I just got back from Mexico this week.  It was 9 days of sun, swimming and lots of relaxing.  I thought this was just what I would need to return back to work refreshed and ready to go.  But by the end of my stay I had low levels of anxiety.  My brain was working over time and over analyzing EVERYTHING. I felt depleted and drained.  It seemed so strange to me that a vacation of having fun and relaxing by the pool did not have the effect I had hoped it would.

Now let me start by saying I had an amazing travel partner.  We got along great.  It had nothing to do with the company.  But what it did have to do with was my lack of understanding of myself.

This trip really showed me that the balance I need includes some serious alone time.  I consider myself partially extroverted but very much introverted.  Which is often a surprise for most people who meet me as I can be very out going.  But the difference is that extroverts get energy from interacting with people in social situations.  Introverts become drained.

A great resource that spells this out is the book Quiet by Susan Cain.  It is an amazing book for anyone who either identifies as an introvert or who has an introvert in their life.

Sitting by the pool was fantastic.  But it was also a very social place.  Lots of small talk and interactions happened there.  Night time was social time.  Meeting new people at the resort.  Making more small talk.  Having more drinks and making plans to go out.  It became very tiring over 9 days to keep up.

Add on top of that not enough exercise to help bring me back into my body and out of my head and by the end of the trip I was tripping all over the stream of thoughts going through my brain.

From all of this what I learned is the importance of alone time even when just relaxing and having fun.  That while it’s not work that doesn’t mean it’s not taking a toll on my mental health.

Ways I could have added more time for me:

  • Going to the gym.  A little solo gym time is always nice
  • Take 10 minutes to meditate.
  • Go to the lounge with my journal for some quiet writing time
  • Put on my headphones and put on some white noise to help create some quiet while I read by the pool.
  • Take a walk on the beach.

The options are really endless.  It’s all about how you want to manage your time on vacation.  This was a great lesson in self care for me.  Sunshine and relaxing are not enough.  Filling up my “cup” includes quiet time.  Pretending that socializing and sun tanning were enough was a big dis-service to myself.  I’m grateful for the trip and the amazing friend I got to share it with.  But these 9 days showed me that even on vacation self care is important.