Holiday Angst and 3 Ways to Avoid it

Why is it that holiday time always flies by so fast?

Like a desert oasis you trek through a barren wasteland of work, schedules and commitments, only to reach this much needed refuge, briefly bask in it, before it dries up and you have to move on.

Back to the daily grind and routine.

Maybe the old line ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ is fitting and holidays are certainly what most of us live for. They are a time to relax, recharge, enjoy the fruits of our labors and de-stress.

But, strange though it may seem, sometimes holidays invariably bring their own levels of stress.

I remember once excitedly planning this holiday abroad but the ordeal to get organised, packed and to the airport on time, left me feeling frazzled A photo by kychan. unsplash.com/photos/CCFO0O_LTSYbefore the plane had even taken off. I watched families around us at the airport all with similar looks of stress and I wondered why we do it to ourselves?

Yes, it is good once you ‘get there’ (and I’m including the stay-at-home holiday here too) but then there can be the built up expectation to ensure everyone has a good time, it’s your holiday after all. Something you’ve been waiting for, yearning for with such anticipation.

So naturally with all this going on, sometimes you end up feeling that little pang of stress, frustration or even angst?

Frustration at not having done all the things you’d planned? Frustrated at the kids whining, or frustrated at even being frustrated on your holiday!

‘Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory’.  Dr Suess

Yes, I’m a fan of The Holiday as much as the next person.

Yes, it’s wonderful to even have them.

Yes, I love a good mix of slouching about with a few arranged activities.

So I figure in order to cure any aliment, it’s important to work out what the potential triggers are first.

3 Potential Causes of Holiday Angst

1. Overestimating the time you have to do things.

At the beginning of the hols I inevitably put together (either a mental or paper copy) a ‘to do’ list. You know, things like; sort out the vegie garden, read this, that and some other book, go to the movies, plan some unit for work, take the family camping etc.

The list of course gets added to during the hols and items get removed butholiday-reading swiftly replaced. I figure if during my working weeks I can’t accomplish any of these things, surely in my holidays with all this free time, I can do it all!

Yep, we all know how this ends.

2. Underestimating your ability to be motivated.

Yes, holidays are considered special days of rest and relaxation and so my body and mind are quick to commit to that premise. This means that bloody ‘to do’ list hasn’t a hope in hell from the get go really.

I’d rather watch crappy TV than tick off another ‘I should’ do item on that damn list. So now guilt stealthily creeps in too, just to add salt to the wound.

3. Factoring in family.

I love them with every ounce of my being, but damn they require attention. Throw out the window any visions you have of enjoying some R&R with little ones about and a husband who can’t sit still.

We’re a unit, so there are going to have to be compromises made, yet that old nostalgia for the days of just lying on a beach or quietly reading a book uninterrupted, still lovingly haunt me.

3 Ways to Avoid Holiday Angst

So now these curious causes are acknowledged, what the heck can we do to avoid holiday angst returning time and time again.

1. Obviously throw that bloody ‘List’ out the window!

Easier said than done if you’re a planner like me by nature or sneakily allow that mental list to tally just the same. So to keep it real, lessen the list at the very least. Factor in lots of freetime and be realistic about what needs to be done as opposed to what you would like to do.Ice cream

2. Allow yourself to be non-committal, sluggish, settled and just a little selfish.

Holidays are exactly for that purpose really. A break from the 9-5, the daily grind, the routine or as I like to say ‘the expected’. Make as little plans as possible, live day-to-day and mix things up a bit.

3. Finally, family time matters.

It’s life, it’s real and it’s going to make any holiday interesting, that’s for sure. Go with it. Kids especially have this uncanny ability to commandeer all your free time, food supply and patience. But it is their holiday too.

So maybe none of this is news to you. Maybe you’re a ‘panster’ and love going totally feral in your holidays; dread locks, bare feet and a recluse.

I get that….I am coming round to this idea.

But if for the meantime, you’re like me and just want to enjoy a holiday for all intents and purposes, then maybe it is possible to avoid the angst and give ourselves a bit of a ‘break’ too.

Accepting The Unexpected Life

Man, life!…..What a crazy, unexpected ride it can be from day-to-day.

We blast out of bed in the morning, prompted by some version of an annoying alarm clock (in our house the screaming tones of our twins toddlers desperate to leave the confines of their cots).

Tea or coffee consumed and partially now functioning, we head off to ‘work’. Put in a decent day, pick up kids, groceries, cook, eat, clean, bed ZZZZ.time-flies

Repeat.

Of course this weekly whirlwind contains plenty more than the mere expected.

