Keys to Unwinding

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The idea of vacation itself is enough to help us begin to unwind. The fact that you are leaving, detaching from your regular life and daily routines – delicious! Yes, the physicality of removing yourself can be enough at first, but actually, it’s how you spend your time on vacation that is critical to unwinding – I mean really unwinding and unloading your mind.

My mini-vacay to Florida this week served me well in unloading mental stress and refocusing on being mentally clear. I think I was pretty successful at achieving what I went there for.

Here are some keys to unwinding:

1. Go somewhere that forces you to relax. Choose carefully and think about the purpose of your trip (which is probably de-stressing, decompressing, de-elevating, unwinding, searching for mental clarity). Going somewhere that offers tons of activities will keep you too busy. Go to those places when you don’t need to de-stress. Many times people return from vacation saying they need a vacation from the vacation they were just on.

*Note: If you are not able to actually go away-away – by plane, train or car – then find a “redemption place” that is your mental clarity spot. A place you can visit daily if possible.

2. Choose the right amount of time to be away. If you are not away long enough, you will not allow yourself to truly relax.

3. Physically detach from people! Don’t talk to anyone. Seriously, unless you have to. Talking is a really exhausting exercise.

4. Read books unrelated to your job. And read books you’ve had on your shelf for a long time. Let your mind go. Escape into whatever you choose to read.

5. Have a glass or wine, beer, or cocktail a day. One or two – and really enjoy the taste. Enjoy the moments attached – sitting, sipping, not talking, not checking your phone – just being in the moment. Allow yourself to relax with your alcohol instead of getting drunk with it. No hangover this way!

6. Sit. Observe. Try not to judge, but instead, just enjoy watching people. Make up stories about them in your head. Make yourself laugh.

7. Realize when you are ready to participate in interaction again, and do so meaningfully. Say something nice to someone. Offer help. Give up your seat.

Pay attention. Marvel. Savor. This is why you left in the first place. To regain your clarity.

Memorable Migraines

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Yep… had one of those today. No bueno. Total disruption of the day – no work, all day in bed, no light, no sounds, no TV but somehow so starving even with the lack of activity. Hm.

Fellow migraine sufferers know the drill and we know that one of these babies is going to do nothing but mess up the day (or days for severe suffers). Luckily I’m not in the severe category – however my day becomes almost completely useless minus the sleeping part.

I can barely look at this picture because I hurts my head, but this creeped me out when I saw it because this is what I see!

I can barely look at this picture because I hurts my head, but this creeped me out when I saw it because this is what I see!

For some reason people think you can just drink some coffee or take an Advil and power through the day. Not so. I feel like this is one of those times when you can say, “if you’ve never had one – you have no idea”, kind of like those times when a mother, a single woman or a teacher says that.

So anyway, this post is not about the signs and symptoms of migraines, how to feel better, or about how my day ended up. It’s about the memory of migraines past. Because as much as I’d like not to remember these times, these monsters become etched in all of our minds (um, and kind of literally).

My first migraine: In the spring of 1997 after a break-up. I was with one of my besties in Banff for some away time. We were watching David Letterman and I told her that the screen was looking weird, like I couldn’t see it all. She told me what was happening…. I had joined the Migraine Club. Thank goodness I was going to sleep anyway.

My most recent (besides today of course): This past April, when I was reading the directions of the Math State Exam to my group of students. I suddenly couldn’t see most of the words on the page, so I had to get the hall proctor to relieve me… Tried to sleep through it at school in the Teacher Resource Room, but it really only got worse. Worst symptoms I’d had.

And the following experiences are not in order…

Got one while driving to a lake in Jasper where Brett was going to do his advanced diving class. Good thing he was driving. While he attended the class, I slept in the car.

Got one during a kick-boxing class. I really tried to kick my way through it. Had to wait until I could see before I could drive home… fast.

Got one a few blocks from home when Brett and I were walking to the park to go running. Went home.

Got one last December after running the Rock n’ Roll half marathon in Vegas. Literally got to the hotel, had a bath and saw the aura.

Got a quite few while at school over the last few years – usually one in the fall and one in the spring. Thankfully I can usually leave right away.

After a day of darkness, my eyes hurt. Thank you computer.  Anyway, share your migraine stories or otherwise. Night night.