We all need to escape at times, some of us more so than others.
Before my Father entered the later stages of Alzheimer’s, I would routinely travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to get away and relax. My visit with friends lasted little more than 48 hours, but at times it felt like I’d been gone for a week. A change of scenery, the company of framily (friends who are like family), good food and a chance to truly relax was like balm for my soul.
I had no idea that a time was fast approaching when my parents would need the kind of care that would no longer allow me the chance to get away. Now thanks to COVID, everyone knows what it’s like to stay in place but still need to escape.
So what do you do?
As a preschool teacher in Hawaii many years ago, every time recess rolled around, my 4-year-olds would descend onto the playground like ants on a picnic. Some ran for the swings while others kicked a ball or scaled the monkey bars. My favorite thing was to pry into their tiny heads to see what they were doing. To the adult eye, it might look like Leilani was swinging as high as her little legs could pump. But if you asked her, she would tell you she was performing in the circus as a trapeze artist. Kaui appeared to be climbing the monkey bars, but he would tell you that he was Batman scaling a wall to rescue someone from an evil nemesis.
This is the way children play, with imaginations as vast as the universe. But when those children grow up to be adults, the pressures of everyday life suck the imagination right out of them. If I still thought like a child, I could get lost in my own imagination. But I don’t ever daydream about competing as an Olympic gymnast or hanging with other caped crusaders as Wonder Woman.
So I sift through books and movies to get lost in stories I’ve never known. I might become absorbed in a fiction trilogy or binge watch a TV series that engages my heart and my mind. Obviously, I’ve read books and watched movies all my life. But as a caregiver, I’ve discovered I need them now more than ever.
I dog sat last weekend while friends graciously spent time with Dad to keep him from escaping the house. But by Saturday, Mom needed a break, so I took Dad with me and we spent the day running errands and just being together. It was fun but exhausting, so Sunday I napped and relaxed and spent hours watching Netflix while enjoying some Godiva cheesecake left over from my birthday. By the end of the day I was ready to reengage as a caregiver.
There are many ways to mentally escape, depending on your preferences. Crossword puzzles, exercise, video games, listening to music, shopping, chat rooms, napping, painting, trying a new hobby, deep breathing, the list goes on…
We all need to escape. So take time to distract yourself from the stress and heaviness of your life with something you enjoy. If done the right way, escaping can help you and those around you. And who doesn’t want that?