Personal Blog Posts

How To Look After Yourself and Your Brain on Holiday (and How Not To…)

A few weeks ago I posted a link to an article on holiday tips, and for me this was the most helpful tip: ‘The temptation is always to try to cram too much into your holiday, but this can often leave you more in need of a rest than you were before you left!’ and ‘Make sure you pace yourself with plenty of rest between activities’

Now for some reason I didn’t pay attention to that advice and I payed for it on the second day of my holiday. I’m currently on holiday in Edinburgh for The Fringe Festival, the largest art festival in the world! (To give you an idea of how large: last year there were 50,459 performances of 3,314 shows in 313 venues!) This of course means that I want to see as many things as possible. I kind of forgot that I can’t see as many as most people would in a day due to my chronic fatigue. Did I forget because I was excited or because I thought I wouldn’t need to rest 3.5 years after my injury? A bit of both… My last holiday was 2 years ago at the Lake District and I napped everyday at 3pm—I thought I would have improved since then.

So on my second day I woke up at 10 and headed out for a show at 12. Ah, I should mention that I had also not rested the day before: I should have napped on the way but I didn’t (I don’t know why I think I don’t need to rest sometimes).

Anyway, back to the second day. I woke up at 10, first show at 12, then 4 more throughout the day. I finished shows around half past 6. I was feeling very tired by this point. A lot of factors come into play when I feel my fatigue coming:

• I start to feel drowsy.

• My body starts to feel heavy, like it’s made out of rocks and it gets heavier the more I don’t rest.

• Noises are amplified. Even the smallest sounds in the background now sound like they are loud and right next to me: people talking, cars, buses, phones and even the sounds of keys smashing together make a cocktail of loud noises that feel like they’re inside my head. Making it nearly impossible to think straight let alone try to do the simplest of tasks.

• I feel zoned out of the world around me.

Because of all these factors I ended up getting lost. Being outside and not able to rest when you have chronic fatigue is an awful feeling; being lost with this feeling can be scary, daunting and honestly I just wanted to sit down and cry. But I powered through and went home (the flat Stephen is renting here). I had to make food and there was no time to nap. I had a cuppa tea and sat down for about ten minutes then went on to make the food. By this point I was short and snappy—which is something else that comes along with chronic fatigue. A comedian said something which I kind of related to, it was something like this ‘They don’t lack empathy they’re just too tired to be nice’. I remember Stephen and I looking at each other when he said this.

By this point I knew I was too tired to carry on with the day BUT I DID. We only went to one show that was quite close. I felt ok once I was there but when I got home I felt horrible. I felt how most people would feel if were tired, drunk and stayed up all night without any sleep—plus with the factors I mentioned but now they had doubled.

I went to sleep and decided the next day I would pace myself. I would plan time to come home and nap if needed.

The next day was so much better, I headed out at 1pm after sleeping in and saw 4 shows (including the one I saw with Stephen) and have been so much better. I saw 6 shows yesterday and didn’t feel tired at all!

I’m now on day 5. Even though I’ve not taken too much on I’m having a day off. I woke up and knew straight away that I needed it. I’ve stayed in, done some laundry, watched a bit of That ‘70s Show and written this post. It was mentioned in the article that it’s good to have a rest day sometimes: ‘Once on holiday, new stuff is tiring so we try to have clear days for crashing as I just run out of go. Try not to do too much’

In conclusion I’ve learnt in the worst way that you need to rest and plan your day around your injury and the factors that come along with it. I had not looked after myself the day before going on holiday which I think is another reason why my second day was so bad. Sometimes it can take a few days to recover from one long hard day. I know sometimes you don’t want to rest due to the frustration, or maybe you feel you’ll be ok and just power through it. You won’t. Listen to your body! It knows what it needs and you need to learn to work together. It improves your holiday because you’re going to enjoy things so much more if you’re well rested.

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