Taking a vacation isn’t like what it used to be. Before technology and 24/7 access, it was a whole lot easier to do what you’re supposed to do when you’re away from work: relax.
Now, your boss (and a major source of stress!) is just an email away, your phone is always on you, and your camera acts as a barrier between you and your escape. To be more present and actually focus on what’s in front of you during your next vacay, use these tips. Once you return to the real world, you’ll have memories that go far beyond taking approximately 9,736 food pictures and scrolling through Instagram somewhere besides your couch.
Leave Your Work at the Office
As hard as it is to truly shut work out of your mind, that’s really the only way you’re going to be able to be present on your vacation. Work already takes up so much of your life—you spend nearly every day, all day there—so that time off the clock is much-needed, to say the least. Not to mention super important for your health; science says so. Turn your out-of-office notification on and resist checking your email to ensure your relaxing trip doesn’t suddenly turn you into a stressed, frazzled mess. And, most importantly, leave all your work (and your laptop!) at the office: even a quick “five minute” task is going to seriously disrupt your positive vacay vibes.
Stay Off Social Media
What do you want to remember from your vacation: all the gorgeous sights or everything you saw scrolling through Instagram? Instead of mindlessly clicking in and out of apps for hours on end and ignoring what’s going on around you—hey, everyone does it!—resist the urge by deleting them from your phone altogether. Your social media accounts will be patiently waiting for you to redownload them when your vacation is over, but in the meantime, enjoy what’s right in front of your face—not what’s on a screen.
Ditch Your Phone Altogether
Social media is only part of the problem. When you have your phone in general, you’re still disengaged—even if you’re just hanging out and texting your friends. If you’re trying to be more present during your vacation, either put your phone away and completely out of reach, or turn it on Airplane Mode. You’ll be better able to connect with the people around you when you’re not focusing on something—or someone—else.
Don’t Take So Many Pictures
Capturing memories by taking pictures during your vacation is great: you’ll have something to look back on someday. But don’t spend your entire trip behind the lens. By only taking a handful of shots at each location you see, you’ll be able to truly take in the full experience without anything getting in your way. “Looking into a camera creates a barrier between us and our surroundings, makes us one step removed. In contrast, one of the wonderful things about being wholly present is the sense of connection it brings. We become part of our surroundings, rather than just observers of them,” says Steve Taylor, PhD. Plus, be real: no one needs multiple pictures of their breakfast or a sunset, no matter how pretty it is.
Take the Time to Meditate
Before you start each day of your vacation, there’s one thing you can do to help you get the most out of your time off: meditate. In a study from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, researchers found meditating on vacation not only helped get rid of stress and improve immune function, but it’s also a simple way to become more present in your life. Even a quick 10-minute session after you wake up could play a role in increasing your awareness, really allowing you to take in your surroundings with a clear head.