The great(ish) escape: 13 ways to master the holiday mindset – at home

<span>Embrace your surroundings and get to know your holiday brain.</span><span>Composite: Stocksy United</span>
Embrace your surroundings and get to know your holiday brain.Composite: Stocksy United

1 Understand your holiday brain
According to psychologist Natasha Tiwari, our brain pays attention differently in different situations.

“Directed attention” is the laser focus that helps us bash through to-do lists, while “passive attention” happens naturally as we take in things around us – especially new experiences such as sightseeing or being in nature. “This need for novelty is rooted in neuroscience,” says Tiwari. In other words, new sights and experiences equals easygoing, entertained brain, usually associated with holidays.

You can activate this holiday mode by creating opportunities for newness near home. Try putting a pin in it – literally. On your maps app, zoom out from home and, eyes closed, drop a pin and head to the mystery location. “Treat your hometown as if you’re a tourist,” says Tiwari. “Let yourself be surprised and refreshed by the opportunities.”

2 Pay attention to your surroundings
What’s the first thing you do each morning on holiday? Step on to the balcony, or poke your head out of the tent, and take in the view, right?

“Adopting this mindset consciously may help your usual surroundings feel a little more special,” says Tiwari. “Enjoy the details around you as though they’re a treat for the senses.” So open your window, breathe, take stock and drink in the scenery – no matter how familiar. Look deeply, observe details on distant buildings and tune into birdsong, rather than dismissing it as background noise.

3 Dress as if the beach is only footsteps away
This is the holiday mindset version of dress for the job you want (AKA beach). Think floaty and elegant, channelling the coveted coastal grandma trend for instant OOO energy, wherever you are.

That can only mean linen. Luxe, loose linen shirts willowing in the wind; lustrous linen trousers that evoke the laid-back, “no plans today or, indeed, any day” silhouette; lovely, long linen dresses that give floating from pool to bar gait … there really is no fabric more evocative of a great escape. Uniqlo’s soft, fine linen keeps cool and looks chic all day, so you can get that getaway glow whether sunset drinks are more car park roof than Caribbean.

4 Let your tastebuds lead the way
Take a chance on new ingredients or dishes, or theme your mealtimes to make them an event, rather than necessity. Consider cooking classes, too, to feel the thrill of stretching neglected muscles and learning new things. After all, holiday is not only an escape from the daily grind’s eat-sleep-repeat, it’s about enriching yourself.

Can’t cook? Order in! Tip your local delivery driver as you would the charming camarero at a Barcelona tapas bar and recreate the magic with different crockery, cutlery and adventure’s natural lubricant: wine.

5 Cheat your way to calm with a quick ritual
Routines might feel like relaxation’s enemy, but they can help address anxiety. Tiwari recommends creating your own ritual. “Possibly as simple as a cup of tea and no interruption, or perhaps dedicating yourself to a pranayama breathwork practice to centre the body.” A simple exercise to try is sama vritti, known as box breath. Breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and go again. “You’ll feel a wave of calm wash over you,” says Tiwari.

6 Go alfresco (whatever the weather)
Nobody eats inside on holiday, so the brief here is creating an outdoor eating area that can withstand the elements.

Find a spot close to home that’s fairly sheltered and form your space. This could mean a summerhouse – if you’re lucky enough to have one – a pop-up gazebo usually reserved for festivals, swathes of sheeting to create a canopy, or even some well-placed tarp.

Then it’s all about making it magical: plenty of fairy lights, an outdoor rug, maybe some special outdoor crockery and cutlery, a bluetooth speaker piping out ocean sounds, solar lighting, bunting, artfully gathering your potted plants (extra points for olive trees), even more fairy lights – and you’ll have your own Santorini taverna right in the middle of Sydenham.

7 Learn to layer
Speaking of the weather … yes, you are beautiful and beach-ready in your lovely linens – but to really feel off-duty and easy in the UK you need to be ready for any meteorological curveballs too. The answer is, of course, layering. Cue Uniqlo’s functional basics. Pop a cotton T-shirt or even a bra top underneath a linen shirt in a shade bright enough to lure out the sun. Artfully drape a sweatshirt over your shoulders. Prepare for any picnic eventuality with a UV protection pocketable parka. You’ll look cool as a cucumber, while staying warm and dry, come rain or shine.

8 Make Kodak moments
Take more photos of things that interest you rather than the usual selfies and various neighbours’ parking infractions.

9 Catch the worm
Why do mornings always feel more luxe on holiday? Time. Optimise your sleep cycle to include earlier starts – it gets light nice and early now – and squeeze in that morning swim you’ve always promised yourself, or even just a long, leisurely breakfast. A fun start to the day might make you see the rest of your obligations in a less onerous light.

10 Rid yourself of work reminders outside of office hours
Laptop off and stowed away, get straight out of business attire and into your breezy linens as soon as you get home from the office. If you must reply to work emails, use your phone – typing on a tiny keypad is enough of a drag to make you more concise and get offline quicker.

Related: From coastal grandma to quiet luxury: why linen is always on trend

11 Embrace ‘home glamping’
Following home working’s renaissance, the campaign for home glamping starts here.

Assuming you have the room, and the weather forecast allows, spend a night under the stars. Well, in a sleeping bag, in a tent, under the stars. Extra bonus: nearby loos.

12 Make your lunch hour a mini holiday
First of all, take the full hour. Then ensure it’s crammed with pleasure. A sit-down lunch by yourself, a walk in the park; if you’re at home, a spot of gardening. No errands, no emails, no socials, no putting the bins out. Just you time.

13 Cut your screen time
Cutting down screen time is a surefire way to extend the holiday vibe. “Set up a phone basket and encourage the whole family to leave their phones for the evening,” says Tiwari. The mood in the household will certainly improve (in time). Or how about going “method”, with a holiday room – a space in your house where only vacation rules apply. Dress it up like your favourite holiday destination and create a place to sit and read, daydream, or perhaps talk to one another in a tech-free, low-stress environment. No SPF or insect spray required.

Uniqlo’s British summertime edit

Linen blend pleated tapered trousers
A tapered cut gives a city silhouette with all the easy-breeziness of linen trews.

100% premium linen shirt
Deep, sea-at-sunset blue in 100% linen.

Linen blend skort
The skort is back – and perfect for chic sports and picnic rug sitting alike.

Linen blend relaxed fit overshirt
Linen layers for cooler nights (and days).

Uniqlo’s lovely linens and light layers of warmth and waterproof will give you the getaway vibe, wherever you get to