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  • jeniferfoster2

Ruts


I’ve been back two full days. On my first day, I had seven therapy clients scheduled (I saw four of my clients). The second day, I did two therapy appointments (of the three that missed).


There are benefits to being home. I was so happy to see my boyfriend, and to plan times to see my friends. I have been thrilled that my boyfriend and I have been talking about so many things and getting to spend quality time. I have missed the intimacy and intellectual stimulation. It was nice to sleep in my own bed (I have a very comfy bed; my bed away was nice – but not QUITE as comfy as mine). I am scheduled to see some of my family this weekend. I have a variety of activities that I can do, aside from simply going down to the dock. Thus far, I’ve been to the basketball court, the pool and walked around the neighborhood. I have an idea that I should make my way downtown and be somewhat touristy since I live in a city and have access to all the things. I can have so many different types of food that I simply couldn’t in Roatan. That is fun. Also, my focus seems to be better here. Strange, right? But, yesterday I accomplished something that I had attempted to do in Roatan, but was unable to figure out. Yesterday, I completed it in about an hour.


There were benefits to being away. I still think it is too early to talk about what I’ve learned from being away; however, there are some initial take-aways. First, and maybe foremost, while there were some aspects of being in Roatan that I found stressful, overall I felt significantly less stress there than I do here. Secondly, overall, I live a healthier life in Roatan. I say this broadly, as I don’t fully know how things will play out now that I’m back and not working a full-time job. However, I lost nineteen pounds in Roatan! The crazy thing about that is I was not trying to lose weight. So, is it because I was diving rather than sitting at a desk all day? Is it because I ate healthier because I had very little access to food aside from food I cooked (I’m not a huge fan of cooking – thus most of my meals in Roatan were clean, simple, healthy meals)? Maybe it’s because my portions were smaller? Why? Well – if food is really good, I tend to stuff myself. Whereas, if food is decent but not amazing, I’m less inclined to eat more than I need.


But, the thing that has hit me hard being back is how quickly the stress comes back! I was gone for four months! I am calm as a cucumber! Almost immediately upon being home, I am struck by all the miniscule (or not so miniscule) stressors that were mostly absent in my life in Roatan. The windows need fixing; the bathroom needs work; the car needs maintenance. These bills need to be paid! There are tasks that need to be completed! You need money! You need to work more! I can feel the weight of all of these issues.


So, what is that? I was in Roatan four months. I wasn’t on vacation. Yet, I did not feel these stressors (at least to the same extent) when I was away. Why not? Is it simply the physical separation that allows us to escape from the stressors? Is there a way to feel that freedom when we are home? How to we balance the need to get stuff done with the need to feel relaxed? I remember years ago reading a study that talked about the fact that our bodies actually need a certain amount of stress in order to be effective (i.e. in order to get things accomplished), but that there is a line of stress which becomes unhealthy. I feel like the last four months have amplified that for me, as I’m realizing how much more effective I am at accomplishing tasks here, and yet how much healthier I was there. Now, let’s see if I can marry the two.


The one other thing that has struck me being home is how quickly we return to old behaviors. Last time I was here, I was burnt out and tired. Any time I had a day off, I would want to sit in absolute stillness because I needed to soak in the peace. Now, I am not burnt out or tired anymore. I can feel the desire to sit in silence, versus go for a bike ride, or go downtown. I have also already eaten fast food twice since being home. It’s easy. And, yet, I know I don’t want it. Why is it so hard to change?


When we think about the brain as I was mentioning the other day, it makes sense. These “habits” (neuropathways) are cemented. If I want to do something new, I literally must create new neuropathways and make a habit of those. That takes effort and deliberation. Because I am hyper-aware of this right now, I am going to try to take advantage of the desire to do something different. But, how easy is it to return to the day-to-day doldrums? Too easy!


There are some potentially exciting things on the horizon. I’m not going to jinx myself by telling you about them yet, but they are taking up some brain space. We shall see.


I’ll tell you what though. I sure do miss the fish! What are you trying to do differently today?

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Jun 16, 2023

Reading your post got me thinking about the American need to be “productive“ versus the focus on balance in so many other cultures. But I also think it’s deeper. At home, life‘s pleasures (and there are many) come with long-term and well-established obligations. But when we are somewhere that we know is temporary, the obligations we have are also temporary, or at least less ingrained. -Tim

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jeniferfoster2
Jun 16, 2023
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Thanks for this comment! Yes - I have wondered how much of this issue is cultural versus being universal. I don't know the answer, but I'm interested. Also, I'm intrigued by the idea about obligations being more ingrained versus more temporary. Is there a way to achieve the same freedom at home that we can achieve by traveling (or even living temporarily)? A challenging question - but one I will be pondering in the coming weeks.

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