One of the reasons we wanted to move to North Carolina was for the change of pace and change of scenery. In Arizona, we always felt very busy and rushed. Frequently, we would head up north for the day to the town of Flagstaff to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Phoenix. Flagstaff is a quaint college town with a fun downtown area, hip restaurants, beautiful trees, parks and historic homes. To us, it was the perfect escape from our busy life in Phoenix.
When we imagined moving to North Carolina, we envisioned how we felt in Flagstaff – calm, at peace, relaxed and just soaking in life. While life in North Carolina is busy, too, it definitely has a more “vacation” feel to it (and it’s not just because we’ve only been here a few months!). The key is to be intentional.
Think about the last vacation you had. Most likely, you were free from all of life’s normal stresses (such as running errands, being connected to social media, keeping up with your television shows, cleaning and doing chores around the house, working, etc.) and allowed yourself to relax and just be. Before moving, John and I talked a lot about how we were going to intentionally choose to live a more relaxed, fun and carefree life once we got to North Carolina. While stresses have naturally come up, I would say that overall it does feel like our life is sort of like a mini vacation.
How to live like you’re on vacation
We disconnect from technology. This is still a work in progress, but one of the things we really wanted to do was to live more real-life moments and less computer-life moments. It’s easy, and I mean EASY, to spend all day surfing the net, catching up on social media, reading blogs, reading the news and just wasting time. It’s also easy to then put the computer down only to then pick up your phone and do the same thing or turn on the television. One of the reasons we were so much less stressed in Flagstaff was because we were AWAY from all technology. All we had were the beautiful views, our little family, delicious food and nature.
Challenge: Limit your technology time. I know this has been said again and again, but this time do it because you want to feel less stressed and you want to enjoy the moment you’re actually in. Intentionally leave your phone at home, shut off your computer after the kids go to bed and don’t check social media first thing in the morning.
We spend more time outside. Rain or shine, I love being outdoors. There’s no better way to feel like you’re on a vacation than by stepping outside and taking in the fresh air. Our original plans were to buy bikes and bike or walk as many places as we could. While this didn’t quite work out, we do spend as much time as we can outdoors. We walk to dinner, the library and the store assuming the weather is nice. We go to parks regularly and we go on long walks as a family. Nature has a way of calming me and putting things into perspective.
Challenge: Get outside at least once per day (again, assuming the weather allows for it). Take your dog on an extra-long walk, go for a jog, heck even park your car in the furthest spot instead of the closest one. Then, breathe deep and show thanks to the life you have.
We’ve slowed down. On vacation, you’re never in a rush. Why is it that in day-to-day life we always feel like we’re rushing to get everything done? Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect? Why can’t we just “be”? This is something I’ve really been working on lately. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to pressure. I try to accomplish so much in a given day and I often wind up cranky and unhappy. Lately, I’ve tried to allow myself to just simply exist. I still get things done, but if I don’t it’s not the end of the world (really. It isn’t.). My girls and I were at Costco eating a Churro last week and instead of eating it quickly and rushing home, we sat there for a good half hour. My oldest was playing with the vending machines and my little one was happily eating her portion of the Churro. Normally we rush out, but on that particular day I just sat there – enjoying the day, people-watching and day-dreaming.
Challenge: Remind yourself to slow down each and every morning. It’s OK to take a nap when the kids are napping, it’s OK if the house isn’t clean when you’re husband comes home from work and it’s certainly OK to not pressure yourself into completing 500 tasks in just one day.
We do something we enjoy every day. On vacation, you’re normally more willing to splurge than when you’re at home. As one of the cheapest persons out there, I still find something to do each and every day that I love, and it normally doesn’t cost anything. I love driving through my dream neighborhoods and admiring all the houses, I love turning on music and dancing in the living room with the girls, I love baking a new cookie recipe, I love sitting on the couch with my husband talking about our days after the girls go to bed.
Challenge: Easy – do one thing every day that you love. Plan it out, look forward to it and enjoy it!
We live in the moment. This is also still a work in progress, but it’s perhaps the biggest tip there is to living like you’re on vacation. Live in the moment. On vacation, you’re (hopefully) not thinking about your to-do list. You aren’t thinking about what bills need to get paid, what you’re going to make for dinner, who’s phone call you need to return and what business client you need to follow up with. Too often, all we do is think ahead. I am extremely guilty of this. I’ll be driving thinking about everything I need to do when I get home. I’ll cook dinner thinking about what I need to do once the girls go to bed. I fall asleep thinking about what I need to get done the next day. Yuck!!! That is no way to live. Instead, try focusing on just the task at hand. Enjoy that drive, enjoy cooking dinner, enjoy falling asleep without the worry of what’s to come. That right there is the key to living a less-stressed and happier life!
Challenge: Next time you’re doing a mindless task, such as driving or folding laundry, intentionally think about something OTHER than your to-do list. Enjoy the moment!