Summer Holidays: What For?
There is awareness in general that the Christmas break is a stressful time for people: especially dealing with visiting relatives, for parents of consumerist kids, those who are isolated or have no contact with family.
But what about summer holidays? There is the same huge expectation that everything must go well and be right. The break is deserved for all the hard work that has been done in the year. People go on holiday with their friends and families who they choose (unlike Christmas). Some save for a long time to afford it.
Others are unable to afford it at all. Whichever way you look at it: the pressure is on.
If it goes well: fantastic. People return home relaxed and rejuvenated: children take developmental leaps with constant parental attention. Teenagers are allowed to do their own thing, and meet other teenagers. Wonderful sites are seen and history and culture learnt.
But … if it goes badly; your choice of family, partner, friends, and children (a choice was made to have them!) comes under scrutiny. The choice is our responsibility, where relatives at Christmas is not!!
Two weeks holiday is a compacted amount of time where friends and families get to test out their everyday relationships in the more pressured environment of time and space. More time spent together, and smaller physical spaces of a hotel rooms, cottages, apartments, chalets, and tents! Gone are the diversions and distractions of everyday life!
There are many different holidays: beach and sun, activity, historical site seeing, visiting museums, taking place at home and abroad. If you stay in the UK: television, radio, culture is reasonably familiar and understood. Going abroad where the language is not understood rests senses such as hearing and speaking, and makes TV watching senses redundant!
A couple on a beach holiday might involve one person reading a book all day, while the other heads out to a far land mass, or goes off to ‘explore’ the local amenities to alleviate the boredom and fill the void.
Children and teenagers wandering around the most significant, and stunningly beautiful buildings in the world look listless and bored. Requests to get back on their pcs, eat something, or play in the pool are met with frustration at the lack of appreciation.
Families who holiday with other families clash over the organisation of budgets, meal and bed times. Parents who want to spend more time with their children are out of synch with parents who want to spend less!!
Managers with stressful jobs stay in bijou hotels reflecting their hard work and salary. Some fly to airports and drive several hours to remote second homes. There is more control and predictability in having a relaxing time. Once it is set up only hand luggage needs to be taken on the plane, avoiding the stress of baggage claim.
Then there is the return to normality where holiday blues kick in. The higher quality of life plans talked about in the holidays appear tempered by the sight of the familiar host airport. Routines kick back in, as if the break did not happen.
People might look back in history, and see the taking of summer holidays in the 20th/21st century as something quite peculiar. After all it is a relatively recent phenomenon: 100 years ago workers had only one day off a week, and the affordability of air travel is only 50 years old!
Is this related to stress in the 21st Century? and how it is built up and how it is has to be relieved? The lack of integration in our lives of work and play becomes more exaggerated. People with jobs are working more for less, and the people who do not have jobs are not able to have a break from the dull routine of unemployment. Access to the sun and living in a temperate climate has distorted our relationship to the heat. A closer examination of how we feel about our everyday lives might alleviate the stress, and expectation of holidays.
Have a good break.
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2012
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Disclaimer: This weblog content are the views of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.