Updated: Sep 2, 2022
In my last blog I talked about a few ways that you can increase the likelihood of your vacation going well. In this article, I want to talk about the lovely benefits and improvements that I often see people achieve – and how to maintain those when you get home!
As I mentioned in my previous article, most of the people who I help as they prepare for a forthcoming holiday end up having a much better time than they expected. Of course, I can only draw this conclusion from the people who I’ve personally helped - and the fact that I’ve helped them means that they’ve approached things smartly! But still, it really is the vast majority. So please take reassurance and positivity from that and the fact that you can find ways to have a successful vacation while you’re tackling fatigue. The key is to be smart about it.
You can also, of course, use the guidance in this blog to help you ensure your holiday goes well – reverse engineer this advice, so to speak! Read the list of things below and make sure you include as many of them as you can in your forthcoming trip. And then use the same advice to keep these things going once you’re home.
It's been fascinating for me, over the years, to talk to clients when they get back from a trip and for me to spot the likely reasons for the improvements they achieved. And over the years I’ve used this experience to spot patterns and trends that allow me to share this with more and more people.
And that’s what I want to share in this blog: insights into some of the reasons you might have felt an uplift in your fatigue condition while you were away, and suggestions on how to keep this going now you’re home. Some of it might seem obvious to you – but it might still be a helpful validation that what you’ve identified is indeed right.
But for those of you who are new to your fatigue journeys, I hope the following observations and suggestions will be of huge help – it’s quite a long list, but that’s a good thing as it means there’s lots you can do! But do read in stages if that feels right for you:
1. A change of environment
I started to form this theory a a few years ago, but I now have no doubt at all that one of the biggest reasons people feel improvements when they go on vacation, is because they’re physically in a different place.
Depending on how long you’ve been on your fatigue journey, and your current energy levels, the chances are you’ve spent much of your time these past months in the same house/apartment/rooms. And over time, we start to associate that space with being ‘somewhere that we don’t feel well’. And this can get locked in at a subconscious level. It varies from person to person, and this isn’t the only explanation for why we feel ill by any means. But my breadth of experience has clearly shown me how helpful it can be when the people I help go elsewhere for a while. Whether it’s a vacation or visiting a friend or relative, perhaps.
So now that you’re home, think about how much a change of scene might have played a part in your improved state while you were away? If you think it played a sizeable part, how can you harness that now that you’re home? Here are a few suggestions:
physically bring a part of that other location into your home! If you’ve had a lovely trip to Portugal or Croatia etc, print out some of the photographs you took and display them around your house. Or perhaps bring some of that enjoyable trip to Scotland back with you by buying a nice print of a Scottish landscape to hang on the wall
think about how you can change things up a bit at home: ask someone to help you rearrange the furniture in a certain room; buy new cushion covers for your sofa; rearrange where the lamps/photo frames/ornaments are in a room; buy a new duvet set for the bedroom. These are all quite simple and easy ways to make your home environment seem different to the one you’ve become so used to of late
think about getting away a little more often. Perhaps offer to house sit for a friend who’s going away, or now that you’re feeling more confident about going on a vacation, plan another one! It can be lovely to have something like this to look forward to.
2. Changing default thought patterns
Following on from the above point, really. But worth picking out as a point of its own because of its importance – think about whether the change of scene and routine while you were away kicked you out of your usual thought processes. It’s so easy when we’re on a fatigue journey, to find ourselves constantly thinking about the fact that we’re on a fatigue journey! Especially if we’re not working and have a lot of empty time in our days.
Again, this isn’t the only factor – but think about whether it might have played a part. If so, recognise when you’re slipping back into these unhelpful thought habits and find ways to manage this and get your thoughts and emotions into a more constructive place again (I can help with that if you need it).
3. Spending time with people you love
I suspect this plays a big part for many people, too. Unless you vacationed alone, the chances are that you spent time with some of your favourite people. And quality time too! Which can feel so wonderful and really lift our spirits. Which, in turn, helps us to feel happier and more positive overall – quite probably keeping our symptoms at a lower level. Or, at least, we’re less likely to dwell/overthink them when we’re feeling so happy.
As part of your pacing plan, are you devoting enough energy every day or week to spending quality time with people you love? Even if you find socialising/talking fairly draining, you can plan and manage this so that it’s manageable. You’ve probably really benefited from it while you’re away, so there’s a good chance it’s worth prioritising some of your energy on it now that you’re back too.
4. Getting natural daylight in your eyes
Anyone who’s worked with me will know I’m a huge fan of this! Everyone should do it – even those who are fully healthy and well. Every cell in our body performs a different function depending on where it’s located, and the time of day/year it is. And the way our cells know if it’s morning/evening or summer/winter is by the amount and duration of light in the environment at any given time. We have neurons in our brains (just above the roof of our mouth, if you’re interested) that receive information from cells in our eyes and pass further signals out to every cell in our body to tell it what it needs to do, based on how much light they’ve detected.
Getting daylight in your eyes within the first hour of waking (ideally before 10am) gets your body started for the day in such a helpful way. Your pineal gland will be told to stop producing melatonin as you don’t need to feel sleepy anymore; and the various energy making processes will start to fire up and get your ready for the day. Your digestive system will start to wake up, and so much more.
It’s often the case that when we’re on holiday we’re outdoors a bit more than usual – and inadvertently getting this lovely light in our eyes more than we might do at home. Not just first thing, but throughout the day. And getting light in our eyes continues to be helpful later in the day too! Basically, any light you get in your eyes is helpful information to help your body calibrate where it is against the time of day.
