If you read my previous blog posts this year you will know that I have recently come back from a two-week holiday in Mexico. There are many opinions out there about Mexico, some are exaggerated, some are true. I can honestly say that I tried to go there with an open mind, but of course I still had certain expectations and hopes. Mexico exceeded all my expectation. My experience of this wonderful country was so vibrant that I promised myself to go back while I was still there. These are my top 5 reasons for visiting or re-visiting Mexico.
From green, coral, red and bright blue colonial buildings to vibrant trajineras in Mexico City’s Xochimilc, to red blossom of tropical trees, to perfectly turquoise colour of the sea in Yucatan – Mexico is one of the most vibrant and colourful countries I have ever visited. For anyone who craves colour, especially after a dark and grey winter season, I could not recommend a more exciting place.
Mexico City old town
The most incredible colour of the sea in Tulum
Oaxaca – the most vibrant colonial architecture I have ever come accross
The Frida Khalo House
On a trajinera
Taking a boat (trajinera) ride in Xochimilco in the South of Mexico City
Even skulls are colourful
San Angel market – a must visit on weekend
Mexico is famous around the world for its cuisine. Having been to many Mexican restaurants in Europe (and some in New York), I was excited to discover that real Mexican cuisine offers so much more that burritos, fajitas and guacamole (although I love guacamole and could not have enough of it). Bring your appetite, get ready to savour and enjoy. If you ever feel that rich Mexican cuisine is too much, there is no lack of restaurants serving European and Asian cuisine.
Delisiousness made of cheese and plantain, Corazón de Maguey, Coyocan, Mexico City
Freshly made salsa
Tacos Dorados De Jamaica
international cuisine at stylish Alekzander, Roma, Mexico City
Chili pepper stuffed with prawns with mango sauce, la Cueva del Chango, Playa del Carmen
Chocolate caliente – traditional drink
Butternut squash soup at gorgeous Novecento in Polanco, Mexico City
Fresh tuna in Playa del Carme
Breakfast at La Casa de Azulejos, Mexico City
People rarely talk about Mexico in the context of style. It is very famous for being a stylish destination. If you think Mexico is only pyramids, mariachi music and big seaside resorts, be prepared to be surprised. Mexico City in particular is a stylish destination, with its trendy Roma and Condesa areas that have a very bohemian vibe and a unique mix of European influence and traditional Mexican heritage. Think fusion food, bars and cafes, stunning decors, stylish people. Playa del Carmen in Yucatan. the Ibiza of Mexico, has a unique style too.
Chairs at our Hotel Cortes in Mexico City
Combining the old with the new in an inspiring way, Cabrery 7, Roma
Beautiful Chapultepec Castle, very stylish floors…
Stylish Alekzander in Roma, Mexico City
Chill out area in our hotel, Quilnto Sol
Beach bed, Tulum. Gave me a major lifestyle inspiration
Terrace at Quinto Sol hotel in Playa del Carmen
Traditional can be stylish too
Turquoise is one of my favourite colours
Mountains, valleys, deserts, forests, coast – Mexico is a country of striking diversity when it comes to landscapes. Even if you are not into nature (like I claim I am not…), it is impossible to remain indifferent to these breathtaking views.
5. Fascinating history
Pre-Hispanic historical heritage in Mexico is simply impressive. It is hard to imagine how its ancient people built pyramids thousands of years ago without any of the technology that we have today. Equally impressive is its colonial architecture. The combination of both is what makes Mexico what it is.
Religious symbols, particularly La Virgen, is part of everyday life
Pre-hispanic influences in art and crafts
Tulum Mayan ruins
Teotihuacan with its impressive pyramids dating back nearly 2000 years
Casa del azulejos, Mexico City
Romantic colonial style in Oaxaca
Hotel Cortes in a colonial building kept many of each original features
January is known as the most depressing month of the year, at least in the northern part of the northern hemisphere. Holidays are behind, spring is still months away and all we have is cold weather, work, long to-do lists and the pressure of keeping up with strict new year’s resolutions, such as going to the gym 3 times a week and starving ourselves with post-holidays diets, while staying in to save money after holiday spending. No wonder people are feeling miserable in January!
