Ashley

How Having My Vacation Plans Fall Apart Improved My Mental Health

About six weeks ago, Chris and I were about to go on our first vacation as a couple since becoming parents. I was looking forward to having time for just the two of us, but like a lot of new mothers, I was also anxious about being away from our daughter. Rationally, I knew she would be in the best possible care with her doting grandmothers, but still, I worried about getting on a plane and leaving the country—what if she needed me and I was a flight away? On top of that, I tend to get nervous when I fly, and I had to wrap up some details for an upcoming work project, and then there was Jupiter’s birthday party to think about… basically, I was one big ball of stress.

So when our bags were packed and it was time to leave for the airport, I was excited—and anxious and overwhelmed, too. But I was definitely not expecting what happened next: Chris couldn’t find his passport. We searched every single inch of our home and found no sign of it. Without his passport, we weren’t going anywhere.

Was I frustrated? Of course. But in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t an enormous problem, so we made the best of our circumstances. We headed to the local beach as a family, expedited a new passport for Chris, and rescheduled our trip. In the meantime, I wrapped up the work project and we celebrated Jupiter’s birthday. All of those things made me feel good, so when Chris and I finally embarked on our rescheduled trip, I was in a totally different mindset. Not only was I looking forward to our vacation, I felt even more lucky to take it. Instead of feeling anxious about leaving our baby, I felt comforted by the knowledge that Jupiter would be snuggled (and spoiled) by her grandmothers. And honestly, this break was long overdue.

With passports in hand, we finally got on a plane. (As usual, I played Candy Crush to help me stay calm during takeoff.) After settling into our hotel in Mexico, I had to pinch myself. Warm sun, ocean breeze, sand under my feet, no responsibilities except to relax… it was a true escape. Chris and I had time just for ourselves and our relationship, which felt so wonderful and needed. I was centered, grateful, peaceful, and present. 


When we returned home, I felt so refreshed—like myself again. Looking back, I really believe that the anxiety I’d felt about the original trip was my intuition telling me that something wasn’t right. For whatever reason, we weren’t supposed to travel at that moment. Plus, that trip was scheduled during a stressful, busy time, so I wasn’t in the right mental and emotional place to check out and really be on vacation. (I would have been stressing out at the beach. Who stresses out at the beach?)

I’m sharing this story because while it’s specific to my life, I know that all of us have our own worries and anxieties. Every one of us faces unexpected setbacks, big and small. This experience reminded me that although some things are out of our control, we are in control of our responses to them. We can listen to our inner voice and pause when it says, “Hey, this doesn’t feel right.” We can work hard and build in regular time to rest, whether that’s a full-on vacation or just 15 minutes that we take for ourselves in the middle of a Monday afternoon. We can make our well-being a priority—and I hope you’ll do that for yourself, because the benefits are real and worth it.


And you know what? We still haven’t found Chris’s passport.

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