Show Your Soul Some Love
A guest post by our friend Vonita Vaughan from SoulInLoveWithTravel.com
I get massages on a regular basis as a part of my self-care regimen. Before each session, my massage therapist and I say our friendly hellos. Every time I ask him how he’s doing, without fail, he says, “I’m superb.”
I chuckle every time he says it because I don’t know many people who use that word on a regular basis and mean it!
Even though I have a wonderful therapeutic relationship with him, there are moments when I think about canceling my membership. During my contemplations, I feel a slight tinge of guilt because I think about all the other things that I could be doing with that money.
However, around 30 minutes into the session, I realize why I keep going back. As each tension is slowly released from my body, it just makes me feel so good and relaxed!
By the end of the session, I leave feeling grateful that I scheduled time just to take care of me.
Now, you may be asking yourself, “Vonita, why are you talking about massages when the post is supposed to be about travel breaks?”
I have friends that I constantly try to convince to take travel breaks and the answers I get are all guilt related.
- “I don’t have the time. I’m too busy taking care of other people.”
- “I can use that money for my kids or my family.”
- “I’ll do it one day, but not right now.”
A lot of caregivers have guilt, shame and complacency around doing things for themselves, when they should feel good about taking care of their own needs.
Travel is one of the ways caregivers can do that.
Feel Good About Travel as Self Care
If you think about it, most of us are caregivers of some kind. Whether it’s personal or professional, it just comes down to the number of hours we work.
Many of us do double, even triple shifts because it’s how we make our living. We work long hours, come home and expend yet even more physical, emotional and spiritual energy taking care of family, friends and loved ones.
I get it. I’ve been there and done that. With all the juggling of roles and responsibilities, I found that I had to make myself a priority and place me at the top of my list in regular intervals.
Without continuous replenishment, I would deplete all of my empathetic reserves and eventually crash and burn.
In my conversations with patients, friends and new acquaintances, I alway ask this one question:
When do you make non-negotiable, unadulterated, selfish time to get away and get in touch with you?
Travel can be probiotics for the soul. It can allow you to digest and release the stressors of life more effectively.
Sometimes you need to get away to think. Other times, you need to go on holiday to stop thinking and be present in the moment. Most importantly, travel can make you feel so damn good!
I’m not saying that travel is a cure all, but it can be one of the tools in your “emotional toolbox” to get respite from life’s demands. You deserve that!
My Story: How I Began Taking Care of Myself Through Travel
As a nurse, I consider myself a bit of a therapeutic nomad. I’ve been in the profession for about 8 years and I’ve worked in 5 different areas of specialty so far.
It wasn’t until I worked on a psychiatric unit that I realized how much travel needed to be an integral part of my own self care.
One of my nurse instructors used to say that it’s a privilege to care for people when they are at their most vulnerable. Patients that have a history of emotional, physical and sexual trauma are one of the most vulnerable populations you can ever work with.
Witnessing the courage of these patients as they faced their most intimate pain had a tremendous impact on my life.
While I enjoyed the work, caring for people with that level of trauma took its toll. As I heard their stories and saw their struggles, many of the shifts were extremely intense and emotionally draining.
In addition to working rotating day and evening shifts, I was physically spent. There were nights when I would come home and just didn’t want to talk to anyone. AlI I wanted to do was eat and go to sleep.
Besides nutrition and sleep hygiene, there were other regular practices I integrated into my self care. Running, massage, personal counseling… I did all of those things, but there still were times when I just needed more.
One day, I finally listened to my intuition. Travel was needed and well deserved. So, that‘s what I did. I started searching for travel deals and taking breaks every 3 – 4 months.
This was when travel became much more than a vacation. It was now interwoven into the fabric of my self care practice and a regular part of my life.
I was like the kid that started counting down the days to Christmas in August. I literally created a countdown widget for each travel break, LOL!
Planned holidays gave me something to look forward to on those days I was completely stressed out. Researching trips felt like being in my favorite section of the toy store and Jamaica was the gift on the top of my list!
Despite traveling to the same location, there was always something new I would experience. Each visit, I would chose a different place to stay, but the warm, relaxing vibe was always the same.
Sitting on the beach, feeling the texture of sand in between my fingers and Caribbean Sea lapping against my limbs gave me the most serene feelings of joy, presence and gratitude.
The laughter, the food and the conversations with other travelers and locals alike, were all the spoonfuls of sugar I needed to return home and continue the important work I was doing.
Travel was respite for me.
Where Travel is Taking Me
Some people don’t even realize that they have the means to travel, while others prioritize their families’ needs and neglect their yearnings to get away.
My mission with my blog, Soul in Love with Travel, is to get more caregivers to take travel breaks and leave the people they care for at home.
I aspire to inspire more people in urban communities to obtain passports and discover how affordable international travel can be.
When I first discovered the AirTreks website, I used it as my virtual vision board and plotted out a 25 destination trip. I realized that it was actually a doable goal and wrote each city in my “Dream” journal.
My other desire is to spend 3 months exploring a more intimate relationship with my first love, Jamaica.
In the meantime, I will continue with my daily grind, set these intentions into motion and do some traveling along the way.
Eventually, I will be able to work remotely and find new countries to love!
Never Feel Guilty About Taking Care of Yourself
The main takeaway that I want caregivers to know is that it is okay to take a break and travel regularly, without shame. Even if it’s once a year, you should never feel guilty about taking care yourself and you don’t have the break the bank doing it.
Instead of saying I’m being selfish for taking a trip, replace it with, “I am fulfilling a self-wish by giving myself this gift as reward for the selfless work I do everyday.”
And please, from the bottom of my heart, don’t feel the need to put your needs on the back burner all of the time. Remember that, in your service to others, your desires need to be fulfilled as well.
Feel superb about taking care of yourself. Feel superb about prioritizing your needs. Feel superb about taking travel breaks!
About the Author
Vonita Vaughan is the founder and editor of “Soul in Love with Travel,” a travel and wellness blog focused on encouraging caregivers to take travel breaks. As a nurse that has specialized in the areas of Maternal-Child Health, Perinatal Case Management, Psychiatry and Substance Abuse Care Coordination, she passionately advocates for caregivers by emphasizing the importance of self-care and demonstrating the affordability of scheduled travel breaks. Originally from Baltimore, MD, her wanderlust was initially ignited by her love affair with the country of Jamaica and she now seeks to inspire people who live in urban communities to travel internationally. Vonita is also a recovering ex-marathoner that finished her 6th marathon (Chicago) in 2017.