The summertime interupt
We’re all going on a Summer Interrupt
Thoughts are turning to holidays – that wonderful time of ‘getting away from it all’, a chance to ‘recharge our batteries’ — sun, sea and serenity.
Well, in the world of psychology and therapy, that break from life’s routines is a clear example of what’s known as a ‘pattern interrupt’ – with all the benefits for mental well-being that can bring.
It’s about changing a particular thought, behaviour or situation by doing something different.
As the Brazilian novelist, Paulo Coelho, once said, “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal.” Or as the Bishop of Chicago remarked some years ago, “The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.”
So, holidays can be the pattern interrupt that gets you out of that rut. Depending on the type of break you take, it could actually encourage you to look at life in a different way. In psychology, this is known as a ‘reframe’.
Reframing, as the term suggests, is placing something in a new frame. When we change our point of view on any given situation, the facts remain the same, but a deliberate shift is made in how we see it.
This reframe, as a first step, can be just about the words we use – the actual language we choose to employ to describe things and events.
Now, you’re probably thinking that a gang of lads, off for seven days of solid drinking in Magaluf or Malia will not result in a pattern interrupt or reframing – unless they end banged-up in jail (which actually could be a reframe!)
No, of course, that sort of summer holiday has nothing to do with this. All that happens is they take their own social environment with them (camaraderie and booze) and will be entirely oblivious to the fact they are in a different country – until they meet the foreign police.
This is also true, in a rather more sedate way, of many retired Brits on the Spanish Costas who continue with their full English breakfasts, Sunday roasts, Bowling Clubs and warm ale. This is more pattern preservation than interrupt.
There are holidays specifically aimed at changing how you think and feel and these are the Retreats and Spas aimed at improving physical and spiritual health.
Retreats give you a chance – in a place of peace and calm near nature – to reflect and see your life with a new perspective.
Most retreats are isolated, which allows for peaceful surroundings, clean air, simple wholesome, nutritious food, good sleeping conditions, possibly gentle exercise – indeed all the ingredients for stress reduction.
Retreats tend to attract people of similar interests and aims. You’ll probably be spending time with like-minded people who are looking to achieve the same goals as you. They’ll act as a support system and a source of fresh ideas and approaches to issues you may not have thought on your own.
Retreats can also include training, exercises and counselling sessions with experts who can guide you to see yourself in a different and better light and help you improve your mental, spiritual and physical well-being. These techniques, can, if really taken on board, have real value well beyond the end of the retreat.
Retreats and spas also tend to the rationing of, or complete ban on mobile phones, iPads and access to social media. There’s no doubt that slavish addiction to social media is contributing to the growing tide of stress, anxiety and mental disturbance. Of course, we can have a self-imposed ban on mobiles, tablets and lap-tops on any type of holiday – indeed in our daily lives. Simon Cowell is leading the way in this movement with ten months under his belt – not a phrase I thought I would ever write!
A growing trend in holiday breaks aimed at improving mental well-being is the rising popularity of Pilgrimages.
A pilgrimage is a meaningful journey to a place special to the walker. It provides the opportunity to step-out of the non-stop busyness of our lives, to seek time of quiet and reflection.
It gives us the chance to ‘walk through’ those issues we have on our minds. It is simply a time of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’.
In essence, a pilgrimage is a retreat on the move – walking mindfully, with a sense of achievement at the end.
What we experience on holiday, learn in retreats, improve in spas, or achieve on pilgrimages can and should be transferr
ed back to everyday life. Each day, away or back home, can be seen as an exciting adventure, if we actively choose to perceive it that way.
So, bring back the sunshine with you.