Stay Stress-free on Family Vacation – 3 Easy Brain Tips for Success.
Want to stay stress-free on your family vacation? Here’s how!
My family and I just returned from a 7-day RV Trip to visit family. An “oblication” as one mom I know calls it. It was me and the hubs, our 5 kids and 2 dogs, Chewbacca and Luna. To add insult to injury we took our ferret, yes you read correctly ferret, to live a new life in a ferret sanctuary with 64 of his new best friends. I had asked the hubs to find him a new home BEFORE our trip and he found him a new home ON our trip, a distinction that Cosmas was not understanding in the first few hours of our trip.
Now, to be totally honest, I was losing it as we jumped in our “glamper” and ventured off on our 12-hour drive that took us 24 hours. But…. I reeled it in quick and we had the BEST time using the brain tips below.
Stay Stress-free: Don’t do too much on your departure day! Departing is enough. Give yourself time to relax after packing to go. DON’T plan a stop on your trip. It is TOO much.
The reason I was losing it is because I worked all morning in the office, picked up the RV at 1 pm, received 90 minutes of verbal directions and NO written directions on how to drive and operate the insanely large vehicle, drove it home, packed it up while being heckled by 5 kids and 2 eager dogs, and then hit the road at 4:30pm for a 12-hour drive. Brilliant.
Anyone who knows me knows that I practice having my brain on and then off. In brain terms that means I use beta fast brain activity for thinking and going and then I give myself a break and let my brain slide into alpha medium brain activity to help my brain recover and get into a more relaxed state. Thus, there was NO recovery on RV day. It was go, go, go until I was so cranked up it was hard to bring myself back down. I was mostly irritated about having to drop the ferret off, so as Cos started to drive away from home, I was a peach. I was so on edge it was ridiculous.
Brain Takeaway #1:
When you are going non-stop, your brain increasingly uses high beta extra fast brain activity. Extended use of high beta will stress you out and fatigue you simultaneously. This is not how you want your brain performing as you leave for vacation. Give it time to come down, or better yet, never let it get that high in the first place.
Stay Stress-free: Don’t take yourself and your situation too seriously, you’ll ruin it.
How did I recover? It was simple. Simple, not easy. I knew I had to bring it all down, but that is easier said than done when you are super cranky. Closing my eyes to relax, using easy meditation techniques like focusing on my breath and not paying attention to my surroundings (which was an RV loaded with kids and animals) helped bring me back to my regular pleasant self.
Cosmas was trying to deliver on his ferret promise to me and even though it is not exactly how I wanted it, I appreciated his efforts. This is huge! Looking for, and subsequently finding, the fun and adventure in the whole ferret escapade made our vacation fun again. This is an important point. If I didn’t turn myself around and make the ferret rescue a fun adventure, I would have ruined it for everyone, including myself. A shift in my perspective downshifted my brain into Alpha. Wahh lahh. It worked like a charm. At midnight, in a corn field in rural Virginia, driving an RV that sleeps 12, dropping off a ferret, I was having fun!
Brain Takeaway #2: Appreciate your current moment, find the blessings in it, and it will shift for you and shift you.
Stay Stress-Free: Keep a relaxed travel schedule of things you want to do, not things you think you should do (important distinction). It will keep you relaxed.
I was thrown for a loop by the first day of our adventure because I never schedule too much in any given day when traveling. My friends think I am nuts, but my family’s day to day life is so busy and hectic that I must escape that when on vacation. I will only plan one thing to do each day. It keeps me sane and it helps us enjoy our time together. Being together and having fun is the goal for me, not doing a million things just because they are there to do.
When we were on our trip, our friend suggested a day of activities. Let’s go to the beach. We can get my boat from my cottage and do some boating and fishing. Then we will take the dogs on a creek walk. He continued with a few more events. Cosmas and I said nothing. Our friend has two sons, not 5 kids. It is different. Then he said, “Who am I kidding, why don’t we get some food and BBQ.” Now you’re talking!
Brain Takeaway #3: When you rush around and drag your kids with you, doing too much in the name of fun, you will force their brains to use too much high beta in the short run, and eventually exhaust them into Theta and Delta slow brain activity. You will have tired cranky people on your hands. Balance your days with an adventure and then rest and recovery. Check in with yourself. Be sure you are engaging in activities that you want you, not that you think you should do by society’s standards. It will serve you.
In the end we had the most awesome RV vacation. We laughed, we overcame adversity, we had lots of learning moments. People kept calling us the Griswalds and it felt a bit apropos.