6/12/17

A life you don't need to escape from

By Kiley Owen, PA-C

woman kayaking and paddling hard with lots of wavesWith the weather warmer and school out, this time of year gives me the travel bug.

Let me rephrase that — this time of year exacerbates my travel bug, which is really more of a chronic condition. :)

I love to travel. There's just something about stepping out of my normal environment and experiencing a new place that gives me a sense of:

  • Adventure
  • Enjoyment
  • Fresh perspective
  • Renewal

In other words, traveling is great for my mental health.

But there's a problem with traveling. It's the whole money thing. Traveling isn't cheap. There's lodging, meals, transportation, activities ... .

My rational side says that traveling doesn't make financial sense. But my adventurous side says that the experiences and memories are priceless.

A few years ago I heard a quote by Seth Godin that really stuck with me. Seth said:

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from.”

Such a great point. Why not make our everyday lives feel more like a vacation?!

Sense of adventure. Do you seek opportunities for adventure in your everyday life? Examples might include: fun family activities, a challenge to improve your physical health, exciting work or volunteer projects, or creative pursuits. 

man relaxing or napping in a hammock with hat over his eyesEnjoyment. Do you truly enjoy how you spend the majority of your time? If not, what can you do about it? Is it time to consider a new career endeavor? Is your time at home all chores and checklists, or is it fun? Do you really enjoy the activities you dedicate your time to, or do you feel obligated or pressured?

Are you over-committed? Do you make time for the things you truly enjoy? 

Fresh perspective. Although we can't always change our environment, we can choose to see our environment through a new lens. For example, a former colleague of mine turned an extra room in his house into his "Zen Room," where he could regularly de-stress through meditation. In the movie War Room, the main character turns her ordinary closet into a powerful place of prayer and healing. 

young family enjoying time together near a cornfieldMy hometown is in the Midwest, surrounded by corn fields. It's not what most people would consider a vacation destination. I can see my environment as boring, or I can recognize and appreciate its unique beauty — fertile land covered in brilliant green crops that move in the wind like waves, with beautiful sunrises and sunsets. 

There are many opportunities in our everyday lives to see the ordinary as extraordinary. 

Renewal. Do you get enough rest and relaxation? What energizes you? Examples might include: sleeping in, spending time with close friends, reading a good book, listening to music, exercising, or engaging in a spiritual practice.

 It's important to find time for activities that help us to recharge.

As for my travel bug, this is a condition I don't exactly want to cure. I will continue to travel whenever I have the opportunity and financial means to do so. But that's just a small portion of my life. For the rest of the time, I think it's important to set up a life I don't need to escape from.

Kiley Owen is a physician assistant, blogger and preventive health enthusiast. This post — along with helpful links to other resources — originally appeared on her blog, makinghealthapriority.com.