Holidays… the build up, the anticipation. The getting things done and the ticking off lists to switching off from life. The relaxation, the rest, the restorative sea, sand and sun. There’s only one mosquito in the mojito… The body. No amount of waxing or priming will prepare you for the big reveal…
The immediate almost nudity in front of actual strangers. A scenario which, for most of us, under normal circumstances, is not our idea of rest, relaxation and general bon temps.
It can take a few days to relax into the new World of Holidays, no matter how many we’ve been on, because there’s an internal struggle going on…
There are the same thoughts plaguing many of us, I’m too out of shape, I should have worked out for this holiday, look at her cellulite, look at my cellulite! What does this belly think it’s doing here? And it’s hard to remember just how skewed and unrealistic those thoughts are.
We’ve been sold the perfect holiday (🙄 -add it to the list) of mothers wave-frolicking or rakish girls rolling around in the sand, or the beautifully-posed sun lounger scam, sometimes women in duplicate, sometimes crossing legs in camp ’50s formation. And truth is, they’re are sofas less fabricated than these wind-ups. They’re the dreamscapes of marketing guys, crafted in stale-air offices far away. These holiday ad girls aren’t switching off from life, they’re at work, being paid… to hold their tummies in. And likely not taking full advantage of the catering van, unlike me, when faced with the international bounty of an all-you-can-eat-buffet!
But fresh air is being pumped into marketing offices (see me if you want to know how) and that old universal advertising “thin-sells” format is shifting slightly so that more of us are seeing more of us in these kinds of dreamscapes. But that’s not enough to shift the delusions of a lifetime. I’m afraid we have to address the situation and rationalise it.
So here is the truth you must hold close to you this summer vaycay. You simply can’t relax and hold your tummy in at the same time. Try it now. Hold your tummy in and take a deep relaxing breath.
If you’ve ever done yoga or mindfulness, chances are you may have come across full belly breathing. This is using the full extent of the lungs to breathe and you need to push out your tummy to do it, to expand the lower lungs. Pushed-out-tummy-breathing is a super-charged way to chill. It creates uber-good vibes in your body. It kick starts the parasympathetic nervous system to help you relax, which also aids any healing which might need to take place and the digestion of that plate of prawns, falafel, gateaux and cheese you just put away. You see it’s a win:win.
What’s more, why not order a side-helping of gratitude for your body too. Is it performing? Is it feeling ok? It’s ok even if it’s not, it’s still performing thousands of functions. Did it make this holiday possible by packing the many clothes you will and won’t wear, but that you treat to far-reaching trips anyway? Can it put its own sun cream on? Can it embrace loved ones and create snap-shot memories to cherish (I mean Insta)?
This holiday I implore you to breathe, not try and be thinner. Because holidays are for letting go of the usual strains of life. I’m going to indulging in not-giving-a-flying-flip-flop about a bit of belly, who’s with me?