Five years ago, I started a part-time remote job, without knowing about work-from-home vacations. I loved my first few weeks working remotely; I was freed of the morning rush to get to work and could work without compromising on time for my friends and family. Self-set goals took precedence over the obligation to stay at my desk until the clock struck 5.
But the momentum did not last. A few months in, I was burned out and could find no clear demarcation between work and the rest of my life. I distinctly remember a moment when I was looking at the floor and the surrounding walls after a remote work shift ended, feeling like I had not felt oriented to my environment in months.
While I met every deadline and had saved more money than I had in years, I was exhausted. Even with personal interests, I was rote-attending them as part of an extended checklist rather than truly tending to them. There had to be a better way and I’m writing this article to tell you there is.
The Science of Savoring
Happiness is an end result of more than meeting a checklist of positive outcomes. The capacity to savor, or notice and appreciate positive experiences, helps us proactively tap into the joy within. Savoring vacation time, for instance, is related to prolonging and enhancing the benefits and enjoyment experienced from the vacation.
Work from home further expands the possibility of exploring different places and experiencing different things, as “you can work from anywhere!” Work-from-home vacations rejuvenate us. Savoring the work-from-home vacation planning process, the vacation itself and post-vacation memories enhance vacation enjoyment and post-vacation well-being but what about life between vacations? Can that be savored too?
Take a Daily Work-from-home Vacation
Lucky for us, the frequency of positive experiences is more predictive of overall happiness than their intensity. Drawing from this, Bryant and Veroff, pioneers of savoring research, in their book Savoring, endorse the practice of taking daily mini-vacations. Their how to’s for this exercise are elaborated on below.
Step One: Choose a “daily vacation” you would like to embark on for 20 minutes. Suggestions below:
- Make Cold Brew Coffee
- Outline a Novel
- Take a Walk
- Brew Tea
- Ride a Bike down the Street
- Window Shop at a Gift Store
- Sit by a Cafe and People Watch
- Read a Book
- Catch the Sunset
Step Two: Before you begin the daily vacation exercise, get rid of as much distraction as humanly possible. Silence your phone and set aside worries and other sources of stress for the entire 20 minutes.
Step Three: Experience your daily vacation as non-judgmentally as you can! Imagine you are partaking in it for the first or last time. Focus on what is happening with fresh eyes and observe your feelings as they unfold in the present.
Step Four: Identify and name positive feelings as they arise. Acknowledge the positive moments as they happen. You are actively building a memory of how the experience feels, looks, tastes, and smells. Close your eyes, take it all in, and verbally express what is great about this daily vacation in some way!
Step Five: Plan your daily vacation for tomorrow and allow yourself to start looking forward to it. The anticipation of an event also greatly increases the joy related to it.
Reflect on Your Daily Work-from-home Vacations
At the end of the day, reflect on this experience by recalling and rekindling the positive feelings you savored.
At the end of the week, take some time to reflect on all seven of your daily vacations. How did they add to your week? How was your work week when compared to a typical week without these daily vacations?
I continue to draw joy and comfort from some of the daily work-from-home vacations I took during the pandemic. Here is a reflection from one of my favorites:
I took 20 minutes at the end of a workday to start reading the prequel of my favorite young adult dystopian series. I set a timer, which made it easier to set everything I had been stressing over a minute ago aside.
I rested against my favorite portable backrest while facing an open window. As I read and allowed myself to become a part of the fictional world, my breathing felt tangibly deeper and freer. The blue of the skies from the window crept into my line of vision every now and then. I had not felt this in tune with the moment and with my breath in so long.
Journaling is a great way to document and capture your reflections. You can also take a picture (as long as it’s only at the beginning or end of the event, taking more than 5 photographs can distract from the experience!) that truly captures the essence of your daily vacation. It is a great way to reflect on, extend, and fully enjoy the satisfaction derived from the experience.
The varieties of daily vacations that can be taken while working remotely are endless: from sitting on your front porch, to sampling coffee at an outdoor cafe three cities away the next day, to journaling at a park overlooking your AirBnb at a completely different part of the State the following week.
This exercise is intended to be just that: a medium to open you up to varieties of experiences, each of which can be experienced with the same amount of richness. The key is to set some time aside every day or every other day to relax, participate in an undoing of perceived constraints on yourself, and your time by proactively planning for and treating yourself to the present moment. Think of all the places you can go!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all. ~Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
Bryant, F.B. & Veroff, J. (2007). Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience. Taylor & Francis Group: Mahwah, NJ.
De Bloom, J., Geurts, S. A., & Kompier, M. A. (2013). Vacation (after-) effects on employee health and well-being, and the role of vacation activities, experiences and sleep. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(2), 613-633.
Kurtz, J. (2017). Happy Traveler: Unpacking the Secrets of Better Vacations. Oxford University Press: New York, NY.
Storytime with Miss Jeannie. (2019, March 8). Oh the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss Read Aloud. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmOCyP4VyP4