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Successfully vacationing when you have fatigue

At this time of year, I find myself helping many people plan and feel more confident about an upcoming vacation. And, spoiler alert, I’m pleased to report that it’s very often the case that things go so much better than they’d feared they would when we first spoke.

Indeed, they usually find themselves feeling better than they have for a considerable time! So, the next piece of important help I give them on their return is how to ensure they maintain as many of these holiday-created improvements as possible now they’re back home. Like most things with your fatigue rescue journey you do have to apply some effort to achieve, and maintain, improvements – and this follow-up blog, gives you plenty of suggestions around how to keep those benefits going.

But first a little about what you can do to increase the likelihood of the trip going well in the first place…

So why do we feel so fearful about going on a trip when we have fatigue? Well, there’s the obvious of course – the worry that it will trigger symptoms and you’ll spend the whole time feeling bad. There’s also the fact that the very reason you’re going on vacation is possibly down to others, rather than yourself – especially if you’re in a relationship and/or have children. The chances are they are lucky enough to be in robust health and want to have a lovely break away somewhere, as they have done every year. And the expectation is that you will join them, of course!

This makes it easy to feel a little out of control. And it’s often the case that the situations that make us feel most worried and overwhelmed, are those where there’s an element of not feeling in control. Which can make us feel too much at the mercy of others and/or the unknown.

So, first tip: get some control back! The best start is for you to get involved at the ideas and planning stage. That way you get to influence things a little and hopefully at least find some sort of compromise between what you feel is achievable, and what your loved ones want to do. If you’re being cajoled into going on a trip that you might not feel is completely sensible for you right now, recognise that your loved ones are probably very excited at the idea and that the best way to agree a compromise is for you to show some excitement too.

Some helpful things to think about when shaping a possible trip:

  • Are you going to stay in your home country, or travel abroad? It can be tempting to think about avoiding international travel, but a long car journey can be just as tiring (even more so) than a short flight. So don’t immediately dismiss going overseas

  • What sort of accommodation will work best for you? A ground floor apartment or room can be a helpful thing to look for. Or a small hotel that doesn’t have long sprawling corridors, and has the all important elevator to take you up to your room

  • Once you’ve settled on a destination, what’s a convenient location? Think about what you’re going to do once you’re there. If you’re keen to make it a beach holiday, perhaps try and stay somewhere a short walk away from the beach. If it’s a city break think about which part you might want to spend the most time in, and stay there

  • Short trips versus longer breaks: I often hear people telling me that they’re thinking of going away for just a couple of nights to make it ‘easier’ than a longer trip. But, actually, that can end up being more energetic! With a short break the travel days are much closer together, and there’s little time to get into a nice pacing routine before it’s time to travel back again. You might also be tempted to pack too much in to make the most of the time there. Whereas a longer break gives you time to settle in and spread things out a bit.

For those of you who are flying overseas, here’s some advice about how to make that go as well as it possibly can:

  • If the airport is quite a distance from home, consider staying at a hotel nearby the night before (I still often do that now, and I’m fully recovered from my own fatigue challenge!). It just makes the travel day itself feel easier and so much more enjoyable Book special assistance via your airline. This is a wonderful service that is offered to passengers who have reasons not to want to walk themselves to the gate – airports can be huge and it’s often a considerable trek! With this type of assistance, you get wheeled to the gate (either in a chair, or one of those exciting buggy things!) and often get to board the plane first too, which takes a lot of the busy/energetic stress out of the boarding experience. Important point: Many of my clients tell me they’re struggling to accept the idea of asking for this type of assistance, and I gently discuss this with them to get them to a place where they see that if it’s going to increase the chances of their vacation starting well, then it’s worth it. I completely understand, this isn’t something that they’ve had to even contemplate before. But I can reassure you that, on their return, every single one of them tells me it was one of the best decisions they made about the entire trip. So give it some serious thought?

  • Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and check-in etc. Worrying about being late and finding yourself having to rush will use up so much more energy than you need to!

  • Assuming you’ve given yourself plenty of time, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself having time to kill in the departure lounge. Don’t be tempted to fill every minute of this space like you might have done before: browsing duty free, chatting with your companions, reading, listening to music etc etc. Spend a good part of this time just sitting and relaxing. The same applies during the plane journey

  • Airports are usually very busy and noisy places, which can feel very overwhelming if you haven’t been anywhere like that for a while. Try closing your eyes every now and then while you’re sitting and resting – this blocks out the most stimulating of our senses, our vision. And gives your brain and nervous system a little bit of a rest for a few moments. This can be such a helpful way to keep things feeling more balanced

  • Finally, be kind to yourself. If you haven’t travelled much for a while, then it will feel like a big activity – plan a quiet gentle day when you get to your destination. Make sure your travel companions know that you’ll be keeping things lowkey for the first day or two, even if you feel okay when you arrive. This will allow your body to recalibrate after the big travel day and increase the chances that the rest of your trip will go well.

Of course, you might not be able to do all of these things, but even just incorporating a couple of these suggestions could make a difference.

Some final advice. Please do use the guidance in this blog to carefully plan your vacation and feel in control of as many things as you can. Then relax and enjoy your trip! Catch any worries or concerns either before or during the vacation and remind yourself that you’ve planned things carefully and that you can relax and enjoy your time away.

I’ve heard so many people say that, in hindsight, they wish they’d let themselves enjoy their trip more while they were actually away. It was only on their return that they realised that they’d approached things so well that they could have stopped overthinking things. Yes, if you feel that you’ve overdone it, and/or some of your symptoms are heightened one day, it’s sensible at that point to give careful thought to sensible adjustments you should make. But deal with that if it occurs…don’t take the shine off the entire trip by worrying about things before they happen.

Have a great time!

Bye for now

Pamela | 07498 213591 | Fatigue Coaching

Helping you cope with extreme fatigue to regain a life worth living again

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