You could say our pathway in life has on some level been mapped out by time, experience, a series of random events and a blur of haphazard memories trapped in a busy working mind.

A mind that is often hell bent on foolishly fantasising how things could, would or should be in an attempt to ‘plan’ out our days, weeks, months, years.

I am ashamed to admit that nearly everyday I fall into that trap of playing it out between fiction V’s fact. The imagined V’s the reality. The envisaged or even expectant Believer facing off against that determined and gutsy brute, Life.

Maybe I’m the only one who seems to forget this in epic ‘Groundhog Day’ proportions, but it seems I’m a slow learner when it comes to letting go of life and allowing the mantra ‘expect the unexpected’ to take root.ordinary-life

Let me give you an example.

It is a fleeting but always heartfelt moment on a blissful Friday evening, when I envision how our Saturday morning will go.

Waking from a restful sleep, to the comfort of a calming cuppa, fluffy pancakes maybe with some maple syrup, while the kids quietly sip on their juice and happily munch on their toast without a complaint or need to require ANYTHING IMMEDIATELY from me!

A quiet conversation with my husband, before a leisurely trip to the beach, without fighting to find a car park first.

(cue record screeching sound effects)

Of course it is all but a hopeful dream and within minutes of waking bleary-eyed (to aforementioned screaming 2 year olds at 5 am) you can see the glorious vision swiftly slipping by.

Add to that a grumpy husband who has to attend to said toddler, a cuppa gone cold and Pancakes….forget that, what the hell was I thinking!

I don’t know exactly what version of my life I envisioned or where those rather hopeful imaginings came from, but they existed (and more to the point, still do) yet life persists in getting in the way.

The real stuff

We plan a fun night out and the kids get sick. The holiday away was meant to be relaxing, but the weather really mucked things up.

The job seemed perfect for me, but it’s nothing like I thought it would be. I love the kids, but geez this parenting gig is tough.

And when I really stop to take this all in (let’s face it, I’d rather remain in denial) it’s apparent this envisioned V’s reality dilemma seems to apply to nearly all aspects of life (well mine anyway);unexpected-rain

  • Relationships
  • Parenting
  • Marriage
  • Work/ career
  • Special occasions
  • Everyday-of-your-life!

It should be easy to say ‘yeah but it’s all about perspective’.

The weather doesn’t need to turn your holiday to pot and maybe your job is pretty good, what job is perfect? Yes parenting is hard, nobody said it would be easy.

And I agree. You can make a conscious decision at times to choose how you view things……sometimes.

What I’m more curious about though, is how I don’t ever seem to learn from experience. That things very rarely go to plan. That the more I indulge in imaginings, the more frustrated I tend to get.

When will I stop trying to ‘create’ life and instead just live it? Why can’t I just be satisfied with my lot (which is pretty wonderful) and let things be? Go with the flow, chill-ax, whatevs, YOLO.

Am I the only one?

Taking stock from friends and family means I’m slightly comforted by the fact that it’s not just me who has a tendency of doing this.

I think to some extent it’s in our nature to want to plan, play out, imagine, create in our minds what we want our life to be like.

Our very human behaviour is directed by choice and purpose, to meet our basic needs.

‘all of our behavior is chosen as we continually attempt to meet one or more of the five basic needs that are part of our genetic structure’ Dr. William Glasser.

To some degree I think it’s healthy to imagine, envisage and simply ponder how you would like thing to be.

This is part way to making and life-in-lightsachieving goals, how direction is found and fulfilment reached.

But it’s clear that it can also be a rod of your own making, for your own back.

So where to from here?

This is the tricky part. It’s become so ingrained in my personal make up that I figure it could be tricky to shift.

And if I’m honest, there is a part of me that enjoys this ‘guilty pleasure’ of imagining my day, my week, my life.

It fills me with hope and lets me value the simple fact that I have a heartbeat, an active mind hence a what the-heck-can’t-I-achieve attitude (some days at least).

So like chocolate or a fine wine, it’s something I’ll have to ration out and view with a degree of caution. They’re tantalising, morrish and easy to overindulge in.

So to avoid the ‘play-it-out-in-my-head hangover’ from the night before and in an attempt to curb this habit, I’m going to avoid the binge and give in to the urge occasionally to envisage how things might be.

I’ll try to let life happen as they say. Take the raw and the real with small doses of the imagined.the-unexpected-mosaic

Gently steer myself in a direction of my choosing and hopefully remind myself that this is what makes life eventful and fascinating ……the unexpected.

