There’s no question about it: the last several months have been different, to say the least.
On top of the usual political controversies and other generally negative news that tends to circulate, the world has been dealing with a pandemic that has affected everyone in one way or another.
For many, this has meant a shift to working from home, virtual learning rather than in-person classes for students, closures and limitations throughout shopping and dining services, “staying six-feet apart” from everyone, and more time at home.
While this might sound like a dream to some, with little effect on their lifestyles, many have found all of these changes, and the lack of contact with other people and the outside world to be very difficult.
Throughout this time, many have felt the effects of anxiety, depression, a lack of connection to people and things, a longing for something more and an overall rut from having nearly all aspects of life shift to the home.
According to licensed therapist Sheri Meyers, the home used to be a sanctuary—a place to escape after a long day of work or school. Now, however, it might seem more like a place to escape from, as people are spending much of their time at home and becoming antsy for a return to “regular” life.
Whether it is venturing out (safely, of course) for a vacation or road trip, or creating a “stay-cation” at home, it is becoming increasingly important for people to allow themselves a mental break from work, the rut of daily routines and the negativity that has become ever-present.
“I’m seeing the best of us crumble,” Meyers explains. “We need a vacation from COVID stress.”
While vacationing to other places can arguably be done safely during these uncertain times, Meyers advocates for an at-home vacation that she says will likely be easier and less stressful, without requiring all of the safety measures and preparations that need to be taken while vacationing at this time.
As such, Meyers gives several simple, yet effective, ideas to turn the home into something more.
“We have to learn how to make home relaxing again,” Meyers explains. “It’s about learning how to calm your body and tune out the world. That’s what vacations used to do.”
To start, Meyers suggests, at least weekly, allowing a day, or a stretch of time, to completely turn off and tune out: no phone, no news, no checking emails or social media, nothing but simply being in the moment.
“Right now, you’re here and present, and you’re OK,” Meyers says.
From here, Meyers says to delve fully into whatever activity or “vacation” is desired.
If a spa day is needed, embrace it as much as possible by setting up a space that really embodies this: set out candles and all of the necessary spa equipment, find a comfortable seat, and pretend that you are being pampered somewhere else for the day.
If there is a longing to return to a favorite vacation spot, recreate it. Play music that is reminiscent of the trip, put up photos from that spot, try to make favorite meals that were eaten there, sit outside with the best drink that was had there, do virtual tours, and discuss the trip with others who attended.
Meyers says that this is all in an effort to create an ambiance that says, “I’m not here. I’m on vacation.” According to Meyers, “Your body, in many ways, doesn’t know what’s real and what’s imagined.”
Meyers also speaks of the benefits of day trips or overnight trips without taking a full vacation.
Meyers suggests gathering the family for the day and taking a drive to a new area, hiking through different trails or doing something that brings back a sense of familiarity and comfort.
“This is an opportunity to reconnect with our soul and passions,” Meyers says.
Lastly, while vacationing to certain places may not be entirely possible right now, Meyers suggests planning a vacation for the future. She says that researching a vacation spot and the best restaurants, activities and hotels that it has to offer can help to create a sense of purpose that might have been lost.
“Part of our hopelessness is not having a plan for the future,” Meyers explains. Getting excited about a future vacation can be a way to break away from the negativity and have something to look forward to.
“It’s learning new ways of coping and making the best of what’s happening,” Meyers says. “It’s not needing a vacation to escape, it’s about learning to create a vacation where we are.”
However, depending on your comfort level, there is no doubt that taking a safe vacation away from everything can also be beneficial.
After four months of being at home, Maria Gallego, a teacher in Aurora, Ill., decided to take her husband and their two elementary school-aged children on a cross-country road trip through all of the national parks of the west.
In an effort to explore the outdoors and experience new sites while also being precautious, Gallego and her family made this three-week trek almost entirely by camping in their tent at each national park site.
“I felt like it was the safest way to travel and be in nature,” Gallego says. Staying away from indoor places as much as possible, Gallego even brought along a portable gas stove and pans with easy-to-cook food, rather than going to restaurants.
While the typical social aspect of vacations was not present--and there was limited capacity at the parks--Gallego says that the trip was still a great mental break to be with her family and enjoy their yearly summer vacation together, even if it was a little different than usual.
“Trips are always good to disconnect,” Gallego says. “We were distracted in the woods, hiking, spotting animals and exercising. We were out of the long routine that we had here, being inside the house.”
What to Know Before You Go
Throughout the summer, many people have decided to carry on with their vacations and road trips as usual. But how can this be done safely during this time?
By now, the words are likely instilled in everyone’s waking and sleeping brains: wear a mask or face covering, stay six feet apart, wash your hands and don’t touch your face.
These are the general safety guidelines recommended by the CDC in order to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
However, when doing any kind of extended traveling -- whether by car, plane or train -- there may be some additional precautions worth considering.
RedHawk Medical Products, a company specializing in the sale of medical products and devices, is offering personal protective equipment (PPE) to aid people in staying safe during this time, including disposable masks, non-contact thermometers and UVC (Ultraviolet C) light wands. To make this even easier for travelers, RedHawk has created bundle packages of all these products, ensuring travelers effective and portable safety.
RedHawk Holdings CEO Philip Spizale explains that while essential workers are doing their part in keeping environments and surfaces clean, the consumer really should take responsibility in ensuring and double-checking the safety and sanitation of anything or anyone they are coming in contact with.
For example, the UVC light wands need to be held over a surface – a gas station pump, an airplane seat, hotel room or restaurant surfaces – for 20-to-30 seconds, and the surface will be 99.9 percent cleaned of all germs.
“It’s going to offer peace of mind,” Spizale says of these products. “It makes it easier to get to that level of comfort, because these products are portable.”
In addition to these products, Spizale suggests that travelers simply do their research. Find out what is open and what is not, which restaurants offer outdoor seating and what safety measures are being taken, among other things.
“Know what your options are and go with what you’re most comfortable with,” Spizale says. “Don’t just wing it.”