But just because holidays are over, does not mean that enjoyment and pleasure have to be too!
Having had years of bad cases of post-holiday blues, I know what I am talking about. This year, however, is different. My January is surprisingly non-gloomy. Having spent nearly four weeks away from London, two of them in beautiful Mexico, I should be going through a period of feeling down, sad and unhappy to be back to winter weather, lack of day light, packed trains on my daily commute to work and a very stressful work schedule. But thankfully this is not the case.
What has changed? This year (ok, starting at the end of last year) I made a conscious decision to focus on my daily requirements and make them my priority, starting with establishing healthy boundaries that protect my needs from the demands of a busy city lifestyle.
So here are my tips on how to make simple changes to your daily life and your mindset to help you avoid post-holiday blues. I do not like the commonly used phrase “beat the post-holiday blues” because to beat something you need to come in contact with it. My intention is to avoid it altogether.
1. Create a daily routine that suits you
I start my day with a cup of hot water with lemon and ginger, then I do 10 minute of light stretching and breathing exercises, finishing with a short meditation, often involving colour. Having 15 minutes of calm and stillness while setting my intentions for the day really helps to reduce my stress levels. Then, only after I have taken my shower, applied all my moisturisers and chose what to wear, do I allow myself to turn on my phone and emails. Beauty and expressing myself through style is important to me, so I honor it before I attend to anyone else’s request.
Do you know what is important to you on a daily basis? Do you honor it? It’s not about simply copying what a celebrity from a magazine you read does, but about allowing yourself to be authentic and honest about your daily lifestyle requirements and desires. And of course we can use other people’s daily practices for tips and inspiration. Check out this website for ideas.
2. Forget about diets
Instead choose to listen to your body, it will tell you what it needs. Mine told me it needed a cleanse. So I decided to go gluten, dairy, caffeine, sugar and alcohol free for two weeks. This may sound very scary and limiting, but for me it is not about deprivation, but about finding new interesting recipes, new flavours and new yummy foods to enjoy while my body is benefiting from lighter meals. I have started to feel better after the first four days. Your body may tell you something different. Check out this blog I discovered recently for recipes.
3. Treat yourself, indulge all your senses
Many seem to think that post-holiday period is the time to deprive ourselves after the festive season and treats are a taboo during the January weight loss programme. But treating ourselves daily is an essential element of quality lifestyle. There are so many experiences to enjoy with all our sense – from tasty food to walks in a park. Since coming back from holidays, I have introduced a daily treat ritual in the afternoon. It can be a small piece of raw chocolate or my new favorite – a cup of warm almond milk with cinnamon (always in a beautiful mug). Another part from my daily routine are short walks (can be as short as 5 minutes) when all I do is enjoy all the beauty around me, be it London architecture, nature in parks or stylish people. This is time to be fully present to enjoy and receive the pleasure of experiencing beauty, no thoughts about daily problems allowed. Another thing I decided to treat myself to in January is a weekly massage with essential oils.
4. Spend time outside and in nature
Lack of light is one of the main reasons we feel depressed in winter. It is especially noticeable after holidays, and, if like me and many of my friends, you sent your holiday in a sunny destination, the contrast will be striking. Make sure you get enough daylight every day. I go out for lunch for at least 30-40 minutes every day, no matter how busy I am. This is a non-negotiable. Daylight and sunshine are essential for our moods and immune systems. Daily walks I mentioned above is a great excuse to be outside.
5. Focus on your desires for this year
Many of us are not completely unhappy but most of the people I know would like to change at least one area of their life or improve their current lifestyle in some way. This is especially obvious in January when we set new plans and resolutions. These plans can be overwhelming and may seem very far away from where we are now. No wonder so many people drop them too soon. I have done this many times.
This year, by choosing to focus on my desires for 2014 and the lifestyle I would love to create for myself, instead of thinking about what I don’t like and don’t have, I am able to remain in a creative state. Being in this state allows me to take small yet inspired daily action to make these desires reality.
Do you get post holiday blues? If so, how do you deal with it?
Do you know what lifestyle you desire to create for yourself this year?
