I recently took my second ever staycation. It’s interesting to note that both my first and second staycations were during turbulent times.
After working 80-hour weeks since the beginning of the year, I thought I was doing fine – riding the wave, rolling with the punches, and succeeding in the face of challenges. Not having experienced much of the mental health issues that so plagued our world this year, I thought my resilience and reserve would just go on and on.
It came tumbling down when someone on the team suggested that I should take a short break.
Initially I was like ‘nah, breaks are for wusses!’. The days following made it clear that I definitely needed a break.
Signs to look out for when you need a Staycation
- Lack of energy – sleeping lots (or unable to sleep) and yet not feeling refreshed upon waking
- Mood swings – for me it was lots of tears and feeling ultra-vulnerable; every little thing that didn’t used to bother me was getting on my nerves
- Lack of focus and feeling overwhelmed – having lots to do but unable to act on any of it because everything feels really hard
So I decided to take a week off and completely switch off from technology and detach from the studio. My trusty laptop, which has been my constant companion for the past 2 years, was switched off for an entire week.
I had some idea of what I’d wanted to do in the week but by no means did I have an itinerary or a structure as to what to do and when.
That week went by really fast and at the same time, it also felt really slow.
Putting a puzzle together was surprisingly therapeutic.
Here’re a few things I learnt from this staycation –
1. You don’t always notice that you need a break but those around you surely do. When you aren’t your best self, no matter how well you think you’re hiding it, those around you can always tell there’s something off about you.
2. You definitely don’t make the best decisions when you’re exhausted. Your vision becomes clouded and your judgement impaired, or for some, it may be an inability to make decision at all because you’re second guessing yourself all the time.
3. Stress is healthy and we can deal with stress, so long we allow ourselves to recover. Here’s a tip that I learnt to effectively recover from stress: find recovery activities that are polar opposites to your stress activities. For example, if your day job requires you to be logical and analytical, then doing a
creative project (e.g. learning to dance) will give you the recovery to avert the stress. On the other hand, if your hobby project is equally logical and analytical (e.g. chess), it may in fact leave you feeling more exhausted.
4. Enjoy waking up every day with no expectation and no firm plans, and how to deal with the feeling of guilt, panic, and restlessness. On the first day of my staycation, I didn’t know what to do with my time. I began by going to my favourite bakery and ordering a raspberry brownie for breakfast (something reserved for just the weekends). On my way there, I walked past a game shop and decided to pick up a jigsaw puzzle – I hadn’t done one since 12 years old. I also picked up the ingredients to make my own brownies. I remembered that the last time I’d baked was well over 2 years ago – pre-LEAP! And there, bit by bit, my pleasure projects started to fill up my week.
5. Make it sustainable and schedule recuperation every week. Our personal batteries need to be charged regularly, as opposed to be running on empty followed by a big bout of recharge. From my week of staycation, I reconnected with some of the activities that recharged me, but haven’t done in a long time. So now I’ve set aside time every week to do them because I shouldn’t have to wait for another staycation to do the things that recharge my batteries.
Oh and guess what? Contrary to expectation, I didn’t do ANY structured exercise during my staycation.
It’s a tad embarrassing for me to admit this but here it goes: my body didn’t feel like doing my usual exercise, and needed a break from it, so I let it. And you know what? I survived with no real exercise for a week. I wouldn’t dream of stopping exercise altogether, but a week wouldn’t hurt a bit!