Dreaming about that summer vacation? Here are some ways to embrace your own backyard.

Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.
August 13, 2020
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Blocking off time for a vacation from the daily grind is important for your health and well-being. But that doesn't mean you have to jump on a plane or train. Staying home to relax or explore in your hometown can bring the same benefits of vacationing farther away—and it can be less stressful and much cheaper. “People often think vacations help them decompress, but in many cases, they can cause more stress,” says Anna Norton, M.S., the CEO of DiabetesSisters, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1993. Just think about all those little tasks you do before traveling: putting your mail on hold, stopping the newspaper, lining up a dog sitter, and packing diabetes supplies.

Plus, staycations give you time to focus on your health. “You don’t have to worry about obligations that can take over your everyday life, and you can focus on self-care,” says Lauren Bongiorno, a health coach in New York City and author of the Diabetic Health Journal. So try that new fitness class, enjoy a massage, or learn how to meditate.

If you could have it your way, what would a stay-at-home vacation look like? How would you want to feel by the end? Let these questions and the following ideas guide you in planning a delightful trip to nowhere.

If You're Craving Adventure

Get Outdoors

Nature is good for you both physically and mentally. “Often, people feel depleted and that’s when their soul needs reenergizing, something Mother Nature does,” says Evelyn Huynh, a business and life coach in Los Angeles. Plan to do something outside every day, especially in the type of nature that resonates with you. Sip your morning coffee under a tree in your yard, or plan a picnic at a nearby lake or pond. If you love the woods, look for a new nature preserve or park to explore.

Be a Hometown Tourist

Although Norton lives in the Chicago suburbs, she rarely goes into the city. So when she takes staycations with her family, traveling into the city to see the attractions factors high on her list. “Because we normally don’t do these things, it feels like a true vacation,” she says.

Take a Day Trip

One gift of travel is exploring new cultures and feeling a renewed sense of humanity, especially when you meet new people. “When you make connections, even if fleeting, you remind yourself of all the good in the world and that you can connect with others beyond work or family activities,” says Minneapolis-based Mollie Krengel, the founder of Wild Bum, an online site that offers curated travel guides. Exploring a nearby town can help you be more alert to your surroundings, whether you plan an activity or just explore new sights and sounds.

If You're Craving a Mental Escape

Binge on Movies or Books

Let yourself escape into somebody else’s world, and you may find some mental respite. If you’re a movie fan, try planning a daylong movie marathon like Norton and her family do— they have sometimes bought tickets for four movies in a row! Or if you’re a bookworm, catch up on your reading list (take your book to a park or garden for a change of scenery). Just make sure your reading material doesn’t have anything to do with work or it may not allow the escape you’re seeking, Krengel say.

Indulge in Self-Care

Book an appointment at a spa or hold a spa day at home. “Give yourself those little treats that you don’t normally have time for during the week,” says Ginger Vieira, the author of Dealing with Diabetes Burnout and an educator and speaker in Burlington, Vermont. Or try taking a yoga or meditation class to give your mind a break, suggests Krengel.

Skip the News

In a recent survey, a whopping 62% of Americans cited the current political climate as a source of stress. “News can put you in a state of fear, which is how you then function throughout the day,” Krengel says. If you want to stay connected, watch the news or check apps for only a set time each morning, then forget about staying connected the rest of the day.

If You're Craving Cultural Immersion

Explore a museum

You don’t have to live in a big city to brush up on your local art or history. Look for museums and art galleries on your city’s website, and use apps like Yelp to find private galleries and artists’ studios. Or try a digital museum tour through Google. To search for historical sites and events, visit MuseumsUSA.org.

Take Your Taste Buds on an Adventure

Explore a new-to-you cuisine by dining at (or getting takeout from) a restaurant owned by new Americans or descendants of immigrants. Or look for food tours or cooking classes. If you’re concerned about carbs or ingredients, “Look ahead at the menu and ask questions when you get to the restaurant,” says Paloma Kemak, the creator of the diabetes blog Glitter Glucose, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Engage Your Imagination

Stretching your creative muscles can provide relaxation, says Bongiorno. Find a play, musical, or concert to watch. Check out events at libraries, community centers, universities, and colleges, and consider online options too. For example, SkillShare.com offers photography, writing, art, and language classes.

Diabetic Living, Summer 2020