Monday, 30 September 2013

Are holidays supposed to leave you so deflated?

What is the purpose of a holiday?

I ask  because after almost two years of abstinence I indulged for the first time recently.

But rather than feeling refreshed and invigorated I am now mentally and physically exhausted - and a bit depressed.

It has led me to the conclusion that I may have gone about the process in the wrong manner, working non-stop before stopping abruptly, slamming on the brakes and heading for paradise.

Don’t misunderstand me, it was a wonderful, pleasure-filled roller coaster of experiences and emotions, 14 full days of relaxation, overindulging and self-pampering.

Spending money without guilt, eating and drinking whatever I wanted with the ‘it’s ok I’m on holiday’ get out of jail free card.

But I think diving head first into the pleasure dome of holiday bliss straight from the treadmill of normality may have left me with a sizeable hangover.

A bit like a sugar addict who after two years of abstinence gorges on the entire contents of Hummingbird bakery.

After the initial rush of joy, pleasure, release and carefree indulgence comes an overwhelming sense of guilt, one which had been lurking spectre-like in the wings all along, camouflaged among all the colourful iced fancies.

When you eventually get back on the treadmill you realise you’ve gained a stone, your cheery mood is still at the departure gate, and everything is just as it was - except now you feel crap. 

Well, you probably felt crap before but at least you didn’t notice without the contrast.

There is then the realisation you have another two years to wait before you will ever get to taste the sweet pink, sugar coated loveliness of those cupcakes again.

Ok, I may be over-egging this metaphorical pudding slightly but, the theory is there.

Holidays are supposed to be a treat, provide a joyful change from the mundane, stressful and dull. They are supposed to be reinvigorating and revitalising.

So why do I feel so deflated?

Before leaving, I set out to not only to relax but to reassess, set new targets, write a list of goals personal and professional, and come back with clear, polished focus.

I would also relearn how not to obsess about my career, discover it would be ok to go away for a fortnight and forget about it - yeah, like that happened.

I didn't mind that so much. While I was away I admit I checked emails, but those which would have filled me with irritation instead made me chuckle as I pressed the ‘delete’ button. 

Those demanding instant action were easily dismissed with ‘I am away for two weeks’.

I also managed the lists, dusting off the task sheets I had written the last time I went away - finish that novel, exercise daily, eliminate stress and don’t worry about work after 7pm.

But when I got back, everything that was rose-tinted and doable while sitting in a tropical island cafe with a glass of wine once again became a pain in the rear.

It took me a day before I was worrying about work - the only difference was now it was worse, my mind was still at the airport sipping champagne about to jet off for two weeks.

The emails which seemed so harmless 10,000 miles away returned with a vengeance, demanding instant action and leaving me thinking, I wish I were a million miles away again.

Holidays present an immediate hurdle, partly because I struggle to see the point in pleasure for pleasure’s sake.

Something must have a goal or payoff for me to see the point, I don’t just do things for fun, they must serve a purpose, earn me a certificate, end up in print, or earn me money.

I made my holiday an opportunity to re-mould the new me - come back sharp, focussed, and ready to take on the world.

My routine of staggering out of bed before gearing up to get through the day would be replaced when I returned, with a much more productive morning ritual -  a set of bullet action points were crafted in a hotel bedroom.

Instead I shall leap out of bed and head to the gym. Then I shall embrace the day, hurtle head-first into it ready to take everything it has to throw at me. Meditate, read philosophy, eat healthily and fill my mind with philosophy every day.

So far I have not been to the gym, I am surrounded by the crap a week of vengeful back-from-holiday days have flung my way, and have managed to read a copy of Viz.

What is the point of holidays when they just depress you? Or am I just expecting to much of them, and of me?

Probably the latter, after all it is ok to go away, have fun, not achieve anything and return not feeling indebted to the life monsters you abandoned for a fortnight.

I am sure I am not the only one who sufferers the back to reality blues, but perhaps I am allowing it to become too much of an issue.

As for those lists  - holidays are a good time to reassess and plan where you are going while clear headed and not blurred with the pressures of normal life.

But maybe it is too much to hope that being away for two weeks will have somehow solved everything.

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