February 24, 2011


I've been thinking a lot lately. (I know that's hardly a surprise, but humor me.)

Recently I've been thinking about my high school health class and the days when we learned about mental and emotional health. We often talked about stress and how our mental state of well-being can affect our physical health, and something that surprised me was discussing two different types of stress: eustress and distress.

When I think about stress, I am usually thinking about distressors - the negative sources of stress. These are things like projects due for work, papers to grade, worries about my father's health. Eustress has a similar effect on the body, but the sources are positive. This would be things like planning a fun party, going out on a first date, or riding a roller coaster - even though the experiences are completely different from the distressful ones, they're still sources of stress in our lives.

I have a lot of both of these kinds of stress in my life these days - and that's not a bad thing, I don't think. They're currently balanced, which I can deal with just fine, but for the moments when they're off-center, I've been trying to come up with a way to deal with them both - a way to soothe and calm my nerves and anxieties that does not involve food. Something that I've been considering for a while is taking a vacation somewhere, but I've realized that even that is a source of stress - and I'm not quite sure what kind.

My mental process when considering a vacation is like this. Blue is eustress, green is distress.

I really miss my family, so I'd like to go to Connecticut to see them. But think about how tough Christmas was. It took months of emotional prep work and I still had a very hard time there. i miss my baby bro so muchI want to go back to Connecticut and see my friends, too - they haven't seen me at all since I've started to lose weight, and I miss them like crazy. But I always feel really guilty going out with them because I don't drive and I live nowhere near them. Plus, I can't just go and see them - they have full-time jobs that they'll be working at while I'm on spring break. So I'd end up being with my family most of the time anyway. Okay, new idea. What if I took a real, grown-up vacation that didn't involve going home? I haven't been on a real vacation since Paris 2009. All the planning of the itinerary - goodness knows I love to neurotically plan every detail of a getaway! But would that hurt my parents' feelings? I miss them so much, and a "real" vacation would wipe out my savings. So I don't know when the next time I'd see them would be. But I'm an adult. I need to wean myself a little bit, have real experiences, enjoy life a little. This is what Mom was talking about: she and Dad put everything off for "someday," and now they can't travel and have adventures like they always dreamed they would. And that makes me feel guilty too. Besides, I really ought to save this money for an emergency.

It's all so conflicting. I think one of my biggest sources of vacation guilt is wondering if I'm being selfish by spending a lot of money on something frivolous just for me. And that gets me to wondering if, like stress, there are different kinds of selfishness. There's the bad kind, of course - focusing only on yourself, but with negative intentions. But what about a second selfishness, one where it's seen as alright to focus on yourself?

I don't want to hurt or offend anyone by taking a vacation alone, especially not my family. In fact, I don't want to hurt or offend anyone with any of my positive selfishness -for example, I don't want my friends to be upset that I won't have a drink when we go out. It's just that I'm working very hard to do things to help my body, and drinking calories doesn't fit into my plan. So I'll go out, I'll just have water - a good, healthy compromise that lets me be a little selfish while still being social.

What about you? Do you think a little positive selfishness is a good thing? How do you apply it in your life? And what should I do about this vacation?!


Spoonful of Me said...

I think that you should take a vacation, that is for you. You don't have to go to another country there are plenty of places to go in the United States. Since your in Chicago, the Mall of America isn't that far away and the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area is really great to see and they promote a healthy lifestyle.

Amy said...

We have to be selfish. It's so important... I bought my camera and I felt so guilty because it totally depleted my savings but it's something I REALLY wanted. I would love to go on vacation right now, but I just don't have the available funds....but I want to travel a lot as soon as I get a job with vacation time.

Another idea is to go on a mini-vacation... go somewhere in the States or Canada that isn't as expensive to go to, but still somewhere you want to go to someday. Or a last-minute vacation deal to Mexico or Dominican (here in Canada that's to Cuba, but I know the States don't really have it open to Cuba). You can still plan a lot of what you need to do there/bring etc.

If you're feeling guilty about spending your money to go on vacation... spend less!

Ann said...

Girl, this journey is about you. STOP worrying about what other people are going to think!! You are the one on this weight loss journey, you are the one living your life, and ultimately you need to support yourself and do what's right for you!!! You can do this. Put yourself and your own health (physical and emotional) first.

Tim said...

I would definitely go on vacation. How long would you want to go for and how far would you be willing to go?

In recent years whilst I have been saving up, I have been skipping holidays which last 1 - 2 weeks and have instead been going on shorter breaks which might only last 3 or 4 days. I've been to Venice, Amsterdam, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London etc and have had a great time whilst trying to keep to a strict budget. Most cities have plenty of free museums and food can be bought in supermarkets instead of eating at out at restaurants and there are plenty of cheap accomodation and transport out there if you spend a good while looking around and using comparison sites.

Anonymous said...

Positive selfishness is often a good thing. We need to take care of ourselves!! I wouldn't worry about everyone else. You're not intentionally going out of your way to slight them or hurt them. Do what you NEED to do for yourself.