Some downsides to time off

I’m currently coming to the end of a 3 week holiday in South Korea. I’ve been pretty active, doing things like hiking, photography, swimming, singing, reading, writing, partying and relaxing.

It’s not all cool though. I’ve found myself struggling with the time in between those activities.

There are a few days when I have nothing planned and I stay in the flat during the time Cara is at work (she is a English teacher here so 9–6). At first it was nice and wholesome. I would read, write blog posts and meditate. But these last few days I’ve felt tired and melancholy. I can’t be bothered to read or write. I eat absentmindedly and watch hours of random YouTube videos. In the brief moments of mindfulness, I feel frustrated at my numbness and use of time.

Usually I am a total creature of habit. I wake up at the same time everyday, I eat my meals at the same times everyday, I go to the gym everyday. You get the picture. But all this changes when I travel. At first I totally embrace it. Getting drunk, eating shit food, not sleeping all night, all that fun stuff. Thinking:

“Why am I normally such a control freak?”

But then after a week or two, I realise there is a reason I don’t do these things all the time. They make me tired, and when I’m tired I loose a sense of presence and mindfulness. I fall into the habitual coping mechanisms mentioned above. These numbing techniques are masked when I am around others or have some activity like swimming to do, but they all come out when I’m left alone in the flat. I end up craving the routine of home and look forward to returning to my previous lifestyle.

It’s not fair to give that feeling much weight though. Generally I have an amazing time when I’m away and it’s only in the brief spans when I’m tired and left alone that I feel a need to go home.

Writing this post as helped me identify the reasons for these feelings and I think I can put some safeguards in place to protect my mental health.

Here’s a little checklist:

  • Make sure I complete my morning routine (meditate, reading my personal mission statement etc.).
  • Plan my day. Make sure I have something active to do, if not an adventure some S.M.A.R.T learning or reading goal.
  • Plan my food. I need some kind of idea what I’m going to eat because the default seems to be Oreos.
  • Allow time for real relaxing. A slot in the day that is for wholesome recovery time. Extra meditation, non-fiction reading etc.

It may seem like a lot of control, but I know I need it. I’m sure other people will want to be a lot more spontaneous on their days off, but I feel like I have enough unplanned days when I’m partying or traveling. On days like today, an in between day, I need some routine to keep me sain.

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