Going away on vacation is meant to disconnect, relax and recharge from our crazy hectic lives. There’s always a picture of us sitting by a beach, soaking up the sun and disconnecting from our responsibilities in daily life. But it isn’t always this way, is it? Most people don’t end up truly relaxing because the daily stress is replaced by food and body image concerns, that are only amplified during this time!
I remember when I was in the midst of my eating disorder, my disordered eating and even years after, going away on vacation was always stressful. The subconscious degree of micromanaging I felt I needed to do was so overwhelming, I often came back from vacation even more exhausted. Concerns such as not having my usual routine, not eating my food, perhaps not being able to cook my food would always pop into my head. I would constantly be asking myself “Will I be able to work out?” “Are we going to be wearing bathing suits?”. This took up so much space in my mind and made it that much harder to relax and be present.
I am going to give you five actionable tips that you can do to make the most out of our vacation. Let’s be honest, we work way too hard to be drained by our vacation.
Honestly, this technique is really powerful, and it can be used in so many different circumstances!
I want you to think about your entire vacation as a whole. Think about:
Above all, I want you to put the most emphasis on how you WANT to FEEL on this vacation. I will use my vacation for example:
I know I am going to see family, so I am visualizing myself at my in laws house, hugging them and laughing with them after not seeing them for a long time. I visualize a fire in the backyard, baking together, chilling and watching TV and going to the beach. I put all of my focus on how I want to feel when I am in those scenarios, like feeling the sand under my feet, the warmth of the sun, and general feelings of happiness, confidence and carelessness. I also visualize Odin being with us and having a blast in the sand.
That’s OKAY! The point is not to actually manipulate the future, but to give yourself permission to practice these positive feelings so that you can tune into them in any other situation. It almost forces. Your brain to look for these experiences!
So if for example, my intention is laughter and I want to laugh, I’m probably going to perceive all those different moments in a different way.
YES! We always tend to make the mistake of bringing clothes that are UNCOMFY.
Bring those clothing items that make you feel good both inside and out. Especially if you are going to be in a space where your body may still feel uncomfortable or unsafe at times, wearing clothes that make your body feel good is extremely important!
This applies outside of vacation time too! But on vacation, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where all you are doing is thinking about your body because your clothes aren’t fitting your current body as well.
Yep, it’s a tough one. This is very dependent on where you are in your healing journey with food and your body.
This can mean setting boundaries with yourself and/or with others.
If you are vacationing with people who tend to say triggering things, it’s okay to set boundaries and say, “I don’t want to talk about food” or “I don’t want to talk about our bodies or the weight gained throughout the pandemic”. You can either say this as a way to redirect the conversation or prior to your vacation. This can be awkward at first, but it’s important to do this in the healing process.
Protect yourself, protect your energy and advocate for yourself.
Take the time throughout the day as yourself “How am I doing?”. There are no maximum or minimum times per day you should be checking in with yourself. Try and be mindful of what your body needs, and the type of situations you are in.
This allows you to practice kindness and compassion for yourself as you navigate this experience while healing your relationship with food and your body.
Guilt and shame don’t deserve a first-class plane ticket on your vacation. You deserve to enjoy yourself and take advantage of this time for YOU.
I hope you found these practical tips helpful! Comment below what tips you recommend to have a guilt free vacation!
Check out my podcast episode “Vacation” to hear more about how you can make your vacation a pleasurable, guilt and shame free experience.
The Balanced Practice is a team of professionals specialized in eating disorder outpatient treatment, disordered eating. Our mission is to help as many folks heal their relationship with food and their bodies so they can live happily outside of diet culture!
We strive to provide evidence based nutrition counselling to support you, or your loved one, in achieving full recovery. Schedule a connection call now.
Marie-Pier Pitre-D’Iorio, RD, B.Sc.Psychology
Lead Registered Dietitian and Founder of The Balanced Practice