Kicking Your Depressed Brain Into Holiday Mode, A Free Hack?

I recently travelled outside of the UK for the first time in over two years (thanks COVID). It was great, I knew it would be, it always has been. But there was a moment, just after arriving that threw me a little. A question that my brain threw at me from nowhere. Are we going to convince ourselves to have a good time?

Standing inside an Amsterdam train, leaning against our bright orange suitcase to stop it from embarking on an adventure of its own, I was happy.  I thought that was what I was feeling, although in hindsight, perhaps it was contentment. As I looked out the window, smiling at the sunshine, I asked myself if I was going to convince myself to have a good time. 

My best guess as to where this came from is the rational part of my brain. Specifically, the part that is aware that the depressed part of my brain needs a little bit more intent that a balanced brain.

Your brain always has something to say

You see, when someone’s natural state of being is disinterested at best, the prospect of a holiday can be daunting and stressful.  We all know how a holiday, or a trip, is supposed to make us feel.  We know the societal expectations and the questions we will face when we return. 

Did you have a good time?  Do you wish you were back there already?  It can be incredibly disheartening to have to give a stock answer to that question. If we’re honest, we’re used to giving rehearsed answers to such enquiries.

However, even the most depressed brains among us will enjoy at least some aspects of a holiday.  If that aspect is simply the escape from your own life or from people you know, that’s fine. The concept of convincing ourselves to have a good time becomes a moot point after the fact. Enjoyment is a natural side effect of wilful temporary change. So, One could argue that the mere thought of prioritising fabricated enjoyment is, in itself, a precursor to a genuinely good time. 

Thoughts can be scary

When this question originally popped into my head last week and I hastily made a note to write about it here, it honestly freaked me out.  I was desperate to have the best time in Amsterdam, I needed it, and the thought of having to fake it filled me with dread. 

Looking back though, it seems that instead of being a sign of bogus enjoyment, it was like a switch being flicked in my brain.  Something in that moment told my brain to just be, absorb your surroundings and go with it.  So, no expectations or pressure, just fun.

So, as the world continues to open up, don’t let your thoughts, your brain, derail the plans you have made. It is okay to analyse your thoughts, to question the motivation of your brain. Soak up the experiences and go with the flow.

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