The Balance Code

How to Relax During Vacation

April 17, 2024 Katie Rössler Season 2 Episode 24
How to Relax During Vacation
The Balance Code
More Info
The Balance Code
How to Relax During Vacation
Apr 17, 2024 Season 2 Episode 24
Katie Rössler

Send us a Text Message.

This week on the podcast, we're tackling a question that plagues so many of us: why is it so darn hard to unwind on vacation?  We all dream of those beachside naps and stress-free adventures, but for some of us, that reality feels frustratingly out of reach.

As a therapist, I see this all the time.  We get caught in this cycle of "go, go, go" that even a tropical paradise can't break.  But guess what? There's a way out!  In this episode, I'm pulling back the curtain on the science behind our struggle to disconnect and offering practical tools to finally achieve that vacation zen. ‍♀️

In this episode:

  • Why we find it so hard to let go of work and stress?
  • Understanding the sneaky "stress addiction" that keeps us hooked on that dopamine rush. ⚡
  • Simple yet powerful strategies to truly relax your mind and body.
  • How "brain dumps" and scheduled relaxation can combat the urge to be constantly productive.
  • Creating a "vacation achievement list" will trick your brain into feeling satisfied without sacrificing downtime.
  • The "anchoring exercise" - is a mindfulness technique to bring yourself back to the present moment and savor your vacation experience.

Resources: 

⁠⁠Juggling All the Things Workbook⁠⁠

⁠Rebuild Program⁠⁠

Get a free Uncover Your Blocks Strategy Session with Katie

Follow The Balance Code Podcast on Instagram

Follow Katie Rössler on Instagram

Check out the podcast website

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

This week on the podcast, we're tackling a question that plagues so many of us: why is it so darn hard to unwind on vacation?  We all dream of those beachside naps and stress-free adventures, but for some of us, that reality feels frustratingly out of reach.

As a therapist, I see this all the time.  We get caught in this cycle of "go, go, go" that even a tropical paradise can't break.  But guess what? There's a way out!  In this episode, I'm pulling back the curtain on the science behind our struggle to disconnect and offering practical tools to finally achieve that vacation zen. ‍♀️

In this episode:

  • Why we find it so hard to let go of work and stress?
  • Understanding the sneaky "stress addiction" that keeps us hooked on that dopamine rush. ⚡
  • Simple yet powerful strategies to truly relax your mind and body.
  • How "brain dumps" and scheduled relaxation can combat the urge to be constantly productive.
  • Creating a "vacation achievement list" will trick your brain into feeling satisfied without sacrificing downtime.
  • The "anchoring exercise" - is a mindfulness technique to bring yourself back to the present moment and savor your vacation experience.

Resources: 

⁠⁠Juggling All the Things Workbook⁠⁠

⁠Rebuild Program⁠⁠

Get a free Uncover Your Blocks Strategy Session with Katie

Follow The Balance Code Podcast on Instagram

Follow Katie Rössler on Instagram

Check out the podcast website

Have you ever found yourself on vacation, struggling to turn your brain off, constantly looking at your phone and thinking about the next thing you need to do when the vacation's done? Yeah. Well, that's what we're going to be talking about in today's episode. How do we finally relax on vacation?

 Welcome to the balance code podcast, a place where you have permission to step outside the hamster wheel of day to day life and learn tools for better balance. My name is Katie Ressler. I'm a licensed therapist and hidden grief and burnout specialist. I help ambitious high achievers who are ready to get off the one way train to burnout and learn better tools to embrace life.

Oh, and by the way, I'm an American living in Germany, who's still learning the language, a mom of three and an entrepreneur. Living my balance code is what helps me keep working in incredible ways without burning out. So let's discover our balance code together. 

[00:01:00] Welcome back to the podcast. Now today's episode is going to be really interesting because the advice I have to give you, you may go, well, that doesn't make sense, but you're going to find it helps you relax. So Let's start with why this topic is important. We're here because we want better balance in our lives and we're experiencing probably burnout or stress or overwhelm.

And so when vacations come, we want to enjoy them. We want to finally be able to relax. But we struggle to. We struggle to let go. Our brains are constantly going. And it all goes back to that addiction again to stress. The addiction to the dopamine hits of being needed, being wanted, having things we have to do.

So that's hard to just turn off by going Okay, now I'm on vacation, brain. Relax. No, that's not how it works. When we are so like hyped up on all of this adrenaline, it takes time. And especially if you've got that [00:02:00] compounded stress we've talked about in past episodes, that adrenaline and all the hormones that are released when we are stressed take even more time to go.

So of course on vacation, you are not going to feel relaxed quickly and that's going to annoy the people around you and it's going to annoy you. And you're probably laughing at me going like, yep. That's exactly what happens. The reason we keep checking our phone is out of habit, out of the addiction of it, out of the hit for who needs us, what are we, you know, what do we need to do, who do we need to respond to?

Our brains keep thinking about the next thing because it's not used to having a pause or space to just be. And frankly, we've talked about this too on the podcast as well, often when we have space, we don't like to just think and feel the things that are going on inside of us.

