Vacation

The reality is that we don’t need to go away for a week or even physically leave our homes in order to get some of the best benefits of a vacation.  We can create “mini-retreats” or even brief mental vacations that can offer us some of the best nourishment of a time away.

It’s the time of year when we’re thinking about vacations.

Maybe you are anticipating going away, or perhaps you’ve already gone.  Some of us are just dreaming about it.

Vacations are essential for everybody — and particularly for those who have a chronic and painful condition.  The break in routine, the exploration of new sights, the creation of memories and relaxation all contribute to a healthier mind and attitude and body.

Yet we often put that need aside.  “I can’t afford to get away!”  That’s our usual excuse.

Whether we can’t afford the money or the time or the energy, we give up and put vacations on the back burner in our mind.

The reality is that we don’t need to go away for a week or even physically leave our homes in order to get some of the best benefits of a vacation.  We can create “mini-retreats” or even brief mental vacations that can offer us some of the best nourishment of a time away.

To do that, there are a few pointers.

“Set the table.”

By that, I mean, put aside a little time and prepare for your mental break the way you would for any trip.  Think of where you’d like to go.  And it works especially well if you choose somewhere you’ve been and loved.  Using your memory and imagination, recall specific details of the place — smells, sounds, the slant of the light, what you are wearing … make it detail rich.

Last year my daughter and I took a brief trip to San Francisco for her high school graduation present.  It was one of the best trips of my life — and I will never be able to repeat it.  So, I have thousands of delicious details tucked away in my mind so I can take that trip again any time I want!

Put lots of wonderful things on the table.

It’s a vacation, remember!  So you get to eat, and put your toes in the water, and feel the sun, and listen to the birds and the wind in the trees — whatever pleases you.

To ramp up your relaxation, use all your senses.  Eat something, listen to certain music, put out a scent.  Have a raspberry, sniff a rose, hold a beach shell.  The more you stimulate your senses, the more you will relax.  Look at pictures that remind you of how happy a time you had and are having again!

Spend as much — or as little — time as you please.

You will get the benefits very quickly.  Your pulse will slow, your mind will unclench, you may be breathing a little more easily, and for sure you will find yourself smiling.

That’s what happy feels like.  You don’t need to do this for very long.  The effects will last for a while.  When you need another break, do it again.

The best effects happen if we practice vacationing regularly — every day, or twice a day.You give yourself a big sunshiny happy vitamin.

That’s a break we can all afford and it offers a rich payoff.

Bon voyage!

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