Now, back in the day before Rona, also known as Coronavirus, there was a time where you would take vacations. You remember don’t you?
You were one of those people that could not wait to be on a plane. Seemed like your suitcase was always packed and your passport stayed on your night stand. You would tell people that you just had wanderlust and could not sit still. You wanted to be everywhere and be doing everything including exploring the world. Am I right? And if you weren’t traveling, was it not constantly on your mind? Now, while your friends and family might think you’re just living your best life, the therapist in me often wonders whether or not that’s actually true. I can’t help but question whether or not you really have wanderlust or you are just wandering lost because you’re lost in your everyday life. So I want to take the time to tell you that if you are running away from a problem, like
- you hate your job
- problems with your partner or spouse (more than an occasional argument)
- you don't like your home situation
and the first thought you have is “Let me go buy a ticket so I can get gone somewhere and experience something new,” you are not taking a vacation. You are running. So that vacation is not actually self-care, no matter how much you try to convince yourself.
When people talk about self-care, they often talk about the bigger lofty pieces of it. They talk about the hundred dollar facials or massages. They talk about bubble baths, and other fancy things, but they don't talk about the mundane and sometimes difficult pieces of self-care. As you know, I'm a therapist in the Washington, D.C. area and I'm often meeting with people who travel for a multitude of reasons. One of the major reasons that keeps coming up in my sessions is people are trying to get away from whatever is going on at home. They tell me the sex is not great with their with their partner, their communication is off, and they just they don't feel comfortable being at home, so they leave. Or even if they take their partner with them on this vacation, they’re going together because they think that they’re going to find the sexiness that they lost in a hotel room rather than their actual house. The thing is, it can work. You can go on vacation and have decent, better, or even wonderful sex, but when you come home, you still can't perform because there's been no work done to solve the problems at home.
I hear the same thing with my single clients. They are using up all those vacation days because they’re frustrated about various things going on in their lives. They’re tired of being alone in the house, they’re having problems with some of their friends, so their first thought is,
"You know what? I just have wanderlust. I just need to go on a vacation."
And I’m telling you like I tell them, that's not a true vacation. What I really hear you saying is that you want to run. When you running from something, your vacation will never be the self-care you run to. Sometimes self-care is confronting the issues that we have in our life and addressing them so that we are not having to run away. Now, there are going to be some things that are completely out of your control, but here are 3 things that you can do to make sure that when you do take a vacation, it's because you are really trying to vacate, not because you are temporarily running away from your reality.
1. CHECK YOURSELF
Check in about what's going on with you. What emotions do you experience right before you decide you need a vacation. What made you decide it was time? Is something hard at work? Is something hard at home? Taking the time to evaluate what the thing is will help you to determine what you can do to face it head on.
2. ADDRESS YOUR ISSUES
After you have done the evaluation work to figure out what is actually going on and what happens to you right before you decide that you need a vacation, ask yourself “what are some things that I can do to address that issue head on?”
For example, if you have an issue at work and your boss is a jackass, instead of running away for a week, what about telling them that they are a jackass? (In corporate terms of course, because you’re not going to lose your job and blame it on me!) Or if it’s something going on with your partner or your spouse, like your communication is off, is there something else you could be doing that is a lot cheaper than a vacation and more helpful? Is therapy what you actually need?
3. TAKE ACTION
After you have evaluated and come up with a plan of action, NOW is the time to take it. This is the time to look at the problems you identified and solve them, so you make sure that you are building a life that you don't have to escape from. The next time you take a vacation, you'll be running TO something and not FROM something. While you may still end up in the same destination, I need you to know that the result will be different. The intention between running away and running to is different and it can make your vacation impact you differently.
Once you’ve addressed your issues and are living your best life, when it’s time to lay on the beach you are going to actually enjoy the experience at peace instead of dreading the idea of going home.
BTW: I know you are home right now cuz Rona got you grounded. Why not use the time to work on your inner shit and address things with your partner--in person, if you live together, or via Facetime if you are social distancing.
So let's evaluate, is that vacation you have planned after Rona really a vacation or nah?