Tips For A Restful & Restorative STAYCATION!

Staycation: A holiday spent in one's home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions

Dear families,

By the time you are reading this, we will be on school holidays. And do we need it!

I know I'm not the only one feeling this right now. It's a sentiment I've heard a lot from colleagues, students, friends, family and on social media, and it's no surprise given the strange and stressful circumstances we find ourselves in.

With lockdown still in effect, travelling to a carefree getaway isn't on the cards. However, a restful and restorative "staycation" is as vital as ever to our health and wellbeing and can provide many of the same benefits: A chance to rest, a break from usual routines, opportunities for creativity, connection and play.

There's plenty of advice for how to make the most of a staycation — unplug from devices; take a break from the news; change your schedule. These ideas may not truly capture the joy of getting away but will help you have the refreshing break possible where we are right now.

For me, the adventure of travel is one of life's greatest delights; it breaks us out of the monotony of every day, restores senses that have become numbed by the daily grind, and allows us to build new memories. Shaken out of our usual surroundings and plunged into a different world filled with unfamiliar scents and sights and, sometimes, the sounds of a foreign language — the potential for joy is all around us.

This sense of adventure may be hard to distil, but here are seven ideas to help you spark the joy of travel during your staycation. Try layering a few of these ideas together to create a kind of at-home immersion.

1. Read books and watch movies that transport you

Search out famous books or films from the part of the world you're wanderlusting after. Make a list, share & compare with friends and family.

2. Broaden your musical horizons

Music is deeply connected to our emotions, which makes it particularly transporting. Try searching for artists or genres of music from your desired destination and build a playlist to help you set the ambience. Or, if you use Spotify, you might be able to find ready-made playlists full of tunes that can take you places.

3. Sip a place-appropriate beverage

For the adults of the house, cocktail hour is often billed as a moment to escape from reality, and a little research can help you turn this everyday ritual into a joyful one. So if the south of France is on your vacation plan, try a glass of rosé. Or if Italy is in the dream, try an Aperol spritz or a negroni. For a Mexican adventure, make it a Cerveza or margarita. There are many non-alcoholic options, too! So why not explore this list of 100 non-alcoholic beverages that are savoured around the world.

4. Take a culinary adventure

In my memories of travel, food and experience go hand in hand. If you're craving new culinary experiences, treat yourself to a cookbook that lets you explore the cuisine of a far-off land. If you're craving something less exotic and more familiar, you might go for tacos, noodles & dumplings, or paella.

5. Play a new game

Games from afar expand our field of play, revealing new ways to engage the family. If you have a destination in mind, seek out games that are played or invented in that part of the world, like mahjong in China, bocce in Italy, salsa dancing in Cuba. Or go in reverse: Research the origins of a favourite game of yours and see where it takes you!

6. Visit a museum — virtually

Museums in many locations around the world have created platforms to explore them online. Google's Arts and Culture project has digitized hundreds of collections and online tours at museums worldwide. Find one near your destination using this map.

7. Learn a new language

If there's a place calling your name, why not learn some of the language basics? Speaking a few words in another language can enable us to shift our perspective and feel more connected to a place. The free Duolingo app offers 35 different languages.

In addition to virtually immersing yourself in exploring and adventuring beyond the confines of home, it is essential to rest.

According to physician Saundra Dalton-Smith, M.D., author of Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Renew Your Sanity, humans need seven types of rest: physical, mental, social, creative, emotional, spiritual, and sensory rest. Getting the proper kind of rest requires ID'ing what, exactly, you're missing.

  • PHYSICAL rest
  • MENTAL rest

You'll know if you're physically exhausted: You're struggling to keep your eyes open, and even walking to bed feels like moving through quicksand.

Passive physical rest includes sleeping and napping, while active physical rest means therapeutic activities such as yoga, stretching and massage therapy that helps improve the body's circulation and flexibility.

If you've ever felt like your brain's turned to mush, you're finding it difficult to concentrate or often feeling irritable and forgetful. Then you know what it's like to need mental rest.

The next time you need a mental break, turn off your screens and take a few moments to ground yourself. You might try adding meditation to your day or simply repeating a calming mantra. Schedule short breaks every two hours throughout your workday; these breaks can remind you to slow down. You might also keep a notepad by the bed to jot down any nagging thoughts that would keep you awake.

3. SENSORY rest

Sensory exhaustion is one of the most prevalent drainers, thanks to the prevalence of screens. Bright lights, computer screens, background noise and multiple conversations — whether they're in an office or on Zoom calls — can cause our senses to feel overwhelmed. You can counter it by doing something as simple as closing your eyes for a minute in the middle of the day or intentionally unplugging electronics at the end of every day.

Catch up on sensory rest by putting aside the technology and stepping outside for fresh air if you're able to do so. Intentional moments of sensory deprivation can begin to undo the damage inflicted by the over-stimulating world.

4. CREATIVE rest

This type of rest is essential for anyone who must solve problems or brainstorm new ideas. Chances are, you flex your creativity more than you think. Especially as a parent working from home and supporting your child's remote learning. You're tapping into creative thinking—and putting yourself in need of creative rest.

Creative rest reawakens the awe and wonder inside each of us. Give yourself a break by going on a walk-in nature or reading an engaging book. Surrounding yourself with inspiration can help replenish your drained resources—and take the pressure to create off your mind. Allowing yourself to take in the beauty of the outdoors — even if it's at a local park or in your backyard — provides you with creative rest.

  • EMOTIONAL rest

Think how you feel after a funeral or breakup or watching the news-hungry, exhausted, and confused all at once. Get some emotional rest by talking to a trusted, willing listener, then keep talking to prevent future emotional overload. That could mean scheduling regular therapy sessions or finding people with whom you can be 100% yourself. It means having the time & space to cut back on people-pleasing and the courage to be authentic

If you need emotional rest, you probably have a social rest deficit too. This occurs when we fail to differentiate between those relationships that revive us from those that exhaust us. To experience more social rest, surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Even if your interactions have to occur virtually, you can choose to engage more fully in them by turning on your camera and focusing on who you're speaking to.

This is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose. To receive this, engage in something greater than yourself and add prayer, meditation or community involvement to your daily routine.

As you can see, no one thing can restore us to the point we feel rested. It's time for us to focus on getting the correct rest we need in the proper doses and be a whimsical and daring (virtual) travellers.

Let your staycation begin!

Director of Counselling

Further reading and acknowledgements: