(spoiler: all it takes is a bit of focus and planning)
If you want to avoid packed airports and inflated prices over Christmas, but still have a good rest, you can design your own retreat staying at home. The only investment you’ll need to make is time, because the better you prepare, the more amazing your retreat will be. On the contrary, if you don’t plan your time, most likely your Christmas days will end up being filled by mindless browsing in the internet and social media chats, and you will not feel rested. So let’s design together your low-budget staycation for this Christmas! Just follow these steps. 1. List what you enjoy and expect from a regular great retreat (time required: 10 minutes) It can be physical attributes of a place, activities or how the whole experience makes you feel. For example, here are my thoughts:
I would enjoy a retreat program that is structured enough to help me avoid unnecessary decisions, but leaves me a bit of time to do nothing and just chill
Beautiful environment, smells
I feel taken care of
Peace of mind, I know this time is just for myself, I don’t need to respond to anyone, give instructions etc. No calls, no checking emails (in fact, I like retreats that force me to get rid of tech and check it once every two days or so). Can be completely careless
No need to rush
Meeting new interesting people, or discovering new things
Time to read and write
Walking – lots of it!
Enough sleep on a comfortable bed and beautiful bed linen
Keeping silent and no chit-chat needed (yes, I know it seems contradictory to meeting new people, but believe me you can combine both)
Write down all these attributes and experiences you’d enjoy. 2. Decide, what you need to organize (time required: 25 minutes) Once you have the list above, go one item after the other, and think of what it would take to recreate this atmosphere at home. Draw a table. On the left, write down the item, and on the right, what it means for you on a practical level. For example:
So for each of the things you’ve mention in item 1, write multiple things of what you can do, and what you need to plan to make this happen. If you know that you keep your phone next to your bed as an alarm clock and want to avoid browsing through Instagram first thing in the morning, maybe buy an alarm clock. You get the idea. Think of what you could do to make this staycation not just a good, but a really great experience for yourself. Now re-read the whole thing. Does it look appealing enough? If the answer is no, review it, and add more fun and pleasurable things. Your retreat should not be yet another to-do thing on your list, but rather a supportive and memorable experience. Make sure that you have structured time, but also some time just to allow yourself to relax and do nothing. Make sure you dedicate special attention to how you will use technology over this break. What will be a supportive use? What make you tired and needs to be eliminated or reduced? How would you do it without relying on your willpower? Remember that our brains always default to the least difficult solution, so if you haven’t planned your tech use and activities that you enjoy, you’ll probably end up glued to your phone. No judgement if that’s what you want to rest, but most of us would rather do something else. 3. Convert this table into a to-do list (time required: 15 minutes) Column on the right from the above is essentially your to-do list for the remaining days before Christmas to get yourself organized. Open your agenda and write down when you’ll do each of the steps. For example, I know that I need to set aside time to plan my activities around Christmas, so I will set up 15 minutes today to think through. If I know that I need to buy some elements for beautiful environment, I will set up 2 hours on Thursday to go to the shop. 4. Print out your schedule for the staycation (time required: 5 minutes) Once you have your perfect schedule (not to-do list), print it out and put it somewhere where you’ll see it every day (next to your bed, by the entrance, in the bathroom, or next to your devices are all good places). You may want to print out several copies. Here is what my holiday schedule looks like.
You may have noted that rather than planning specific activities, I try to use time blocking technique, which gives me enough flexibility to change my plans and not get frustrated if I am a bit late. I also allowed specific time during the day when I will go and check my devices to give me piece of mind during other times. 5. Make a non-negotiable commitment (time required: 5 minutes) This is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of the whole planning experience. The more thoroughly you do it, the better your experience will be. Look at your plan, and imagine yourself following it every day for whatever period you have designed it. How does it make you feel? (if uncertain, go back to it and redesign it, it must feel really appealing). Allow yourself to feel this excitement. What would it be like to have lived this experience? Now visualise yourself NOT doing this experience. What would this feel like? Then make a commitment to yourself to stick to it, and agree with yourself for a support system (for example, if you don’t follow what you’ve planned and fall into behaviour you dislike, you’ll have to pay 50 euros/pounds to charity). This way, you are anchoring both positive experience and a possible unpleasant cost of breaking your commitment. Enjoy your retreat and happy holidays! PS If you want to treat yourself with a proper retreat, we're organizing a digital detox this year in beautiful Barcelona - check out, when the next one is!