My client and I were talking about summer vacation.

We both agreed that a break from work was essential for mental and physical health.

VacationfromCapture“But,” she wondered, “What about a break from the work of managing my illness? That feels like another full time job.”

Indeed it is. Dealing with the constant round of doctor visits, the “alternative” medical support like her acupuncture treatments, the pharmacy runs, the insurance details, and the constant work of managing pain and fatigue is another full time job without any benefits, like paid leave.

“What might a vacation from that work look like?” I asked, not sure what her response would be.

She thought about this for a while. “I think the most important thing for me is changing up my routine. Figuring out a way to put some stuff on hold for a week or two. But I’m afraid that when I do, the whole structure will come down, and I’ll be in a mess…”

It is a reasonable fear. It takes effort and will to keep all these multiple things handled, and often to do this through the fog of exhaustion. The structure or routine becomes a way to keep it going and there can be a feeling that if I let any of it go, I won’t be able to pick it back up.

Yet breaks give us a chance to slow down, to take a breath, to re-assess what’s going on for us, and hopefully even a chance to re-charge our energy reserves.

How to do that when your health feels fragile and any change might disturb the balance?

I began to ask other clients what they thought about a “vacation” from the job of Manager in Chief of their health.

One client had already decided he was going to shift his exercise program for the summer. “I need to do something easier, that has me pushing less and being outside more. I’m looking for what makes me feel re-connected with myself right now, and that is a slow walk outside instead of being inside.”

Another had decided that since her paid job has a more relaxed pace in the summer, she would take the time to literally relax at the end of the day. A nap, or at least stretching out on a chair in her garden was her plan. “If I allow myself to relax a little more, I can feel the difference,” she told me. “I learn not to rush from one thing to the next. It’s a mini-break, but it counts.”

These clients were finding ways in the midst of their regular schedules to give themselves small pockets of different time. It was a refresher for their days, which adds up to some refreshment over weeks.

It may not be possible to “vacation from” the health practices that sustain you, but there may be ways to create small areas, and some breathing space, or to change something, like taking a new class in meditation, or to stop taking a class and give yourself some down time.

Whatever ways you find to relax, it will benefit you.

Let me know how you are experimenting with this!