Take A Mental Vacation

I’m a dreamer. I’ve always been a dreamer and always will be. My imagination is very detailed, and I am able to take myself to my “happy place” whenever I start to feel stressed out. Let’s be honest, vacations can be very expensive. People save money for years sometimes to be able to take a vacation and escape reality for a little while. Every year, life seems to pass by more quickly, and people become increasingly busier on a daily basis. Not everyone can afford to spend money on vacations, and finding the time to get away can be difficult. Something we all can do, however, is take a mental vacation.

When I lived in North Dakota, I found myself constantly wishing I were somewhere else. I always wanted to be on the beach. I wanted to feel the warm sunshine, see the palm trees dancing in the wind all around me, and hear the waves crashing into the shore. I wanted a delicious cold drink in my hand and a nice buzz helping me to forget about life for a while.

I spent hours every week looking at pictures of random beaches and listening to music that helped me to get in the mood to relax and escape reality. Often times, that meant I was listening to a lot of Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, and The Beach Boys.

In reality, I was sitting at home in North Dakota with snow covering the ground and freezing cold temperatures outside, but, in my mind, I was on the beach enjoying a nice hot day working on my tan. This was what kept me sane during the brutally cold winters. Wheelchairs and snow don’t exactly get along very well, so I spent a lot of time inside during the winter.

When I finally decided to make my dream a reality and moved to Florida, I figured I would get to live the life I had spent years daydreaming of when I took my mental vacations. That was a nice thought, but life doesn’t work that way. Even now that I’m living where I’ve always wanted to live, I still find myself needing to get away once in a while. I live just a little over an hour from the nearest beach, but I don’t get a chance to visit the beach very often. Being able to let my mind wander to memories of time spent at my favorite beaches helps to limit my stress level.

I’ve been very fortunate to get to live a life that people have always told me they wish they could live, but the truth is that anybody could live the way I live if they put in the effort to do so. I will never understand why people let things bother them so much. When I get stressed out, it typically lasts for hours or days, at the most. Some people get stressed out to the point that they become depressed, and it ruins several months or even years of their life. Don’t forget that you only get one chance at life, and it doesn’t last long. Don’t waste time worrying and obsessing over the things in life that you can’t control. That is time that you will never get back. If you can’t control the situation anyway, why wouldn’t you just let it work out the way it is going to happen and focus your time and energy on being happy? You CAN control your happiness. You may not be able to get away and enjoy a week of relaxing on the beach, but, when you need to relax and clear your mind for a few minutes, you absolutely can. Here are a few tips to help you “get away” without having to spend any money or actually go anywhere:

  1. Think of the one place in the world you would rather be more than anywhere else.
  2. Think about the person(s) you want to be with (if anyone).
  3. Think about what you would want to be doing if you were actually visiting this place.
  4. Get specific with the details. What exactly do you want to see around you? What do you want to hear? What do you want to feel? What do you want to smell? What do you want to taste? What would make that experience perfect? This is your dream getaway. Money is no object, because you aren’t actually going anywhere, so get creative and think about EXACTLY what you want to experience on this vacation.
  5. Think about any people you would want to meet (if any).
  6. Remember that you are basically creating a story in your head. When you take a real vacation, people ask you when you return home what all you did and if you have any cool stories to share. Create in your mind what you think would be the coolest vacation you could tell anyone about. Picture it and let your mind drift away to this situation. If you think of enough specific details, you will hopefully be able to see it happening as you immerse yourself in a daydream of your perfect vacation. Everyone is different. You may want to take an adventurous vacation, or you may want to just sit and relax. Whatever you want is perfect.

If you do these things and really allow yourself to become a part of this daydream, you will likely find that you feel happier and refreshed from this little break you’ve given yourself. You can learn to take yourself away from the stress of everyday life and take a quick break without going anywhere.

For me, even just a few minutes to letting my mind wander can turn my entire day around. The thought of being where I want to be in that moment never fails to put a smile on my face. When you think of your favorite places, favorite people, favorite foods/drinks, and favorite activities, those happy thoughts should bring a smile to your face. I know it brings a smile to my face every time.

There have been times at Disney World when I have had to wait a long time in “my” spot for the fireworks to start at Magic Kingdom that I have just stared at Cinderella Castle and let my mind wander. The spot I always try to watch the fireworks from at Magic Kingdom is my single favorite spot to sit in the entire world. I just love everything about it. When I let my mind wander and think about who I wish I were sharing that experience with, it brings a smile to my face. Complete strangers who are standing around me have said, “You must really love this place. The smile on your face when you look at that castle is exactly what the magic of Disney is all about.” I couldn’t agree with them more. Disney World may not be everyone’s first choice for a place to relax. It may not be everyone’s “happy place”, but it definitely is mine. I get a similar feeling any time I get a chance to sit on a beach and stare out into the ocean. Just as I could stare at Cinderella Castle forever and never love it any less, I could sit on the beach and stare out into the ocean forever and never get sick of it. I can feel my stress just melt away every time. The best part is, I’m no longer sitting at home staring at a computer screen. I can now go to these places and experience them for real. Although I am almost always by myself, I can thoroughly enjoy the experience. I would love to share the experience with someone special, but, for now, I really can’t complain. I get to enjoy the places I love most. Not everyone has that luxury, but you can all let your imagination run wild and daydream about your dream getaway.

Instead of wishing you could experience somebody else’s life, focus on your own personal “happy place” and let your imagination take you there any time, no matter where you are. A quick mental vacation can help you to reduce the stress of every day life without spending the time, effort, and money necessary for a real vacation. Hopefully you all will get to live in your favorite place someday, but, until then, let your imagination take you there as often as possible. Enjoy every day of your life while you can. Be happy. Be positive. Smile. Most importantly, take the necessary steps toward making your dream life your reality. Why waste time complaining about what you wish you had when you could spend that time working toward actually making it happen? Dream big, and pay attention to what you truly want in life. Your mental vacations will show you what you really want in life. Someday, that life can be yours if you’re willing to find a way to make it happen. To quote Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Clearwater Sunset 2

Castle 3

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