By: Amy Cheng
Holidays that are packed with a lot of adventure are not giving us the rest we need, a psychologist has said.
Valerie Ling, a clinical psychologist with a special interest in the prevention and treatment of burnout, believes people don’t know how to take a holiday anymore.
“I think we’ve associated holidays with these expensive grand events where you have to travel and you have to go away and you have to have something exciting,” she said in an interview.
“And now it’s got to be highly publishable to Instagram and Facebook, so I think the art and the soul of taking a holiday has been lost along the way.”
“For a lot of us, it’s just one more thing to do, it’s another job to take a holiday.”
Holidays Shouldn’t Be Hard Work
Ms Ling has been doing work with early career health professionals under the age of 35 and they said their memories of family holidays were either stressful, very grand or both.
“When I listen to them talk about holidays, they talk about how they can’t afford those sorts of things, it’s not a priority for them,” she said.
“And it’s not particularly restful because they feel guilty that they’re not being productive and doing work.”
Although holidays packed with adventure may be restful for some people – those who like planning, event coordinating and grand events – they’re not for everyone, Ms Ling said.
“For a lot of us, it’s just one more thing to do, it’s another job to take a holiday – you have to plan it and make sure that we don’t waste our time.”
She believes that “productivity thinking” and “perfectionistic thinking” can affect the way we approach holidays.
“For those of us who are super productive and even perfectionistic, we want to maximise the experience of the event of a holiday,” Ms Ling said.
“We want to make sure that it’s completely planned, the packing list is exceptional, nobody’s bored, there’s no moment wasted and then we can come back and we can tick it off the list that we had a holiday.”
“I think the art and the soul of taking a holiday has been lost along the way.”
How to Rest
To approach holiday planning differently, Ms Ling suggests people be realistic and change their view.
“The first thing is to be realistic about the timeframe; you’re probably not going to be super rested if you do a rushed thing.
“The second thing is a holiday doesn’t have to be an event, you could stay home if you wanted to.”
For an effective holiday, people also need to work out what their needs are, such as whether they need a mind or body rest, she said.
“If it’s a body rest, then you might want to think about a holiday where you can sleep a lot and it’s not really hectic.
“If it’s a mind rest… it might be that you want to think about something that’s really pleasant for your mind.”
Next, people need to consider what their people needs are – who they want to connect with – and locations.
“You may have no people needs and that’s OK, you don’t want to connect with people because you’re all ‘peopled out’.
“Think also about the place, the setting – is it going to be refreshing for you to do the big European thing?”
“Who has the blueprint on holidays? Well, it’s actually God.”
For parents concerned that cutting down on holiday activities will mean their children will miss out, Ms Ling asks them to think about their fondest memories.
“When I hear adults talk about their fondest childhood memories, to be very frank, they don’t talk about the events or the places or the expensive restaurants,” she said.
“They really talk about simple moments – playing in the sand, eating popcorn, watching a movie together – it’s the memory of the warmth of the connection.
“So, what I would say to parents is, whether you do it at home, as in a staycation, or whether you do it in some fancy place, that’s the sort of stuff that kids remember.
“(It’s) the downtime and the connection and the warmth of a memory where you feel like you’re together.”
“When I hear adults talk about their fondest childhood memories, to be very frank, they don’t talk about the events or the places or the expensive restaurants.”
Blueprint on Holidays
As a Christian, Ms Ling believes that God has the ultimate say on holidays.
“Who has the blueprint on holidays? Well, it’s actually God because the root of the word ‘holiday’, when I looked it up on the internet, is ‘holy day’, which comes from the understanding of ‘Sabbath’.
“It’s a day of enjoyment… to say ‘thank you God for all you’ve given me and… we are wholly dependent on you to provide when we take rest, when we stop doing’.”
Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.