My First Vacation in Years

Usually, when I've taken time off work, it’s for medical reasons and doctor’s appointments. This is my first vacation in probably 5 or 6 years. Maybe even 7.

I did a fundraiser in Chicago for my first half marathon. I took off a few days for that. But I didn’t consider that vacation because I was rushed and didn’t get to see what I really wanted.

This vacation is just an hour north of us, at my partner’s family cabin. Being able to get away with him and get Piper, my service dog, more acquainted with what’s out there in the woods. It will be her first time being on a boat. I’m looking forward to training with her - okay, so maybe this is not all play and no work. But it’s important to play and work.

Play makes you feel good

Have you ever exercised and felt a rush of serotonin, oxytocin, or another chemical that, when released, you felt good, you felt content and accomplished?

Vacation doesn’t always have to be 100 percent fun or relaxing. Some people will still go out on their training runs. Some of us will kayak every morning and every night for a few miles. (The lake we’re on takes 13 laps to equal a mile - I have a weird thing with numbers).

What does vacation look like?

Maybe vacation for you (wherever you go) looks like naps and indulging in foods you’d never really eat, like s’mores or hot dogs or red meat. Maybe it involves scenery and sensory experiences like campfires, thunderstorms, and crunchy leaves. Maybe it involves tubing on the lake all day until dusk.

Often there are signs we ignore when our body tells us, “STOP!” We’re used to pushing through, so that’s what we do. Sometimes on little or no sleep. Sometimes it’s full of cat naps under big comforters in the air conditioning. Keep in mind, a few of us can’t regulate our temperatures because of autonomic dysfunction, so some days might be more filled (or all filled) with inside days than others.

Some people really don’t do well in the heat at all, so their vacations look totally different. Maybe an alternative to going outside is reading and engaging your brain. I love to do puzzles when we come up here for the night sometimes. We also play lots of cribbage and watch our favorite movies over and over and over and over. And we fall asleep during those movies almost every single time.

Taking time to appreciate rest

Even if you’re not sleeping, you still need to rest on vacation. I’m writing this on vacation, and hopefully, some parts will ring true with others. As I’ve written before, my dad taught me growing up that rest is important, even if you’re restless and can’t fall asleep or stay asleep. He always taught me that it’s important to let your muscles and mind get a break and just lie there comfortably until you’re hopefully able to fall asleep.

Is it the same? Absolutely not. But, being at rest and getting some form of your battery recharged is better than running yourself to the ground by getting up and doing something unproductive like eating or watching TV. None of those things are bad to do, but at night when you should be sleeping, at least rest up and let your body have a few hours of no movement and being comfortable.

Having trouble sleeping? I bring my 2 memory foam pillows anywhere I go so that I can prop them against my hips or by my knees or hug the pillow. Never forget to rest. Your sleep hygiene is as important as you are.

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