Even though vacations are meant to be relaxing, they can also be stressful, especially for someone with mental illnesses. Changing time zones, overcrowded rooms (hello, entire family in one tiny house), inability to sleep, lack of routine… the list goes on and on.
So, what should you bring along with you or do?
Here are some tips:
- Bring pills & pills & pills: Make sure you have enough to last you through your entire vacation. This may require you getting permission from your provider to get pills in advance of your scheduled pickup time (some insurance companies will be a pain in the ass about getting pills ahead of schedule, so it is good to try to think of this in advance). This is important. Also, I expressed to my psychiatrist when I was traveling to Europe about the time zones triggering mania or other symptoms, so he gave me some additional pills PRN just in case I started to escalate/have insomnia while far away from his care (I didn’t end up using it, but it gave me some comfort).
- Bring your list of numbers: This might be of your primary doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, significant other, family, etc. It can be nice to have all of those numbers in one place. Who knows… you could lose your phone and all those numbers along with it!
- Bring therapeutic tools: For some, this may be something they can literally pack, such as a CBT workbook or art therapy coloring book/pencils. For others, this may be techniques they have learned in sessions; you may not be home, but you shouldn’t forget the things that calm you and relieve your anxiety!
- Bring what you enjoy: Bring along that book that’s been sitting on your shelf… or a new magazine. Being curious and engaged in learning (even if its something like what are the top summer fashion trends) is a great way for me to keep busy in an enjoyable way. When I have too much empty time, my mind can get into an anxious, depressive spiral, so even something as simple as a book can help!
- Bring your sneakers: Don’t sit on your bum the entire vacation! Get some active time into your vacation. This can be a wonderful time to take a hike, walk around exploring a new city, and take walks on the beach.
- Bring your vacation mindset: Take a break. Yes, like an actual break. Many of you probably constantly put others first. It is great to be selfless, but also draining. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Use this time to recharge. This may mean taking a break from technology and social media. Disconnect from constantly being on your phone, internet or computer… and reconnect with your travel buddies, family, and surroundings. Notice all of the summer sunsets you have been missing! Soak in the rays (with sunscreen, of course)! Lastly, have a blast!