The Short and Simple Guide to a Relaxing Vacation

by Henrik Edberg

Image by muha… (license).

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
Sydney J. Harris

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

Vacations can be great. You have time to spend with the people closest to you, to go traveling and to do the things you haven’t had time for during the winter and spring.

But vacations can also become spaces in time where there is much to do and where “musts” and “shoulds” fill up your time until you are back at work or school again and feel drained and not feel refreshed at all.

Perhaps you are starting your summer vacation soon. Or maybe it has already begun. Below you will find a four tips that will make it easier to make this vacation a refreshing and rejuvenating one.

1. Breathe.

Just slow down. Focus on your breathing and on the things around you instead of diving head first into a new to-do list. Just be here now and be mindful of yourself, the people around you and the summery landscape and sounds.

Whenever you are starting to feel stressed again, return to the relaxed space by taking belly breaths and focusing on just that for a while.

2. Accept instead of resisting how you feel right now.

Do you find it hard to shake the inner pressure and tensions that you are carrying around? I would then suggest to just accept that they are there. To tell yourself: “This is how I feel right now and I accept it”.

This may sound like you’re giving up. However, by accepting how you feel instead of resisting it you reduce the emotional energy that you are feeding into this tension/conflict/problem. It then tends to just kind of lose speed like a car that runs out of fuel. And oftentimes the tension/feeling/thought loop becomes so weak after while that it just moves out of your inner focus and disappears.

3. Plan to do nothing.

If needed, plan to do nothing. Just take time to relax and be. Waste your time with doing fun and/or laidback stuff. Think about your well-being and make decisions based on that rather than old traditions or “musts” and “shoulds” for example. This is your vacation so focus on what is most important.

If you get stressed because of something that you feel you should probably be doing during these days, then ask yourself: Will this matter in five years?

This question helps me remember that the small things we get wrapped up in when we feel stressed are often not that important when you view life from a wider perspective. And it helps me to make decisions about what is important to to take action on or to just let go.

4. Do what you love doing.

Just sitting back and relaxing can become a bit monotonous after a while. So use some of your vacation time to do what you love to do. The stuff that refreshes you and gives you new energy while at the same time releases your tensions. Perhaps it’s working on your book, playing with your children, fishing, playing the guitar, hiking or working on your old car.

And that’s short and simple guide to making this vacation a relaxing one. I hope you’ll have a great summer!

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Parker Lee | June 16, 2010 at 12:01 am

Hey Henrik,

As someone who is constantly working and worrying about my company, it’s definitely hard for me to sometimes just relax. Throw everything away and just enjoy the moment.

Your tips are right on. Thanks :)


Will June 16, 2010 at 3:37 am

I haven’t had a “relaxing vacation” in a long time. This is mostly due to the fact that I haven’t been doing what I love to be doing and secondly, because every minute is planned by others.

My question is, what happens when you love to work (I’m young and at the start of my career, I love what I do)? I want to take a “vacation” with friends and family, but I look at my student loans and how much I enjoy what I do at work and I can’t help but think that I need to earn more and pay off debt faster rather than spend money on a vacation.

Working while on vacation wouldn’t be fair to my loved ones so what am I to do? Anyone have any insight?

Henrik Edberg June 17, 2010 at 11:37 am

This is a difficult question, but one thing I have heard many times is that people in retrospect regret having worked so much and not having spent as much time with their loved ones as they wanted. But I guess this is very individual and depends on the situation, the balance of how much time is spent working/with loved ones, issues with debt, how much quality time one has for the people that are the closest and so on.

Paul-theMastermap June 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm

It’s always better to reward oneself for any achievement by taking a holiday and not in the midst of important work

Joshua Noerr June 16, 2010 at 2:23 pm

I always laugh a little bit when people come back from vacation and say, “Now I need a vacation from my vacation.” They feel like they have to pack it full of activities and never get down to the point of taking a holiday in the first place.

Vacation, as you said, is about relaxing, and simply doing what you enjoy. There is no need to hit the gas pedal even harder while away from work, this is counter productive.

Abubakar Jamil June 16, 2010 at 3:11 pm


Great tips. I loved this quote also.

