5 Two-minute “vacations” to relieve stress


It's barely into the school year and I have already found myself wishing for a vacation....and I literally JUST got back from one a month ago!! I noticed a while ago that I was answering most "How are you?" questions with "busy." Not really as a complaint- just a matter of fact. I am a mom of 4 kids, run a home, own my own counseling practice and am involved in several other organizations and opportunities...busy is sometimes an understatement. BUT, just as I always encourage my clients, it is important that I do my self-care. It's nice when that can be a whole day or several hours of self-care, but sometimes, I need to squeeze it in while waiting in a carpool lane, between clients, or while hiding from my kids or dogs for a brief moment. I have been learning the art of 2 minute "vacations." Here are 5 that are useful.

  1. Visualize a place you wish you could go. This could be somewhere you have been or just dream of going. Set a timer and really let your mind wander to being there for a full 2 minutes. Imagine the sights you would see, the sounds, what is the weather like? Do you feel the sun on your face? Are there smells in this place?  Are there foods associated with this place? Allow yourself to engage all 5 senses. Imagine the feelings that might go with it: calm, excitement, peace, happiness....whatever it is, just allow yourself to feel it.
  2. Keep a photo that you can access easily of a favorite trip you have been on. It can be on Facebook, your phone, or even old school printed out and stuck in your wallet. When you are feeling like a quick vacation is needed, take a look at that picture and remember the things that made it special. Remember the people, the places, the experiences. Try to remember how you felt as you did those things, spent time with those people etc. Imagine yourself back there and then try to carry that feeling with you back into your day.
  3. Use your senses. Is there a smell that always reminds you of a place? Gardenia or Plumeria always remind me of Hawaii. The smell of suntan lotion reminds me of the beach (and skiing oddly enough). Take a quick whiff of something that can whisk you away to a place. Are there sounds that can instantly calm you? I am a beach girl living in Colorado, so the sound of waves make me happy. I can listen to the sound of the ocean and calm quickly. Is there a food or beverage that feels like a mini vacation? Allowing some small indulgences of your senses can really reset your nervous system.
  4. Self-massage. When a day gets crazy busy and you are carrying a burden you might notice your muscles tightening. While a full 2 hour massage in a spa might be miraculous, it isn't always a realistic possibility for us mere mortals or parents in the world...obviously! But take a few minutes to squeeze your own tight shoulder muscles and rub out the knots and tension wherever you are carrying it. Check out this article for some tips from a pro.
  5. Go for a quick walk. Whether around your house, block, office building etc, even a quick 2 minute walk can release endorphins and get your energy levels back up for whatever else might be ahead of you. While you do it though, be a little mindful. Instead of still focusing on your to-do list, mentally put that aside and pay attention to the feeling of your feet hitting the ground, the pace you are moving, if your arms are swinging, what the temperature is, if your heart rate is increasing, etc.

These are just a quick handful of things I try to do on a regular basis and can find time in my "busy" life to enjoy. What are some ways that you have found to take a quick "vacation" in the midst of your chaos?