The MEANING of “back to reality” and how to CONQUER it.

Dan of the World Juifen

We all go on holidays, and they’re great! Taking breaks from our normal life gives us a chance to relax or try something new. Generally, we feel pretty damn full of life after them!

However, at the point when the holiday is coming to an end, we often make the mistake of letting work slip into our mind for a split-second. We may then utter or think those dreaded words: “Back to reality soon”.

Everybody has two lives?

It can seem as though our holiday was magically part of a second life we must have, a life of getting up late, having cocktails before lunch, lounging at the beach or hiking in a mountain.

When we finish our holiday, we come back to our more ordinary, familiar life. We come back to life number 1: our reality.

But is this right? I’m pretty sure you and I only have one life, so why do we feel so glum at the prospect of coming back? And is there a way to avoid this mindset and feeling?

Fortunately, there is! It involves three things: setting goals, realising you’re not your job and seeing that everything is your reality. It’s coming back to a comfort zone and before you continue reading, read my post about why comfort zones can be a good thing.

Holidays aren’t usually our reality

Today is the last day of the Chinese New Year, so it’s the last day of my holidays. Tomorrow, it’s back to work, back to teaching, back to the routine of a stable daily life.

My mini holiday has been great. I managed to get a nice balance of going out and seeing things and being a total lazy slob not even leaving the house (well, my tiny room in the dorm). Both are equally important on a holiday if you actually want to rest.

I visited Juifen, a small town built into the mountains that was shrouded in cloud. Also, on the way to Juifen, Pingxi is known for its waterfalls and lantern flying ceremonies. Sadly I missed both as most things were shut, and it was a cold, miserable day, so a rapid dart towards a hot shower was needed.

Unfortunately, after my break I had the ‘back to reality’ feeling. So I made a concerted effort to never feel that way again.

Why do we say “back to reality”?

We say it because we’ve been doing something we enjoy that isn’t part of our normal daily routine, and then we stop doing it and go back to our routine: we go back to our reality.

But does this make sense? Surely everything we do is our reality? When we’re doing something out of the norm, like driving in a mountain, surely that’s our reality then? When we take a shower, that’s our reality; when we’re at work, that’s our reality.

Perhaps it’s just semantics? I think saying “back to my familiar way of living” would be a better way to describe it. It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue with the same prestige, but it’s more accurate.

So when we say back to reality, we usually mean back to work, as our work takes up so much of our time.

3 things YOU can do to CONQUER coming ‘back to reality’

1. Set goals so you’re always on a journey of learning

The biggest reason we like holidays is because they offer something new or a chance to relax. Do you know what happens to your brain when you do new things? New neurons and pathways form to store the new information. Yes, new connections are literally being made in your brain!

That’s why you feel so great on holiday, when everything is so new and exciting. Our brain is joyfully shouting “Yeeeeah, give me them sweet sweet new pathways, keep ’em coming!”. Well, it’s not actually saying that, but it’s feeling them and it feels good.

Then after our holiday we get home and our brain goes, “Really? back to this same stuff I connected 10 years ago?” And we feel down and mumble “back to reality” to ourselves.

So what if that journey of ‘new stuff’ continued when you got home? What if you decide to learn a new skill? Change something about yourself? Start a new hobby? Do different things?

Your brain would continue that feeling of holiday brain. Perhaps not to the extent of an amazing holiday, but it would lessen the back-to-reality mentality, because your reality is still evolving. You still have something to get excited about. You’re still seeing and doing new things to create new pathways. You’re on the holiday of life!

2. Realise that you’re not your job

Whatever you do in life, you are so much more than your job. Yet what is the first question someone usually asks to get to know us? “What do you do?” What a stupid and boring question.

If anyone asks me, I tell them I’m an English teacher, but really I should say, “I’m someone who’s trying to figure out life, be true to myself and not lie. I’m looking for new places to visit and thinking about my future. I’m trying to make the world a better place by helping people become more comfortable with their lives and achieve their goals”.

All of this is true, but I also teach English. However, I certainly don’t let it define me.

Do you let your job define you? Take a moment and think about it. What do you say when someone asks, “What do you do?”? Now have a think about what you’d actually like to say to them.

Realising you’re not your job is incredibly freeing, as it gives you space to think about the type of person you want to be.

3. Understand that everything in your life is your reality

Whether you are watching TV, at work, skiing, hiking, flying in a plane, queuing up to pay for groceries, on holiday or starting work on a Monday morning, it’s all your reality.

Going back to work after a holiday is still your reality, but perhaps it’s such a big part of your reality, and a part you might not enjoy, that it gives you a sense of melancholy.

To lessen the shock and make everything easier, you need to understand that it’s all your reality. Life is full of good and not-so-good things. It should also motivate you to make your reality better.

Think about ways you can improve your day-to-day life. Is there something new you can learn or do? It will allow your brain to keep making new pathways and lessen or eliminate the back to reality dread we all sometimes face.

life isn’t one big holiday, as much as we’d like it to be

There are many challenges, problems and questions we face in life. Have a look at my self development page for help with more of your questions and problems.


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