The joy of being on vacation

joy being on vacation

The past two weeks I enjoyed being me again. The ‘me’ without all the extra “fuss” that comes from living with a brain injury. Sure I always had my earplugs, hat and sunglasses with me, but I was once again able to walk through a city, sit at a sidewalk café, play card games and go on a hike with others.

Yes, I was on vacation and loved every moment of it! Not only was I surrounded by gorgeous views and really nice people, I even learned some new things about myself.

Clearer version

I’ve mentioned before after a previous vacation, that I’m a better version of myself whenever I’m away on vacation. Or at least that’s how it feels. One evening while philosophising about world politics and travelling with a fellow traveller, I share this notion. She suggested a slight adjustment. Rather than a better version, it’s a clearer version of yourself. It’s the ‘you’ without the distractions of everyday life, worries and obligations. The ‘you’ that you are when you live and enjoy the moment.

I really liked this adjustment. As it means that rather than a different more likeable version, you yourself are, or can always be that likeable person. Apparently it’s a matter of paying attention. To be aware when certain aspects get lost in the mire of everyday life. Therefore I’ll, once again, try to use mindfulness exercises in order to avoid losing my better sides in a couple of days again.

For me it was a real ‘Aha-moment’.

Feeling better

The other thing that got me thinking, was why I felt so much better on vacation.

Probably everyone, with or without a brain injury, loves going on vacation and feels much more better during vacation. Nonetheless I was astonished, about how much better I felt. On vacation I wasn’t bothered with the limitations or disabilities that I normally run into on an almost daily basis. I didn’t experience brain fog, didn’t need to sleep during the day, could handle groups of people much better and didn’t need to weigh every choice and activity. My disabilities and my daily life seem to greatly influence each other.

Which made me wonder as to why. Did I feel better because I was in a greener and more quiet environment or was it because I didn’t have to work and had no obligations?

Living environment

As I do live in a city. When I look out of my window I see the apartments on the other side of the street and see (and hear) all the people driving, cycling and walking. The only green I see, is a tree outside my window and two fake green plants on my balcony.

Whereas on vacation I stayed in hostels which were surrounded by mountains, nature or lakes.

Vastness and nature

Seeing all this green stretched out in front of me, gave me a sense of calm. I could look for hours at the vastness and nature around me. Which is why I walked around with a smile on my face for two weeks. My mind was more quiet and I only had to think about today. Life was much simpler and apparently my brain really appreciated that.

Of course there were days when I just wanted to read a book instead of going on a hike, but the mental exhaustion and getting overstimulated remained absent.

I now wonder how much my urban living environment contributes to the disabilities or limitations I face as a result of my brain injury. Since I’ve never felt this relaxed and healthy as I’ve felt in this past vacation, whenever I stayed at home for my vacation. Which to me, points to an adverse effect of city life.


Although if you don’t live in a city, finding a job could be the challenge. Since I did see myself l living in a green valley in Switzerland, but I’d still have to be able to pay rent and groceries. Even if you live in a quiet green area in the Netherlands, you do still need an income. The question is, of course, whether there are any jobs in these places. If you could do those jobs and whether or not you’d like doing them and they would be challenging enough. Next up is than the true test, as to what extent you will have to face your brain injury limitations again.

Not surprisingly, I still haven’t made up my mind on this topic. Although I did start wondering as to how smart it is to live in the city. Despite all the conveniences, such as public transport and the fact that you can find almost everything in the city, it might not be such a wise decision for my brain.

This is something that I’ll think more on in the next few months.

Did you have a realization on vacation that has stayed with you? Have you moved to a quieter environment, in order to give your brain more rest? To what extent do you think that your living environment and your daily activities contribute to the limitations you experience?

Vastness and nature pin it

4 Replies to “The joy of being on vacation”

  1. When I go on vacation I leave “my story” at home. Nobody knows me or my story. Just another normal person, I go about my business. The new environment helps and I like it to be a test-run for what life might look like. At home it can become “old hat” sometimes. But on vacation it is new and fresh (even though I know that eventually that place would get boring again hahaha).

    You already know the drill about overstimulation. We both do. We all do. But another story is about boredom. They say that if you get placed in solitary confinement it can either be heaven or hell because it is just your and your mind for 23h per day. That is how I feel about it. Wherever I live, I am taking my mind with me: so I had better start getting on good terms with my mind before worrying about external stuff.

    1. I love that feeling of being somewhere new and fresh! Somehow it feels always feels to me like there are more possibilities, but I suspect that will also change the longer you’re there.
      I really appreciate the second half of your comment. To make sure that you can live, or even like, your mind or your own internal voice. To pay attention to your mental well being before you start to worry about other stuff. Thanks for sharing that!

  2. I enjoyed reading your blog & it corresponded with several issues I’ve dealt with.
    I was a teacher pre- and post-TBI, having moved to Switzerland 🇨🇭 to expand my experience with a view to promotion (I’m English).

    I have to say that living here IS calm & lovely. My husband & I lived in a town, but moved to the outskirts post TBI to where it was less noisy. It helped but obviously wasn’t a ‘cure’.

    Unfortunately the TBI was misdiagnosed & I was told to work & that, for me, was the biggest disaster.

    I don’t know what you were like in the first few years post, but I couldn’t remember how to teach, was reluctant to leave my flat & was totally overwhelmed by life in general.

    My health suffered: headaches, constant fatigue happily partnered by insomnia, leading to depression, emotional lability (aka I was a complete pain in the arse) & complete breakdown. I had no periods for 15 years which makes having kids extra hard.

    A second breakdown followed and eventually, 15 years after the TBI (car crash) I had a seizure.
    My body was telling my brain STOP!
    I’m allowed to now as an MRI post seizure showed diffuse axonal injury.

    Having stopped work I truly have no clue how I managed to work at all. I’m on meds which mean I finally sleep, take Valium in case of any one-off seizures & have antidepressants. I’m dubious about why I was put on these. I am not a ‘depressed’ person, though I’m sure many TBI survivors are, I was just told to take them & everything would be alright.

    Imho, and that’s all it is, you should do ever in your power to protect yourself with your brain injury. Go somewhere more peaceful & don’t push yourself into a stressful job. If you can, I know life’s not that straightforward!
    But put YOU first, so you don’t have to be stressed by everyday life 💚💚💚 all the best!

    1. Hi, thank you for sharing your story! And you even live in Switzerland, such a small world. 🙂

      I can’t imagine having to go through 15 years of feeling overwhelmed and having to fight every day to keep going. Those years must have been incredibly hard!
      What a relief it must have been to finally get the right diagnosis, but how frustrating that it took that long. I hope you’ll continue to feel better or at least to feel well again.

      Thank you for your advice! I’ll stick it on my mirror to remind myself and I’m already working on a plan to change some things. 🙂

      Take care and all the best!

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