Easter 2020: How I coped without my country escape
They say travel broadens the mind, and while I wholeheartedly agree, I recently found out that being forced to holiday in your own home can bring cognitive shifts of a different kind. Last week, for example, I got really upset.
Easter is the holiday I look forward to every year. The air in my hometown always smells sweeter than ever and the feeling of excitement is palpable as winter beckons and our alpine community prepares for a new snow season.
This Easter, however, the increased restrictions in place meant that my annual country escape wasn’t even worth contemplating. Instead of jumping in the car and heading home to family, friends and nature, I would be staying right where I was. Hence the mood.
After a few hours of sulking, however, I pulled myself together and shifted my focus to what an Easter staycation might look like. Unfortunately, I usually think of a staycation as a holiday in my own city, complete with visits to galleries, outdoor exploring, and long lunches with friends.
Clearly, this staycation was going to look a little different.
To prepare, I wrote down everything that makes the Easter holidays so important to me, and then brainstormed how I could recreate these things, all without stepping outside my front door.
Here’s what I came up with…
1. Family connection.
I am lucky enough to be close with my family, and love the connection family holidays bring. The break in routine allows us to come together and really see each without a schedule. We always take long hikes in the bush, and Mum and I drink coffee in our pyjamas and chat for hours. Throw in a few celebratory meals with hours spent relaxing around the table, and you’ve got a perfect family Easter.
Thankfully we live in 2020, where technology means you don’t actually have to miss seeing your family, even when you’re several hours apart. This year, we all scheduled in time to come together and really ‘see’ each other. Mum even took us for a virtual tour of the garden to see the turning autumn colours. And while virtual connection can never be quite as good as the real thing, setting aside phones, agendas and to-do lists in order to just spend time together no matter the medium, still felt lovely.
2. Closing the books.
I love that feeling you get when you travel away from your everyday life in the city, and work or study just fall further away with each passing kilometre. Not only was this option off the table this Easter, but with my office and my home being one and the same, the temptation to work during supposed relaxation time was high.
I chose to dedicate at least two days of the break to complete relaxation, meaning no email, work or computer, and made sure I chose two days in a row so I could really switch off. And surprisingly – I did! I slept sounder and longer than usual, and even got that afternoon snoozy feeling I only get when I’m feeling balanced.
3. Breaking routine.
For me, holidays are an opportunity to break away from routine. In normal life, even my weekends have a schedule of errands and duties that have to be completed, so it’s even more important that I feel like I can throw routine out the window and just let time drift by, if only occasionally.
I simply gave myself permission to be on holiday at home, with no plans and no to-do list. If I couldn’t be bothered to stack the dishwasher, I just left it for later. Mundane tasks like ironing that I would usually do over the weekend at home, went out the window too. If I felt like wine at lunchtime, I had it, and I’m not usually a daytime movie person, but on Easter Sunday we actually put on an old movie at 2pm, and I loved it.
These aren’t things I want to do all the time, but a few days of just drifting felt luxurious, regardless of the setting.
4. Making new memories.
When I think of holidays, what comes to mind is new places, new experiences, and making new memories. I feel this especially when I go away with my partner – the change of scenery always rekindles our sense of adventure and allows us to spend time just being and enjoying each other’s company. I feel like I fall more in love with him each time we go away.
While opportunities for exploration and adventure were limited this Easter, we made the most of what we had. One night we ordered in from a nice restaurant, dressed up, opened some good wine, and lit some candles. Another day we went for a long walk in a neighbouring suburb that neither of us had been to before. While it was only 10 minutes from our apartment, the unexplored streets inspired a sense of adventure in us that meant we were able to make brand new memories close to home.
(Remember the blog, I love living alone, am I ready to give it up and move in with my boyfriend?, turns out I can share a home and make new memories).
So what did I learn from all this?
I learned that a home can shift to be what we need in any given moment. What might usually be a pit stop for some people, a place where they sleep and refuel before launching back out into the world, may now have become a place of solace, and of socialising.
This weekend my home, which is usually a busy and productive home/office combo, became a cosy weekend escape from away from ‘normal’ life.
I also learned that in a way, it’s all in the mind. The only thing we can control is our own behaviour, and how we respond to a situation. By simply shifting my focus from what I didn’t have to what I did, and thinking carefully about how I wanted to feel, I was able to use my imagination and recreate that relaxing holiday feeling at home.