On a desert island.

I often hear “I wish I was all alone away from all my problems on a desert island that would be heaven”

We all would like to think that this idea would work, and we could forget everything and live happily in this dream location.
I recently thought about this whilst on holiday in Croatia. I had been really looking forward to this holiday after working extremely hard and doing some long hours within my business. I saw it as my opportunity to kick back and relax and spend my days thinking about nothing but enjoying myself.

Isn’t that what we want from a holiday or a break? Time to chill out and spend it with people we love or by ourselves not having to think about work, life, bills, any stress or anxiety can be gone.

Sounds great even writing about it now, encourages me to think of that sandy beach and blue skies.

But what is the reality really? Does your brain and all those thoughts go on holiday too? Do we stop overthinking as soon as our suitcase is packed or being carried out of the door?

I must admit that even with all my years as a therapist and my knowledge on the brain this isn’t something I had really noticed or considered in this way before and even though I have come to accept that my mind still thinks about work or life stresses etc when I am away from it I had never really thought about how much or what we could do to alleviate some of that disruptive and distractive thinking.

We all deal with things in our own way but what a lot of us try and do is push these thoughts to one side and say things like “I’m on holiday I’m not thinking about work” and this may work in the short term but our brains tend to drift back to the office or workplace at some point. Unless our mind is distracted i.e. exploring the local sites or spending time with friend and family it can drift back to our stresses, anxiety and thought process we had hoped we would leave behind.
So, what can we do?

I feel that if you understand and accept that our minds naturally want to problem solve and process things that are on our mind and it doesn’t matter where we are, it will seize any moment to try and help you process all of this stuff that we hadn’t had time to process before due to our busy lives and distractions.

You can then start to work with your brain rather than resisting its natural function and role. We are problem solvers, its how we have evolved and how we will continue to grow if we move our mind away from the fixed idea that we must do this or that and trust in ourselves that we know what to do, I wonder what we could achieve!

Think about it, instead of trying to force my brain to relax which is extremely hard, I choose a compromise where I said that I would work for an hour a day just catching up with urgent things and I also carried a notebook with me, to write down any ideas or solutions to issues I have at home that I thought about whilst I was separated from the problem.

Now I’m not suggesting that this is everybody’s way of doing things but for me I allowed my brain to say ok we are not avoiding anything, we are solving some of the problems but also I can allow myself to be distracted by the beach, views etc. etc.
I can explain it with an example:

If you think of a pink elephant, make it really clear in your mind see the size, shape and colour got it?

Right now, try and forget about it, go on have you forgot about it yet?? Our brain remembers it and almost stops us from forgetting about it because we are trying to force it away and as the brain see it, it could be important.

If you are still seeing the pink elephant (and I know you are again now) try saying I will forget about this later. Your brain will see it as less important and allow you to think or concentrate on something else. But also accepting that we can’t always control what and when we think about things even though you maybe on a beach or spending times with our loved ones. Our thoughts will come and go, just as they do each and every-day, they only tend to remain in our minds if we add an emotion to them and some examples of this could be happiness, fear, stress or frustration or it is something that feels really important at that time.

We can sometimes put a lot of expectation on our time off and a lot of pressure on ourselves to enjoy this time and make the most of it, its just too much like hard work!

Attempt to work out what you need from your time off and see if you can get it in smaller easier amounts i.e. if you enjoy a coffee can you drink it outside, if you enjoy historical sites could you spend more time in each space instead of rushing through, what about allowing the children to get dirty or run around in a safe space just like we all used too.

Remember the little things matter and so do you!! Your time off is important for you to do what you need to do and if that means some work followed by a coffee in the sun then so be it or why not combine both!
Thanks for reading and please send me any comments or questions you may have.

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