No Plans On Memorial Day? Here Are 7 Ideas For A Mindful Staycation
It feels like almost every year the same thing happens to me right before any long weekend holiday, like Memorial Day. There I am, going over my upcoming schedule, and it hits me: I forgot to plan something, anything. Inevitably I settle into the idea of another weekend around the apartment that usually just ends up being a quiet brunch here, a few mindless tasks there, and a lot of time watching Netflix.
Not the worst way to spend three days but not very fulfilling, no? So this year (yes, I forgot to plan something again), I'm making an effort to plan a mindful staycation.
"If you just give yourself the opportunity, there are so many ways to reconnect with yourself, community, and city during this time," says Kelsey J. Patel, a certified Reiki master. "You can gain a lot of perspective!"
Detaching yourself from screens, even if just for 30 minutes, is the first step to a more centered weekend, says mindfulness expert Carley Schweet. Not only are you removing distractions, but you're removing the influence of others: You can assess what you'd like out of the rest of your time, without the pressure of emails, texts, and social media. "Setting boundaries with technology is one of the most important things you can do; it creates the opportunity for you to truly connect to yourself," she says. (Another bonus: You won't fall down the spiral of social media comparisons and FOMO, which is a time-suck that benefits no one.)
Ideally this would happen at the beginning of your weekend: Try scheduling phone-free time Friday evening or first thing Saturday morning (if it makes you feel better, you can alert loved ones that you'll be on airplane mode for a while, says Schweet).
Then use that time to check in with yourself and your needs. Not used to doing that? "It can be as simple as asking yourself, 'What is important to me right now?'" says Schweet. "Once you have an answer to that question, you plan the rest of your time accordingly."
Clear out old energy.
Another useful activity for a more mindful staycation is cleansing the space, energetically, says Schweet. "I like to spend at least a little bit of time organizing my home and closet, so I can get rid of the old and create space for the new," she says. "Then I always donate what I can to those in need: Fill your cup and create opportunities for others."
Set a new pace.
"Our lives are so busy and fast-paced now—especially if you go into an office or are raising kids, your pace is dictated by those external factors," says Shel Pink, author of Slow Beauty and founder of Sparitual. "So if you are going into your staycation weekend, think about ways that you can slow down." Even simple things like walking slower or taking longer during meals can help, she says, as physically changing your speed can help shift your state of mind.
Create a new space.
Since you're not physically in a new environment, foster the sense of one with a mini redesign. (Minimal to no money required, too.) Since you're already in the mindset of re-evaluating what's important to you, take that question to your living space's mood, as well as your material belongs.
Do you value a home that's warm and cozy? Designate a corner of your room as your reading nook with plush blankets, soft pillows, and candles. Or do you want something that feels clean and open? Prioritize keeping everything organized and surfaces clear to minimize clutter. (And consider bringing in a new plant, which will bring fresh life into the space.)
Then take that mindset to your material belongings: "Think about what keepsakes and decorations you love, and prioritize their prominence in the room," says Schweet. "Maybe there's something that's really special to you, but it's not getting as much visibility where it is now; make sure it does as you are redecorating."
Try a new restaurant.
One of the best parts about traveling—in my opinion—is trying new restaurants. Turns out, you can do that in your hometown, too! (Or at the very least, you can try a new dish at one of your go-to restaurants.) But Schweet recommends doing this in one of two ways.
First option: Enjoy the meal by yourself. "Having a meal alone can be intimidating because you are really living in that vulnerable space," she says. "But after, you can find it is an incredibly rewarding and empowering experience." She recommends sitting at the bar (drinking's not required), so you can more easily engage with others if you choose. Of course, if you are one to enjoy solitary time, bring a book to peruse as you eat.
Second option: If you have a partner you want to spend some quality time with, create an extra-special date night. Start by spending the day apart, each doing a fulfilling activity, suggests Schweet. Then meet at the restaurant rather than traveling together. "It reminds you that you are two separate people who have their own lives and interests," she says. "But then when you join back together, it recreates that feeling of a proper date night."
Bring the spa home.
While a proper spa visit can absolutely be part of your vacation, for those who can't make an appointment, here's one simple massage technique that you can do yourself, says Pink: the ayurvedic-inspired abhyanga massage. It's a full-body self-massage technique that involves warm oils and herbs (Pink uses her Sparitual Body Salves and warms the product up in her hands). Start at your feet, and with a mix of straight and circular motions, work your way up your body by applying even pressure throughout. "We hold so much stress in our bodies, but the physical touch releases so many feel-good hormones, and it's important to have that interaction with your body," she says.
Start something new, big or small.
Whether it's a side project you've been dreaming about, booking that big vacation you've always wanted to take, or starting a habit (like meditating or biking around), a long weekend is a good time to start.
"Bringing something into your life that's new—even if it's something you are excited about—can feel like change, and change is scary," says Patel. And if you need help kicking off, Patel recommends writing down how you know you will feel after completing the task (or trying it for the first time). "Acknowledging all those good feelings will help you motivate yourself to try it," she says.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.