This blog post is inspired by my impending couple of weeks holiday. Well maybe “holiday” is kind of overstating things. In reality, I simply have some time off from work. Like most people I will doubtless spend the first few days trying to switch my brain off from work mode which – in turn – will allow the rest of me to relax and unwind from the inevitable stresses, strains and work relates pressures. Personally speaking, once this happens things usually go either one of two ways. Namely:
Plan A: If I actually do have something productive scheduled for my holiday (like travelling, doing some DIY etc), my brain takes command and my body follows along. You know the drill….. places to go, people to see, things to do.
Plan B: If I don’t have anything scheduled, my brain kind of hands over control to my body. In turn, this gives my body an opportunity to crash. And if you have any form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) you know full well what can happen when your body decides to crash!!!
With Plan B, given that my brain is no longer forcing my body to keep going, it just stops. Full stop. Period. Now I am all for giving my body the necessary time and space to repair and recover from the rigours of life with Crohn’s Disease, but seriously… Why is it that whenever I get the opportunity to “stop”, my body takes this as an engraved invitation to literally do just that? It tries to shut down completely! I get hit with massive bouts of fatigue. Sometimes nausea. I will most likely spend waaay more time than usual perched upon my porcelain throne. Definitely a WTF situation!!! I mean this is my holiday. I’m supposed to be relaxing. Having fun. Enjoying myself even. No? And should this particular scenario come to pass, I am then faced with with the distinct possibility that I will lose all my holiday time to recovery. Result = holidays can royally suck! I’m sure that I am not alone in experiencing this kind of scenario either.
My own personal method for combating this heinous possibility is to try and eliminate Plan B (as much as possible) by sticking to Plan A. It may sound a bit overly simplistic but – in my experience – it tends to work. As long as my brain is convinced/tricked that I actually have “stuff to do”, it’s a simple case of where the mind leads – the body follows. Now I know what you may be thinking; “how does doing lots and lots of stuff make for a relaxing holiday?” That’s a fair point. The dirty little secret is that Plan A is just a mechanism for gently switching my brain from work time to ‘me time.’ The key word in that last sentence is “gently.”
Over the years I have found that my body/system likes routine. It responds well to a natural rhythm and usually objects to abrupt changes. “Gently” is my holiday time mantra and (as previously mentioned) where the mind leads – the body follows. By focussing on doing some stuff for myself – for example; catching up with friends over a coffee or possibly booking a spa day for myself – I am gently switching mental gears which, in turn, helps to switch my physical gears in a more controlled manner. This helps me avoid the potential ‘crash and burn’ scenario and allows me to actually enjoy my holiday