The Unexpected Vacation from Stress
I turned 33 in February. I’d hoped to actually plan a significant celebration for my birthday (a dinner with friends? A big shindig at my house or at the bookshop?), but the date crept up on me (a favorite construction of we overly busy people) and a couple days prior I sent out an email asking friends if they’d like to have happy hour with me at a favorite bar downtown and then head to hear a band Jim plays with at the inaugural show at another friend’s brand-new music venue. Sounded like a great plan to me, and lots of people showed up at happy hour, still more at the music venue. I felt very loved.
But in the back of my mind lurked a handful of concerns, not the least of which was the fact that Jim and I had plans to wake up at the crack of dawn to drive many long hours to Kansas City for a conference. If we were to make it by a reasonable hour, we’d have to wake up really, really early. But here’s the wrench in the system: there was a blizzard bearing down on the Midwest, and Kansas City looked to be the target.
By the time midnight rolled around, I knew we wouldn’t be waking up 5 hours hence and driving into snow using my adorable but tiny car, a little thing that’s not exactly made for snowy journeys (especially when the drivers are relatively inexperienced when it comes to “real” cold weather).
While at the music venue’s bar talking to my good friend S. (who happens to be a fellow entrepreneur here in town), I mentioned that I had some coupons for a cabin at a Georgia lake and maybe this was a good excuse to leave. “I already made plans to be away from Athens and from my business all weekend. I want to go away, but I don’t have the money to go anywhere. So using these vouchers for two nights at a lovely cabin sounds great.” “I’ll go with you,” she said, and I’d thought she was joking. But no—turns out she had recently scratched plans to leave for the weekend so had a miraculous weekend off from the shop.
We hatched a plan and made the drive to a lovely cottage (nay, I should call it a home—this awesome lakeside place was larger than my own home!), settling in with tons of books, lots of snacks, and no computers. It was awesome.
S. and I talk a lot about being overworked and busy, about how much time we dedicate to our businesses and how we know we need to take breaks but that it’s so hard to do. Thankfully, she doesn’t have any chronic illness that I know of, so at least health is in her favor. But I hadn’t realized how completely tied up and stressed I was until I got a chance to unwind. Ah, the bliss: no computer. No work duties (at least none I *had* to do right then). A true break from my routine, complete with great reading and a boat rental on an unexpectedly balmy 70-degree winter day.
Having this vacation made me realize I need to put a priority on just that: vacations. Breaks. Breathers. Time away from routines and rigor and ruts, time away from day-to-day stressors. It was so restorative and wonderful and—in a month that was otherwise plagued with migraine attacks—PAIN-FREE. Now I’m hooked. Have you ever had the experience where you didn’t realize how much stress you had been under until you climbed out from underneath it?
Have you ever had a spontaneous break from routine or vacation that let you realize just how stressed you’d gotten in your regular life? Did having a much-needed breather influence you to schedule more off-time in the future?
Can you tell when a migraine attack is coming?