A Short Guide to Vacationing for Workaholics, Compulsives, and Type A’s

Don’t let your need for control ruin the vacation for you and everyone with you.

  • Be with whatever is happening. Something will go wrong–I guarantee it. And it may feel like the worst possible thing that could go wrong. Still, that’s no excuse to spoil the whole vacation obsessing about how unfair it is, or what you did wrong in planning, or how someone else’s sloppiness or laziness is keeping it from being perfect. It’s raining, the wi-fi is out and your rental car has gone on strike. Insert your favorite expletive.
  • But with the right attitude it can still be a good situation. It’s not what happens that counts; it’s your reaction to what happens that counts. You will laugh about it someday.

Don’t wait until problems gets fixed to enjoy what’s there.

  • Compulsives like having things resolved. Sorry. It’s going to take 36 hours for your luggage to arrive. That’s 79.7 percent of your vacation and believe me, those airline execs are not going to feel one bit of your pain no matter how much you stew about it. How are the mohitos at the bar?

Slow down: seek quality, not quantity.

  • Beware of trying to do EVERYTHING in the limited time you have. You won’t be able to see every waterfall, go on every ride or visit every bakery in search of the perfect red velvet cupcake while you’re there.
  • Savor what you are able to do and see…And eat and drink.

Detox from your work addiction.

  • You may well be addicted to work, and like any other addiction, when you try to stop you’ll experience withdrawal. Expect it to be very uncomfortable….At first. You’ll get past it.
  • If you must work, compartmentalize it. Limit calls or emails to a particular hour and then leave it. Put your phone away. If you insist on doing some sort of work or having a project, work on not working. Take the reins of your compulsive energy and make relaxing your destination.

Substitute Presence for Productivity.

  • In order to let go of control and productivity you’ll need to put other things in their place.
  • Savor the small things with all five senses. The smell of the air. The temperature. Textures — sand, smooth rock, the wooden tabletop. The sound of the breeze in the trees. The colors of buildings, water, leaves, and, the eyes of your friends or family.

Re-inhabit your body

  • I’m going to make an educated guess here that your body is more of a vehicle than a temple for you. You use it to get somewhere rather than enjoy the ride. You’ve been leaning so far forward to be productive that you’ve actually evacuated your own body.
  • Try to get back inside. Take hot showers and baths. Enjoy stretching. Use progressive muscle relaxation. Exchange massages with your partner. Slow down enough to notice your in-breath and out-breath.

Recall what’s most important to you.

Vacation is a great time to experiment with letting go of the constant ego chatter about what you think needs to be done, and instead listening to other parts of you that call for something more fulfilling. You have a chance to trust that if you allow the controlling ego to let go and rest, other parts of you will make your life richer and give you better direction.

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Gary Trosclair, DMA, LCSW

Gary Trosclair, DMA, LCSW

Psychotherapist, Jungian analyst, and author of "I'm Working On It In Therapy: How To Get The Most Out Of Psychotherapy," & the Healthy Compulsive Project Blog