This I believe
We all have our own little ways of dealing with our problems. Some people go on a quick shopping spreee, some people eat…or overeat. Some people smoke. Some call their significant others for support. Some use going to the gym as means escape when things get too rough, or take a night off from work to sit at home and watch TV.
But taking care of ourselves becomes a chore. Daily routines become frustrating and life just catches up to you in so many ways, and sometimes your reliable ways of making you feel better just don’t work. Dealing with the same people and the same problems over and over again—no matter how good we try to feel, there’s often no escape.
When I get too stressed out to handle, when I feel like life is crashing down around me, I run away. I just leave.
This is why I believe the most important thing anyone can do when things really get rough is take a vacation. Not a spring break binge drinking bash, or a full-out family trip to Disney, because those kind of things become stressors in their own right. I’m talking about real peace and quiet—a getaway, running away from life for awhile in the absolute truest sense.
The thing about problems is they will never go away—life is a series of putting out one fire after the next. So why not run away for awhile? Everything will still be going wrong and messed up when you get back, and you’ll feel fresher about tackling them after a couple days of shopping in New York, or laying on a beach in the Keys, or whatever your private destination may be. Take your vacation alone or with a close friend for moral support.
My first getaway happened December a couple years ago. A friend of mine had a really horrible breakup, and was a crying, hysterical mess. I didn’t really know how to make her feel better—she was heartbroken. We drove by the airport, and I figured, hey, why not go somewhere?
Three hours later, we were in a bed and breakfast in Boston. We spent a day or two wandering around the city. When we got back, she was still heartbroken, but she wasn’t hysterical anymore because she wasn’t surrounded by people and places that reminded her of her ex. She realized there was a whole world out there.
This is another great thing about a getaway—the fresh perspective you can get. You see plenty of people, who all have plenty of problems, living out their lives. This means you can, too.
The surprise getaway does wonders for self-confidence. It’s a way of separating yourself from your life and taking a look around. There’s a whole world to play in beyond what happens with our family, friends and careers. It’s easy to forget that, though, when those become overwhelming. By taking a quick vacation, you get a reminder.
Some people might call this running away from your problems, and I’m aware of that. But I believe that problems can only be solved when your head is free of intense emotion. If you’re angry when trying to fix a fight with someone, you might snap. But if you go away for awhile, think it out and clear your head—when you come back you can approach your problem logically.
The key is to know that you are in total control of your life. While you may not be able to control everything that happens to you, you can in fact control how you react—may as well be able to have a clear perspective to control your add.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.