For years, I took vacations that started almost immediately from work and ended with a few hours left to return to work again (almost as if the holiday was an after-thought and not the main event).

I’m not sure how I did this.  Or why.  Well, truthfully, now– I know the why.  I didn’t prioritize my own self-care.

It left me rushing to get everything together quickly before a trip and trying to unpack and regroup in warp speed on my return.  Needless to say, it did not result in starting or ending time away in a peaceful fashion.  I was frustrated, rushed and tingling with some travel anxiety before every trip.  And upon my return, frantic with the desire to get all domestic duties completed before work demands would require more juggling.  Exhausting and counterproductive to the purpose of holiday— to slow down, to take life in, to allow space to be and move about in ways in which we don’t normally allow for.

I’ve thought a lot about these routines over the past year or so.  And I’ve made some changes to how I prepare and even more importantly how I re-enter my life upon return from a holiday.

In complete transparency with you, I was judgey about people who leisurely returned from holiday– labeling them in my mind as overly indulgent.  Believing that I couldn’t cultivate that space for myself.  Who was I to build 2 days in to a return trip when work was waiting?

So, I used my quick return like a badge of honor – bragging that I had only returned last night and yet here I was first thing in the morning back to my regular routine. The Holiday Martyr.  

I’m thinking that if I tried to explain this concept to my new friends in Italy (the ones who holiday for a month or sometimes longer) — they would not understand this.

My re-entry now is a much softer, gentler approach.  One that honors the transition between rest and play (aka work). I build space for down time that allows for my body to re-adjust to time changes, meal routines, exercise and life. I do some extra prep work before the trip to make this even more special– clean the house, put fresh sheets on the bed, have a meal in the freezer ready to eat.

I carve out time for down-loading all of the inspiration, creativity, and other insights that my trip wants to share with me.  I even like to blend a vacation ritual (like my new passion for sparkling water) with my typical daily routines.  To savor the experience and hold sacred the space for myself.

What does your re-entry look like?  I would love to hear ideas, tips and suggestions for increasing self-care during this transition.

And if you don’t typically consider this– I would love to encourage you to add something that feels most like love and self care to your next return.   You’ll love yourself so much for thinking of you.