It’s usually about this time of the year, each year, that I think about this quote from the novel “Moby Dick”:
“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off–then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”
The quote sounds a little grim, but what it conveys to me is that as we sludge through the winter months, with their cold, foreboding weather, and we feel stuck in our homes day in, and day out, it’s time to start thinking about getting out into the world to explore. Many people must feel this way because the last Tuesday of January is National Plan For Vacation Day. It’s an excellent time to think about spring and summer plans, and it gives us something to look forward to, which can be extremely helpful when the winter blues set in. A study by the American Psychological Association cites many health benefits of taking time off and doing something fun for yourself. The study found that taking a vacation contributes to life satisfaction, physical improvements, mental health benefits, and improved productivity. On the flip side, a recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that working long hours contributed to stroke and heart disease in the United States.
Sometimes planning a vacation itself can be daunting. The cost and the planning alone can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. Taking a vacation doesn’t mean you have to get on a plane and travel to an exotic destination. It can just mean taking a day or two for yourself and doing something free or cheap in your own backyard. Colorado, after all, is a wonderful spot for a “staycation,” there is so much to do here. People come from all over to visit our state; we’re lucky to be surrounded by its beauty. And because one of the biggest draws of Colorado is our natural wonders, the good news is that many activities are free. Even our National Parks are free on certain days if you plan it out!
I’ve been lucky enough to take some great trips myself, some to faraway places and some that were very quick and low-budget, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when staying in a hotel and taking a plane seemed scary. I believe they were all beneficial to my mood and my health. No matter how stressful daily life was, I had a countdown to my break. The internet seems torn on who first said this, but someone reminded me of these three possible keys to happiness when I was feeling stuck in the monotony of life: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. A day off is always something to look forward to, something that always keeps me going.
If you’re looking to plan a little “me time” this year on a budget, here are some resources: