The ultimate staycation
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The ultimate staycation
From InterAction 98, Spring 2018

You may not be able to travel, but with a little imagination, you can still give yourself a break, says Anita Neilson.

It’s been ten years since I’ve physically been able to go on holiday due to severe M.E. and Fibromyalgia, which have left me virtually housebound. However, by using my willpower and imagination, I’ve succeeded in taking many stress-free, alternative summer holidays – and so can you. Here are my top tips for the ultimate staycation:

1. Take a ‘visualisation excursion.’ Look through some photographs of a favourite holiday from the past. Then, sitting or lying down with eyes closed, bring to mind the sights, sounds, smells, places you visited and who you went with. Remember a particularly relaxing and happy day and how it made you feel. Don’t look back with melancholy, but rather with gratitude and contentment. Immerse yourself in this relaxing mental excursion for as long as you like, but at least a few minutes so that your heart and pulse rate slow and positive emotions are given space to flood your system with natural endorphins.

2. Transport yourself to a different world with a book. Choose a book set in the destination that you love (fiction or non-fiction book, whichever you prefer). If you can’t read a physical book due to muscle fatigue, try an e-book or audio book. I tend to choose books with short chapters and not too many characters as concentration and memory can be problematic with M.E. You can also search online for blog posts about the country, which tend to be short and very manageable.

3. Journey abroad via the medium of film and TV. There are so many options to choose from – programmes on cookery, travel, documentaries, dramas, as well as movies set in your country of choice.

4. Take your taste buds on tour by eating the food of the country. If you are able, ask someone to take you out for a meal at an authentic restaurant (lunch is usually quicker and less stressful for those who are sensitive to light and noise). If you are not able to leave the house, many supermarkets do home deliveries, or you can order a takeaway. Eat outside if you can; feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on your body and imagine yourself in your holiday destination.

5. Immerse yourself in the language and music of the country. Search online for podcasts that will teach you some phrases of the language you are interested in. This can be a lot of fun! Research singers and groups from your holiday country, and download some authentic music to listen to.

Planning your break

For those of you who like to be organised (like me), you can even draw up an itinerary! Here’s an example of what your holiday could look like:

Of course, you are free to change any of these suggestions! For example, perhaps you like to paint; in this case, you may want to do a painting of one of your photographs, either to keep or to gift to somebody. Wherever you ‘go’ on holiday this year, I do hope you enjoy yourself – and remember, the only limitations are your imagination and willpower!

Anita Neilson is a former teacher who now writes for many mind, body, spirit and chronic illness publications. She has M.E. and Fibromyalgia and aims to encourage others that we can all contribute to the world, regardless of any limitations we may have. Her book, Acts of Kindness from your Armchair, is available online from Amazon, Wordery, Kobo and more. Connect with Anita on her blog and Facebook.