Music: The Power to Move and Make Meaning

Music has the unique ability to ‘move’ us in more ways than one.

It speaks to our childish energies, our tribal instincts, our desire for the physical, our moral compass and our raw emotions.

I’ve always admired song writers and musicians. They have this wonderful ability to put into words our deepest thoughts and feelings, much like poets, except it’s that awesome combination of music and words that has so much more power.music-social

The rhythm, the melody, the lyrics all seamlessly synthesised to produce a plethora of reactions from us.

Growing up I was exposed to an eclectic assortment of music; The BEE GEEs, John Denver, Elvis Priestley, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Slim Dusty (I know!), The Beatles, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac.

My parents loved the constant rhythm of music drifting through our house and it was quite literally the soundtrack of my childhood.

This continued into my teens, except now my brothers and I were in control. With our CD players busting out a compilation of sounds ranging from grunge group ‘Pearl Jam’ to 90’s folk queen ‘Jewel’.

SO naturally I’ll listen to anything these day. Even Justin Beiber gets a bit of air time in our car (the boys love it!….can I claim that?)

Like the mishmash of unique individual we are, each style of music and individual song has it’s own personality or identity. So depending on our mood or situation, it can have varying effects.dancing-festival

There is no denying music’s immense power.

It can set you free, wake you up, speak to your soul, provoke thought and retrieve memories from the deep. I love this!

And that feeing you get when you come across a new song or artist that sets your heart soaring. With a kind of pseudo religious fevour, you can’t wait to spread the ‘good word’.

We know music can create awareness or a kind of ‘cultural consciousness’, inspire social change and move people to action, both good and bad.

We just have to recall the music from the 60′ & 70’s anit-war movement.

‘Work and war songs, lullabies, and national anthems have bound together families, groups, or whole nations’.

So wherein lies its power? How can it ‘speak’ to us in so many ways, to people of all ages and from all cultures?

And how can it help shape meaning in our lives?

Psychologists, sociologists, philosophers and musicologists (yes there is such a thing….who knew!) have provided several suggestions for how and why music has evolved over the span of human history (many of which you can read about here).

‘When a person experiences thrills while listening to music, the same pleasure centers of the brain are activated as if they were eating chocolate, having sex or taking cocaine’ (Blood & Zatorre, 2001)

WOW!music-of-youth

Of course it’s always interesting to read studies which reveal the negative effects associated with listening to different types of music (commonly concerning heavy metal and rap, which are linked with higher rates of delinquency, drug and alcohol abuse etc).

‘The type of music adolescents listen to can be a predictor of their behavior’ (Hendricks, et aI., 1999).

And yet, music can be nothing more than a means of pure escapism, like reading is for some.

‘We all hear the music we like as something special, as something that defies the mundane, takes us “out of ourselves,” puts us somewhere else.’ (Firth. S, p.275. 1996 Performing Rites. On the Value of Popular Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press)

Don McLean’s song commonly known as ‘Starry Starry A photo by Gabriel Gurrola. unsplash.com/photos/2UuhMZEChdcNight’ (although it’s proper title is ‘Vincent’ – Starry Starry Night is the first line) is a tune I can recall hearing in the background of my childhood years.

It’s one of those warmly familiar songs and despite its melancholy tone, offers escape from the everyday when heard sporadically on the car radio.

Until recently I never really ‘heard’ the song or found much meaning in the words, simply because I never bothered to understand them, ironically.

The song is about the artist Vincent Van Gough, his unique paintings and the unappreciated talent that he was, during his own lifetime.

Now I understand

What you tried to say to me

And how you suffered for your sanity

And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how

Perhaps they’ll listen now

McLean’s admiration and yet sympathy for the artist is articulated beautifully in his words and music.

The song’s success back in 1972 demonstrates a shared appreciation for the power and value music can offer us in making and finding meaning.

And we could all add plenty of other songs by a range of artists over the years who have essentially created music for meaning.

Clearly music is powerful in messing with us in many ways, to varying degrees.

Maybe we are all in some ways, ‘Nun nun naya…..a slave to the music’ as 90’s funcksters ‘Twenty 4 Seven’ told us.

Most of us for some time have already been harnessing this power on a daily basis in the form of a ‘Play-list’ on our very ‘mobile’ devices. For fitness, for fun, for free time and even for philosophy.

And it works. We run faster, party harder, have more fun and feel more fulfilled, contemplative and focused with music around us.music-band

Who doesn’t?

It is a form of therapy for the everyday. The alternate drug that keeps us all moving, grooving and finding meaning in more ways than one.

Music to my ears. Perhaps we’ll listen now.