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Summertime: Coping Through Vacations and Celebrations

Posted by: Patient Advocate Summer Katz, M.A., NCC, LMHC

It’s summertime! This time of year is a personal favorite of mine, not only because I share the name with the season, but because it offers more motivation and an abundance of opportunities to get out of the house, go on vacation and create moments to celebrate, all while “getting a break” from the routine structure of life.

These factors can allow us very positive and healthy chances to unwind, relax and rejuvenate. Of course, those other aspects of the summer season, such as the scorching heat, the torrential downpours and thunderstorms, and the mosquitoes and flies can be annoying. However, I believe it is important and beneficial to actually minimize what we don’t like while we purposefully emphasize and revel in what we want. So, whether impacted by a chronic medical condition or struggling with life’s continuous stressors, taking time to give ourselves a small reward of experiencing nothing but simplicity, fun and happiness is often the key to returning to the successful navigation of regular pressures and frustrations.

Recently, my husband and I enjoyed a week’s vacation together. We went to the beach and spent a great deal of time in the water. We simply enjoyed lounging in the middle of the beautiful and serene environment. We shared smiles and laughter all while purposefully bypassing any focus on bothersome complaints or unresolved stressors.

We also enjoyed an opportunity to connect and have fun with a group of people that I have long considered my extended family; joining in the festivities at a local camp for individuals and families impacted by cystic fibrosis. Each of these aspects of our vacation was a much needed and well received opportunity to rest and become motivated once again upon our return to the routine of our daily lives.

There is something about the beach for me… I feel so relaxed, happy and peaceful as I hear the water flowing, the waves crashing and see groups of people playing in the sand.

Imagine that scene for a moment. Picture yourself in that space, or visualize yourself in any environment that you define as calming and beautiful. As I stated earlier, we combined both the quiet and serene getaway with more structured, activity-based participation in a larger group of people impacted by my same condition. Having the variation in our getaway is important to me, as I realize that I both need time to unwind and not think about anything just as much as I am encouraged by my groups of family and friends who inspire me.

Now, think about your summertime experiences and upcoming plans, and ultimately your desires for making the most out of this summer season for yourself and with your loved ones. I believe that taking a moment to reflect, reminisce or experience excitement for the future is an important part of coping. That is, it is helpful to find a positive period to think about things and to use that focus as a brief opportunity for “distraction” from the sometimes or even the regularly unwanted experiences in life.

The other side of making time for the ‘positive coping distraction’ is truly engaging in the moment to “celebrate” the good stuff in life. Sure, going on vacation is basically a temporary distraction from the obligatory routine of daily stressors. However, I cannot emphasize enough how beneficial it is to receive the joy and capture the excitement of the moment so that even when it is all said-and-done, you can easily return back to those moments in your mind and in your heart.

Earlier this month, for instance, you may have participated in a Fourth of July celebration with family and friends. Maybe you went to a cookout, had good times by the pool, and/or enjoyed the fireworks spectacle. Reflect back on what you chose to do; what was it like for you to take part in those moments. Whether you had the best time or in reflection, you define your experience with apathy or even regret, the important concept here is to find a way to create some enthusiasm for your place in this summer season.

I have said this before, and I will say it again… “It is what we make it!” So instead of relying on that powerless “it is what it is” perspective, recognize that you are the one that can create the opportunity to make your moment whatever you want to make it.

What have some of your favorite vacation spots or adventures been? What made those moments special? How did these moments benefit you (during and even after the getaway ended)? What can you do to create a more enthusiastic and excited perspective for a future vacation or celebration? Do you believe it is possible to lift yourself up merely by carrying these positive vacation and celebration moments with you throughout your journey?

SKatz - Prof Pic LARGE UseSummer Katz, M.A. NNC, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Cystic Fibrosis Pharmacy Patient Advocate

*Disclaimer: This blog is provided for informational purposes only (including brief topic exploration or reflection) and should not be used as a substitute for professional mental health or medical treatment.

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