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Finding the joy this summer in a staycation

Let’s be honest. Vacations are exhausting. It’s often a time of stressful experiences - bathing suit body shaming, travelling with kids, struggling with a foreign language (Danish is hard enough), trying to have fun where you know no one and none of the local customs, and then the added stress of Covid and testing. However, a summer staycation doesn’t seem so bad anymore - does it?

Photograph: iStock

Text: Lyndsay Jensen

The only kind of break that doesn’t require a follow-up vacation is the type you should consider in the first place—the staycation.

My family and I learned an Italian concept during a trip to Italy many years ago – dolce far niente – which means pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness. It’s not really a new concept, but it’s undoubtedly become helpful during the Covid-19 lockdown. It’s allowed us to cultivate a deeper appreciation of the place you’re already in but mostly don’t see because you’re too busy being busy.

Remaining close to home or just hanging out leaves you feeling refreshed and provides perspective. And it may be the key to your next great idea.

In the chill zone

If the stress of timekeeping does not tie you down to a schedule, sometimes a wander through your neighbourhood and reconnecting will bring about something new. Drinking leisurely coffees, visiting the exhibits and boutiques you’ve meant to see, picnicking in the parks you rarely enjoy, spending hours trawling through the bookstore, listening to music, going to flea markets, hanging out with friends, having long talks or going on long runs or just simply doing nothing at all – simply just being.

To the tech-hungry generation (I’m one too), this may seem like a waste to get another tick off your bucket list, take pictures in exotic locations, showing yourself feigning relaxation while in reality hurriedly rushing around and ticking sights off in your never-ending list.

There are no rules for a staycation this summer – this is your time. Use it to get in touch with just being, which is, admittedly, a scary thing. After all, one reason we keep busy is to avoid ourselves, the secret fear that without our work or rigid schedules, what would we do next?

To some extent, the point of escape is to have new experiences and maybe even to break the rules we follow at home. Wouldn’t it be great to be entertained and distracted by unfamiliar sights and sounds, different people, and hope that somehow we’ll discover something new about ourselves in the process.

Is there an art to hanging out?

If you’re intent on doing new things and just can’t let go of the notion of goals, you can do that. For example, make a list of all the activities you’d engage in or all the places you’d visit if you were a tourist and not a local and go there.

Try making a list of which books you must read, commit to this (are you stressed yet?) or focus on making a whole bunch of dishes you’ve never made before or that would be inconvenient during a workweek. Take up meditation and just shut the world out! Ignore social media!

The one great thing about a staycation is the extra cash you will have in your pocket! So, use it for local luxuries—fine dining in fancy outfits, going to plays, shopping.

Unfortunately, chores are always present, even during your time off. Don’t worry. The chances are good that you can’t actually do endless loads of laundry. And if you find yourself scrubbing the floors or clearing out closets, perhaps that’s not so bad. Cleaning is, after all, a mental health spring process.

What better way to get a handle on your life than by taking some time to organize your home base and make it a more beautiful place you don’t want to escape from?

Leisure time is meant to be spent in a relaxed fashion, not hurried. That’s not to say you should never go anywhere when you can—definitely do study or work abroad, find a new job if you’re in the market for it, life can be an adventure. But please, stop trying to squeeze so much into a tiny amount of time, spend time relaxing and unwinding.

The key to a successful staycation, whatever you’re doing, is to just be. I know it’s not easy for busy people, who run at a swift pace all the time. But it is one way you can reduce stress levels and return to work with more energy.

As you start getting ready to travel back to your home countries or have decided to remain in Denmark, take good care of yourself and enjoy the June issue – and we will be around for the whole summer!

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