How often have you heard the phrase, “I think I need a holiday!”
I heard it this morning while I was ordering my regular cup of coffee from the neighbourhood Kopitiam. A customer who was waiting in line exclaimed: “I need a holiday!”. I turned around only to look away quickly after making eye contact with the gentleman who had remarked. After all, I didn’t want him thinking I was a kaypoh (busybody). Besides, the gentleman looked frustrated and upset, and I didn’t want to agitate him further.
The same phrase “I think a need a holiday!” was heard again for the second time that day while I was in a crowded lift in my office building. It was one of the ladies in the elevator but I didn’t turn around to find out who said it. She sounded just as upset too. I quickly scurried out of the lift and made my way to my cubicle in the far corner of the open plan office to start my grind.
After that, I heard it yet again, when I said it myself: “I think I need a holiday”. I hadn’t realised I had blurted that out loud. Some of my colleagues were even giving me strange looks.
This had set me to thinking as to how many times this very same remark “I think I need a holiday” has been repeated to me this week. Had the oft-repeated phrase assumed a life of its own and taken up residence in my subconscious mind? Why did the people around me and I feel the need to say “I think I need a holiday!”?
What did the outburst “I think a need a holiday!” really mean? I came with the following possibilities:
Could it be a cry for help??!
It could mean that the person who responded, “I need a holiday!” was actually in a very troubled situation and needed help. I wondered whether it could be interpreted as a euphemism for “I need help!” The maker of the retort could be aware that he was in a tight pickle but having no immediate solution to the problem. He realised that he needed to get away from the issue to clear his mind before finding a solution.
It could be a reflex action or a knee-jerk reaction to stress.
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When you touch something hot, the immediate response is to retract it away. The fear of burning your hand has led you to pull your hand out of harm’s way and save your hand from the fire. Similarly, an outbreak like “I need a holiday!” could be a person’s unconscious, quick reaction to a stress filled situation. A need to get away from the problem that threatened one’s peace of mind.
Was this a stress-related reaction? It could very well be that something in me recognised that I had reached a point where I realised that I had too much on my plate. This could be a result of all the work I had to manage in the workplace as well as all the matters I had to resolve on the home front. However, why did I think that going away on holiday would solve the problem? Why did all the other people who were equally or more stressed than I feel that they could handle their stress better if they went on a holiday?
I could see that getting away from the situation was a kind of escapism.
Then again would the problem be resolved by my running far away from it? After all, the problem or difficult situation would still be there once I return from my holiday – wouldn’t it? It wasn’t as though anyone else would step into my shoes when I was on holiday and solve the problem or rescue me from the situation that was causing all the stress.
It became evident to me at that point that my fellow sufferers and I were short-sighted in believing that a holiday would solve the problem. A holiday could only give us the opportunity to have the long-deserved break and recharge our batteries.
However, truth be told, this was not a long-term solution. The problem had to be solved, and there was no escape from that. The situation will not improve, and the problem remained. No holiday was going to make the problem disappear unless we believed that a magical being would step into our shoes in our absence and take care of the situation. It was at moments like these that I hoped that there were fairy godmothers who could wave their magic wands and set matters right or superheroes who could use their superpowers to punch all your worries away. After all, we let ourselves drown in the fantasies written by books and movies filmed about them.
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But despite our need for them to exist, the truth of the matter was that they didn’t, and we couldn’t rely on them to solve our stressful situations.
A Coping Mechanism
On the flip side, the fact that a person had developed a coping mechanism to help deal with stress is always a positive reaction. Isn’t it? There are two things one could do when faced with a problem or stress-filled situation – one could either face up to the situation or not confront the situation altogether.
If one chooses the first option and faces up to the problem but becomes depressed by his or her inability to resolve it, then that wouldn’t help solve the problem either. Thus, in such cases, it would be wiser to develop a coping mechanism for handling stress instead.
It’s healthy to find an exercise that would allow one to retire to a spot that enables him or her to get away from the stress and then come back to face the problem after some effective time out. It might help to look at an issue with fresh eyes after a break. In such cases, a holiday might be just the ticket.
Type of Holiday
The holiday need not be a vacation to a faraway land or even another country. It just needed to provide the stressed individual with a quick getaway to a peaceful haven.
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Usually, a seaside vacation would help. It’s often the case that just by gazing at the blue sea and white sandy beaches would make one forget one’s woes.
For some others, clean air and a view of the green, grassy meadows with the sheep placidly grazing among them with white, snow peaks in the distance might transport them to a relaxing frame of mind.
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Of course, such a mode of relaxation is often subjective and depends on individual preferences. The type of holiday is not of paramount importance in such cases. The individual could prefer a beach holiday, a spa retreat, a countryside getaway or an escape to a snowy mountain.
Whatever the case, it is an undeniable fact that we all need a coping mechanism. Holidays are just a means to such an end.
Last updated on July 1st, 2019.