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Holiday! Celebrate! Um, no thanks. Do you get stressed out by holidays too?

By Anna | June 22 2012 | 28 Comments


I once read that most people enjoy anticipating a forthcoming holiday more than the actual holiday itself.

I am not one of those people.

Seriously, few petty things stress me out more than knowing I’m going on holiday in a few weeks (or even a few months – I start my worrying early). This is what I find myself worrying about:

Checklist of DOOM

1.The plane will crash and I will die.

2. There will be a freak natural disaster or terrorist atrocity in my destination and I will die (I was always a bit worried about this, and my worrying wasn’t helped when I got off a plane in Heathrow two weeks after the 7/7 bombings and was greeted by a large TV showing a BBC news report that several more suicide bombing attempts on public transport had just been thwarted in London that day).

3. My bags will be lost forever (I have no sense of proportion, this usually comes in just after the “fear of a hideous death” worry).

4. My cat will die when we are away, even though she’s in a cattery run by vets (in defence of this one, my cat is, like, 16 years old, has had skin cancer and now has a serious kidney problem).

5. My house will be broken into.

6. My house will go on fire and all my treasured possessions will be burned to a crisp.

7. I will have forgotten to do some crucial work-related thing before setting out and have now rendered myself unemployable forever (that’s freelancing for you).

I am not exaggerating when I say I worry about these things before every single trip, even just a weekend with my sister in London. When I went to Portugal a few weeks ago, I was so stressed in the days leading up to my departure I felt like I was preparing to sit an exam, not head off for a week to a villa with a swimming pool along with a big group of nice people, with a music festival at the end of the week featuring one of my all-time favourite bands. I was so stressed when packing and trying to negotiate Ryanair’s increasingly ridiculous check-in process I nearly burst into tears. To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t wait until the whole thing was over and life could go on as normal.

Even when I got to the villa, where we were greeted by my sister and her friends (who had arrived a few days before) frolicking in the pool, I kept worrying. Had we plugged everything out? Had we left the kitchen window open? I even texted my mum and asked her to call in and check on the house (in defence of that one, my parents live about five minutes away from my house).

Of course, I’m not so neurotic that I really can’t relax on holiday. After a day, I stopped worrying about plugs and windows and the health of my cat (who, as it turned out, was eating the vet’s cattery out of house and home). I swam in the pool and wandered around Porto and finally got to see Saint Etienne live. But on the day we headed back, the worries came back. And as we approached our house, I thought what I always thought when returning from just a few days away.

“There’s the house! Okay, the windows look normal, there hasn’t been a terrible fire. And the windows are closed. Would a burglar close windows after them? Maybe they got in the back.” And so on. This nonsense doesn’t stop until I’m actually in the house and can confirm that it is, as usual, exactly as we left it. By which stage I’m so exhausted I need another holiday. Or rather, a nice long sleep, which is less stressful.

So what about you? Do you find going away as stressful as I do? Or do you find the whole thing a gloriously exciting escape? Even if you do leave the coffee pot switched on?

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