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
Sydney J. Harris

HowToPlaza June 17, 2010 at 6:38 pm

“Plan to do nothing” totally agree. We recently went to a holiday and the place we stayed at offered free wi-fi but still we didn’t take our laptops along. Why work on a vacation? The skies are not going fall.

~~ Sarah ~~

Leisa Watkins @ Wealth, Wisdom And Success June 18, 2010 at 6:44 am


I also loved that opening quote by Sydney Harris: “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

I have found that the case. I didn’t take a vacation for years. But now I find it is so invigorating to change pace a little that I think I need one every month.

Renee June 18, 2010 at 10:46 am

Hey Henrik!

I LOVE your very first tip. It made me lol. But, it’s just SO important.

Most of us forget to breathe properly. Even daily. I remind myself to do this all the time. And to maintain good posture when doing it. It’s important to take in a big breath slowly, and then exhale for 10 or so seconds. Daily, even when you’re not on vacation!

And of course, exercise produces the same results. It gets much needed oxygen in to the body. I think we stress so much that we forget to do the very things that keep us alive and give us great health!

Thanks for another great post Henrik.


Roman Soluk June 18, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Very nice list. I love to have a relaxing vacations. It’s very important to relax not only physically, but also mentally.

Niluka Weerasinghe June 18, 2010 at 5:13 pm


It’s time to go for a out. good points. I may take my parents out today,
thanks for sharing


Kendra June 19, 2010 at 12:11 am

Time for a vacation! Planning to do nothing is something I need to learn. I get so caught up in the “shoulds” and what I’m “supposed” to be doing while in X location that my vacations end up being stressful! Well, I’ll learn to relax, and not judge myself negatively for it, so that I can enjoy it!

Thanks for the great reminders!


Count your blessings. Everyday. Everywhere.
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Zengirl @ Heart and Mind June 19, 2010 at 10:19 am


Good tips. I suppose this would work even when you are at work or home and not on vacation for relaxing! Breathing slowly is one of the most important thing for me to remember, specially when I am tense.
Thanks for reminding.

Henrik Edberg June 19, 2010 at 11:33 am

Thanks for all the added insights, guys! :)

Thedropoutkid June 19, 2010 at 11:21 pm

I believe we all can find what we love to do. But it’s not what i believe, it’s what you believe. If you want to be happy, make the choice. Everything in life is a decision away. Decide to put love behind your action and compassion behind every transaction. You will reap what you’ve sown and your inner child will glow brightly within your soul.

EFT Tapping Entusiast June 20, 2010 at 1:13 am

I always find it interesting – and a little disturbing how wired I realize I am when I start a vacation.

It can be hard to get into the flow of planning to do nothing, when I’ve been careening through life! Even my vacations are often full of To Do lists!

Thanks for the chill-out tips!


Arthur June 20, 2010 at 1:53 am

I read this blog post and felt it was a very pleasant reminder of some commonly known truths about relaxation.

I also found the manner of how it was written, the very tone of the post, was… very relaxing to read! I loved it.

Tasneem R June 21, 2010 at 9:40 am

Thanks for the tips !!! Yes I’ m about to start with my summer holidays and will remember to be relaxed and patient all through my trip :-) To stay positive is the key to good health . You blog always inspires me .
Here’s a Phd certified personality test , you or your readers may want to try –
This test aims at discovering how well you know yourself.

Billy June 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Hi there,

I really like this post. I find that a balance of elaxation and entertainment on holiday works well for me. Relax sometimes and go find some adventure other times. Thanks for sharing your wisdom

Christopher Foster June 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Thanks for these thoughts Hendrik.
“Just take time to relax and be.” Your words sum up such an important key to a happy life. Sometimes we forget what is really the most important thing — appreciating the simple presence of our own being… which turns out to include so much…

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks June 22, 2010 at 12:13 am

Any tips for negotiating the accessibility factor via new technology (working via email, texting, cell) from work, supervisor, clients when you’re on vacation? Can people really detach?

ianmalone July 1, 2010 at 9:31 am

I also want to take a good break / vacation from work.. I need to relax and be refreshed… thanks for sharing your ideas.. It’s all great..

Giulia July 1, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Hi Henrick!
very interesting post. I’ve just quoted it in Technogym Wellness Blog.
You can find it here:

I love the quote of Ovid! Really really truthful! ;-)

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