Last year Francie and I started blogging about how to have a healthy vacation—eating clean, being active and recharging. We felt it was important to share this with clients since it seems like an American tradition to “live it up” on vacation – eat what you want, drink more than you normally do, and laze around, letting go of fitness routines.
This type of vacation mentality can make it particularly difficult to help patients to effect significant, lasting change, particularly if they travel often. Just when things are getting balanced and stable, they head off on vacation or a business trip, and we’re often starting over upon their return.
Personally, this type of vacation used to leave me feeling disgusted with myself, not to mention sluggish and ill, so several years ago, I made the choice to create my own “health retreat” type of vacation. Not only do I feel better while on vacation, I feel fantastic when I return because my body rested and rejuvenated rather than suffering a week or more of abuse, only to return to a backlog of work.
Healthy Options All Over Sedona
Before I left, I planned to blog about how to make healthy choices in the area for clients who vacation there, but when I got there and realized how supportive the area is to this, it didn’t seem like there was a real need. Sedona boasts a Whole Foods and a Natural Grocers, and oodles of restaurants offering gluten free, organic options and a great selection of fresh vegetables on the menu. Aside from a brief reminder to always be thinking “outside the menu” (not being afraid to ask for substitutions) or even trying the game I play at restaurants – trying to see how many colors of veggies I can get on my plate when ordering – there isn’t much else to say here that is particularly unique for navigating healthy eating in Sedona.
However, since this area is known for its spiritual energy, it felt appropriate to focus on another important aspect of a healthy vacation: finding a way to shift gears mentally and emotionally to allow for complete and total relaxation at a deep psychic level. This can be accomplished in numerous ways, but here are the techniques I rely on to shift those mental gears:
Start With a Massage
My first day of vacation I usually arrange to have a 90 minute massage to send my brain and body the message to “let go”. It just so happens that this trip I had one of the best massages I’ve ever had with Rosemary Anderson at Body Dialog Massage. If you’d like to experience a massage with her, I would recommend booking it a few weeks in advance.
Leave Work Behind
For me to truly relax on vacation, it’s important I don’t do any significant work…after all, work is the main thing I’m taking a break from. There are usually a few writing projects I’m working on that I’ll tackle on the flight out since I’m not a plane sleeper, but once I’ve landed, I put all work away.
I’ve also found that putting a vacation message on my email dramatically improves my ability to take a step back, allowing me to focus on rejuvenating so I come back refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.
Staying present seems like common sense…I mean, who goes on vacation just to drag along the same cares and worries you were shouldering at home? To really enjoy any moment, one must let go of regrets about the past and quit borrowing trouble by worrying about things that may or may not ever come to pass. This is also a good skill to bring home and practice every day.
I find the most effective way to stay present is to use all 5 senses to notice what’s going on around me. Are there birds singing? Is there a breeze blowing? Look at the scenery. Is that a blooming flower I smell? How about the food I’m eating…what spices did they use in this dish and can I duplicate it at home?
Have An Attitude of Gratitude
There are lots of people in the world who can’t afford to go on vacation…and many more who are less fortunate than you in even more profound ways. Focus on the things in your life that are working rather than focusing on the areas where things could improve. We’re all a work in progress, and our struggles are learning and growth opportunities.
When you’re physically and mentally relaxed, staying present, and focusing on all the things you’re grateful for, this can set the stage for the last thing I like to focus on when on vacation: getting re-grounded in my body and listening to its messages.
When we’re focused on the daily grind, and dealing with all of the crises that are an inherent part of life, it’s easy to tune out the messages our body is sending us: I’m hungry… I’m thirsty…I’m tired…there is pain associated with this behavior/activity…this situation doesn’t feel good…I can’t do this alone…I need to say “no”….these and many more are common examples of messages many of us tune out on a daily basis.
I’ve always found it ironic that when our bodies are most in need of TLC is when we’re least likely to provide it. Trust me, this is one of the most important concepts to grasp if you want to regain/gain or maintain optimal health.
Pain and discomfort are not random, and for most of us, our bodies know the answers if we only slow down and listen hard enough to hear.
A vacation is the perfect time to start establishing new, more positive behavior patterns!