Has Your Vacation Become A Source Of Stress?


My mom used to make an amazing cheesecake. With no effort at all, I can see her home-grown, juicy, red strawberries covering the top of the cake. I can almost taste the rich creamy flavor of this timeless recipe. And the thought of the crunchy, ground walnuts in the bottom crust is enough to send me to the moon.

But sometimes my enthusiasm for this cheesecake can lead to strong discomfort. Discomfort in my stomach, that makes me fear the cheesecake as much as I love it. I have learned to treat cheesecake, as delicious as it is, with lots of respect because it can cause me pain.

Vacations Are Like Cheesecakes

They drip with fantastic imagery of pristine beaches and adventures in unknown cities. The allure of vacation time is enough to make your mouth water months before it arrives.

But vacations, like cheesecake, need to be handled with respect. As mouthwatering as they are, they can cause discomfort too.

First of All, Vacations Cost Money

And if you’re taking your whole family, they can cost a load of money. As vacation time comes closer, the reality of the cost of it gets bigger in your mind. You start to think, "We barely get by each month as it is. How will we afford the vacation?"

And then there’s time lost at work. Not all vacations are paid vacations, and this sets you back financially even more. What will you tell the kids when you have to cut out some part of the vacation they were looking for?

This stress starts out rather small, but as vacation time approaches, it can make you miserable. And on the vacation itself you may find yourself resenting every dollar spent. Needless to say this is no vacation.

Another Common Pitfall Is Unrealistic Expectations

You’ve been planning this vacation for a year. And you’ve sunk all your hopes of relaxation into it. You’ve been picturing the fun time you’ll be having months before you get there. But this can sometimes lead to disappointment.

In the end, the vacation is just a week. There are unfriendly people even in the paradise you visit. You don’t have as much time to sleep as you first imagined. And the food is sometimes not as good as you had hoped.

These disappointments can add up, and get you feeling stressed while you’re on your cherished vacation. In no time you can find yourself feeling very frustrated.

Family Relations Can Make Things Worse

At home, everyone has their separate lives. Your interactions are more limited. But on vacation, you’re with your family members 24/7. And that means you have to face the little issues, or the big issues, that you have with them day in and day out.

Things can start to grate on you and, instead of feeling relaxed on vacation, you start accumulating stress. And then you start feeling sorry for yourself, or bursting out in anger unexpectedly.

Finally, Physical Exhaustion Causes Stress

When you fly from New York to Hawaii, there’s going to be some jet lag. Then on top of that, when you’ve booked every moment of the week with adventures, getting up most days at dawn, you can get exhausted in no time.

In fact, the last week before you go on a vacation is always chaotic. You’ve got so many things to wrap up before you leave. So you’re tired even before you travel.

Put all this together, and you may start to feel like your vacation is not fun at all. Instead of having a good time, you’re like a walking time bomb for your family.

It’s no fun to be stressed out on vacation. How can all this stress be handled?

It Depends On The Stress Of Course…

While some stress is purely physical, like getting tired, some of it can be loosened when you look at what you’re believing when you’re stressed. When you question your stressful thoughts, you may find that your problems are not so bad after all.

The method I use to help my clients question stressful thoughts is called The Work of Byron Katie, or The Work for short. It is a simple set of questions that you can ask of any stressful concept you believe. The result is an opening of your mind to other possibilities that you may not be considering.

Here’s How To Apply The Work To Vacation Stresses

First, see if you can identify the stressful concepts you’re believing when you’re stressed out about vacation. Here are some sample stressful thoughts that might come up.

We can’t afford a vacation.
There is not enough time to sleep.
My wife’s complaining is annoying.

Each of these can be taken one by one and questioned with The Work. In the process, you may find unexpected things.

You may find very concrete ways that you actually can afford a vacation. You may find that you have more choice about your sleep schedule than you thought you had. And you may find compassion for your wife when you discover that, like her, you complain a lot as well.

The Work turns what you take for granted upside down. And if you do The Work on stressful thoughts, you’ll find that your stress quickly gets replaced by empowerment and freedom.

But I Don’t Want To "Work" On My Vacation

That’s understandable. The Work’s not mandatory. The Work is just a way to quickly cut through stressful thinking. If your vacation stress becomes debilitating, this is a simple tool you can use to regain balance. When stressful thoughts are questioned, they leave your mind free and your heart open to enjoy.

In fact, if you do The Work regularly at home, you’ll find that you’ll bring less stress to your vacation. When you get in the habit of doing The Work, you may start to see through situations more clearly. Things that used to get you down don’t phase you like they did.

Here Are Three Things You Can Do To Make Sure Vacation Stresses Don’t Get You Down

1. Keep a notebook where you can jot down stressful thoughts when they come up.
2. Print out a few copies of the One-Belief-At-A-Time worksheet and Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheet to take with you. Download updated versions of these worksheets at www.thework.com
3. Do The Work with your whole family when someone gets stressed.

Vacations were meant to be delicious, like my mom’s cheesecake. But like all good things, they must be consumed with care. When you use The Work to question your stressful thoughts about vacation, you’ll be free to savor every moment of the experience.

If you haven’t subscribed to The Work As Meditation newsletter already, subscribe by clicking the big red button below, and start getting articles like this every week. Or continue browsing more articles by clicking on one of these links:
What is The Work?
Relationship and Family Issues
Money and Job Issues
Body Issues
Deepening Inquiry
My Process Exposed