We’re now in the countdown to our holiday. These are the days of eager anticipation; we’re off on our holidays, finally. How great is that? Except that what we are in fact experiencing is the icy grip of pre-holiday stress (PHS). We are slightly on edge and nervous and very much not in our happy place.
When I say we, I should clarify: you will not experience PHS if you’re a man, or a woman with no dependents. The symptoms – waking up feeling like you’ve got a job interview, heart palpitations whenever you think about The Holiday, list-making that’s out of control – kick in roughly two weeks before departure day. Full-blown PHS is the feeling that you are going away when everything in your life is insufficiently prepared. This is how it goes:
1. House anxiety
Haven’t thought about it since our last holiday, but now it does seem like there are some things that need some urgent fixing... like the couple of windows facing the balcony that do not close tight. In case of a duststorm, the house will be a mess. Meanwhile, the youngest of the Young Adults will be staying at home, which automatically increases our PHS levels by 50 per cent. Even if he doesn’t have a couple of friends over (party) one evening (most evenings), think of all the things that can go wrong. Oven left on. Tap left on. Back door left open. If the YA wasn’t there, we could just barricade the place. But also, he is responsible for watering the plants. Which won’t happen until the day before our return. So things will die.
2. Garden anxiety
3. Health anxiety
As in, what if the minute we land at our holiday destination, we get an ear infection/eye infection/heat rash (all of which are not unprecedented, so must take precautions). Shall we take that massive bottle of saline solution for eye-rinsing? Which reminds me, must add goggles to the list.
4. Book anxiety
The fear that we will not maximise this Annual Reading Opportunity, or worse, get stuck with four unreadable recommendations. You may find yourself treating the quest for the perfect holiday book collection like the search for Lorenzo’s oil, then, in a last-minute panic, take Catch-22 (topical), Sally Rooney (contemporary buzz) and something about the Romanovs. No offence.
5. Getting everything done anxiety
As in clearing the decks. You don’t feel the need to empty the deep-freeze but are compelled to pay all your bills and throw out all the old pillowcases when what you need to be doing is looking for your flip-flops.
6. Pre-packing anxiety
Not being able to face checking what you’ve got and what you might need. Where is it all? And really, we should try some of it on (no thanks) and “refresh” some of the sundresses (no thanks). We like buying autumn boots and polo necks and coats.
7. Fat anxiety
Because there are people on the holiday who go to the gym and do not allow themselves unlimited chocolate at weekends.
8. General separation anxiety
What if nobody notices we’re gone?
The Daily Telegraph