The forgotten art of leisurely holidays
Reading an article on increasing incidence of “Holiday Blues” in the West (particularly in the USA) during the Christmas — New Year season set me thinking.
First, the idea of feeling down during Holiday Season (be it Durga Puja in the East, Diwali in the North India, Eid, Onam etc) is still alien in India given our strong social network and family support system. But, may not be for long as people move away from home on work and begin to live alone or in unitary families in large metros. At the same time — loneliness of the older folks living in empty nests with children having shifted base to other cities or countries may aggravate such societal challenges. This is certainly a subject to ponder over for the future as western maladies begin to be transmitted to our land.
However, the question that was bothering me is if we have forgotten how to take leisurely holidays. During our childhood — remember parents and families going on long holidays sometimes extending to over a month. Over the years that shortened to two weeks but even that has become a luxury in this day and age of high work pressure. Even those week or 10 day breaks are far from pure vacations — with text messages, emails and phone calls keeping us virtually tied to work. And, that does not take into account the unavoidable distraction of social media even when we are on holiday. Now, with WiFi and cellular network reaching even Mount Everest and Antarctica one cannot provide the excuse of poor connectivity.
So, as breaks become shorter — we try to make up by spending more to make them more exotic and action packed. Earlier practice of sending Picture Postcards to family and friends from holiday destinations has been replaced with Facebook and Instagram posts. While reduced airline baggage allowance forces us to travel light — the weight is compensated by work load carried in laptops, tabs and smart-phones in this digital era.
In the bargain, we have no time for unwinding and relax during the trips. Travel itself can be exhausting — no matter how hard the airlines try to sell the comforts of flying. So much so — at the end of the tour we are almost thankful to get back home to catch some rest before hitting the treadmill at work. Holidays that are meant to rejuvenate — instead turn out to be physically draining.
And, does this take a toll on our mental well being ? Though opinion may be divided on the subject in the opinion of this author it certainly does. Like sleep is required for the body ( and mind too) — the brain too requires periodic down to repair and recharge itself. This is not only essential for maintaining productivity but also to nurture our creative faculties.
Slowing down is also essential to connect with our inner being, reflect, revisit goals and validate beliefs. Some may call it tending to the soul, others may simply regard is as “centring” the mind and align it with the body and spirit.
Not recognising this need and packing our breaks with even more activity — may actually lead to losing balance and cause burn-outs.
Holidays present us with that opportunity to pause, take a deep breath and blow the blues away.
It is a gift we owe to ourselves and should not be apologetic in accepting it.
Enjoy a great holiday season ahead !! You have earned it.