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The Holiday Hangover you DO want

Emma Grey

By the end of our family’s much-needed week in Fiji—the first proper ‘away’ holiday in four years—I’d morphed into a person so relaxed that my body felt like it was buzzing on some sort of lower frequency.

Apart from our daily trip to the gym (which overlooked an idyllic ocean scene), I could barely muster the energy to turn the pages of the novel I was reading, and my usual fast walking pace had slowed to a sloth-like shuffle, which was a gear out of which I seemed unable to motivate myself, and why would I anyway?

On the last day, a couple of the stressful situations that are current in my world flitted across my mind and I waited for the familiar worry to hit, but meh…nothing. Not a blip. Intellectually, I know the problems still exist, but my body was having none of it. It was completely chilled and set to ‘Fiji Time’, which is a concept that can loosely be translated into ‘whatevs’.

We visited a local village, and our host explained that Fijians rarely worry about anything other than ‘today’. They’re present in the moment. They help each other as a community. Many of them don’t have much, but they’re infectiously happy.

We were welcomed into their community with a shared cup of Kava (the most atrocious thing I’ve ever tasted) and then they showed us how to dance. For those few minutes, tribal dancing with the villagers, I forgot EVERYTHING. There was nothing except music and movement and laughter. No work. No health issues. No parenting dramas. No traffic. No stress. No anything except dancing with strangers now.

By the time I walked through the door at home it was like I was on valium. But how to hang on to the therapeutic goodness of this break away from reality, now we’re back? Here are five ideas that I’m going to try:

Big chunks of offline time

We had patchy wi-fi, but only in certain locations in the resort. We tended to check our email and Facebook about twice a day, for a few minutes. For much of the time, we were offline and LOVED IT. Even the phone-addicted teen admitted after the first couple of days that it was great to have bad internet …

Stepping away from the internet will be easier now we’ve had a good taste of how it feels. If it isn’t, I’ll use ‘leechblock’or ‘keep me out’to set those boundaries, because it’s become an ever-present weight that’s been dragging me down for a while now.

Dessert first

My kids had a habit of switching their food around at the nightly buffet while we were away. Sometimes they had dessert first.

Meanwhile, having nothing more important to do that light reading reminded me how much I love doing that. I write these newsletters on Sunday afternoons and usually tell myself to ‘write the newsletter, THEN …[insert fun stuff]’. Today, I flipped this. ‘Read a novel then write the newsletter’. It wasn’t procrastination. It was prioritisation. Self-care first. Relaxation first. Have life’s ‘dessert’ first in case there’s no opportunity to make those happy memories after you’ve done ‘all the things’.

Slow the pace

I’d taken my three-year-old to a shopping centre for last-minute things before we left, with the usual monologue from me: ‘Hurry up! Come on! No, we can’t stop and look at that now…’etc. (Cue whinging and tears from him). The day we came home, I took him to the shopping centre and this time it didn’t matter. We ambled for maybe an extra minute or two looking at whatever he was interested in, and it made barely a dent in our time, yet improved the quality of the experience hugely. His behaviour over the course of the week improved, the more relaxed I became…

Savour the experience, whatever it is

After shopping, we made some RealChai tea, and savoured the making of it. And the sipping of it. And the taste of it. I thought about all of those quick cups of not-strong-enough tea that I’ve rushed through, or left to go cold because I’ve been too busy to drink them.

There’s time for tea.

Have less

Simplify, de-clutter, cull, donate, streamline …the abundance of stuff in our house is getting in the way of our happiness. We had nothing much with us for 7 days, surrounded by people who have nothing much in their lives all the time, yet smile a LOT more than we do—and it was blissfully rewarding.

And on the topic of donating, we’re going to send over some school supplies to the kids we met on our tour of their village, because they lit up our lives and became the highlight of our stay.

If you happen to be looking for some ultra-friendly kids to help out, items can be sent to Acec/o Shangri-Laa Resort, Yanuca Island, Cuvu, Sigatoka, Fiji.

Image of woman on vacation from


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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