And on vacation, if we have, the experience to be able to relax, we don't really want to. So our brain is going to fight against it because it's a little bit of a life or death situation, right? Like we don't want to experience bad emotions because bad emotions could lead to bad things and then bad things could lead to death, so no.

Okay, but how do we finally relax because we need it? How do we get our brains to like turn off and just be in the present moment? Well, recently on vacation, I found this to be so challenging and every vacation. This is an issue for me. I love to constantly be inspired by things and going and thinking of ideas and I'm known for bringing like three journals on every vacation and then maybe only using one of them.

But, you know, and of course, like two books, because at some point I'm going to read all of those crazy, but I sit there and I go like, ah, all of these ideas are going to come to me for my work for the podcast. And I'm just going to write all the time. And what I find is the things that my brain is focused on those first couple of days.

Aren't even like inspirational, they're task oriented. Like, okay, we're going to do this. We're going to do [00:04:00] that. And, oh, I got to this. And I just, the brain has such a hard time relaxing on my recent vacation, visiting my family in the States. I had this really weird experience of the sense of pressure and urgency of, I need to be doing something, but I actually fought it by not doing much.

And in the end, I felt like I was failing. I'm not doing anything. Something is wrong. Like I'm not achieving in my life. There's no progress being made. And I think as high achievers, often when we don't feel like we're making progress, even on vacation, then we feel like something's wrong with us. There's a part of our souls that's going, Oh, I'm dying.

Help me. And we're like, No, no, this is just vacation. This is just relaxation because rest is productive, but our minds are not conditioned to believe that. Our minds are conditioned to believe the more we do, the more we earn, the better we are, the more worthy we are. And so we get caught up in this loop of [00:05:00] hard for me to just relax and go, it's okay.

I'm not doing anything. Things are still happening, even though I'm not doing things.

 So during our vacation, I was doing a lot of self talking around the, everything's okay. It's okay that for two weeks you turn off. It's okay that no inspiration is coming right now. It's okay that there's no new ideas. This is all okay. Allow it to be. Your brain clearly needed a break. And it did because my brain is like constantly going.

And if you're like me, you've got ideas and you're processing and you're analyzing things constantly. So it needed a break. It needed to turn it off. My brain needed the vacation. And there was a section of the brain that was like, wait, wait, but, but what's happening here. So it was good that it was happening, but my body and my brain were like, ah, something feels off and wrong.

So near the end of the vacation, when I finally like enjoyed it. It was like last two days. [00:06:00] I'm like, okay, it's time for us to go home now. But how do we start relaxing on vacation where it's not the last two days of the vacation that we really lean into it. So here are a few things that I have found in the past that work for me and they work for my clients too.

The first thing is to be okay having a couple days of it, not being relaxing of your brain and your body struggling and being a bit antsy with. Less, or if you're on one of those vacations where there's a lot of traveling and a lot of things to do, you'll find naturally, it's just hard to relax anyways.

Cause you're on the airplane or you're in the car and like you have all these things you have to balance and do. You just have to give yourself the grace that there is a couple days there that won't be as relaxing. And when I know those days are coming, I just go, okay, like, you know, this too shall pass.

That's my favorite phrase. This too shall pass. This is, you know, these two days are going to be crazy chaotic. And then after that, I will figure out a way to schedule some time for [00:07:00] myself or, I'll wake up early in the morning and, you know, go for a walk or at the end of the day, go for a walk, just things where I can go, okay, this will be my time.

So first is just give yourself the grace that the first couple of days probably will not feel relaxing. And in that time, if you have the time do as many brain dumps as you can. Now a brain dump is where you take a piece of paper and a pen or pencil, and you just write out all the things you're thinking of.

I don't want to forget this. Oh, I got to do this. Oh, this is important. I need to check this. Like you just dump it all out. And I find if you're an entrepreneur, you may hit this place of like, well, how will this still happen? And how will this happen? And you know, how am I going to make money while I'm gone?

And it's all those things. You just write those out too, right? Just put the whole brain dump, your fears, your anxieties, your worries. You just list them all out. And the more that you do that, the more your brain is like, Oh, it's in a controlled list. There's a to do list there. But then, I [00:08:00] want you to engage that prefrontal cortex, the front of your brain, that doesn't finish developing until our mid late twenties.

And I want you to tell that side, Okay, now you get to be in charge and remind me that in a week or two or whenever the vacation's done, then I can deal with these things. But I'll have it here on this list. And it doesn't need to get done. Now I find that there's some point in the vacation where like, Oh, I have a lot of free time.

This would be the perfect time to knock some of those things off of my work to do list or search, research those things for our house. cause I have the time now. Well, that's not taking a vacation. That's just getting more things done with the space to get them done. So be careful. How you like negotiate things with yourself about, you know, this is relaxing.

I'm like, okay, well, then you're still doing stuff as high achievers. We do still need to be doing stuff. So wait till the next point and then you'll see it gets better. Okay. But first brain dump. Okay. Then. [00:09:00] Yes, on vacation, you do need to get some things done. You do need to feel like you're achieving. But I want you to have the mindset of achieving in the vacation, not achieving for the home or the work or whatever.

