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Need a Break? Take a Virtual Vacation

Reliving positive experiences can help you feel better about your current circumstances. Here’s how to recapture that carefree vacation vibe.

I always find it a little sad to unpack after vacation, especially a vacation as blissfully relaxing as the week I spent in Maine. Too soon the demands of daily life intrude—apartment chores, meetings, conference calls, and oh, the 156 emails I have to answer.

But now I know a way to recapture that vacation vibe. I’ve read that reliving positive experiences can help you feel better about your current circumstances. If you’re recovering from a breakup, think back to a time you felt utterly loved—maybe sitting on your mom’s lap when you were little, the warmth of her arms around you, the sound of her voice reading your favorite story, the smell of her shampoo. Looking for a confidence boost before a big presentation? Remember your first 5K—the rivulets of sweat down your forehead, the push of your sneakers against the pavement, the tremendous sense of accomplishment when you crossed the finish line (yes!).

The key is recalling the positive experience in rich detail, engaging all your senses if possible. It helps to have things around that remind you of that time—a photo, a song, a souvenir. If I want to feel as mellow and carefree as I did in Maine, I can just take a virtual vacation and go back there in my imagination. I’ll pick up one of the shells I found on the beach there and run my fingers over it. I’ll sniff it to see if there’s still a hint of ocean brine. I’ll look at my favorite photos from my trip. And maybe I’ll even bake a batch of muffins with wild Maine blueberries (good thing my grocery store sells them frozen). Now if only I could get Stonewall Kitchen to deliver one of their shrimp rolls all the way to New York City…

Next time you need a break, take a virtual vacation. Tell me, where would you go?

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