For many years I had a dream to visit Mexico. Bright colours, incredible landscapes, amazing cuisine, music, people, rich history and culture where colonial and ancient indigenous styles and traditions are mixed in a unique way have all been calling me. So when a last minute opportunity showed up in late November to visit Mexico after Christmas, I had to take it and make it happen despite the tight timing and lack of time to plan the trip properly.
After a busy and stressful December in London and Christmas in Canada (where I witnessed one of the worst ice storms in recent years) I finally arrived in Mexico ready to relax in beautiful hotels, eat amazing food, soak up the sun and all the beauty around me to get inspired for the new year. My expectations were sky high. After all, I was finally on my dream holiday.
Mexico certainly lived up to the beautiful vision I had in my mind. It was what I expected and so much more. I was overwhelmed by my experiences in the first few days. From day one in Mexico City, where I started my trip, all my sense were constantly engaged. I was surrounded by the brightest and boldest colour combinations in the streets, in architecture, in restaurants, while enjoying delicious, spicy, rich food and hearing local music everywhere I went. And if that wasn’t enough, the the sight of beautiful mountains that surround Mexico City took my breath away each time I looked at them.
But less than a week into my Mexico trip I caught myself thinking that this holiday was not looking quite like the image of perfection from Conde Nast Traveller magazine I had in mind. I began to allow myself to get annoyed by small things, such as difference in the level of service, loud music in the hotel and lack of wholewheat bread at breakfast. Later things got even more challenging: boyfriend caught a cold, then it was my turn to get sick with stomach bug, one day we got stuck in an airport for the entire day when our internal flight was delayed for 6 hours and when we finally got to the beach it was raining, a lot, and one of the hotels we stayed in gave us their worst room, well below our expectations. Even though this was only for one night, it felt like the last straw.
I was not prepared for this. My expectations for a dream holiday did not include this scenario. Why me?! Why did the universe decide to spoil my dream trip? Couldn’t at least the weather be sunny if I had to be sick on this trip?
What I did not see at that moment was that the pressure and huge expectations I was putting on myself were ruining my travel experience. The problem wasn’t the weather, the food or different service, it was my perfectionism and that by choosing to focus on the negative I was allowing myself to slip into the victim mode.
The minute I realised this I decided to drop the expectations I was carrying all this time (it felt very liberating) and let go of the need to have perfection in everything. And then I was able to really enjoy my holiday again.
Why? Because when we stop obsessing about things being perfect, we are able to become present and enjoy the beauty around us. “Getting out of my head” allowed me to engage with my senses and discover new ways to enjoy my travel experience.
I enjoyed noticing every small detail in my new surroundings and allow myself to be inspired by what I saw: new colour combination, interior design and style ideas, food and drink presentation.
If the weather was not warm enough for sunbathing, we went on walks on the beach or one day simply relaxed in beautiful hammock on the beach while meditating to the sound of the waves.
Eating delicious local food felt like the biggest luxury when I recovered from my short illness.
Having deeper conversations and getting to know people I was lucky to spend time with on this trip was one of the best things about it.
These and many other beautiful moment made my holiday. The less lovely moment helped me to learn important lessons.
If you ever find yourself on a holiday (or any other situation) when things are going wrong all the time, here is what I suggest.
See if you can change the way you see the situation. By focusing on the negative we attract more of these experiences. Try focusing on the positive instead.
Do you have unrealistic expectations of yourself, your holiday, your partner, the situation? Let go of these expectations and perfectionist ideas. You will feel much lighter and will open yourself to new experiences.
Practice becoming fully present. I know this sounds very new-age, but it works. We can only experience enjoyment here and now, when our different senses are engaged. You may be surprised how many things there are to enjoy in the present moment.
And one final thought. One day, when it was particularly cold and windy, I was watching children on the beach. Seeing how much fun they are having, rain or sunshine, made me a little envious. We, adults often require certain conditions and circumstances to be “right” to be able to have fun. Maybe instead of unrealistic new year’s resolutions aiming to make us and our lifestyles more perfect we could commit to having more unconditional fun in our life and being truly present?
Beautiful lifestyle does not begin with media-defined luxury, it begins with being present, noticing the beauty around us and having fun unconditionally.