still be just as beautiful then.
Listen to your body- We live in a go-go-go society. We go to the gym, we socialize, we work over time. we are parenting and being partners– I totally get it– all of that is necessary. But in order to manage such fast-paced lives, healthy bodies and minds are required. Therefore, it is essential that we choose to keep our bodies’ messages as a top priority. Before my trip I was exhausted, stressed and overextended, so I went on vacay knowing my number one priority was to restore my body and mind. I did that by listening to what my body had to say. One night in particular, we wanted to go dancing at one of the local beach shacks, I could not wait to move my hips to the Caribbean beat, but my body was screaming, “I’m exhausted and I need sleep!” We skipped the local scene, and the next morning, I woke up feeling refreshed, with the whole day ahead of me. Learn to say no to the people and activities that you know will leave you drained and exhausted. Our bodies have a way of knowing what’s best, learn to listen.
Be active- When our minds our engaged in activities that require our focus, problems that seem to need solving have a way of disappearing. If you’re like me, you assume the best way to solve a problem is by thinking and analyzing until the answer comes to you. In reality, the opposite is true. Have you ever heard those stories about people who got their “big ideas” when they were cleaning house or gardening? Maybe you’ve experienced moments of clarity while you’re on the treadmill or taking a walk. When we engage our minds in simple but attention requiring activities, we tend to forget the things that don’t really matter and work through the things that do. Try playing a new sport, going for a long walk or cooking a healthy meal. These sort of activities require our focus and allow us to settle in the present moment. Then the worries of the unknown seem much clearer.
Don’t sweat the small stuff- The thing about travelling (unless you travel alone) is that eventually there will be some sort of argument or disagreement that comes up. One of the things that helped me de-stess and truly enjoy myself on this trip was the fact that I chose to let little, insignificant issues go. Most of us know deep down that not every battle is worth fighting, but when you’re in the moment, mountains are made out of molehills and everything seems like it needs to be an issue. Trust me, it doesn’t. When a possible mini-drama comes up, ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Do your best to look at whatever is going on from a logical perspective and ask, “Is this REALLY true?” A lot of times, we catastrophize events in our minds, when the truth is actually something much less extreme. Also, consider the source. Is the person who said or did the “crime” in question out to hurt you? If they are a vengeful person, then redirect yourself to better company as quickly as possible. If they are good, loving person you trust, express your concerns gently, then let them off the hook.
When I got back from my trip, my dear life-coach and I had a conversation that went something like this:
Me: I had THE MOST amazing time! I was so relaxed and care-free. It sucks that I’m back because now I’m going to be all stressed out again.
Jill: Is that really true? Yeah, there was a beach, but YOU were still YOU, you just CHOSE to show up in a different way.
Jill was right! The beach was incredible, but it wouldn’t have matter one bit if I had continued to compare myself on Facebook, run myself ragged and fight with my travel buddy the whole week! Ultimately I’m the one who de-stressed myself because I chose to show up in the ways listed above.
We can live our lives on Island time every day of the year. Choose to slow down and disconnect every now and then, listen to what your body is telling you, stay active and choose to let things go. It’s all up to you!
PS: If you missed Life on Island Time- Part 1 click here.