I Went On A Staycation For My Anxiety & This Is How It Worked

by Ezinne Mgbeahuruike
Courtesy of Ezinne Mgbeahuruike

One of the toughest things to do in New York City is to slow down. As of late, I’ve been going a hundred miles per hour with work, life, and everything else in between. One thing that did help me get back to center was a staycation. The term is tossed around frequently, but a staycation is any vacation time you spend at your home, in your home city, or in a nearby destination. Clinical Psychologist Dr. Shari Dade tells Bustle that these mini-breaks can be very beneficial for your mental health in a different way than a traditional vacation can. “Sometimes, we get caught up in planning a vacation that we often forget that we can de-stress through a staycation that is much more convenient and cost effective," she says. "This allows you to step away from [your daily life] to reflect on what’s actually going on.” She says, “It's important to reflect on what it is about the current environment that is causing the negative emotion or feeling. What thought patterns increases these emotions?" And when you come back to your regular life, "What would you like to happen?"

Staycations, ultimately, serve as an immediate retreat when things get tough. You don’t have to wait for your finances to allow a vacation to take a pause. It can be done within a day or week by retreating to a nearby location. Staycations are also much more beneficial than vacations because it alleviates the stress that comes with planning a vacation, like extensive research and planning, money and language barriers. With a staycation, you’re in a familiar area so there’s less pressure to feel like you’re on adventure, which allows your mind to truly do the work that you need to do to relax.

For my staycation, I was provided a stay at Hotel Indigo, in New York City’s Lower East Side. While I was away from home, but still in my home city, I was able to take advantage of stress-relieving techniques that I’m not normally able to do. I don’t frequent spas much because I tend to release my endorphins through working out, but on my first day of my staycation, I ordered a mobile beauty and wellness service called Priv and indulged in a manicure, facial, and an hour-long massage. As I was still, I almost forgot about the deadlines or rent for the next month. When you're stressed, nervous, or anxious, it helps to be still so you can become aware of your emotions. From that stillness, you’re able to acknowledge and accept the emotions that arise when reflecting. Dr. Shari says, “acknowledging your emotions is often hard and most people run from it. But when you admit to yourself the things you wouldn’t otherwise, it helps in self improvement which is why retreating to a staycation is helpful. That moment of stillness will provide so much clarify that is helpful moving forward.”

Another benefit of the staycation was how I was able to truly turn off. Anxiety can often affect my sleep cycle. But while I was nestled in bed with room service a phone call away, I was able to truly, deeply sleep in. I slept for about 12 hours Saturday and Sunday, and I left the staycation feeling clear, creative, and present. Sleep or lack of it, for me, causes anxiety which in turn creates more inefficiency and stress. Because of this, I lose focus easily, take frequent naps and inevitably become lazy in the process. Retreating to a staycation has been good for me because it has allowed me to immediately recalibrate and get back on a regular sleeping pattern.

The most important takeaway from taking this staycation is that I have the right to pause — even if I’m not taking a full-blown vacation on a beach somewhere. The mental break needed from stressful situations doesn’t have to happen in a dramatic way. It’s as simple as stepping away from the immediate surrounding to get a clear and visual scope from a distant perspective. Often times I fight myself about what I’m feeling, failing to acknowledge the very same things that are eating me up. A staycation gives you the mental separation from your day-to-day problems to give you enough perspective to solve them, and de-stress at the same time.