“Live in the now” seems to be the most popular catch phrase for those on the quest to live a better life. Those who attempt it usually soon discover that it is not as easy as it sounds, but like with most things, it gets better with practice. Focusing on living in the present moment abolishes our worries, fears, and anxieties and helps us to enjoy the time that we have. And this is where living in the now can benefit us while we are traveling, because it is during our travels where we want to make the most out of every second. It is also during our travels that we may be most predisposed to worrying about things back home.
Among other things that members of the LGBT community have in common is our intense work ethic. While this is a generalization, it is undeniably common that we tend to be over achievers. Perhaps it is learned compensation for inadequacies we felt growing up, or maybe it is an inherent feeling that we need to prove something to an often unsympathetic general public. Whatever the reason, this workaholic nature often leads to shorter vacation times, and to trips where our smart phone is never far from our side. This makes it all the more important that when we do take a vacation that we leave worries behind and immerse ourselves in the local experience, thus recharging our batteries, and even our sense of self.
Everyone balances work/vacation/personal time differently. On our tours, some people instruct their offices that they are unreachable during their time away. Others give bosses and employees dozens of ways in which they can be contacted. What’s interesting is that almost everyone realizes that while they are away, things manage quite well without them. For some, this creates a greater sense of ease, and yet for others it seems to cast uncertainty into their feelings of being needed and into job security in general. The reality is that if you can’t be gone for a week or two without everything imploding at work, this is probably a signal that you need to make some organizational changes before even your personal health starts to suffer.
Worrying about what is happening back home gives us a false sense of security and a false sense of control. We think that if we worry, that somehow the issue is being addressed and not forgotten, when in reality it is doing nothing more than giving us anxiety.
10 Tips to living in the now while vacationing
1. Provide the phone numbers to loved ones of where you are staying while away, with strict orders to only contact you in case of an emergency. This will give you the peace of mind that if something urgent really does require your attention, you will be contacted. This limits any obsessive thinking on what may be happening while away.
2. If possible, have a trusted friend or relative either stay at or check on your home while you are gone.
3. If you have pets, either board them at the best facility in your area, or leave them with a friend or family member who you know loves them. Then, ask if they can take photos of your pet(s) to send to you during your trip. This alone can help you relax, and shut off the “monkey mind” to which some of us fall prey.
4. Think of your trip as an incredible opportunity for coworkers to understand what you do firsthand, for bosses to appreciate the job you do, and for employees to rise to the occasion and perhaps get their feet wet with different tasks. You may discover that some are quite proficient at tasks that you really don’t enjoy doing, thus giving you more to delegate off your plate.
5. While on the trip, make sure you always bring snacks, water, and a good book or smart phone loaded with games in case of travel delays. Then, if and when you do experience delays, you will be prepared with things to do in order to enjoy the moment.
6. If you find yourself in a delay with nothing to occupy your time, use the time for meditation and reflection. It is now finally a widely-known fact that meditation helps quiet and strengthen the mind, reduce stress, and help you to think more clearly. In a fast paced world where many of us feel like we lack this precious time to ourselves, most of us feel like we don’t have the time for something like meditation, and we should use these times when they occur.
7. Do not sweat the small stuff. I have watched travelers get really upset when a piece of luggage doesn’t arrive, and other travelers who just don’t seem bothered by it at all. It is times like these when one needs to remember that life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it. In general, look at the big picture. Is it the end of the world? No. Every time you have a snag on a trip, you have a choice to make on how you react and on how long you react. Letting small things ruin your day and place you in a foul mood while on vacation is a weird choice.
8. Travel with like-minded people you enjoy. If your buddies stress you out back home, chances are you will feel this same stress while away as well. If you know you make a good travel team with someone, vacation with them whenever possible.
9. Breathe. Sometimes travel stresses, delays, etc. can wrap us into a downward spiral of stress that compounds upon itself and just gets worse and worse, until you break it. One of the best and fastest ways to alleviate such stresses is to simply take three to five big belly breaths. Not only does it quiet your mind, but breathing like this actually relaxes your body as well.
10. When you are pulled from the moment, stop and get an accurate picture of what is really going on. Look at what is happening in your immediate surroundings. Really pay attention, using all your senses. Do you have everything you need to sustain life? Are you in physical danger, or is your mind ripping you away from a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Often we think that if we just think about something enough, we will come up with answers and solutions. Most of the time, excessive thinking only leads to dwelling, not discovery. True discovery happens as you live in the moment, with all of your senses tuned into your presence.