"It says, 'Take a vacation from my problems.'" So orders the prescription of Dr. Leo Marvin, the exasperated psychiatrist treating cripplingly phobic patient Bob Wiley. It's a stroke of brilliance from the renowned doctor, even if it ends up backfiring spectacularly. It's a doctor's order that many modern American workers should heed, but for a variety of reasons do not. Whether it's a packed schedule, fear of the expense, or other personal matters taking priority, Americans are chronic under-vacationers. How can they be expected to have a nice vacation when work is all-consuming?

The first step, of course, is getting the vacation on the calendar. But once you've secured the time, how can you ensure you make the most of it? How can you actually disconnect and slow down your mind when it's been revving for the past 51 weeks? It may sound easy -- just turn your phone off, right?! -- but it's a lot easier said than done. There almost always seem to be nagging worries.

Thankfully, if unexpectedly, Hollywood has provided the answer. Here are tips on maximizing your vacation from the classic movie What About Bob?

1.     "Baby steps ... "

The first piece of advice Dr. Marvin offers Bob is to view his day in baby steps. Don't worry about claustrophobia on the elevator -- just get out of the office first. When you're on vacation, don't try to chew off too much right away, especially if you haven't taken a real vacation in a while. Don't expect yourself to perform miracles in relaxation immediately after arriving at your destination. If you give into the temptation and check your email, don't scold yourself. Just take it one step at a time.

2.     "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful."

This is Bob's mantra as he makes his way through the day. Unfortunately, it's not particularly effective for him, but it can be a good tool in the hands of someone slightly more sane! When you're feeling stressed on your vacation, give yourself a pep talk. Pick a mantra and work through the momentary setback. Also, consider taking up meditation. But here again, don't overwhelm yourself right away! Don't expect to be able to meditate for an hour when you've never done it before.

3.     "I'm sailing! I'm sailing!"

Bob has to summon all his courage when he agrees to go sailing with Anna and her friends. Take a lesson from Bob and try something new and different on your vacation. It doesn't necessarily have to be something that makes your lips go numb with fear, as sailing does to Bob, but it should be something you haven't done before. Allow yourself to have a fun adventure and perhaps you'll discover a new skill or hobby in the process, and something you can take back to reality with you as a relaxation tool.

4.     "Mmmm!! Mmmm!!"

Bob is overwhelmed with how delicious Faye's dinner is, and cannot help but moan with pleasure with every bite. It's a funny scene, but it also illustrates the importance of appreciating life's pleasures and expressing your gratitude. Is reading the paper with a cup of coffee and no interruptions your slice of heaven? When it happens on vacation, pause and take it in. Whether it's the little moments that spark joy or the big moments with epic experiences, make sure you stay in the moment and enjoy them to the fullest.

Published on: Jul 11, 2019
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