Hello dear readers! I apologize for my absence, but I just returned from a vacation. I got to see my sister and it was relaxing and fabulous. One thing that holds true for everyone as far as vacation goes is that it breaks us out of our routines. Mostly this is a good thing, but for those of us with a mental illness who rely on routine to stay well, it could be quite bad.
I’m happy to say I was able to vacation with a few alterations to my set routine and it worked out well. There were no manic episodes, no depressive periods and while my diet wasn’t what it was at home, it wasn’t at binge eating proportions- I prefer to call it “vacation portions”. I cut way back on my coffee consumption (though I did check out some small local coffee shops I adored) but definitely was lacking on getting the same amount of veggies I usually eat.
I was able to go to sleep and wake up about the same time every day, save one evening my sister and I went out and enjoyed ourselves (only one drink though!). I’ve noticed sleeping the same amount of hours (usually 9) every day is key to keeping my mood in check. I was still physically active, walking a lot as well as going on a hike.
Obviously I took my medications with me and made sure to bring my anti-anxiety medication, which I needed on the extra turbulent flight home. I also made sure I had time to myself here and there and took my journal to jot down any thoughts or feelings I had along the way.
So if you are suffering from a mental illness but want to take a trip that won’t send you into a spin, here’s a list of guidelines I followed-feel free to adjust to your own personal preference!
- Make sure you have all your information sorted out- airlines, hotels, rental cars, etc. Knowing what time you need to be at the airport reduces a lot of stress, obviously. I found that having everything settled ahead of time as far as lodging and transportation were concerned reduced a lot of anxiety and also helped me budget ahead of time.
- Plan activities, but don’t be too stern with them. Meaning, if you decide you’d really rather relax poolside than see the museum, don’t beat yourself up for it and say you’re being lazy. You also don’t need to do everything in one day. Vacation is all about enjoying yourself!
- Bring your medication! I don’t think I need to go into why with this one
- Get enough sleep. Maybe you can stay up a little later than you usually would, but definitely get enough sleep so you don’t have a manic episode or worse.
- Put the smartphone away! This applies to everyone, not just those of us suffering from mental illness. I only used my phone as a camera during my vacation,I wasn’t Facebooking or checking emails every hour. I also slept in one room and charged my phone in another room. I wound up sleeping deeply every single night.
- If you’re traveling with someone, get some solo time. My sister is not much of an outdoorsy girl, and I love nature. So she was in the city while I hiked on a trail. We both appreciated the quiet time and then had stories to share when we were done!
- General travel tip: find out if there is a farmer’s market in the city you’re visiting. It’s a great way to shop local, get good food and really get the feel of the town. There are vendors offering everything from food to arts and crafts and the prices are pretty low!
If you have any other tips on traveling/enjoying family activities as a mentally ill person, please feel free to share them in the comments!