Holidays: Anxiety or Rest?

’tis the season for holidays.  The schools have broken up and lots of us are focused on those long, lazy summer days before September. And of course the media and the films show us pictures of idyllic summer scenes where everyone is having fun and the sun is always shining.

Whether it’s a trip away or a ‘stacation’ at home, holidays can be seen both as rest and can also provoke high levels of anxiety.  It can be really hard to acknowledge that the holiday isn’t going as you planned it, or that the holiday that you are on, wasn’t really what you wanted to do. We’re often out of our usual routine, full-on with our families and trying to cope with everyone’s demands of what a holiday ‘should’ or ‘ought’ to be like for ‘me’ this year. So how can we manage this time, so that it becomes a more relaxing and rewarding experience for us?

I would first like to say that if you are feeling anxious about the packing, the travelling, the hotel, the being at home, the not being at home – it’s all okay. When our routines change, it can be a bit tricky to navigate if you’re a person who likes structure and routine. And if you’re reading this and thinking ‘well that’s not me, I like adventure, I like the excitement of it’ then have fun on your holiday! For the rest of us, or just a few of us, this isn’t always the way that we think and we feel.

The first step is to emotionally acknowledge how we might be feeling. Being honest with ourselves give us information that we can use to help us to diminish the apprehension and anxiety. We can use the chart below to help us.  Please note these examples are for illustration, your chart may look very different.


(eg I am anxious
about …?)

Having a whole week with the kidsOverwhelmed, scared, lack of confidence,
Isolated, ‘must do this by myself’
I can draw up a plan
of days, I can see who can support me, I can
reach out to family/
friends, I am not alone
I am anxious about
the airport Be more
specific, here. What is it about the airport
that scares you? Is it
the kids. Is it the
Out of control, fear,
I can see what is at the airport. I can look at
the baggage
allowance, I can plan
for the  kids what they will do. I can be honest with myself that this
doesn’t feel easy to

Write out each of the identified items that you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed about in column 1. Then look at each one in turn and strive to identify the feeling that is underneath the statement and write this in column 2. This may take some time. Be easy with yourself, breath and allow yourself to be honest. It is okay to write it here, no-one else needs to see it. Once you have written it all down, you can look at how you might help yourself to feel more okay. And sometimes we need a trusted friend or family member to help us work through the chart with us.

When you work through your emotional road blocks, you move from a state of emotional pain to a position of emotional power. Once you have completed some of the emotional work, it is much easier to navigate the practicalities of holiday times. Often times the anxiety is likely to diminish and you begin to relax and the holiday can begin. And taken in this way, holidays can become the rest that we all need and crave. I wish you happy holidays!