One of the first things I hear from a person once he or she is home from a trip or week away is: “I need a vacation from my vacation.” Taking a week away from your home is amazing but can end up being a lot of work, especially when one has chronic pain. I used to worry about any change in my routine because I rely on my routine to manage my chronic pain naturally. It took me years to feel comfortable leaving my safety zone and realizing I was/am able to manage chronic pain wherever I go. Here are some of my biggest, most helpful tips to all of you who have feelings of fear or apprehension about taking a trip and managing your invisible illness at the same time.
1. Packing: there are essential things I pack so I can travel with certain tools I utilize each day in my natural management of chronic pain: DVD’s such as: yoga, cardio, any DVD you enjoy that gets you moving. On our vacations we usually stay pretty active as we love swimming and walking around exploring new setings. I always pack the much needed Nutribullet (I used to pack my juicer but the juicer is big and in essence way too much work to use if I am not at home.) The Nutribullet is a lifesaver as it is small and I only need about three to four ingredients to make any form of juice. For instance this morning I just threw in spinach, bananas, strawberries, chia seeds, and ice. Done. Takes about two minutes to make and one dish to clean. I pack things that I enjoy that distract me from chronic pain such as books, movies, and toys I enjoy playing with my daughter. The above are far more important to me than fancy clothes, nail polish, makeup, or jewelry.
2. Keeping up with your routine. If you follow my blog, you know that I have a certain routine I follow each day to the best of my ability which includes: exercise, eating well, mediation, distractions, yoga nidra when necessary (a meditative deep sleep that lasts about forty minutes but feels as if you slept for four plus hours,) moderating certain activities, listening to my body, reading and finding happiness when pain starts coming into my mind.
3. Let go and practice: non-resistance. I have a difficult time letting go of control when it comes to managing chronic pain naturally. I had to truly have my routine down pat until I was able to truly let go and enjoy vacation or any time outside my comfort zone. I did not have any control issues prior to managing pain naturally as I quite the free spirit. One of the main reasons I never even thought I could manage pain without a cure or medication: I knew I would have to let go of some of my: “spontaneous, whatever happens happens attitude.” However, I am happier since I developed my daily routine to manage pain and have learned over time how to allow my free spirit to become a part of my routine. I changed my life, I never changed the real me. The real me is a free spirit who does love adventure and trying new things. On vacation I have to let go of my control to a certain extent as I am obviously doing things that I would not usually be doing if I was home. We also have an amazing little toddler that makes any sort of control impossible. I am still able to plan and no matter what are plans are for the day I make sure to incorporate the three most important tools in my regiment to managing pain naturally: exercise first thing, juicing even though may eat a lot of things the rest of the day I would usually not such as, a ton of chocolate, and moderation. I know to take breaks and when to do so. Distractions are quite simple as we are doing fun and mostly relaxing things during our trips.
4. Prioritize: write down the top things you want to do on your trip. I am very simple and our trips reflect that. We spent/spend most of our time taking walks, exploring, playing, doing crafts, swimming, and I allow myself to watch random television during the weekdays in bed without feeling guilty.
5. I learned a lot this past trip that lasted seven days. I learned that what I do on vacation and my attitude about slowing down and letting the little things go are things I should be doing at home. Even the above. I work my ass off as a mother, nanny, homemaker, writer, and managing chronic pain naturally can be a full time job in itself. Why should I feel guilty if I watch television once in a blue moon during the week, especially when my body is telling me to slow down. I need to stop being so hard on myself.