Practical Tips For Enjoying A Mentally Healthy Vacation

May 30, 2013 Alistair McHarg

It’s that time of year again, time for the mentally ill in our midst to pack up the dysfunctional family and set out on what it known, with charming imprecision, as “the summer vacation”.

These excursions into extravaganzas of unfulfilled expectations, simmering like gumbo on a sultry Louisiana evening before appearance as fully-formed resentments destined to plague psyches for decades to come, always seem to begin with an air of insouciance and breezy optimism based necessarily on our ability to forget what happened last year.

We sally forth, armed to the gills with digital devices which, we believe, will simplify our lives rather than dominate them with unintended and unnecessary complexity, as they actually do; the very opposite of what one imagines for a vacation since the word, simply, means to remove one’s self from the pressures of normal reality – not take it with you.

However, like a man in Bermuda shorts, golf shirt, black socks and sandals standing in his driveway obsessively wondering what he has forgotten to stuff into his bloated SUV when he should have been on the road an hour ago, I seem to be in danger of sabotaging my own trip. Let’s regroup.

Many of you noticed that I was on vacation last week, and quite a few regular readers shared their disgruntlement. (In fairness, I didn’t even rerun an old post, leaving the Funny In The Head regulars wondering where I was and struggling to manage feelings of loss and abandonment with a level of melodramatic excess one might expect under the circumstances.)

I hope to make up for my egregious failure with these mentally healthy vacation tips, designed specifically to address the needs of mentally ill vacationers.

First - Have a destination and try not to forget what it is. Remember the sage words of Yogi Berra who observed, “If you don’t know where you’re going you might not get there.”

Next - Be careful about which disembodied voice you trust. That cool, authoritative invisible passenger providing navigational directions in a somewhat disappointed, peevish tone of voice is reliable. The urgent, insistent voice encouraging you to drive until you find the next circus and chuck it all for a life on the flying trapeze, is not.

Also - Remember that everything you do over the entire course of the vacation will be described in lurid detail by someone lying on a psychiatrist’s couch; so be interesting.

Finally - Give yourself a break. Mental illness can be a challenging, exhausting business and no matter how proficient you are, chances are good that your sustained commitment to a mentally ill lifestyle has tired you out a bit. Experiment with sanity, as odd as that sounds, and give your disorders a rest.

Have fun…but not too much fun!

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2013, May 30). Practical Tips For Enjoying A Mentally Healthy Vacation, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

Clyde Crum
June, 18 2013 at 6:03 pm

Hi Alistair! I got fed up with having to "recover from my vacations," you know, packing too much fun and excitement into too short a time.
Now I vacation in Camden, New Jersey. This consists of hunkering down in a seedy motel, below the windowsill level so that the stray gunfire won't accidentally pick me off.
Doing it this way brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, "It was good to go, but now it's great to be back."

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
June, 19 2013 at 1:31 am

Ah, Camden!

May, 30 2013 at 10:39 am

Hi Alistair :) I hope you had a great and restorative vacation. I'm simple when it comes to gadgets-just a cell phone and mp3 player for me. Speaking of Bermuda shorts, my husband and I went on a cruise while he was wearing green plaid shorts and a maroon shirt one day. We went by one woman who said "oh my",and I burst out laughing; I just couldn't help myself. We had a great time (it was a Carnival ship)despite my husband's fashion faux pas. Great tips! It is good to park your mental illness at the door sometimes and just have a good time without worrying about it so much. Have a great weekend.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alistair McHarg
May, 30 2013 at 4:16 pm

Oh my! - Love it! All the best to you Cindy.

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