The last few times I’ve been able to step away from work I’ve had a really hard time being fully present and disconnecting. I would spend the mornings checking emails, when I would be walking around exploring my head would be full of worst case scenarios, and I would always carry this film of guilt over myself because I was actually taking a few days off in a row yet couldn't sink into the joy that it should bring. I always felt like I had one foot still at work and one foot into the trip. One of the main reasons why we created the Holiday Prep Kit (HPK) was because I felt like it was a program that I needed the most and when I shared my experiences with others they shared similar stories.
I am overjoyed to announce that the Holiday Prep Kit has allowed me to shift my thoughts and have a completely different mentality for my trip to Amsterdam. By setting my intentions for the trip the week before leaving it gave me proof of how I wanted to spend my time and was the permission I needed for myself to sink into this adventure.
On Day 4 of a 7 day trip, I decided to grab a seat in in one of the many beautiful parks in Amsterdam and go through my “Mid-Trip Check In” found in the workbook:
Relaxed + Calm
My main intention with this trip was to come back feeling as relaxed and rejuvenated as possible, both mentally and physically. I’m visiting Amsterdam because my partner has to be here for work so I knew that I would have a lot of solo time and decided to use it to sink into my favourite self-care rituals such as spending time in parks, doing walking meditations, drinking coffee slowly on a patio next to the canals, and reading books in all of the different green spaces around the city.
I’m very grateful to check in with myself and reassure myself that I am, in fact, unbelievably relaxed and calm. The days have felt slow (a very different pace from my normal life) and the food has been amazing, two things that allow my body to feel safe and calm.
The first 3 days I really struggled with drinking enough water. Flights will always make you dehydrated and with lots of travel I barely drank any water the first day. By day 2 I could feel the effects on my body with my digestion, skin, and brain fog so I knew that I needed to do something to change this.
I started by asking the front desk for a large bottle to use as a refillable water bottle and then found a filtered fountain in the gym. So, every time we would leave the hotel or come back home, we filled it up. I also noticed that they don’t serve water automatically at restaurants and cafes in the Netherlands and the bottled water can be quite expensive but by asking for some tap water with a smile I’ve managed to make sure that I’m drinking at least 3 glasses of water for every coffee or beer that I order.
These two changes have ensured that my body is getting enough water daily which is allowing me to feel so much better and have more energy for exploring.
Fortunately this is a city to move your body. There are more bikes in Amsterdam than there are humans.. It’s incredible! We rented bikes for the week so each day I’ve been walking 10k to 15k steps plus biking 10-20km exploring this beautiful city.
We also ensured that our hotel had a gym which we used the first few days that we were here to help get us through the jet-lag with some intense movement when we were feeling our bodies starting to get tried from the time-change and not wanting to overdo it with coffees.
I certainly struggled with allowing myself to not have work thoughts but because I set the intention to check out of work in order to give my brain the much deserved break before leaving, I’ve been able to remind myself that this is one of the reasons that I am here and have been able to disconnect.
#1 - Remind yourself of your intentions for your trip. WHY are you on vacation? It is so that you can spend money worrying about work? No. So, sink back into your intention and allow yourself the permission to disconnect.
#2 - Keep a notepad with you and take the time to write down your thoughts as they come up. Shift your perspective of HAVING work thoughts to GETTING to think about a project or a topic for longer than you would back home. When we are exploring new countries our brains have different stimuli so new and creative thoughts can flow much more freely.
#3 - Daily meditations have been a new addition for me on this trip and it’s had such an incredible benefit for me. By starting my mornings with a meditation in the park, I’ve been clearing my thoughts and coming into the present moment. This has allowed my brain to relax and not strain back to the soothing comfort of work thoughts. It's been very interesting catching myself uncomfortable with time on my hands, but when we experience friction in our life it’s normally the sign that it is something that we need to sink into.
#4 - CHAT WITH LOCALS. This has been the absolute best tool to shift my thoughts. I’ve been spending a lot of time in between wonderful cafes and coffee shops and have been making an effort to talk with the local servers, bartenders, baristas, and patrons.
Just this morning I met a wonderful Estonian man named Siim who is moving to Norway with his wife next month and has owned the cafe “Scandinavian Embassy” in Amsterdam for 6 years. He is a baker by trade and served me the greatest cinnamon roll I’ve ever had in my life. We spoke about food, why the herring in the Netherlands in the best in the world, his favourite bites to eat and recommendations on where to take my bike on an adventure.
By speaking with the locals and getting interested in their life and their experiences it pulls you out of your own thoughts PLUS they will always give you the best food and drink recommendations that you normally can’t find on any blog or travel guide.
By going through this Mid-Week check list, I’ve realized the following:
- Setting intentions before a trip is the greatest tool because it forces you to be in the present moment while you’ve vacationing
- By knowing that hydration was on the list, it’s been something that I’ve been prioritizing on my first few days to organize which has made life so much better as I am truly miserable when Im dehydrated.
- Its allowed me to be really proud of the choices I’ve made and the adventures I’ve opened myself up to because I KNOW that I am here to relax and find creative inspiration. I know that I am here to disconnect from work so that I can come back invigorated. These KNOWINGS allow me to take in my surroundings and soak in every beautiful moment.