Bringing Vacation Home

I’ve mentioned it before, but anxiety tends to take up some room in my life. As you can imagine, it’s not my favorite thing. But there is one surefire time where my anxiety takes a back seat and that’s on vacation.

And not just vacations where we eat out all the time and sleep on big, fluffy hotel pillows. Of course those are relaxing.

But this last weekend we headed out to the desert with some friends. There were strong, dusty wind storms. I cooked our simple meals on a camp stove. The bathroom was a cheerful pink port-o-potty. It was in-your-face hot. Luxury vacation it was not.

Despite a lack of sleep (but I saw two sunrises!), not eating particularly well, drinking more lukewarm beer than I’m used to (aka two beers), and my only exercise being jumping on the trampoline or wandering along train tracks, I felt relaxed, open minded, and like everything was in perspective.

It’s not like my every need was taken care of. Camping out there is no joke. I had to stay hydrated and cook and clean and we got a flat tire that we had to repair. But what might have sent me into a tailspin of doubt in the “real world” seemed easily manageable. Like when setting up the tent seemed like too much work – we just slept outside.

Of course I didn’t have to go to work and that is what I do with the majority of my time during the week. But I know I can bring “vacation Liz” to work with me if I try. And she can come along to do the dishes and the laundry. Mostly, she’ll be there telling me that I have to take care of myself first.

This morning, Vacation Liz made her real life debut when I was up at 5 am to run hill repeats. I’ve never done a hill repeat workout before and my legs were stiff and my eyes bleary.

Turns out, hill repeats are kind of hard. Voluntarily running up the same hill over and over again can be trying, physically and mentally. Especially when that hill is a block from your house and it would be so easy to get back into bed. And while my inner voice can often be kind of a downer, I strongly believe my vacation optimism helped me get through all 10 repeats. There was a lot of “you can do this!” and “Only two more.” I even finished stronger and faster than I started. Thanks Vacation Liz!

I’m not sure there’s anything helpful in this post other than reflecting on how I can bring vacation life home with me. Where I can let go of some of the rigidity that makes me feel in control for a moment. All the healthy habits in the world can’t compete with elevated stress levels; relaxation is they key to feeling and being healthy. 

How do you bring vacation relaxation into real life? 

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