Think about whether this was something different that you did during your vacation? And if so, make a conscious effort to get light in your eyes in the morning – and ideally at dusk too – now that you’re home. Even if you can’t easily leave the house every day, sitting at an open window can achieve almost the same benefits as actually being outdoors.
5. Eating well
We often eat differently when we’re on holiday – either for the better or worse! But it’s worth thinking about… if you visited a lovely Mediterranean resort, perhaps you ate more vegetables and olive oil and fresh food than you usually do at home? If so, it’s worth bringing some of this back into your daily diet now you’re home.
6. Increased activity levels
It’s a curious thing, figuring out your energy baseline! And it’s not surprising that many of the people I talk to err too much on the side of caution, even when things are clearly starting to go in the right direction. It’s important not to overdo things when you’re tackling fatigue: pushing yourself way past your safe tolerances can lead to a flare of symptoms. However, nobody rests their way to recovery either! And I talk about the importance of finding that ‘sweet spot’ where you’re doing enough, but not too much.
(If you’d like some help with that, my Fatigue Reset online course walks you through exactly how. You don’t just figure out your baseline… you SEE it in black and white).
It’s often the case that, even when we’re being careful, we end up doing a little bit more activity when we’re on holiday than we do at home. Just walking to the hotel restaurant for dinner is more than we’d usually travel to get to the dining table. And over the course of a few days, we often get caught up with the joy of being away, and this encourages us to go further afield and just do a bit *more*.
Have a careful think about whether, in hindsight, this has shown you that you’re probably at a higher energy baseline than you’d thought. Now that you’re back, perhaps it will be helpful to continue to do a little bit more every day? After all, if you were able to do it while you were away there’s a very good chance you can keep at that level now that you’re back (especially if you consider, and act on, the other factors I’m covering in this article!).
7. Walking barefoot
I’m becoming more and more intrigued about the benefits of ‘earthing’ or grounding. It used to be dismissed as a bit “woo” and hippy new age stuff, but there’s some very interesting research coming through that seems to indicate that connecting with nature really can be helpful to us all. Especially walking barefoot on grass/sand and swimming in water.
Whether this sounds convincing to you or not – think about whether you spent more of your trip barefoot/outside than usual. Be curious about whether making an effort to do more of this at home might help?
8. Finding joy
I’m a huge believer in trying to make your fatigue rescue journey feel as enjoyable as possible. That can feel difficult when your energy levels mean you’ve had to cut back on a lot of the things you used to love doing. But please try not to think about all the things you can’t do, instead focus on the things that ARE achievable at the moment.
Think about the happiest moments of your recent vacation – which elements were involved? Was it a time where you were enjoying looking at wonderful scenery? Were you enjoying being creative building sandcastles or sketching the view from your apartment? Was it spending time just being with your loved ones?
Use those memories to help you build moments of joy into each day now that you’re home. If you want some other suggestions, have a look at my ‘Coping with boredom when you have fatigue’ guide!
9. Look after your skin
A bit of a surprising one, perhaps. But I found with my own fatigue journey that I felt much better once I started to focus on looking after my skin – not just my facial complexion, but my body too. Our skin is the largest organ of our body with a total area of around 20 square feet. It plays such a key role in protecting us from microbes and the elements, and regulates our body temperature etc etc.
If our skin is stressed, it gives our whole system something else to be on alert about. There’s an interesting two-way street between our brain and our skin and having ‘easier’ skin will often help us feel better overall.
Think about whether your sunny holiday meant that you were applying more creams and oils to your skin than usual? And perhaps getting some free exfoliation from the sand and sea! It’s not unusual for us to return from a beach holiday with a casual observation that our skin feels softer and smoother than it did before. And this might be helping more than you think. Consider adding a new skincare routine to your daily hygiene habit now that you’re home.
10. The importance of feeling ongoing achievements
The final point I want to suggest is that just being away – and having got there! – will probably have felt like such an achievement. And you probably felt other small achievements happening daily… perhaps enjoying your first a dip in a pool for months or years; or feeling proud of yourself for walking to a local restaurant.
A successful fatigue rescue journey needs to be underpinned by enough hope, positivity, and motivation. And a great way to keep those lovely constructive feelings going is by spotting and celebrating achievements along the way. You might have experienced an unusually concentrated amount of them while you’re on holiday, but spot how good they made you feel. And let this give a renewed sense of focus on spotting and celebrating even the smallest wins now that you’re back home.
As a further suggestion, ask those around you to tell you when they spot an improvement in how you’re looking or being. We’re often the last to notice things. And it can be a huge boost when someone close to us (a relative, friend or work colleague perhaps) tells us they’re sure something is pleasingly different about how we look, or what we’re doing.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful. If you’ve been back from holiday for a while, it’s never too late to reflect on these topics and whether some of them might be helpful to start bringing back in. And if you’re not planning a holiday yet, but hope to soon, keep this article to hand so that you can use it when it’s timely.
And remember, if you’d like a bit of help with anything relating to your fatigue rescue journey, I’m here to provide guidance, support…and lots of helpful tools and techniques. Please get in touch if you’d like to talk.
www.pamelarose.co.uk | 07498 213591 | Fatigue Coaching
Helping you cope with extreme fatigue to regain a life worth living again