So what is it in the vacation? What is something on the bucket list? We want to go see this. We want to go do this. We want to have this memory. We want to have this picture. Create sort of an achievement list for the vacation. Because I honestly I honestly believe that many of us are not really wired to just settle.

I think it's good for us to have breaks and calm periods. And then I think it's good for us to have fun. And with that that sense of progress and achievement, right? Like we're going to go do this thing and check it off our list. Cause we really wanted to go see that place or experience this thing.

So be mindful that your achievements for the vacation are going to be fun things. Right? We want to go swimming every day, or [00:10:00] we want to go hike this mountain, or we want to see these friends, or these family members, or we want to go check out that new restaurant everybody was raving about. Whatever that might be.

Like, that needs to be your list. And that will give you a sense of, I am doing something. I am progressing. Now, the last thing in as far as relaxation that I find extremely helpful is an anchoring technique that we use for all sorts of situations with clients. I tend to use it with my kids to just help them focus when we're like on a hike and they tell me, I'm so bored and I'm not happy and I don't know, I don't want to do this anymore.

I'm like, okay, then like, let's, let's do the game. And it's called the anchoring exercise. And you list five things around yourself that you see. And then five things that you hear, and then five things that you physically feel, so not emotionally feel, but physically feel. And the short version might look like this.

So I did three things. I'd say like, I see the wall, I see my [00:11:00] books, I see my computer, I hear my computer, I hear a car outside, I hear my voice, I feel my hair on my shoulder, I feel my sleeve on my skin, I feel my shoes on my feet. And then I would go to picking out two things, and you can label the same things.

You can name the same things, or you can pick something new. And this is a great activity when you're sitting there in the present moment of something you really want to like be there for, and you're having a hard time turning off the list. And you can do it out loud or in your mind, five things around you that you see, five things around you that you hear, and five things around you that you feel.

And then you go to four. Four things, and then three things, and then two things, and one, and this anchoring exercise brings you into the moment, whether you want to be or not, because you're literally having to look around you and name things. 

I don't know where it was.

And this anchoring exercise helps to bring you into the moment, whether you want to be or not, whether your brain's like, no, no, I have all these things to worry about and stress about now, because I have the time to do it. It brings you in the moment because you're focused on what am I seeing? What am I hearing?

What am I feeling? My senses. I'm in the moment now. And that exercise is so powerful to do. It's great to do with your partner or with your family because it brings everybody into the moment. So if you're sitting there, maybe you're, you know, it's a family event and you're just like, Oh, I can't turn my brain off.

Or maybe you're sitting there at the pool or at the beach and you're like, I just want to like, enjoy this. Just do this exercise. You've already done the brain dump. You've given yourself that grace period that the first couple of days may take a little bit to unwind and release all the hormones from the stress.

And you're being really mindful of fun, happy, exciting achievements on the vacation. And now you have an activity to [00:13:00] do maybe daily, maybe multiple times a day. to bring you in the moment. And I guarantee you, the more you do that activity, the more you will be in the moment. The more that you will enjoy being in the moment, because you'll see things around you and be like, Oh my God, I've never noticed that because my brain was somewhere else the whole time.

Oh, do you hear that? Oh, wow. That's so cool. I didn't notice it because I wasn't focused. Oh man, this feels so amazing. I wasn't even able to enjoy it because my brain was somewhere else. So this anchoring exercise is one of the most powerful tools that I find, in my own life, but also with my clients of just being, I am here right now.

And it actually feels good and safe to be here right now. It's actually a tool made to help you feel comfortable and safe in that moment. So. Okay, those are your tools for how to relax during vacation. Understand that how you vacation will probably be different than other people around you. It is okay if [00:14:00] you can't fully turn off.

I still bring journals on my trips because inevitably ideas will come and I will want to write these things down and I will want to do those brain dumps. And I will want to have some type of feeling of progress and achievement and creation. So I give myself like those pockets of time to do that, but I don't waste the whole vacation doing it.

I'm very mindful about, okay, this is that block of time where I'm going to go off and, and write. And then I'm going to come back and be present because I've achieved that. I got that out of my head. And now I'm here. And I'm going to enjoy that sunset. I'm going to enjoy that meal. I'm going to enjoy this time with a family member, a friend I haven't seen in a while.

I'm going to enjoy this vacation.

so for your next vacation, I want you to try out these tools. Let me know. What works the best for you? I have a feeling that it's going to be something with the anchoring exercise and probably the brain dump or creating fun, activities to achieve so that you have that sense of doing [00:15:00] something on this vacation.

 Sometimes the biggest way to actually relax on vacation is just to actually be present for it. So dear listener, here's to finding our balance code.

Thank you again for listening to today's episode. As one of my listeners, I have a special gift for you. Do you ever feel like you're simultaneously doing way too much while also not feeling like you're doing enough? I have a workbook that's going to help you solve that problem and get to the root of what actually needs to be done and what matters to you most based on your values.

Check out my juggling all the things workbook below in the show notes so that you can use this special gift. To simplify your life. We all need that. And if you're interested in working with me, check in the show notes below on information on how to do so. Here's to finding our balance code.