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The holiday challenge. Wednesday July 31, 2013

I can't be the only one who finds holidays challenging. In fact, I think I read somewhere that holidays (vacations) are some of the most stressful things that people experience.

Just think about it; you're out of familiar surroundings, possibly in a foreign country where you don't know the language and you're frequently in much closer proximity to your loved ones for longer periods of time than usual. No matter how much we love our spouses, significant others, parents and children, there's no denying that these are the people who can annoy us the most.

Before embarking on this holiday I wrote a list of promises to friends (and, yes, my therapist). These promises are a way of ensuring that I return healthy and that these weeks do not pitch me into a downward slide (as it has done before).

I have promised to eat sensibly, drink alcohol only in moderation, do my mental health exercises every day, do Moodscope whenever possible, walk 10,000 steps each day, find time to be creative and exercise my prerogative not to be sociable.

In practice this means I'm in the chalet writing this, watching the rain on the window and the waves rolling in outside while the rest of my family are all over at the yacht club chattering away as they do their sailing club thing.

Some people might see it as sad that I'm not over there too, being a "sailing mum", but thankfully my family and friends have realised that not everyone is cut out for that form of torture!

So if you find holidays stressful, it might be helpful to sit down and compile a list of promises you might make to protect your mental health. No more than two hours in the car at a time, making sure you carry on any daily mental health practices like meditating, ensuring your diet and alcohol consumption stay within healthy parameters, that kind of thing.

Oh, and keeping up the Moodscope if you can. That's the only excuse, as far as I can see, for still having access to the internet on holiday.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Julia Wed, Jul 31st 2013 @ 9:20am

I can so relate to this blog Mary. Holidays who'd have'em!
I went on holiday with my husband in June this year. We'd been on the same one last year when I was on anti depressants and it was wonderful. Lots of socialising, fun,hotel great, people great,weather great etc. So great in fact that we re-booked for this year.
Oh dear! I knew that our expectations might be too high second time around plus crucially I was no longer on medication so worried I may not be quite as keen to join in the fun.
What an understatement!
The weather, hotel, food and location were just as good but the socialising was torture and seeing as this was a major part of everyone else's holiday, I really felt such a miserable whatsit. Also to add to the torture there were people who had been there last year and who were so pleased to see me again this year, welcoming me with outstretched arms, obviously remembering the fun person I was then and looking forward to more of the sociable Julia.
I did not come home with such glowing reports as last year!
And this was made worse for me because I knew the holiday was actually just as good if not better than last year,but it was my mindset and attitude which made me (I was going to say hate it but mustn't' exaggerate) not enjoy it.
Mine is a specific example of a particular type of holiday and my personal circumstances at the time and I know you have written about holidays in general Mary so enough about me me me.
One last thing though, I'm afraid I had to resort to alcohol to get me through it all!

Anonymous Wed, Jul 31st 2013 @ 10:33pm

This is great. Thanks Mary. People often don't understand how difficult life, and yes, even holidays can be when coping with long-term health problems. It's all too easy to let our well-being, our needs, slide during holidays. I found your piece heartening and helped me feel less of a bad-person.

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